Day 1 Sean Jean Pied de Port to Orisson 

I slept well last night! I was very worried about being cold, mainly since I lived in Thailand for two years and because the house had a slight chill. However, I was warm because of the way I made my bed.  

The way I made my bed was: first to place the disposable cover down; I wore leggings for the next day that were clean and asleep cotton top and a fleece with a hood and socks, then I slept in between sleeping bag, and placed the given blanket on top of that. 

My nose was cold when I fell asleep, but I remember waking up and tearing off the blanket because I was sweating. 

We got up, had breakfast, I had travel oatmeal and a coffee, packed up, and left the Albergue. I bought lunch from the hostel, which I recommend because his food is delicious, but tell him the night before!

A few things to consider:

You could leave SJPDP early like most people do and get to Orisson around late morning, be she the walk is only 2 – 3hours. 

Or you could stay in SJPDP until after lunch and arrive at Orisson afternoon. We did this, which worked for us!

We got to explore SJPDP for hours, which to the cathedral, went back through another way to the citadel, and observed the town shops open for the day. 

I took so many beautiful photos. The city is charming, and I had lunch at a local spot recommended by my hostel owner called Cafe des sports! We considered buying cheese from the cheese shop but decided against it, but next time I will not pass up buying French cheese! Plus, the owner Marianne (I believe), used to work at Orisson, and when we walked by, she gave us the sweetest smile. 

I stopped to buy cherries and plums from a local grocer because I need to have fruit daily, and breakfast so far has included much fresh fruit. So, I felt prepared, plus fruit helped me with staying hydrated. 

Anyway, to the Camino!

The downside of leaving in the middle of the day was … THE SUN! The sun doesn’t bother me because I don’t have issues with sunburn, and I am used to living in the tropics and being hot. But this is something to consider if the sun isn’t your thing. My friend did end up getting a sunburn on her arms. 

My takeaways from the walk to Orisson:

Yea. It is quite an incline. It isn’t an exaggeration like I thought. It isn’t impossible, and I think it is worth doing because the scenery on the way and even at the Albergue is breathtaking. But it’s a challenge. 

It isn’t horrible the whole way (like I read,) but there are parts where my heart was beating out of my chest. These were the moments I stopped and let my friend go ahead if she needed to. 

I would find the shade and just stand, which felt glorious compared to walking uphill, haha, and stabilized my breathing. 

Again, take breaks!

Use these breaks to hydrate and take photos because you will see cute homes and farm animals. 

When I work out in the gym or my everyday life, my mindset is to push myself as hard as possible. However, this isn’t for that. When the walk became unpleasant, and I felt overwhelmed because I was so exhausted, I stopped and remembered why I was there and how lucky I could move it in the first place. 

What also helped was the cycling speeding through because 95% gave a jolly and pleasant bonjour! Which was nice. 

What I found fascinating about the walk was that right when I thought I couldn’t go anymore, there would be these stretches of flat road, and it would be a reprieve.

So, it was interesting how my body and its limits kind of coincided with the physical landscape.

Another Takeaway I had was that the last kilometer of the walk was the hardest.

The last kilometer was brutal for me because I made a wrong turn which I will explain later. 

It was also brutal because either you have been walking for hours and you are ready to sit comfortably or just hit the refuge. 

The last kilometer is quite a steep incline. So, keep that in mind and even take an extra-long break before there. 

My walk took quite a turn. During the last two kilometers of the walk, there is this left turn. At that left turn is a stone platform seat-looking thing, with the colored strips. I thought this meant I should make a left because I stopped looking at my map. Also, at this point, which was very weird, a local man in a car pointed out his hand from the window, and I thought it was motioning for me to that left off the main road. The timing was odd because I was super tired, and that turn was a decline that was shaded and idyllic. 

I walked (it was a frolicked like I was in a fairytale) down this path for twenty minutes 🙁 It was the best part of my walk, and I took amazing photos, but at some point, my intuition kicked in, and I looked at the map and realized I was so off course. I was disappointed in myself. Almost cried. And I felt stupid for not checking my map and being responsible.

I also was dreading walking back to the hillman road, where I saw a crazy incline.

I also planned to sit on the stone seat at the intersection but couldn’t because someone else had the idea, which made me grumpy. However, it felt nice to see someone else embrace rest during this challenging portion. 

I made my way up this last stretch, and with the sun and my water on low, I had to dig into my last spiritual and emotional reserves. 

It was physically strenuous, but the mental difficulty was worse for me, which is why I am going on this trip to use physical motion to strengthen my mind. I felt my mind give up before my body wanted to. 

I used music for the last kilometer, which helped me so much!!!! I played it out loud and just vibed to the music and got that extra boost. 

Then you see it! Orisson refuge. The name is fitting because it felt like my savior. 

I immediately filled up at the tap. But, unfortunately, the faucet was a slow trickle! 

I rested inside for an hour and had my lunch and electrolyte water. 

Btw if you leave during the middle of the day, drink electrolyte water during your walk. I should have. Also, I couldn’t see the gaps along the way, but some other pilgrims did. So maybe ask the office for clarity because I could have used the extra water. It was annoying having to portion out my sips, and I didn’t anticipate how tough the end would be. 

So, I will wrap it up with some notes about Orisson:

Its strong points aren’t necessarily its facilities and comfort BUT ITS VIEWWWW!!!!!!! So many locals or tourists drive to its outdoor patio for food. The deck extends out into the valley. It’s extraordinary. 

I found the room comfortable and clean. I was in a bunk with four other women. 

You leave your shoes outside the doors of the dorm room.

You get a coin for the shower. You get five minutes which was oddly long enough. I had an extra minute! Make sure you are completely nude before you put the coin in the machine. Also, hit the button to start the shower immediately. My water was not hot for a few seconds, so I used that time to lather up! 

In each bed, you get a disposable sheet and a thick blanket, and a long tubular pillow with a disposable cover for it. The mattress has a protective, washable cover. Unfortunately, my bed wasn’t clean when I got it. There were like crumbs on the bed, I think, or some debris and a tiny stain or two on the cover. Which was cringe for me, but I had to sleep there! 

I also got a large cubicle with a door to store my belongings! 

The bed was comfortable, and I slept well overall. I used the albergue’s blanket as a bed-fitted sheet because I didn’t need that level of warmth. I also wanted a barrier between myself and the stained mattress. The tiny stains were haunting me. 

There are no outlets in the room. There is a charging station with plugs, though. 

Dinner was hearty and with large portions. 

I was happy I didn’t get there early. I had just enough time to stretch in the sun, read my books, and just relax until dinner. 

There isn’t a comfortable, cozy resting area outside of the dorm bed. Although inside the restaurant it is nice but chilly. I read my book on a flat picnic bench and laid it out on that. 

Another thing. It didn’t get dark outside until late in the evening. When I put my eye shield on around 9:30, it was still light out. I recommend an eye mask for the light. 

My only complaint about my stay was that the toilets had no seats—just toilets. You can’t sit down to use the bathroom or line the toilet. That was a huge turn-off 😂

But I was grumpy, so everything was a turn-off, and I compared everything to my Albergue in SJPDP, which isn’t fair. 

I washed a few things but made sure to remove them before I went to bed and the dew because I would wake up to wet clothes.

I got up at 6:00 am, and it was dewy out. So, I sat outside and relaxed for an hour. 

Breakfast was bread and coffee and in a bowl! I had my instant oatmeal and coffee. 

That’s all for now. 

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