8 April 2015 – Day 1 of the Camino – Let the adventure begin!!!

How do I start this one off – those on Facebook already know of my frustration of this day – I will try and blog it with as much emotion as I had on the day.  So I am warning you now – if you are sensitive to bad language – stop reading this portion of the blog now.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

We woke up this day with a lot of Enthusiasm – our Camino is finally starting, we are excited but slightly nervous as we know it is going to be a tough day.  We hope that the snow stories are false and if not hey … we can do this.

Just to put that part into perspective – so we are at the Pilgrims office – they tell us that there is about 2km of Snow just outside of Roncevallez, but we can walk on the side of the snow but they do recommend that we take the road to Roncevallez.

We have never been around snow so we are pretty keen to check this out.

So the plan is to get to Roncevallez in about 4 hours (it is 28km from the start) then after lunch – head on straight to Pamplona

The start of the Camino showing us the way:

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This is – oh, about 500m from the hotel, the hill hit is hard, it was expected but well, didn’t expect it this soon.

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The hill is tough, we get to ride now and then – and I can still smile while the others come up the hill.

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The hill just keeps on going – and doesn’t look like it is going to stop any time soon – this is the Pyrenees after all.

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I just stopped to take a pic of this view – not because I am tired – the view is what is breath taking – not the hill that just bloody won’t stop or give us an inch to recover.

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Oh look we are still going up – keep having to remind me that this is the Pyrenees!!!

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The realization is setting in … that 4 hour mark to get to Roncevallez is looking unattainable at the moment.

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Another view shot – and try catch my lungs as they try and leave my body – but wow … the views are really looking awesome.

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Man alive – we might feel like death – but at least these views just keep getting better – The smiles are still there at least!!

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We have arrived at Orrison!!!! This is 8 km from the start – and it only took us about 4 hours to get here … wait? aren’t we supposed to be in Roncevallez by now as per the plan? So we still have 20km to go?? WTF????

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And the views are still pretty damn good though

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Time for some soup at Orrison and another chance to show people we are still having a blast with a selfie shot!!

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Orrison – some pilgrims keep going – the clever ones stay the night here

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Show us the way!!!

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Selfie time, we need to get a pic with the snow at the top there

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Whoop Whoop – some snow!! So glad we got to see the snow – was really worried that there wouldn’t be any by the time we got here.

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This is so freaking awesome!!!!

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This has got to be my best pic yet – HUGE hill coming up and some more fluffy white snow ahead – so we decided to have a snack break.

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Seriously hoping that is the top there …

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Ok, more snow than I thought – but not too bad … at least that should be the top …

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Was hoping that was the top … but let’s get another selfie shot with a view …

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WTF? Ok, so we have to cycle through that … I am sure we can do that … and if you think that is dry ground on the side – it isn’t – it is mud and a fence so we have to walk through the fluffy stuff – this is the start of the end

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Sense of humor leaving at a fast rate – don’t care too much for this stuff anymore …

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As we got through that white shit (yes, white shit, it is not fluffy) we managed to walk about 100 meters to be greeted by some more fucking white shit … We have to go through the middle of those trees … cause that is where the fucking Camino shells are  telling us to go!!

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At this point the sense of humor and love for this snow has completely vanished – to the point of where no more photo’s were taken, you take photo’s of things you love – I have come to the point to say that I fucking hate snow – people who thing hell is all fire and brimstone have it totally wrong!! Hell is you being dumped in a pile of white not fucking fluffy snow and you have to try and get out of it.

I never want to see this shit again – if you dare offer me a snow cone, I am going to punch you in the face followed by a swift kick in the nuts.  I want nothing to do with snow.

We got to a point on this route where there was this little hut – we had to decide on sleeping there or moving on.  There were three other pilgrims who had passed us by now and they moved on.

There was no wood to start a fire in this hut – and Roncevallez was about 6km away and it was 18:30.  This is 6 and a half hours after leaving Orrison – what the fuck happened to our 4 hour trip???

As luck would have it, the way to go was covered in Snow (Surprise fucking surprise) not only was the road covered in snow, it was so high, we couldn’t see the other side of the road.

We had to move around the side – the wan down the snow bank looked easy enough and there was a patch of dry ground that we can walk across once we got down.

Well that fucking dry patch of ground was covered in thistle thorns … so we have snow as far as the eye can see and thorns to kiss us along the way

But we got down but we could see road above so it can’t be too long – fucking famous last words

This trek (from the start of the snow) till the end of it was about 8km long – someone should buy the guy at the pilgrims office a measuring tape for Christmas.

The last picture of snow as we can now see Roncevallez in the distance … We had to come over that …

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Don’t fool yourself – that tar road doesn’t go up in line with the snow … that section of road is fairly flat.

So we saw Roncevallez in the distance at the bottom – I was still too pissed to take photo’s – I was no longer in love with snow.  The trip down by the way had some more snow – but this time there was more mud than snow and the going down was slow as we were slipping all over the place.

We didn’t manage to beat the sun to the hostel – we were running around in the dark – thankfully we could see lights through the trees.

We eventually got to Roncevallez at 21:30 – Pamplona was going to have to wait. 13 hours to do 28km

We were lucky to get there when we did as the hostel closes it’s doors at 10:00 and there is no way of getting in.  But the volunteers there were great – gave us coffee and a muffin and got us a bed pronto – they only had 30 minutes to get us settled.

