13 December 2013

Paris to St. Jean Pied de Port, France

Finally, the day arrived! We took an early train from Paris to our starting point on the Camino, the quiet town of St. Jean Pied de Port, France, in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains.

arriving at the train station
After registering for our Pilgrim Passports and finding an albergue (we stayed at the municipal albergue; very cozy and welcoming), we listened to the grumbling in our bellies and set out to find a place to eat. Since we were in a tiny town in Basque Country, we were apprehensive about what we might find, but we finally decided that we could make do with a restaurant called Cafe Ttipia. Boy, did we get lucky! Turns out, our waitress had a vegan niece, so she new exactly what to offer us on the menu. We ended up with an amazing spread of typical (vegan) Basque food: 2 garden salads, a plate of fire-roasted red peppers (called "piquillos"), a massive bowl of french fries (excusez-moi, frites), fresh-squeezed orange juice, and a basket of bread. Seriously, we could not have gotten luckier!
Cafe Ttipia in St. Jean Pied de Port, France
This experience taught us Lesson #1 for traveling well on the Camino: Always ask! In this case, we got exactly what we needed and more from our server: She customized the salads for us (no cheese) and saved us tons of time trying to read the French/Basque/Spanish menu and figure out what we could eat. In future situations, we would save time by immediately learning that the restaurant had nothing on the menu for us. Well, that's helpful too! Better than reading the menu for 10 minutes and letting the "hanger" set it. Communication is key.

little did we know we'd be climbing that beautiful beast the next morning.

After our awesome dinner, we took a little time to enjoy the serenity that is St. Jean Pied de Port, then headed back to our hostel for an early night in. It was there that we met someone who would turn out to be an almost constant Camino friend, along with his travel companion who we met later on. Camino friendships are so special!

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