My Camino de Santiago 2017 – Day 0 – Bayonne, France

This space will serve as a live journal of sorts for my journey on the Camino Frances. It won’t exactly be live, but I’ll post as I can, going back into past days and posting what I think, feel, experience, see, etc. each day.

The train to St. Jean Pied de Port leaves in about 45 minutes. It’s strange to be here, just over 3 years after being here the first time. Because this won’t be my first time on the Camno de Santiago, I’m back to where it all began in many ways. I didn’t see how beautiful the town of Bayonne is the first time I was here. Though I only saw a bit a for a few minutes as I walked here from the bus stop, it was nice. It does help that it’s a beautiful day. 

As I sit here and look at the train station sign with all of the departures listed, it takes me back to that day, over three years ago, when I was last here. The sign was so strange and foreign and exotic and beautiful. This is striking because it’s really only a standard and unremarkable train station sign. To me then, however, it was wonderful. It still is, even if only for the nostalgia it evokes. It’s still written in a language I don’t understand. It still holds promise for what’s to come.

I, of course, am much, much different than I was, but it’s that difference that brings me back to this place where I am once again viewing this sign.

The train station sign, in all its unremarkable glory.

I see my destination, St. Jean Pied de Port, written on the sign. It’s the final destination for me, but only the final destination on the train. Once I get off the train, the real journey starts.

I have so little idea as to what to expect over these coming days and weeks. I’ve never been so free or uncertain about what is going to come. Three years ago, I was a completely unseasoned traveler, unsure of what to expect. Now, one of those thngs is no longer the case. The other is probably more true now than it was then. It’s all I can do to put up my hands, take a deep breath, and throw myself entirely into what’s to come, what I’ll call ‘the familiar unknown’. I use that phrase because, on the one hand, I’ve done this before. I won’t go many places my feet have not already trod. My eyes will see nothing all that new.

And yet, I have no idea as to what, exactly, is going to happen. It’s both exciting and terrifying.

There’s a little French boy nearby with his family. He’s a year old or so, with bright blue eyes and wavy, blonde hair. He doesn’t look entirely unlike I did when I was his age.

It seems fitting that I’d see a boy who reminds me of myself as I prepare to step into this familiar unknown. I, too, have to grow. I, also, have to learn what it is to be who I am and where I fit in this world. Much like him, I have to discover who I’ll become.


A pilgrimage is an intensely personal journey, but it is not one that a pilgrim undertakes alone.  I don’t want to ‘talk’ into a vacuum.  I want to hear other voices, too.  What I’m trying to say is, I want feedback!  Have I spoken something to you?  Is there something you think I should know?  Do you have a question about something I said?  Please leave a comment below or contact me at

Also, follow me on the Pilgrim Shelter Facebook page to stay up to date on any new releases and for information about future posts. Thanks for reading!

15 thoughts on “My Camino de Santiago 2017 – Day 0 – Bayonne, France

  1. Coco October 31, 2017 / 7:14 pm

    “My eyes will see nothing all that new.” I find this phrase terribly fascinating. Don’t under estimate your ability to see old things in new ways. (And truthfully I was shocked how much scenery I did not remember walking by or seeing The first time).
    Doing the Camino a second time is like putting a pair of old jeans that your found in the bottom of a drawer. The road is the same but you are so different. It still fits—but you look and feel entirely different on it/in them.
    Buen camino!

    • Brett November 1, 2017 / 2:48 am

      You’re absolutely right. I wrote this several days ago and only recently had time to publish it. I, too, am surprised by how little I remember of the days’ walks. I realize how different I am, and it’s a beautiful thing to come back. It feels like a homecoming in many ways.

  2. maxpatbuch November 1, 2017 / 4:02 am

    I have many memories of Bayonne from May 2015. We toured the city – beautiful – awaiting a train to St Jean. I was sorry that we arrived so late in St Jean, but I really enjoyed the few hours that we had to tour the city of Bayonne.

    • Brett November 1, 2017 / 2:49 am

      I was really struck by how beautiful the city is. It’s not going to be on the itinerary of many travelers, but it’s definitely worth stopping to see it.

  3. Santiago Ways November 9, 2017 / 5:29 am

    Your blog is wonderful, Brett. Please, keep telling us more about your journey. Good luck and Buen Camino!

    • Brett November 9, 2017 / 5:49 am

      Thank you so much. I plan on posting more in the near future.

    • Brett November 18, 2017 / 4:23 pm

      I’ll get them up, with more updates, eventually.

      • Brett November 18, 2017 / 4:26 pm

        Haha I’m glad to help!

  4. notjustagranny December 5, 2017 / 10:51 am

    Hi Brett. wow, your 2nd Camino and walking the same route. That’s interesting and I wonder why you’re walking the same route again? I love your choice of words and expression of how everything is the same and yet it’s different. A bit like a pilgrim after walking the Camino. We look the same, we sound the same and yet we are different. I too found everything to be so exotic and amazing and yet it was probably very commonplace. 😉 I recently walked the Caminho Portugues and it was fantastic. So took me right out of my comfort zone and taught me so much. Buen Camino. Looking forward to further updates.

    • Brett December 14, 2017 / 3:45 am

      The best I can do to explain why I walked the Frances again is to say that I felt led to do so. I’ve walked both the Norte and the route from Porto to Santiago. They’re both amazing in their own ways. For me, however, the Frances is a special place, and given where I am at this point, it seemed like the right choice for me. There’s much more to say, but I’ll likely publish a post about it at a later date.

      • notjustagranny December 14, 2017 / 11:55 am

        I look forward to the next post

      • Brett December 14, 2017 / 10:07 am

        Thank you!

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