Irun to Pasajes de San Juan

After a long day we were landing at San Sebastian airport. We arrived at our hotel in Hondarribia and were happy to get a lovely room with view to the sea. The evening was pleasant. The old part of Hondarribia is small and well preserved and after a short tour we sat for a short dinner at the bar next to our hotel (a fortress that is part of the ancient city walls),  and hurried to sleep in order to wake up early the next morning.At six thirty in the morning it was still dark with nice weather . We got dressed with excitement – after two years of anticipation here we are, back on the Camino. Hondarribia is not on the Camino. To our surprise no one in the hotel could tell us where we could find the yellow arrows of the Camino. After much hesitation, we ordered a taxi and asked the driver to take us to the nearest point we could detect. It was a small church not far from Amute Costa.

At last we were on the way, the yellow arrow showed us the direction, the blue morning sky above and everything around us was in lush green tones. We adjusted the trekking poles, took a few pictures and….here we go!!

It’s 07:20 A.M,  19 C degrees and 85 humidity percentage. We’ll have to get used to this surprising humidity . After a few moments of walking up the mountain, the green and quiet forest conquers the heart. For us, who arrive at the end of summer from a dry country, the bright green is a relaxing gift. For 40 minutes a comfortable and shady path  leads us up till we get to a bend in the road, a rest area (it seems that the water is not potable) and to Hermitage de Guadalupe.This is one of the first and countless churches that will be on our way and like this one, the others will also be mostly closed at any time we try them. For us this is one of the unfortunate features of Del Norte. We remember fondly the small chapels, churches and cathedrals on Camino Le Puy.

The ascent continues and we have to decide whether to take the variant that leads up the mountain to a height of 527 meters, top of mount Jaizkibel, or to follow the official trail that leads on the side of the mountain. The warm cloud in which we are moving helps us and the other hikers to make our mind – we will continue on the path. 
The soil of the path we are walking on is yellow marl soil and I think of the wizard of OZ and of the yellow brick road. Where will the way take us? The ground is moist and pleasant to step on. The weather is improving, the cloud in which we walked has lifted and it is less humid. The view of the valley from which we left reveals. At 11:20 the ascent ends and we start a comfortable descent. Among the trees of the forest, on the steep slope, an elderly man walks and collects mushrooms. A few minutes later we meet him next to a spring, filling his water bottles. He shows us some yellow mushrooms he has collected. My poor understanding of Spanish allows me to understand that the water is great and chlorine-free – we stay careful and drink from our bottle. A few moments later we reach the intersection – here you can go down to Lezo or continue to Pasaia. While we are resting next to a clear pool of water, an elderly hiker stops next to us. He says that he also started the Camino this morning but did not expect that there would not be water on the way and now he is very thirsty. We are happy to give him a large water bottle and he, loaded with a huge backpack, continues forward at a much faster pace than ours. 

After crossing the road and a short walk along its edge, we turned left and a view of the blue sea surrounded by green mountains unfolded. The descent towards Pasajes de San Juan was moderate and the shade of the trees maintained reasonable temperatures. When we arrived just above the bay there was one more steep descent left, on a concrete path, and soon we found ourselves in the small town of Pasajes de San Juan. It was 13:20 and the end of our first day. A few minutes later we boarded the ferry boat that took us to Pasajes de San Pedro
From here, according to our plan, in order not to burden ourselves with too much strenuous walking on our first day, we ordered a taxi and headed to San Sebastian with the intention of enjoying the city and return the next day to continue from the same place.

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