Camino Day 0 - Monday 27/5/2002:

Fix Bayonets!

Arrived around 6:30pm at Biarritz airport via cheapass airline RyanAir (never again.)

Waiting at the airport info desk, I met three fellow pilgrims: two elderly Australian ladies and a retired German; it turned out we'd just missed the last bus to Bayonne (thanks, RyanAir) so we shared a taxi. My pidgin French was enough to get us all to a seedy little hotel slap bang next to the railway station, which would be handy for the following morning's journey to St. Jean Pied-de-port, the point at which we'd all start out on the Camino de Santiago proper.

View from Bayonne bridge
(960x720, 43K)
Cathedral Sainte-Marie Spires
Bayonne (720x960, 51K)

Bayonne's gothic 14th-Century Cathedral Sainte-Marie looked impressive in the evening light, with dozens of feeding swallows circling acrobatically around its spires. (Bayonne's other claim to fame is as the birthplace of the bayonnet in 1718.) The river Nive, shining like liquid metal, flowed under the bridge at a speed that was almost frightening...

Avoiding the town's Irish bar (always a good idea), I had a beer instead in a tiny little local, which had a steady stream of customers ranging from kids buying sweets and cigarettes, math illiterates buying lottery tickets and scratch cards, people coming in for a good gossip with the owner, and seasoned drinkers such as myself propping up the bar eating the house peanuts and imbibing the insipid watery concoction which passes for French beer. I don't know how they stick it -- in any other Northern European country, the dire quality of this beer would have caused a revolution! Still, I suppose the French have other alcoholic vices, though I was never much of a wine drinker.

That would change. Heh.

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