Camino del Norte 2015

Day 1 on the Camino del Norte: Irún to San Sebastian

June 19, 2015

From the moment that I set foot on the Camino Frances in charming St. Jean Pied de Port last year, I loved it. The first three days were like a dream, a honeymoon, as it were. Eventually there were challenging moments, challenging days, physically, emotionally, mentally, and/or spiritually but the joy of those first few magical days kept me going until the next beautiful moment or experience.

There has been no such honeymoon on the Norte. Muddy, rocky trails, pouring rain, views completely obscured by clouds and fog, lack of Camino infrastructure (including albergues that don’t open until 4pm and a youth hostel where the curfew is 4:30am), few pilgrims, aching feet and toes (I’ve no idea why; is my backpack too heavy?) have conspired to make me feel the exact opposite about this Camino (I won’t say the word) that I felt about the Frances. of course, there are those who believe that to be a true pilgrim, one must suffer…

Yesterday I alternated between fantasizing about about hopping a bus to Roncesvalles and being at home lying on my couch watching movies. “Ultreya!” I would tell myself, then slip on a muddy rock or have to find a way to use the “facilities” (ie the edge of the trail muddy and wet) without being able to remove my poncho or backpack because of the pouring rain. Then I would think about all the people following my posts and pride would kick in; “How can I quit? What will everyone think?”

A few hours of sleep have, of course, given me a (slightly) new perspective. It is not supposed to rain today but it is supposed to be more physically challenging.

I told myself I need to give it 5 days and then decide….

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  • Mike June 19, 2015 at 21:43

    Take care, please. – I look forward to your camino whatever path it takes.

  • Jen Hofmann June 19, 2015 at 21:49

    Oh, Elissa. I read Nadine’s post first and now yours — and they basically say the same. It *is* hard when there’s no honeymoon and no gentle foray into the journey. Bam! Rain, mud, unfamiliar rules, and hours of hard walking all conspire at once to end your journey early. This is definitely not the CF and yet I wonder what treasures it may hold. (Easy for me to say from my cozy chair!) sending you warm thoughts and a big ultreia!

    • Sometimes She Travels June 20, 2015 at 07:58

      Great summary of the day, Jenn! It’s difficult not to compare to last year’s Camino but it is so clear that comparisons will not add to the value. Btw, we had our lovely meal together today, thanks to you!!! It was delightful!

  • Holly June 19, 2015 at 23:31

    Hang in there!! I’m sure it will get easide as you get back into the daily rythum. Probably best not to compare your Caminos. Try to think of it as a completely different adventure. Thanks for going through all the pain for me (as one of your loyal readers) 🙂
    This really is so helpful to read since I’m going in the winter and will have similar (or worse) conditions. I never even thought about the challenge of having to pee with all the pack and rain poncho on!

    • Sometimes She Travels June 20, 2015 at 08:11

      Thanks Holly a new day and plenty of sunshine has changed everything! Lol, I got a chuckle out of your last comment; truly, not the kind of thing we usually think about ahead of time but well worth practicing, lol!

  • Rui June 20, 2015 at 01:01

    My friend,
    After the Primitivo, this were the paths that the first Pilgrims took to avoid the Mours and the bandits. It isn’t easy and it’s tottaly diferent from the Francés that it’s lighter, softer or like the Portugués, that is funnier… 🙂
    The North of Spain will get in to you, softly and more gently than you’ll know and it will impact you and make you fell in love with it.
    In the beginning you’ll strange it, but then, it will get under your skin… I hope…!!! 🙂

    • Sometimes She Travels June 20, 2015 at 07:59

      Well-said, Rui. I love the way you explain the difference and I think you are right!

  • Olalla June 20, 2015 at 02:13

    ¡Ánimo Elissa! Hay un dicho en España que dice: “Lo que mal empieza, bien acaba”. Así que lo mejor está por llegar. Un beso.

    • Sometimes She Travels June 20, 2015 at 08:13

      Gracias OIlalla! Me gusta mucho este dicho; gracias. Ahora tengo más aprecio que nunca para nuestros primeros días el año pasado. Pero también ya cosas van mejorando! xo

  • Antonio J. Almarza June 20, 2015 at 10:01

    It´s so hard, but don´t worry! You´ll arrive to Santiago with a new experience…you´ll discover it step by step… don´t be in a hurry, it´s soon… you can

    • Sometimes She Travels June 20, 2015 at 10:44

      Thanks Antonio!

      • Mary June 20, 2015 at 14:03

        Elissa, but…your photos have been so ethereal. Surely all that beauty is leading somewhere. I have been reading every word you have been posting. You are a high adventurer, and that quest isn’t always pretty or comfortable. You have given me warning, tho, to check the weight of my backpack. Keep posting. One never knows what’s just beyond the bend.

        • Sometimes She Travels June 21, 2015 at 07:42

          Thanks Mary! It was just an exceptionally tough day, for everyone out there!

  • Yeni June 25, 2015 at 23:14

    Animo Elissa!!! Fue tu primer día, no sé como hayan sido los demás, pero como una película, no quiero saltarme al final así que los iré leyendo día por día 🙂 Se descompuso mi compu :/ así que no había estado muy conectada a internet.

    Cada Camino pasa por algo. Y cada Camino llega a algún lugar. Ya veremos a dónde te lleva este.

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