At the foot of the mountain

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step – Lao Tzu

Day 0, Friday 4th September. Like tens,  even hundreds, of thousands before us,  we have today arrived at St Jean Pied de Port.  Our journey from San Sebastian to Hendaye and then to Biarritz by two train trips, and then by shuttle from Biarritz to St Jean, was smooth and seamless, even allowing for the early start operating in rudimentary Spanish and even worse French.  We briefly meet some of our fellow peregrinos, although upon arrival at this bustling little town everyone dispersed quickly.

Lao Tzu’s quote is well known and has been used many times to encourage the start of the undertaking,  no matter how big or how long.   For us, our journey will be 500 miles, and the quote seems just right for the start of tomorrow’s undertaking.

The name of the town St Jean Pied de Port means “St John at the foot of the pass” for this lovely little 900 year old village sits at the bottom of the Col de Lepoeder, a 1400 metre peak in the north Pyrenees.  The old town is located behind the massive walls built in centuries past to keep invading forces at bay.   Much of the wall still exists,  and it is possibly to walk several hundred metres along the ramparts, looking through the tiny slots through which I imagine many arrows have been fired, and conjure up pictures of the violent battles of yesteryear.



Tomorrow morning we will walk out of the gate of Notre-Dame (top photo) and across the bridge over the River Nive (bottom photo), onwards (and upwards) on the Napoleon Route towards our first stop at Roncesvalles some 25 kilometres later.

I’m actually feeling remarkably at peace,  given the size of the undertaking.   The delightful woman at the official Camino office,  when stamping our Credencial for the very first time asked whether we were walking the whole way to Santiago de Compostela, and then immediately responded to herself “of course,  you have come all the way from Australia”.


So here we are,  all the way from Australia,  about to commence the journey of a lifetime.

One thought on “At the foot of the mountain

  1. Tania

    Buen Camino Pedro and Janet. I got tears in my eyes reading this, whilst coincidently sitting in a French style cafe this morning. It is heartfelt to see you both there now, ready to take those first steps out of St Jean Pied de Port, turning a dream into a reality. Some time ago the Camino called you, and you responded. Loved the comment by the official and the photo’s. Enjoy!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s