From Los Angeles we flew to Madrid, Spain however, perhaps I’m just starting to get ahead of myself in this story. I am currently on what one might call the training phase. Why just yesterday in the span of a few hours “us” pilgrims were blessed, briefed about our route of travel and no more. The Camino has a certain way of filling in the blanks and obviously a picture is worth a thousand words.
Once we arrived in Madrid we took a high speed rail train to Pamplona. From Pamplona we took a bus and then a taxi to St Jean, in France. Why yes, our Camino starts in France; also known as the Camino Frances.
And if you are more than interested about this adventure then here are notes to myself about getting there.
The RENFE (Spanish National Rail Company) website for timetables, routes and fares.
The train from Madrid to Pamplona takes around 3 hours and it is very comfortable and its price is around 50 euro. if you book the train online more than 15 days in advance you can get the Tarifa Web (Web Fare) with a 60% of discount or more than 7 days in advance with the Tarifa Estrella (Star Fare) with a 40% discount.
Now to get from Pamplona to the start of the camino at St Jean Pied de Port, France.
Once in Pamplona it is not so easy to reach St-Jean-Pied-de-Port. There are no train lines crossing the border line to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port (since St-Jean is a really small village) and therefore it is a common practice to take a bus from Pamplona to the little village of Roncesvalles and then share a taxi from Roncesvalles to St. Jean Pied de Port with other pilgrims.
Another option is taking a train or a bus from Madrid (or wherever you come from) to San Sebastian which is a big and extremelly beautiful city of the Basque Country very near the border with France.
Then, from San Sebastian it is very easy to reach Bayonne either by bus (that costs just around 7 euro and takes 90 min.) or by train.
Once in Bayonne, there is a direct train line that takes you to St. Jean Pied de Port. The train takes 1 hour and costs around 7 euro and the journey is very pleasant since you can see the Pyrenees.
Check the TER web site for timetables and fares.
Amazing what one can learn when doing a little research for an adventure. And now back to my twelve mile training hike with a full pack. Just like I plan on carrying on the Camino and the great part is, all of it weighs just a mere ten pounds.