The call of the Camino is very strong and, if you’re meant to go, it’s not going to go away until you do something about it
3. The skeleton: writing a plan, part 1
A pilgrim’s journey
Writing a plan should be the easy bit….writing is my ‘thing’ but then again a sentence that contains writing and plan together kind of scares me. It suggests that I commit to something and I have to confess that I am a little bit phobic when it comes to the ‘c’ word!
Back to the guidebook seemed like a good start and now, well thumbed, I consulted Sergi for some inspiration. How far did I think I could get in a day, walking or cycling?
The guidebook seemed to put 3 walking stages together for cycling and that at least gave me a basic idea of what I could attempt.
But what the guidebook didn’t seem to help me with was how to get to St Jean in the first place.
If your spirit harbours Camino dreams, go
Initially, we wanted this journey to be a real ‘pilgrimage’, for spiritual rather than religious reasons, a journey to savour, to experience each moment of reflection from the time we headed out of our front door. I wanted to unravel myself from the past few years, remembering where I had come from, and looking at where I am now. My partner, he just fancied a long walk/cycle.
To take the hard route is a great exaggeration but we didn’t just want to wander out of an airport and onto the Camino, looking freshly made up and fabulous!
But time, as they say, waits for no man, and time is a commodity which is in short supply. When faced with a train journey that might take a day or more, eating into the time that we could spend on the trail, we opted for sensible and took the flight option.
Flying high to begin….
Bordeaux,Toulouse, Tarbes/Lourdes, Pau airports
then take the train to Bayonne; change to the train for St. Jean (see above)
Biarritz airport, then
bus #14 to the Bayonne SNCF train station; then either the train to St. Jean taxi or the Express Bourricot to St. Jean (one hour and approximately 80 euros in the daytime)
These flights all take about the same time so it is a matter of choice, although I would check out the link below as it tells you exactly how long each transfer will take which should help you make the first difficult decision:
We have opted to fly to Biarritz, flying on easy jet. As I am sure you know already, book as early as you can because the flights just get more expensive as the date approaches:
Going to Biarritz obviously entails a bus journey so check out http://en.biarritz.aeroport.fr/location/biarritz-airport-access.html for more information and also http://www.chronoplus.eu/ftp/Plan_reseau_Chronoplus_sept2014.pdf
And to end….
We don’t have the time to complete the whole Camino experience to Santiago this time so we needed to decide exactly where to stop our trip, somewhere that would still allow us a sufficient challenge when we return later in the year. And consulting books, brochures and websites that I have already mentioned, we decided on Leon. It still means that there is a good bit of walking to come back to later!
The easiest airport to Leon seemed to be Madrid so flights booked, again with easy jet.
There are quite a few trains that take you to Madrid from here – http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/ – although I did find this website more difficult to negotiate: although it starts out with English, as you try to purchase tickets, it is all in Spanish. I am learning Spanish, but I am not sure that I trust the little I know quite yet!
With all that ‘planning’ and researching, I think it is time for a well earned walk with the dogs!