We got up at silly o’clock – 5:45 – to get a taxi, hailed for us by a guy called ‘Angel’, to the bus station. We bought Cadbury’s Tokke bars (yum), pop and water for the trip. The bus journey was good, although Lou slept through most of it. We had a desperately needed loo stop where the lights were on a scary timer switch that cut out at an inappropriate time. Bilbao to Bayonne was just under three hours. The coast around Biarritz looked wonderful. Bits were rocky and a smidge like Antrim, only sunny.
From Bayonne it was an hour by train, but we couldn’t get the bikes, still boxed up, the five minute walk to the station. Lou got the tourist office to hail us a cab to the station and I hauled the bikes to the taxi rank, cutting my leg quite hideously. After some discussion in semi French with the cab driver he agreed to take us straight to St Jean Pied Du Port for 70€.
We drove through plenty of hills, which made us pretty nervous, particularly as we could see bigger ones ahead. He dropped us off at the town’s tourist office as we had no clues as to where we wanted to go. There we set about building the bikes. It was blisteringly hot and I had blisters so we tried building them in the shade of the tourist office car park. We did fine up until noon, when it was absurdly hot and we were struggling to pump up the tyres. We walked down to the petrol station – after I stopped to buy espadrilles to ease the pain – and we got the tyres pumped up. We felt bad about dumping the bike boxes behind the dumpster at the back of the tourist office, but we couldn’t find a cardboard recycling bin.
We found a hotel a few yards up the road. It had a pool – woohoo! Swimming in the cool water under a beautiful blue sky with mountains all around was heaven, but too hot for me. I went inside for a nap. We wandered into town to find the pilgrim office at 5pm. It was great. The love child of Captain Birds Eye and David Bellamy gave us our Pilgrim Passports and talked us through the trip. It made everything very real. I became absurdly happy and almost cried. Lou felt excited and fired up too.
We strolled down into town for dinner. We had EXi beer – a Basque brew – bloody lovely. I then had tomato salad – divine to eat real food. I’d lived on junk since Wednesday. We had delicious paella – scrumdidliumptious, a bottle of Spanish wine and came back for a swim before bed. There’s a Petone court just outside and a big game on tonight but in town, not here.
There’s a church right outside, with a bell. I hope it doesn’t ring all night, we plan to be up at 05:30 for our first days ride.