The first day was the hardest for some, but for me it felt like familiar territory. Mist, cool air and no visibility, it was not unlike the highlands on a misty day. I climbed steadily and met two lovely French ladies from Paris, who were slower, but kept a steady pace a tortoise and the hare scenario. Although for my first walk alone, it was comforting to be around these two; Nicole and Martine, testing my French to it's limits with our conversation as we pushed ahead. Not long after, I broke away and met another 'pilgrim', Frederique who was on the Camino with no money and no plans, just healing a broken heart. So I bought him lunch en route, bread and some delicious Pyrenean sheep's cheese, which was delicious!
We hardly noticed the climb as we philosophised about love, life and the meaning within. So when the sun broke out on the Spanish side of the mountain, we both marvelled at the views. Frederique stayed close to me, a little too close, so when we arrived at Roncesvalles, I paid for his bed and breakfast and sought other company. This could have been my first lesson, not to into caring mode and to let people find their own way.
The monastery was not a disappointment and was larger than I expected. The building had recently been bought by a Dutch group, who had renovated it to a high standard. Extremely efficient and incredibly friendly a happy first day!
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