Roncesvalles, The Journey Begins

After spending the past three nights in Madrid, Spain´s capital, I am finally on my way to beginning the first leg of my month-long pilgrimage through the French Route across Northern Spain.

While people can choose to start the journey from anywhere in Europe, one of the more significant starting places is in Roncesvalles, a small town one hour north of Pamplona.

People do El Camino de Santiago, or the Road of Saint James, for many reasons. Some have religious objectives, others because they want to learn to live simply, or some just prefer to walk among beautiful landscapes.

I myself find many meanings in walking the Way of Saint James, but my most important one, is a self promise made last year, when I started the road for 7 days and dropped it due to bad planning. I swore to myself that I would come back and finish what I started one day. And for me, this day is today!

The route demands of you, that you bring only what you can carry, because you will be walking for several hours, and excessiveness will slow you down and can hurt you.

I am bringing the minimum. In my Atmos 50 backpack, I have 1 pair of worn in boots, sneakers, 2 cotton t-shirts, 2 pairs of sport pants, 2 long sleeve shirts, a polar fleece, sleepwear, 10 pairs of 100% cotton socks and 5 pairs of skintight cotton socks to be worn underneath the thicker pairs. Then there is my hat, sunscreen, towel, shampoo, sponge, toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, hairbrush, hair ties, first aid kit, contact lenses, journal, and sleeping bag. Nothing more.

The following information will be helpful to anyone who is thinking of doing the walk and starting from Roncesvalles: From Madrid take the Continental bus to Pamplona (29€). This is a 5.5 hour ride and then you must take a ATIVAR, S.L. bus (TLF 948 314 091) from here for 4.50€ .

When I arrive to Roncesvalles I will participate in the evening mass which I have heard is traditional to attend whether or not you are religious; it marks the beginning of the journey. Finally, tomorrow, I am off at 6:30 am to begin my hike through the Pyrenees Mountains.

Stay tuned for more!!