Camino francés

Germany - France

Arrival Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

In retrospect, my first pilgrimage was like a lesson for me. I made every mistake possible. I packed wrong, planned wrong and I had to learn to give up security, to have confidence in myself and others. Just become more relaxed, well, that's why I was here 🙂. I walked the route in winter, from 18.12.2009 - 15.01.2010. In summer it is too crowded for me there. A current hostel overview with opening hours is appropriate here, not all hostels were open. Some had private parties over Christmas. One had to attach therefore in the afternoon still few kilometers behind to the next accommodation. I had decided to make the foreseeably chaotic journey by train. Thus it went then also on 18.12.09 of Chemnitz main station first direction Stuttgart. There is nothing interesting to report. Funny is maybe that on some platforms recently with wide yellow lines demarcated 2 by 2 meter areas for smokers were set up. Just as smoke adheres to no boundaries, it was just as impossible for us smokers. What sick civil servant brains so produce 🙂.

At some point I left Stuttgart by TGV in the direction of Paris. I felt pathetic, everyone except me was fully occupied with their notebooks and mobile devices. In the late afternoon I arrived at the Gare de l'Est in Paris. Chaotic at this station, starting with the crowds of people rolling through the station, but also what orientation here concerned. Uncertainties in the facial expressions are recognized here immediately, one had people at the cheek, which begged for cigarettes or money or wanted to sell you fake metro cards, because there were long lines at the ticket machines or counters. After some helplessness, which was also due to lack of French, I found the metro and it went in the direction of Gare d'Austerlitz.

Besides a great cold, a construction site of a train station awaited me here. All doors were open, areas were fenced off everywhere, the only cafe, or whatever to call this establishment, was crowded and uncomfortable. But what to eat and a coffee I needed in the meantime, the journey slowly annoyed. Here I had to wait now 8 hours for the train to Bayonne. Because of the cold and the wind in this building I preferred to walk a bit through Paris. The Seine is located next to the train station and I looked at the the barges that were anchored there. Under the bridges, homeless people had set up their tents, some already asleep, some looking out and smoking. I thought about how good I had it and if these people would ever escape this life again. Commuting between walks and the coffee vending machine, I got my 8 hour stay around, but in the meantime, as I learned later, all train traffic around Paris had broken down. A winter onset, umpteen attendants gave information about delays, after the display board one could not orient oneself at all. I became nervous and ran to every train that left the station. The game was repeated until late at night, eventually I found the right train. It was multi split, the train was disconnected on the way, for some it went to Irun, for others to Bayonne, which didn't help anything either. Anyway, I fell on my reserved sleeping chair and during the ride through the night were now and then even small naps possible.

Very early the next morning I arrived in Bayonne. After a decent cappuchino in the nice cafe, I inquired about the departure point of the bus to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Left in front of the station was the answer. After I then but an hour after the regular departure time still stood in vain, I realized I should have asked more precisely. Thus I had another 4 hours stay and strolled through Bayonne. The city has a very beautiful Cathedral and a lively market. In one of the cozy Cafe's I treated myself to a breakfast, even the sun could be seen on this day sporadically. I caught the next bus and after the various private errands of the bus driver, I finally arrived in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

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