This town, in Spanish - San Juan Pie de Puerto, is the most common starting point of all the Camino routes. Literally, "Saint John [at the] Foot of [the] Pass" it lies in the the Pyrenean foothills at the base of the Roncevaux Pass at the river Nive. It is on the French side of the border with Spain and the old capital of the original Basque province of Lower Navarre, on the original Via Trianana, the Roman road linking Bordeaux with the gold mines of Astogaga 760 km west of here.
As you can see from the Briar's Guide route map page I have included below, it is the begining of an arduous ascent to the Collado de Lepoede peak which is 1450 m above sea level, a climb of 1,265 m above the town below. It is probably the most difficult day of the whole route to Santiago de Compostela.
I arrived at about 4:30 and had a good amount of time to explore the town before dinner. A mid size town with (as many European cities do) an old walled part and surrounded by gentle countryside and tidy homes all looking a bit alpine. An air of excitement is in the air as there are many pilgrims in town and they all know the next day is arduous. After touring the town I decided that I should have a good and proper meal before retiring for the night and so found a very nice cafe and feasted on Entrecote with pomme frites and crepes for dessert. With local wine, of course.
My Albergue is a tucked into the old part of the town on the street which goes to the citatedel. There are 3 floors starting one up from the street and it is pretty typical of the private Albergues. At 16 EU a night including breakfast it is just a bit more than I will be paying going forward. My roomates ( only 3 of us of 5 have checked in as of 6:30 this evening) are a Spaniard guy of about 25-35 and an Irish girl who is maybe 25 years old.
I did a tour of the town and it is a very pretty and here are a sampling of photos to give you a sense if it,
As I was explaining at the start of this blog, tomorrow is a difficult day and it is forecast to rain and perhaps visibilty on the mountain will be an issue. I am going to get up at 6:00 am and be on the road when the sun rises at 7:00. Hopefully I will have no problems and be able to share some wonderful mountain top photos when I am next online.