Day one- Irun to San Sebastian 26km (or so).
The sun rises at 8am here on the northern Spanish coastline. Way too late for us early risers to get moving, however by seven, we could wait no longer. We strutted out the door of the Pensiòn Lizaso with a spring in our step and excitement a – foot. Michael had been studying the way out of town for months now and thought he had it all in hand, until the fourth turn and we were lost. It was a bit difficult finding the yellow arrows in the dark, so we missed one. We ended up only walking a few hundred metres extra that time. Once back on track, we followed the path through the wetlands before the UP started.
We began to think that we were lucky that it wasn’t raining, as the track in some parts was reminiscent of the quagmire that I trudged through on my first day, last Camino. It had rained just two days prior and the muddy ground was still at large. As the sun rose over the nearby Pyrenees, we climbed higher into the clouds . That was when the clouds dumped their load before heading out to sea. We had decided to continue on the more challenging Alpine route, a decision Michael was to curse about for many a kilometre. The views were stunning, the conditions poor, the sweat factor rivalled the rain in its intensity.
Michael fell twice as we slowly made our way along the track. I skinned my knee on a fall on the road as we made our way into Pasajes de San Juan. For when you have a steep up, a steep and slippery down will follow. We had been passed many times on the trail by locals either jogging (“madness” mumble Michael with each passing jogger, mountain biker or just quick paced local). It wasn’t until five hours into our eight hour trek that we kept pace with two French pilgrims about our age. He was carrying a javelin as his walking stick and smoked enough for us to always catch them on his lasf puff. We took it in turns to be leader up to the Tourist Information Office in San Sebastian. We knew that there were going to be less pilgrims on the track in compared to the Camino Frances but we had been told at the Albergue de Perigrinos in Irun last night, when we were getting our Credential (stamp book to ensure cheap hostel stays to come), that there were twelve already booked in to start and who knows how many would have stayed in Pensiòn’s (like us) last night. So we’ll hopefully see more on the track tomorrow.
Stumbling into San Sebastian was akin to leaving a desert and arriving in the middle of a bazaar. People were everywhere promenading up and down the two beaches and the Alameda del Boulevard. Plenty of interesting folk around as well, as the San Sebastian Film Festival wraps up today. We even trudged our muddy shoes over the two red carpets outside the main cinema. What can I say, we were following the yellow arrows, they made us do it.
We arrived at our accommodation, another private hostel just back from the beach, beyond exhausted as Michael was by now speaking in tongues that even I was unaware of. After a shower and washing our clothes, we wandered back into the maddening crowd of the main Boulevard to get our stamp (our hostel doesn’t give stamps!), then it was a big Mac before a gelato and finally rest.
Let’s see what tomorrow has in store for us.