I arrived mid-afternoon in St. Jean Pied de Port (means doorway to the mountain) after a long but uneventful flight. Have to admit that I was not expecting a lot from this jumping off point. My actual walk begins tomorrow so I imagined just resting up this afternoon.
Instead I decided to burn off some energy and power through the rest of the day in the hope of having a good night’s rest before starting tomorrow. In exploring St. Jean, I discovered a medieval, walled city that is the center of the Basque region with a great deal of charm and some surprises. Today, the weather gives the impression of our Pacific Northwest…cool and foggy. As you can see from the pictures posted below, the hilly narrow streets appear to have changed little in the past millennium. I stumbled into a quaint music festival with some traditional dance attended by several hundred towns folk. There was also a primitive church dimly lit with natural light and ancient smells.
Most important…I scoped out the beginning of the trail that I will be taking tomorrow. The mountains are blanked in fog today, so it is hard to get a sense of the elevation. However, I know from my guide book, I will be covering about 1400 meters of elevation and 15 miles on Day 1…the first real test of my training!