For Chris and me, the first step to starting our section of the Camino de Santiago, a hike through Spain, was getting to a town that the Camino officially passed through. Even though the Camino passes through many non-Spanish European towns, we have never spent any time in Spain and wanted to start our hike in Spain itself. This led to our Helpx hosts dropping us off on the side of a highway heading out of town as we started our journey to Spain.
Hitchhiking in France
We came to the quick realization that although hitchhiking is fairly common in Europe, it is hard to travel long distances as all of the roads curve around and go in vastly different directions--no long, straight highways as in the USA! Ten hitchhikes later, we found ourselves a mere 20 kilometers away from our ending location of Gavernie, France.
Luckily, our last hitch was with a local French baker who offered for us to camp in his backyard. Much to our delight, this camping experience also included a full dinner of roasted potatoes, spicy sausage, tomatoes, zucchini, local wine and gâteau à la broche--an ancient style of cake that the baker specialized in. Not too bad for our first long-distance hitchhiking experience in France!
Visiting with some of the workers at the bakery
The next morning, we woke bright and early, took a quick café with one of the workers at the bakery. He sent us off with a small cake, a gift from the baker, and we resumed our hitchhiking to Gavernie.
Once in Gavernie, we admired the tall, tall mountains and decided that it would be easiest to climb over said mountains to Spain instead of hitchhiking there from Gavernie, as was our original plan. We bought our walking sticks--a must for every European hiker, judging by everyone around us--and set off up the incline.
Our way across the mountain led us through herds of cows...
By bubbling streams...
Past the tree level into the Alpine wilderness...
And finally into Spain!