Why did we decide to do the Camino?
It was time for us to do something different. We wanted to stop our fast paced lives and go around the world. We did not know the places we would visit but we were certain that we would hopefully complete the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St James). We had read about the camino and also watched the movie "The Way" (this is probably why the majority of US citizens venture off to do the camino). We also wanted something that could be spiritual and provide more insight into what was next for us.
So how did we prepare for the Camino?
We read a lot about what to bring and not necessarily about the actual difficulty about walking the Camino. Click here to see our Camino Gear Post where you can read about what we individually brought, what we got rid of and what we did not use.
Did we do any training ahead of time?
We did walk with our backpacks in DC's brutal winter for 5-8 miles probably two or three times. We were fairly active leading up to the start. We had recently trained for a half marathon and some other shorter races. Should we have probably walked with the back pack a few more times? Maybe. It might have helped to determine the weight we needed and show us the difficulty of walking much longer distances such as 13-18 miles per day (what we walked on most occasions).
How did we get to St Jean Pied de Port?
We flew to Biarritz, spent the night, took the bus to Bayonne where we took the train to St Jean Pied de Port. When we arrived we went straight to the Pilgrims Office. How to get there? Follow everyone who gets off the train. Everyone is going in that direction. Line builds up quickly! Address: 39 Rue de la Citadelle, 64220 Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France.
Pilgrims Office: We had to wait in line about 30 min to talk to one of the awesome volunteers. We received our passport, shell, albergue list and camino stages (all below). Super helpful volunteers who will answer any questions. We spent one night in St. Jean as we wanted to start our Camino the next morning.
What to do in the area?
We stayed at an Airbnb for the night! This was much needed to get the rest we needed before our first day of pilgrimage. Click on the link below to receive $35 discount with Airbnb. (That is how much we paid for our first night at St. Jean Pied de Port).
We left our backpacks and headed out. We quickly discovered we were not the only ones walking the camino! Very picturesque town with some great bakeries (had some amazing Canele's at Rue de Citadelle) and plenty of shops geared towards pilgrims. So if you forget something you most likely can find it there!
Preparation for Start day:
We were told at the Pilgrims office that all the albergues before Roncesvalles were full for the next day. Some people stop in this albergue to get some rest before they continue the climb over the beautiful Pyrenees. To our surprise it was booked… So people actually book albergues? We thought they would be available as May is not supposed to be the busiest season. So we had no option other than to walk the whole stage from St Jean Pied du Port to Roncesvalles. All 27.1 Km of glorious climbs!
Below, please find the list of albergues along the Camino Frances (French Way) and the stages. Both of these documents were given to us a the pilgrim's office in St. Jean Pied de Port. Great tools to prepare your daily walks!