Condom to Pamplona - Day 14
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St.Jean -Pied-de-Port to Orrison -10Km (if that!)

A lot of time and energy is spent in discussing the way over the Pyrenees as though it was an attack on K2.

In bad weather there are alternatives that must be taken to the legendry Route Napoleon. I feel I should let the secret out of the bag, most of the route is covered by Mr Macadam's finest finish. No matter, to do the whole trip from St Jean to Roncesvalles in Spain is 21Km but if you allow for the fact it is all up for 80% of the way that is the equivalent of 30Km in one go. ... but fret ye not, I was told of a way to make the whole experience easier and more pleasant

St Jean P de P is the Kings Cross Station  of the Pilgrim world in  Europe, with the exception of the Spanish most people believe this is 'The must start' place for Santiago... it is not, but who cares (The Spanish usually have the good sense to start the other side of the Pyrenees)

So watching the 'grims leave under the clock tower arch in St Jean PP from 06:30 (the enthusiastic and keen) to 09:30 (the not so enthusiastic DB's like me) is akin to looking over a bridge on the M25 during a working week.

In days of yaw people would start their pilgrimage from outside their front door. The cathedral cities such as Le Puy were just convenient collection points to travel together for safety.

My sneaky plan is to walk as far as the new Gite at Orrison and then go over the Pyrenees the next day. The weather is great and by taking it very slowly (in keeping with a man of my advancing years) it is all over by 11:00 am.... another tough day at the office.

On the way I meet Mien again, who takes a photo of me trying to look 'Windswept & Interesting' .... as Billy Connolly would say. Also we have vultures the size of Eagles circling overhead. At one point there are 8 of them circling over me and I wonder what could be interesting them down here. Clearly they are after  smaller  and younger meat than me as they shove off after a few minuets.

Refuge Orrison sounds like a bothy in the middle of no where, but as you turn the corner to its panoramic ledge you realise this is a place for a DB like myself.

The rest of the day is spent drinking coffee, the occasional beer, chatting, reading & even a quick sketch. Or as our son would say 'just hanging out and looking good'

Do I feel guilty about not going the whole way to Roncesvalles?...No not for a second.


A very enjoyable day, great weather and good company.