Pictures of our first few days

I´m resting today to give my lungs a break and finally get those germs out and gone. I decided to stop at the only internet cafe (called Locutoria) and upload a few pictures from my camera.

Here is team Nestor with the only one missing being Stephane who will joni us closer to Santiago.


We started in Hernani and walked a short distance to the local albergue in Aduna.




We then headed out towards the village of Beasian. Most of the walk was either by the river or short distances through the villages.




The weather has been cold with some sun, it snowed in the Pyrenees and more cold fronts are expected as we climb tomorrow to reach the Tunnel Saint-Adrien, altitude of 1145 meters. Should be a good climb!!
Cheers from Basque Country

Give me steam, steam and more steam!

After a night of semi sleep and coughing, the morning seemed good.
We left the albergue at 8 am with the clouds visible over the Pyrenees and cold winds whipping around us.

Most of the walk today was by rivers and in small villages. I found a new adaptor and also got a SIM card and Euros loaded so that we can stay in touch without taking out a mortgage!

We walked about 16 km today but when we arrived to our planned destination around 3, we discovered that the Youth hostel was really a bar (not so great) with rooms to rent (€40 for two people) and the rooms were horrid.

Our next option was either a 6k walk or we choose a 10k train ride (a whole €1.85 each) so the women took the train while Patrick and Jean walked Nestor. It seems Nestor doesn’t like trains and vice-versa.

Meanwhile I started noticing my lungs were making crazily sounds so time to steam myself up and get rid of this again. We found the albergue but it is in a heritage building ( old, nice but rather cold) so I pulled my first “I’m getting a hotel” card.

Already after 2 very long steamy showers I feel better. If I still am feeling the sane tomorrow I might hop another local train and skip the 20k and 800 meter elevation and meet them at our destination.

This road is a much less traveled one and folks seem to stare a lot! When Nestor appears they simply are amazed! We often hear “WHAT, you are going to Santiago??????”

With so many people with phones, it seems Nestor is once again a star! We actually met a few local donkeys on the way – you should hear them call each other! I’ll film it next time it happens.

I’ll update my Facebook with pictures…
PS the snow is quite visible in the Pyrenees!

Visit to St Vincent de Paul’s home

How amazing is this; I visited the actual birth place and home of St Vincent de Paul. He was born in the village of Pouy near Dax in 1581 and was canonized in 1660.



I then visited the local albergue where Stephane is an hospitalero.
Tonight is a special local celebration of which I will post photos later on and a youtube video.

Tomorrow we head off to meet up with the rest of team Nestor, and we should be setting foot on the Camino by noon or so France time (6 am EST). My next blog will be from the Camino in Spain. Please keep in mind that the route we are following called the Bayonne route is much more secluded than the other routes, therefore my updates may be delayed.
Please don’t send for the Guardia Civil quite yet. And remember, the Camino will provide.

My last cheers from France for a while

Visit to the market

Today I spent most of the day at friends Stephane and Dolores’ house. Stephane took me to the local market. Can you say AMAZING cheeses, sausages and of course, foies gras.





YES, that does say donkey milk (NO for me thanks) and yes, they do make donkey sausage (NO NO and TRIPLE NO for me thanks…)


We had a great lunch (in case you are wondering what is on our plates, those are massive white asparagus). Stephane and his grandchild Zoe made a Tarta de Santiago for Team Nestor in honor of our departure tomorrow.



I am a French pilgrim !

After a tough night of coughing I woke up feeling much better. Patrick and I decided to follow the Camino trail to an old church. It was a good 10 kilometer walk with some decent climbs.




It rained when we started our walk therefore I did get to try out my new poncho which is so big as it typically covers the large backpack as well. It was interesting to see how little the Camino signs are in France – nothing like the large yellow arrows we find in Spain.

We visited the church Sorde de l’Abbaye and had a pilgrim lunch so now I feel I have not only officially started my Camino but had the opportunity to walk the Camino on the side of France.




The old building seen here is a very old hospital de pèlerins built hundreds of years ago. The trees are in full bloom here.



This location was used as a wash area – notice the scrub stones. The other picture is of a fixture for your horse, donkey or unicorn it seems!




So now I am ready for our first steps on the Camino in Spain. My feet are fine, my lungs are getting better each hour and life is grand!
Cheers from France

Foies Gras

Today Patrick took me to a local producer of foies gras. She showed us the entire production process.


She buys her chicks when they are one day old; and they roam around until they are between five and a half to six months old. Then for 20 days they are feed specially cooked cornmeal. I will skip the next few steps to get us to the canning stage, then the packing for shipping everywhere around the world.





Now that I know all the work that goes into foies gras I have a much better appreciation for this delicacy.

Nestor gets new shoes

We headed out to meet up with Jean and Nestor where Danièle would join them. Jean started off near Bordeaux with Nestor 10 days ago. Nestor had to be fitted with shoes as his hoofs were not all grown back from his last Camino that he made two years ago.

Jean and Nestor made it to Saint-Jean-de-Luz, very close to the spanish border. Nestor had some problems with his shoes so a specialist meet them to re-install Nestor*s front shoes. It was quite an experience to see how this was done.

First the shoes were heated up and burnished onto Nestor’s hoof for a first fit – I can tell you this created a terrible smell and lots of smoke. The specialist then adjusted the shoe to fit perfectly. The shoe was put on with 3 nails each side. The nail goes into the hoof nail part and due to its form and position co,es out of the outside of the hoof. The nails are then bent along the hoof, hammered along side the hoof and trimmed.

Nestor now has better shoes but must take a day of rest as he now has a bit of tendinitis in his right front leg. A good day of rest will do him good. This will also allow Danièle and Jean to enjoy a day together after being apart for 10 days.




It was nice to see Nestor again. He looks rather shaggy as he is shedding his winter coat. He didn’t play strange with me.


Marie-Jo and I headed back on the coastal road which allowed us to see the ocean. Tomorrow I get the day to myself (with Hancock the dog) and I will take the time to catch up on my blog.

Flexibility is key to my travels

On our departure day I found myself coughing more and more. Danièle called her doctor who agreed to see me under very short noticed. The prognosis was an early case of bronchitis which my Sweetie at home had a few days before my departure from home.

Armed with 1175 grams of 5 various medications (that is 2.9 lbs) we headed out to our friends Marie-Jo and Patrick who live in a small village called Saint Lon Les Mines near the town of Dax. These are the friends who spent 2 weeks with me in Ottawa this past fall.

They live on a beautiful property surrounded by valleys of spectacular beauty. They rescued an old 1862 house that was in ruins and over the past 30 years they have turned it into an amazing abode.





We shared a great meal and caught up with our respective news. Given my increased coughing Marie-Jo suggested I stay back and recover at the house, and leave on Sunday with them. They are joining Team Nestor for 10 days. I agreed as I now know that flexibility is key when I travel. This does mean we will meet up with Nestor and friends on the Spain side which is fine.


I will no doubt be in a much better state to start my Camino.
Cheers from France