Summary of the day before the Camino began including things like mailing items ahead to Santiago…I woke up at Carina’s apartment in San Sebastián at about 8:30 and shortly thereafter we all headed to a neighborhood cafe to have breakfast of toasted bread with marmalade and various versions of coffee.
- Took the Metro from San Sebastián to Irún ; about 30 minutes. If you are someone who likes having a “recover-from-jet-la- night before the night before the Camino (as I do; loved staying at Corazon Puro last year then doing a very short first day by stopping at Orisson for the night), I highly recommend San Sebastián. Generally speaking, I am not a huge fan of cities but this one is l0vely).
- Found the albergue and established it would not open until 4pm.
- Walked in circles trying to use Google maps to find the post office
- Found post office; used Pilgrim’s mail service to send forward my extra pair of shoes (for the 2nd 400 miles, if I make it that far), a pair of jeans for Santiago, and my water reservoir, which I decided I don’t feel like dealing with here (if my pack had an outside compartment for it, that would be great). Luckily I knew something about this mail service because the postal clerk wanted to mail it all to a satellite office in Santiago. I insisted that it needed to be sent to the post office right by the cathedral so he finally called someone and confirmed that.
- Went to a little restaurant recommended by the postal clerk and ate lunch and typed a blog post
- Returned to albergue at 3:30 to queue up. In line began talking to the man next to me who turned out to be a 4th grade teacher from Sonoma who know two of my colleagues in the school district where I work.
- Signed into the albergue and got a lower bunk bed, always a bonus for someone who gets up several times per night to use the facilities.
- Met Nia from Bulgaria and Misako from Japan
- Showered and changed.
- Went to China shop with Nia to buy tweezers (best tweezers ever, btw) and then walked around Irún, which isn’t my favorite city in Spain.
- Found the arrows for the way out of town to be prepared for the next morning. Went to grocery store and bought an apple, banana, and yogurt for breakfast and Norit Viaje for my clothes washing.
- Bought a Perrier at the bar next to the albergue and used their wifi to finish a blog post. The bartender asked me if I was American and when I said yes, from CA, got very excited and told me I was going to be very happy; then showed me an article about the Warriors winning a special tournament. It was very sweet.
- Returned to albergue where Nadine who pens the blog, Begin With a Single Step and is from Philadelphia. We met via our blogs online a couple months ago, and recently discovered we’d be starting to Camino del Norte the same day! The hospitalera put us in a double room. Woo hoo! Such a gift to be in a room with fewer than four people!
- Went back upstairs to eat my yogurt and was invited by Ernesto from Lithuania and Jarve from Germany to join then in eating the spaghetti they’d prepared. Eva from Germany and Nadine also joined us.
- Sat in the kitchen for a couple hours talking with everyone above plus: Martin and Victoria from Slovakia; Mirko from Italy; Javier from Malaga, Spain; Luis from Santander, Spain; Eva from Germany; Daniel from ?; I think that’s it. Quite an international crowd.
- Got shushed at 10:00 by Richard from France. Oops! We didn’t know it was so late.
- Went to our room and realized there was no door so light from the hall, the kitchen, etc. came pouring in.
- Went to bed and as soon as we settled into our bunks (I lucked out with a bottom bunk), both started cracking up because we immediately heard the snoring start from another room; we are on the Camino!
Notes about the albergue:
Nice hospitalera. Bathrooms awkward; only two and they had sink, toilet, and shower all together so waiting was required often. Pilgrims also had no other place to wash clothes, which added to wait. Clean sheets? Maybe. I used my Tyvek sleep sheet. Doorbell rang twice after 10pm. We were locked in (though hospitalera was there so we could have gotten out in emergency).