Following a deep sleep, we spent the morning window shopping and sightseeing.
We browsed the elegant bookshops,
Image – This book seemed appropriate
Stopped for coffee and pastries,
Image – Shop window in Biarritz
and soaked up the ambience.
Image – Biarritz street scene
The morning sunshine was a gentle healing balm, a sanctuary.
Image: Biarritz ocean glimpse
Leaving the hotel, we took a cab through the winding streets to the virtually empty local train station. We were mobile!
Image: On the train
Our possessions for the next 50 days on our backs. The most unexpected thing about this was cutting down on decision making each day, freeing up mental energy for other things.
As we sat waiting for the trains, we wondered, what did the road ahead look like for us? Could we do it physically? Mentally? Emotionally?
Image: Biarritz train station
Excitement, fear, a cluster of emotions if we let ourselves run away with it. Breathing deeply, i focused on being grounded and centred in the present moment. Building to a hot day I just took one sweaty step after the other.
Changing trains in Bayonne, we switched to a tiny two carriage train to St Jean. It was absolutely packed with hikers, packs, walking poles, hiking shoes, all dressed in similar sporty hues. More hikers than seats, the call went round to switch some of us to an alternative bus.
Image: Train to St Jean
The train climbed into the cooler mountains, through the rural landscape speeding toward St Jean Pied de Port. Out the window we watched the lush countryside whiz by, over braided rivers, past small villages and farms.
Image: Landscape whizzing by
Everyone on the train was fairly quiet, subdued, silent anticipation perhaps? Looking around, i wondered if we might have the biggest packs on the train. Further culling might be needed in St Jean.
We got chatting with a few local people but the main conversations were between the non hikers, those getting on and off at the local stops, people chatted with ease and familiarity. I wondered what it must be like to live in a small rural village and have so many hiking tourists converge on your space. A question I pondered many times during the journey.
Image: Train station at St Jean Pied de Port
We piled off at the St Jean Pied de Port station and all the hikers dispersed across the tarmac and up into the town.
Image – At St Jean train station
We had arrived at the starting point of our walk.