Camino de Santiago – Day 1. From St-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Zubiri

The first day of the trip. My nerves are still tense, but I realize everything will work out. I don’t know why, especially since I realized in the evening that I didn’t have a charging cable for my power bank. Well, somehow it happened. But it’s good that in Europe, even in small towns, you can usually find small shops near the train station where you can buy any cables for the road. Yes, the price will be higher than at some subway stations in Kyiv, but consider it a tax on sclerosis.

On the train. There are only pilgrims here.

The morning train brings me to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and I go to get my pilgrim’s passport (Credentials), which will need to collect stamps at various POIs. I actually get the first stamp at the starting point. At the same time, I try to talk to the man who issues my passport, and he tells me that I am the third person to start the journey today. I remind him that during the season, about 200 people start the Camino de Santiago, namely its French route, every day.

The first day is the most difficult, so I had only 47 km planned. Running uphill from the start didn’t make me very happy, but I knew what I was getting into. I ran out of town and realized that the weather was a fire. It’s really hot outside and I’m really happy about it. But on the horizon, I see some clouds that worry me a little bit. The thing is that a week before I left, we watched a feature film about the Camino called The Way, which tells the story of a pilgrim father who receives the news that his son died in the Pyrenees on the first day of the Camino. It was a great movie, but it made me a little nervous on the first day.

I run forward, enjoying the scenery, taking pictures of animals, and talking to people – it’s a thrill. Near the beautiful pigs, I had a few words with another pilgrim who told me that a week ago he returned from another Camino, where he walked 70 km on the last day. The guy is strong, but I don’t really believe him.


I run the first 20 kilometers and the trail begins. It’s wet, and snow is licking everywhere, but it’s still a kind of Holosiiv at maximum speed. It also ends pretty quickly, because, after a couple of kilometers, I find myself back on the asphalt. Being a bit upset that my feet have already gotten wet, I continue running on asphalt and notice a sign that leads off the asphalt road into the woods, so I run there.

So, it’s a forest, I’m running along the path signs (yellow arrows and small stone bollards) and someone’s footprints, and at some point, the footprints end. They just end and that’s it. Maybe this person flew away, I don’t know, but what I do know is that I ended up much further down my path. Fortunately, Google helped me figure this out.

I looked at the sky and realized that it would soon snow. I’m in the forest, lost, and the sky is overcast… the first day set a great tone for the whole trip. In general, I decided that I didn’t want to die in the mountains and started to force the slope, just through the snow and bushes. In about 15 minutes I reached some kind of path with footprints and ran along it. It turned out that it was a road.

Already on the way, overtaking the pilgrims

When I reached the asphalt an hour later somewhere on the top of this mountain, I fell to my knees and kissed it. Glory to the asphalt! Honestly.

Asphalt, yay!

The beautiful Spanish word Cerrado

After forcing the mountain and overcoming the pass, I started running down. My stomach was churning with hunger and I decided that it was time to try these huge pilgrim food portions. The first village I came to was closed, the second was closed, and the third was closed. The emergency energy bars I thought I would eat the whole trip are running out too quickly. And yet I find some restaurant where a family is having lunch, and they look at me with a mute question in their eyes: “Why is this bum here?”

After tasting a delicious salad with pears, nuts, cheese and honey, I ran on.

My fuel for the first day.

Again the mountains, again the forest, and for some reason the song Kish is playing in my head, in some incomprehensible language.

В чёрном цилиндре, в наряде старинном,
В город на праздник путник очень спешил.
По горам пробирался и улыбался,
Но камень сорвался в пропасть с горных вершин…

But, now it’s over, I finished in the first place. Several other Koreans on bicycles and a couple of other walking groups finished with me. The owner of the Albergue (who understands almost nothing in English) sends me to a store where I buy pate and baguette, beer, and some (as it turned out, not tasty) lasagna. I thought about buying pasta, but there were only large packs, so I decided not to transfer the food.

Almost a tunnel of lovers

Dinner and other pilgrims

During dinner, everyone talks and gets to know each other. At some point, a girl from Sweden asks me my plans and I tell her that I am running Camino and raising money for a medical vehicle for the military (by the way, if anyone wants to donate, we have not closed the collection yet, so you are welcome, all the details are here). Everyone at the table falls silent and I see that I’m the only one left in the spotlight. The Korean woman sitting to my right quietly takes a picture of me with her phone, I joke about it, and the tension subsides. We talk to people for another 15 minutes, and then the Koreans, seeing my meager dinner, treat me to their pasta. I was so grateful to them.

Supper number 1

After dinner, everyone went to bed, because everyone understands that rest is one of the important components of a successful Camino de Santiago.

For those who are interested in the track and numbers, I’m attaching my track from Strava.

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