A Travelogue

Friday, December 07, 2007

August 24: Travel by train from Toulouse to St. Jean Pied-de-Port via Bayonne

This was the first time I had travelled on a train in many years. It’s such a civilized way to travel. However, the civility was interrupted part way to Bayonne when a very belligerent man got on the train. He was extremely loud and proceeded to insult a number of other passengers. I made sure to avoid eye contact as he walked down the aisle. A couple of men spoke to him, to no effect. At one point he insulted the girlfriend of a young man and I thought, “Oh oh. All hell is going to break loose”. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed and all the passengers in our compartment were clearly pleased if not relieved when he got off the train at Lourdes.....a blessing! Clearly the spiritual nature of the Camino pilgrimage was already starting to take effect.

The short trip of 1:15 hours from Bayonne to St. Jean-Pied-de-Port was spectacular as the tracks followed the ever-climbing narrow canyon of the River Nive, which was in flood after five days of heavy rain.

Photo 181: River Nive, still in flood, in St. Jean-Pied-de-Port.

It was a short walk from the train station to the Camino information office where I registered, had my Pilgrim Credential book stamped,

Photo 176: Camino information office in St. Jean-Pied-de-Port where I got my first stamp. I got my credentials in Canada, but you can also get them here.

and was assigned a bed at the Albergue Municipal (municipal pilgrim hostel). I bought a walking staff for six euros (nine dollars) and found an outdoor restaurant where I had a pizza and a local Basque beer.

Photo 186: Basque beer - the first of many on this journey, and deliciously refreshing!

On the way back to the Albergue it was raining; the weather for my first day of walking was not looking great.


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