Paris to SJPP: Running for the Train, Making New Friends

Being early meant that we caught our 11:19 a.m. train out of Paris with no trouble. Our connection in  Bordeau-St. Jean was another story. Our Paris train pulled into the station five minutes late, and we only had five more minutes to find platform two. Picture two American women racing through a slow-moving crowd to a blocked stairway to and desperately finding another route as the doors to the train were sliding closed. The conductor’s warm smile and chuckle assured us that they wouldn’t have left without us.

In Bayonne, there was no missing our colorful single-coach train because the women sitting inside at the windows exuberantly waved us in.



Packing 101

“How much does all this weigh?” I ask myself as I put on my backpack with most of the items in it. Stepping on the bathroom scale and doing some quick math, I can see it registers 14 pounds. The goal was 13. “Well, I could wear some of the clothes – that would help.” I reconsider carrying items such as my yoga mat, the headlamp for reading, and the new set of watercolor pencils and sharpener.

Barb received the multi-plug extension which would have let us share an outlet to charge two phones and two Ipads. Handy….a need, not a want, she thought. How much did that weigh? Two whole pounds!? Almost 20% of the total weight she should carry, for just one extension cord! Not possible. It’s on its way back to Amazon.

We’re already having to make hard decisions. What is worth carrying? What can be left behind? How basic can we get and still have what we need? These are the questions whose answers will play out along the Way.

– Judi

Five More Sleeps: Last-Minute Thoughts and Camino Lingo

Departure day is quickly approaching. Just five days remain until Judi and I start our journey! Both of us have been furiously busy – Judi was in California last weekend for her daughter’s wedding;  I’ve been in Maine and visiting with my mum and my sister Peggy and her husband (who are here from Florida).

Today I’m in Candia, meeting some folks for lunch, picking up Euros from the bank, and rechecking my packing list. To restart at square one, this morning I emptied my fully packed backpack and re-examined the contents.  How did twelve shirts get in there? What on earth was I thinking? No wonder the backpack weighed sixteen pounds, instead of something less than thirteen.  I must remember, “To walk far, carry less.”

Last-minute quandaries:

  • Do I bring pajamas?
  • I hate hats….do I bring a hat?
  • What if my fountain pen leaks in the pressurized cabin of the plane?
  • What if my pack doesn’t fit in the overhead bin?

After the trip is over, I’m sure I will laugh at my fretting over such inconsequential things.

Albergue –  basic overnight facilities with dormitory-type sleeping arrangements, usually bunkbeds; synonyms: hostel, refugio.

Compostela – Literally, field of stars, the Milky Way. Also, a document in Latin which each pilgrim can earn by walking at least the last 100 kilometers or biking the last 200 kilometers of the Camino.

Credential – a small document (see picture above) in which the pilgrim authenticates his or her progress by obtaining stamps (sellos) along the way.

Yellow scallop shells and blazes – Markers to show the way to travel.

Finally, and most important, the phrase Buen Camino, which is the universal greeting along the way: “Have a good walk!”

Thank you, dear friends, for all of your positive wishes. We love you, and buen camino, wherever you go.

– Barb