My brother John was a machine – I have no idea where he got his energy from.  Every snow section – every hill – he managed to get ahead of us – and then he would run back and grab our dad’s bike and take it to where his was – if I wasn’t there by the time he did that – he was making his way back to help me with my bike.

I am very impressed with his fitness level – he is doing something right – he told me that he was broken and he was scared of getting stuck in the mountain – but I tell you what, the guy never showed it.

If he was tired, he didn’t look it, he just kept going and going – he was like a the friggen energizer bunny – and to be honest, the energizer bunnies batter would run out and John will still be going, he would keep going and buy the energizer bunny some more batteries to keep up with him.

The man was a machine this day – well done boet!

The blog will have to stop here for tonight as I need to get some sleep – hopefully I will be able to catch up to the days with the blogging – hopefully we reach our destination early tomorrow and I have some more time.

If I offended you with the language – you are as dumb as I am – I warned you not to read further as the guy at the Pilgrim office warned us to maybe think of taking an alternate route.

This day was hell people – in ending – if anyone had to ask me for advice on doing the camino – walk the first day – send your bikes ahead to Pamplona and cycle from there.

Once I get more pics of the snow, I will upload it as an additional post – I think my dad and brother might have taken some more

Till tomorrow (hopefully)

Be safe!

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6 and 7 April 2015 – St Jean Pier de Port

So it has been a few days since I have been on the blog – it has been a rough couple of days and hopefully going forward, things might be looking easier – but I don’t want to jinx it so I will see how far I can get by updating the blogs day by day.

It has also given me a chance to calm down since day one – the day from hell but we will get to that later.

So I will carry on with updates from arriving to Biarritz and St Jean Pied de Port.

Our flight from Paris to St Jean Pied de Port – same look and feel as South Africa’s Mango or Kulula.  Brother looking so stoked to get going – if only he knew

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My brother from another mother – haven’t seen this guy in years!!! It was really good to see my ol Pal Serg again!!!

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Our taxi service – Caroline was there to meet us at the airport and drive us to St Jean Pied de Port – she was also transferring our extra luggage to Santiago.  Arrival date for the 17th April (I think we are overly positive now)

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Saint Jean Pied de Port!!

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The Hotel

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Various pics from the town:

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Outside the Pilgrims Office

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The Bikes arrive:

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And we thought we were good to go.  We got the bags packed, we even took the bikes for a test drive and my initial look over of the bikes seemed to be ok but as the day went on we realized that the bikes were not up to par.

John’s bike’s tyres are pretty smooth – they don’t look it at first hand but as you look and ride his bike, you come to the realization that they aren’t up to par.

We asked for toe clips for all the bikes – no toe clips came with the bikes so we had to buy our own.

Sergio was the most unfortunate.  When we spun his front wheel it looked buckled, when we went to the bike store to get it checked out – the tyre was damaged and he had to get a new one.

That wasn’t even the worst of it, as the bike mechanic was working on his bike he noticed something and checked it out – Sergio didn’t have any brakes – they were down to the metal already – so we had to put on new brakes.

When I called Bike Iberia to explain the tyre and the wheel – I was told it was an optical illusion due to the white stripe on the tyre – the funny thing is, the white stripe is on John’s bike, not Sergio’s – so it is amazing how another bike sends off the optical illusion to another bike.

I eventually, after arguing with the guy who told me often enough that they are bikers and this isn’t making sense, I gave the phone to the bike mechanic.

Sergio watching his bike getting sorted:

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The rest working and setting things up:

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Finally – bikes are locked and loaded:

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All done and we are ready to go.

The Love Bridge

So there is a bridge in Paris … you write the name of the person and people you love or of the special events in your life … once you lock the lock on the bridge – you throw the keys in the river, so the love can be there forever … unless Paris government brings a bolt cutter and removes the lot!!!

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5 April 2015 – Messing about in France

So … trying to remember a few days back … 5th April … and we had already spent our first day and night in Paris.

I am not going to go into detail but just upload a few pics of our time here …

Spring time in Paris ….

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Pit stop on the way to The Louvre

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 Inside the Louvre!!

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I thought Museums were supposed to be dull and empty??

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The Reason I am here … The Mona Lisa!!!

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You would swear we are at a rock concert with the amount of people shoving and pushing to get to the front …

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Venus de Milo

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Starting a trend in the Louvre …. we did this shot and a few people started following suit

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Notre Dame

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Apple Users:  Your Samsung phone can do what????

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Rent a bike all over Paris … Love this!!!!

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Standing in the middle of Champs Elysees

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Champs Elysees … Too damn busy

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Arc de Triomphe

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We will be back …..

To all those following the blog …. apologize for the delay.

The last couple of days has bee hectic – there hasn’t been much time for blogging or internet access … I am hoping to have some more stuff uploaded shortly ….

we will be back

4 April 2015 – Arrive in Paris

After a nice long flight – we finally touch down in Paris.  All I can say … it was cold!!!

Just messing about – walking towards baggage and passport control .. we walked and walked and walked – ok, there were a lot of escalators …

Just Messing

Waiting for the train to take us to passport control and baggage collection

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John getting through Passport control

John Passport Control

Dad getting through Passport control

Dad France Passport Control

Got the bags

Got the bags

After being dropped off at the Arc de Triomph – ripping the plastic off our bags so we can go find the hotel

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Hotel Cecilia – after walking for about an hour to find the hotel … which was less than 2 minutes away from where we were dropped off *sigh*

Outside Hotel Cecilia