Day 1 // St Jean Pied de Port – Roncesvalles // 32.0 km

“It’s gonna be hard” – they say!

Yes, but no one tells how hard. The whole day across Pyrenees. I thought that half of the way we would be going upward and the other half - downward. The reality was that we had to walk 21 km upward and then 4 very steep kilometers downward. 

I woke up at 6:30, drank my tea and went on the road. I started the journey with two other people- Stephanie from Scotland who was my roommate in the hostel and Rob from England.

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When I stepped outside I immediately felt how humid it is. Just like in the sauna! It didn’t even take me a kilometer of walk to look like I’ve just stepped out of the shower, even my socks and sneakers were moist. Have to mention the fact that socks from the day before that I attached to my backpack were not dry even after the whole night of drying. 

First 10 kilometers were a killer - a very steep walk upwards!

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It was so hot, the legs were getting heavy too. Rob lagged behind, we lost him after about 6 km. We saw metal gates and I had only one thought in my mind - to refresh by putting our faces on the gate. And that’s what we did.

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Steph revealed that this was the best idea. I will never look at gates the same way, our faces felt refreshed for at least 10 minutes. 

First water fountain, yay! Relief.

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Switching my wet pair of socks to dry ones. 

In about 12 kilometers I felt like I was in a fairytale. I can’t explain it and there’s no way of properly showing it with pictures. We went into clouds/fog.

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The most beautiful thing were the friendly animals on the way. They all had little bells on, so the sound and the fog made it felt like a meditation. It continued for 8 kilometers and it felt like I was taken to another planet. 

I walked alone for a bit. I had time to think, but I didn’t do it, because peace was the reason why I came here. So I enjoyed the sounds of the bells, the fog and the animals who didn’t seem to be bothered at all.

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Since we count sheeps to fall asleep - do cows count pilgrims while they’re resting?

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The 17th kilometer greeted us with a grocery shop on wheels.

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I bought 2 bananas and one chocolate mini muffin that cost me about 3 euros. Wow, those were the most expensive bananas I’ve ever bought.

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I was a bit disappointed when I opened the package of my mini muffin. Where is the chocolate?

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Don’t judge a book by its cover - it had a chocolate filling. Everything is alright. This is how I tried to dry my socks, with carabines and paper clips. After stretching my legs and waiting for Steph, we continue our journey. 

Have to mention that around the 15th kilometer we crossed the border into Spain. 

The following path lead us through a pink fairytale forest. At other times it looked like a forest from a horror movie though.

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We were greeted with the most beautiful view of the day on the 21st kilometer. The mountain top was 1450 meters.

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And after that - a rapid path downward, 3.6 kilometer until finish. If I had to choose, I prefer hiking upward. It takes a lot of focus while walking downward, because the legs are already tired, the backpack is pushing me forward and one step the wrong way could make me fall and roll down the hill like the people who participate in that crazy competition where they run after a huge block of cheese down the hill. I am walking and hoping this will end soon. The sun is heating me up, but at least the socks are now dry. 

The batteries are running low at around 23rd kilometer. The chocolate granola bar will never taste this good. With the help of that, the energy has been renewed and I continue my way to the finish line. 

Tonight were sleeping in this penthouse. Feels just like home.

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So many different views seen during the day. What an emotionally rich hike.

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