|Posted by camino-medieval on November 1, 2012 at 3:35 PM|
Zubiri - Roncesvalles
Peter showed me the correct tracks in two confusing forks in the morning, so that I started without having to think too much or having to backtrack. the climb was long but not as bad as I remember going down, which is of course different then going up. soon it started drizzling then raining when I got to Alto de Erro. but it was still somewhat ok in the forest. later, in the open countryside between villages, it wasn't so pleasant. I rigorously rested for 15min, twice, in Lintzoain and in Viskarret. in Burguete I stocked, literally, in the supermercado, for today's dinner and for tommorrow's snacks; there are no shops of any kind in Roncesvalles.
but albergue, which is now a big affair on four floors in the monastery complex, had machines selling ready-made microwave food. the new kitchen had four microwaves for that purpose, and stoves. I shared dinner with a french guy, because I made too much, wanting to get 'rid of' the extra pasta.
Roncesvalles - Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port
rain didn't stop all night, or in the morning. I waited till it was full light, and with a catalan peregrino, who only wanted to climb to Col de Lepoeder then continue towards Santiago, we tackled the steep leaves-covered slope, following the former roman road. they were crazy, this romans, how on earth did they get anything up there with carts or wagons? the road is impossibly steep in some places!
after a more or less level stretch on the first part of the downhill ridge I was still protected with a forest. that was good, because when I hit the road, the real fun started. the wind got in full swing, hitting me in the face with the rain, so much so that I had to walk bent over, downhill! luckily it wasn't too cold, but without a shelter of any kind I could only keep walking. after 4h of this battle I reached Orisson refuge, and suddenly found myself below clouds and with no more rain. but a cold wind picked up. it was so strong that in an hour - which I needed to descend to SJPP - the sky was almost clear of clouds and the sun was shining! many of the 34 pilgrims that I counted on the way down must have had an amazing day when they reached the top!!!
the guys of the french association that runs the municipal albergue were really nice. efficient too, considering that they had to manage 300 pilgrims a day in summer! I went to the train station to see what kind of a ticket I can get - as it turned out, only till Genova and with a strange connection in Nice, - the guy was really unhelpful.
Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port - home (in 49 hours)
in the morning I looked up to the pyreness and saw snow on the highest peaks! I took up a residence at a computer, to find out a better schedule, and where in Nice I had to go to get to my next train. then I went to mass to listen to basque singing. it's nice, different. I imagine once people felt like that a bit, not understanding a thing, when the masses where in latin. I expected the basque to remind me a bit of albanian language (both of them being very old) but, unexpectedly, it reminded me of hebrew! then I explored the town a bit, it's lovely, SJPP, with pretty old houses and their inscriptions on the lintels. then I winded away time in the pilgrim office, chatting with association guys and with pilgrims that came in that day. still a lot, considering it was the end of october.
finally, it was time to leave! I got on my train, 18.05, but was deprived of the views because the clock changed during the night and it was already dark. in Bayonne I changed for the couchette to Nice where I ended at 8.33 the next day. there I went to the first train to Ventimiglia and there straight to the ticket office, to get my italian tickets. the lady was very helpful and we figured out the best schedule according to my wishes - I wished to go back the same way I walked (and not via Milano). with some time on my hands, I headed to the sea and listened to the waves baching on the peebles, and the peebles rolling down into the water. the day was cold but without a cloud, and when there were views available from the train - much of the route is through tunnels - they were spectacularm the ligurian coast is really beautiful. in La Spezia I changed for Parma, but it was again so late, 18.16, that I didn't see a thing crossing the Apenines. from Parma a short hop to Reggio Emilia where I spent the night in the hostel.
in the morning I grabbed my breakfast and headed to the train station, going to the first train to Bologna that left. I had a bit tight schedule today, and the italian regional trains are notorious for being late - I had to count on at least 15min! in Bologna I went on the first train for Venezia, hoping that maybe there will be an earlier connection for Gorizia. there wasn't but at least I got to Venezia on time. Gorizia I reached just in time for the international bus for Nova Gorica in slovenia (there are no train connections between italy and slovenia anymore!, italy didn't want to sign some contracts) and bought my last ticket. it was rather strange, waiting at the train station where I could easily understand everyone. I found I had some trouble thinking in slovenian! the last ride was along the emerald Soca river and past the Julian Alps with their snow-covered peaks glowing in the setting sun, a beautiful conclusion to my amazing journey.
my dad greeted me at the train station, and my mom had the bags and the spray ready when I got to the top of the stairs. I didn't want to risk a possible invasion of bedbugs at home, so everything was put in bags, sprayed and left overnight on the terrace. the cloudless full-moon night became a rainy night then a rainy autumn day, probably signalling that it is time for the reality to kick back in.