Camino de Santiago, Day 1 | from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles

Jó reggelt, szevasztok …

So it begins… I still can’t believe that I took the first steps, done the first kilometers, experienced the first uphill and the first dead point – already. Like 3 times. So with this, I would like to wish Happy Birthday to Me – something to remember for sure.

2nd of May, big 30th and the 1st day of my Camino.


I remember everybody was like oh yea it’s a bit challenging but not too crazy, everybody can do it. Lie.
Ok, fine… every year, over 250,000 people from all over the world walking on the Camino Frances, which is the main path across Spain. 800 km from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela – plus 87 km to Fisterra.  And in the end, I did it, yes, so you can too… but still…
What I’m sayin’ is, it’s not as easy and it’s not a cotton candy – bubblegum joy as I was previously reading it in articles… And while I was dying somewhere in the middle of the Pyrenees I decided that on my blog I will tell the real deal…


… And Bitch, it’s rough.

I thought that I’m kinda fit. Going to the gym, work those legs and booty – obviously. I like running, a good hour is just a warm-up for me. At work, I had the step-counter in my pocket and a shift was like 15-17 km of running around. I thought I will fucking  DESTROOOY this challenge. Well, I didn’t. It destroyed my ego – …big time. – during the first 2 days and a couple times after.

During breakfast, the hospitalero already told us, Buen Camino, and no pressure but Roncesvalles is already full. Everywhere. There wasn’t much I could do about it then since I haven’t booked anything for that night… Plus I just couldn’t believe that there’s absolutely no bed left at all. So holding on to this spirit, at 8 in the morning, I met Angie, Flavia, and Sam from Liverpool – what a small world, I’m living in Manchester. I got my first birthday wishes and we took a deep breath and…

… started to walk.

We discussed if anyone wants to go slower or faster it’s fine, we will catch up later. Everybody should enjoy and do their own path and speed.
The weather was pretty bad, it was raining, dark foggy grey and cold – felt like I ended up in fucking England again. I didn’t sign up for this, I mean… Spain?! … Hello?!
We saw snow guys. SNOW.
But even like this, I was really enjoying the first few hundred meters and then all of a sudden I started to feel the uphill coming.

20190502_090937ps Was a pleasant surprise – not. Unfair tho’ that on the pictures nothing looks as bad as it was in real life

After 2 km I thought I will die. That’s when I hit the rock bottom for the first time. The view was amazing up there, but my energy level dropped and I started to feel my backpack – waaay too early for these kinds of things.


Not your typical Spanish beach holiday vibes

I heard rumors about this day – a lot. People were saying it’s a good idea to stay in Orisson, which is like 8 km from SJPdP. But I was thinking nah, I’m not gonna stop after 8 km, please. Well, now that I know what they knew, I kinda would.


… Cuz I pretty much died already before Orisson around the 4th km. I had to stop and actually sit down in the grass – that’s when I first met Cindy, my beloved Camino sister, but we didn’t know this yet.
Soon we reached Honto, there was a little bar where I had to collapse again. It was super grey and rainy at that time but still, the view was amazing.


… Another 4 km till Orisson. I don’t even remember how I crawled up there seriously. I had lunch with Angie and Cindy, Flavia was like Road Runner *beep beep*, nowhere near to be seen, probably she already reached Santiago. I got my first ever camino bocadillo with chorizo, cafe con leche and of course zumo de naranja – the essence of all the meals here pretty much, after the vine.

The weather was still awful. By this time you could see nothing further than a few meters, the fog was massive rainy and supercold, I was freezing…
… Meanwhile, according to Google the view from Orisson should’ve been like this:


Mine was like this:


Enjoy, right?

I’m not saying I was disappointed so far, cuz that would be a harsh big word to say, but maybe I was a bit…

Sam stayed here, she suggested maybe we should too, but I felt like it’s too early to stop so, we said Buen Camino see you later, but sadly this was the last time I saw her. We carried on. And on. And on. At one point I was so tired, cold and sad…  I just sat down on a piece of wood and thinking about how much I failed.

20190502_100951.jpgI think it was right here, so crazy to look at it…

I’m not gonna lie and looking back on it – now that I finished it and sitting back home – it’s crazy and sad, but right there at that moment somewhere in the Pyrenees, I felt like I can’t do this. I don’t want this, and this was a stupid idea and I want to go back to Paris. I had no idea where was Angie and Flavia or actually anyone I already knew at least a little bit… I was in a very dark and negative moment. I was actually planning how to quit. Thoughts were running through my mind, how to reorganize my tickets cuz from Santiago I had to go to Madrid from Madrid to Budapest. How and what should I do, and what will people think when I admit to them that I failed.

… And then all of a sudden Cindy appeared, like an energized pink rainbow unicorn from the grey dark foggy tunnel.
– Are you okay?
– no.
Her energy was unbelievable she was there with me for a few minutes and then made me stand up from my sad ass and made me carried on.
– come on we will sing and celebrate your birthday on the fucking top of the hill, and that’s special.
And from that moment I got stuck with her, or she got stuck with me, I don’t know –
… but spoiler alert:
We finished the Camino together.



