3rd story: Biarritz to
Santiago (02.09.04 - 01.10.04)
August 31st our friend Bjoern
arrived safely at Biarritz
Two days later we started towards
St. Jean-Pied-de-Port in order to
cycle along the famous St. James
pilgrimsway. This is
probably the most famous
Christian pilgrimage route of
all. This is the medieval route
to Santiago de Compostela in
northern Spain, alleged burial
place of St. James, brother of
John the Evangelist and one of
Christ's twelve apostles.
Pilgrimages began in the 10th
century AD and by the 15th
century tens of thousands of
pilgrims were making the journey
from all over Europe.
We were interesting mainly in
cycling and follwed the road not
the hiking path.
First we had to climb the
1057m Ibaneta Pass. Since St.
Jeans altitude is only
150m, this was quite a
climb ! But since we had
climbed other passes before we
were doing okay. Other cyclists
were pretty surprised to see us
on our recumbents managing so
well. Passing through
Roncesvalles we reached Pamplona,
where Ernest Hemingway used to
live and write for a while. Here
we got tour pilgrims pass
which entitles one to stay at the
hostels qlong the route. But the
first night with about 60other
pilgrims in one dormitory was
enough for quite a while.
The next pass, the Etxauri Pass
(841m), was a little bit away
from the official route but there
we were able to see vultures
rather close, only a few meters
above our heads.
We follwed the route through the
Spanish regions of Navarra and La
Rioja, where we cycled through
endless wine plantations.We
passsed through Logrono and
finally reached Burgos, which has
a superb old part of the town and
a most interesting cathedral.
In Burgos we had to make an
unwanted stop because there was
something seriously wrong with
Hendriks gearbox. Hendrik
had already replaced the chain
and both chainrings but still the
system wasnt running
smoothly. The inner part seemed
to be broken. Luckily the Rohloff
company sent the replace part but
we had to wait five days in
rather cold weather ( during the
night we had 5 degrees Celsius).
Replacing the inner part was no
problem and the gearsystem is
doing fine now.
Unfortunately our friend Bjoern
didnt like biking in Spain
and took the bus back home.
From Burgos we cycled across
the Meseta Plateau towards Leon.
This was pretty flat countryside,
but shortly after Leon we had to
climb the 1500m high Cruz de
Ferro. On top of the pass there
is a log with an iron cross on
top. The legend says if you put
down a stone as a symbol of a
burden you will get rid of it. Of
course, we have followed this
From the top of the Cruz de
Ferro it was quite a
descend from an altitude of
1500m down to 500m.Unfortunately
we had to go up to 1300m (O
Cebreiro Pass) the next day. Here
we camped on top of this pass and
had a nearly 360 degree
outlook : in the evening we
had the sunset at one side, in
the morning the sunrise at the
By now we had already crossed
the border to the region of
Galicia and the landscape was
much greener. Now there were only
a few kilometers left before
Santiago but they were hard work:
up and down all the time.
On September 28th we reached
Santiago de Compostela- 961km
from Biarritz and a total of
4389km. Here we received our
Though this was just a part of
our final goal we were as happy
as all the other pilgrims. We
have met quite a few interesting
people on our way, some had even
gone all the way from Germany. Of
course, our bikes were quite
something, many people stopped,
talked to us and even took
pictures of the bikes.
Now we are getting ready for
Portugal where we will meet some
friends and relatives.
It is really about time to head
south because it is getting cold.