Monday, 15 June 2015
Monday 15 June 2015 - Pyrenees GR11 - Day 1 - Getting to the Start
I set off from Timperley at 10.30pm last night. It was strange to be without Sue. Quite different from the feeling when she went home from Luchon in 2013, leaving me to continue along GR10 with Graham.
The midnight bus to London Victoria from Chorlton Street turned out to be tolerable. The brand new bus arrived in London an hour early, at 5.30, despite pausing between 2 and 3am in Birmingham.
That gave me lots of time to squander with a coffee etc before hopping onto the 7.55 Eurostar to Paris.
'Henry in Trouble' - I remember reading a Thomas the Tank Engine story in which Henry breaks down and Thomas comes to the rescue. We could have done with Thomas today. By the time our broken Eurostar had limped back to St Pancras and we'd transferred to another vehicle we had lost over an hour and there was no chance of me getting my connection to Irun.
Eventually we arrived in Paris nearly two hours late. There was no hurry for me as I was told the next train to Irun was the overnight service leaving after 9 pm and taking twelve hours. So much for tonight's hotel booking.
My ticket was endorsed by the guard 'Eurostar delayed - Hop on the Next Train' and I used a left over Metro ticket (thanks David R) to get to the Montparnasse station. Waiting to get a replacement ticket to Irun, I spotted a '14.21 - Hendaye' about to depart. Hendaye is very close to Irun - an acceptable destination. After some debate with the ticket clerk and her boss it was agreed that I could travel on this more expensive route via Bordeaux. Within minutes, a long afternoon in Paris and a second night of travel had been replaced by a TGV whizzing through the damp French countryside.
Hendaye is on the French side of the border with Spain, south of Biarritz, with Irun very close across the border. I expected a short taxi ride to deliver me across the border and through Irun to my hotel, Txoko Goxoa, in Hondarribia. And it did just that, together with another English chap on a work visit who turned up just as I was negotiating with the driver.
Great - I made it in time to have a good chat with 'Patchy' at the hotel, then get some dinner at his recommended restaurant, Zuloaga. (I can't get used to these weird Spanish names.) These days I find it handy on such trips as this to spend the first night in a hotel where I can spread everything out and change my rucksack configuration from 'travel mode' with everything including walking poles inside the sack, to 'walking mode' in which many items such as water bottles, waterproofs and snacks are more to hand.
Gear for this trip is trusty old gear apart from some new Berghaus Paclite overtrousers that I know from previous experience will be ideal.
Dinner was excellent - cod croquettes, perfectly cooked hake in green sauce with clams, washed down with half a litre of nice rosé, etc. It's a 'good food' destination.
I didn't get much chance to take pictures today, not really being in the mood until I reached here, so they comprise Hondarribia's walls and harbour, and a rather uninformative snap of my gear, most of which is unidentifiable in bags. The psychology behind the picture is the weight involved - over 15kg. If I brag about it perhaps it won't seem so heavy!
Next Day - Day 2
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