The weather was getting worst and worst, the surface became muddy and slippery and more and more uphill were coming to our way. It was like a neverending bullshit and then finally…

lepoeder Col de Lepoeder, the top – 1429 m.

We were so happy, cuz we didn’t know that the 5 km long downhill part that’s coming now will be a bumpy ride aswell. There’s 2 way down, one is through the woods with a very rocky path, the other is 800 m longer but much easier apparently. Well, we ended up in the fucking woods – of course. To be honest, the visibility was kind of zero and I didn’t even realize where was a turn to the other, easier path. I didn’t even see when we crossed the French – Spanish border, although it should be a rock there saying Navarra. There was an emergency point in the woods somewhere with a map, and that’s when we realized…

Untitled-3Bienvenido a España … Apparently.

It was really rocky and slippery and dark and felt like we are shooting the new Blair Witch Project. And to top all the good vibes, we started to hear a baby crying. I know so cliché and you are not believing it right now as you read it, I wouldn’t either…  but yes, we heard a baby screaming somewhere in the woods. Cindy was like: ‘ please tell me it’s not a baby left behind in a basket…’ Both burst out laughing, but fuck…

Well no, in few hundred meters we saw a hiker couple with a baby carriage or stroller or whatever it’s called, walking the Camino de Santiago with their 10 months old baby – who gave up a bit right there in the woods I guess, but I totally understood why.


It really felt like Roncesvalles will never ever appear and we were so so so tired by now. I don’t even have any memory flashbacks from the very last kilometers. I just ended up in a machine mode and I was just walking and walking without even looking up – that helps tho’ -… and finally we saw this:


But of course, the story is not quite ready to end yet…

Finally, we arrived to the Albergue and the number of people there was crazy, but it was already full. So my dreams of a relaxed evening ended pretty fast. The hospitalero said that everything is full in Roncesvalles, we have to go to the next town, maybe they have something. We met a guy before Clemens, he arrived earlier so he was lucky, he got a bed here.  Flavia appeared finally and later on Angie too. And people were keep coming. It was uncontrollable after a while, so the hospitaleros started to call taxis and literally send us away to the next available hostels. We took a taxi cuz it was literally impossible for me to walk anymore. The driver stopped in many hostels everything was full, and then thank fuck, he found a place for us to stay in Espinal – 3 km after Roncesvalles. Wasn’t happy to skip a bit like this from tomorrows’ walk but whatever cuz it felt like one of the most amazing thing ever when I saw my bed finally. I didn’t even care anymore about the mixed dorm. Whatever just don’t snore.

It was a nice evening, with great company. During dinner, I met my other Camino sister Marianne from Canada, guys from the US, a Brazilian, another from Taiwan, a group of Spaniards, an English girl, a Dutch man, a Chinese couple and many more… I was just looking around and smiling. All these different people from every corner of the world. Unbelievable. And we were all there to end a horrible day with good food – my birthday dinner, actually –  and a few bottles of wine. That’s the Spanish way I guess… I’m so happy I made it. All the bad moments were gone and forgotten as soon as I arrived to the albergue…

I felt like I wouldn’t wanna be anywhere else now, I wouldn’t wanna spend my birthday differently. Not at all. I am where I should be.

I don’t wanna go home anymore

See you tomorrow,

Buen Camino,



… Jó éjszakát, szevasztok!

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13 thoughts on “Camino de Santiago, Day 1 | from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles

  1. What a way to spend your birthday! At least you can laugh about it now, right? I laughed anyway, really well written and gives a good picture of the ‘real’ Camino.


  2. ” Work those legs and booty-obviously” Had to chucke at that line.
    I´m from Spain and one of my goals is go to Galicia and do the Camino de Santiago. Apart from the tradition, and the workout, you encounter great beauty of nature


  3. Yes, that’s what a real trek is like. Weather not always cooperative… but on such a long trek, there will be some awesome views somewhere. I was feeling your pain as you were hiking up those hills. Funny with hindsight, not so funny in the moment…



  4. Pingback: Camino de Santiago, Day 2 - from Roncesvalles to Zubiri

  5. Spain Stories

    This brings back memories. I usually spend my summer vacation in the Navarran Pyrenees. I´ve visited SJpP, I´ve crossed the Camino at Lepoeder, I´ve hiked almost every inch of the Irati Forest, I´ve gone up to the top of Urkulu, which is near Lepoeder – in short, it´s my fave place in the world. I´ve also been to many places along the Camino, including finisterre. Spain is such a beautiful country – especially the North. No wonder I live here! I hope you come here again!


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  8. Pingback: Camino de Santiago, Day 11 – from Belorado to San Juan de Ortega – The World Through My Glasses

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