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Upcoming 500mile/800km hike: Southern France, over Pyrenees Mtns, then across Spain

Melensdad

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Are we there yet? Uh, no, not yet. Depart from O'Hare Airport on Wednesday.

Packed the backpacks about 10 times, probably repack them 10 more times in the next few days. Going out for some last minute items today ... because we lost some stuff we bought so now we have to replace things like soap ... maybe if we would stop packing & repacking we wouldn't lose anything.

My (big/heavy) camera will stay at home, a compact camera will go instead. No iPad or computer, but I will have a small Amazon Fire tablet for some updates. Phones are switched to international mode. $'s converted to Euros and Passports are ready to be presented at various borders. Deciding on a few last comfort/luxury items ... will they fit & how much do they weigh?

The lovely Mrs_Bob is taking a rain poncho, but no rain pants. I'm hiking with my rain paints, rain jacket and waterproof pack cover ... but just in case, mini C-PAP machine (doctor says I stop breathing 47 times each hour?!?) will be repacked into a 'Dry Sack' just to make sure it's electronics don't get soaked in a rainstorm. We hike rain or shine.

Zero risk of snow crossing the Pyrenees; we could get cold because we packed light. Might buy some cheap insulation layers after we get there that we can discard on the Spanish side of the range depending upon the local weather forecasts. We will decided on taking or buying an extra insulating later at the very last minute.

The lovely Mrs_Bob and I depart Wednesday, but Melen will be joining us in early July. Melen, and our 15 year old Goddaughter, will be flying to Madrid, connecting to Santiago, then taking a bus to Sarria where we (hopefully) will be waiting for them. Then the 4 of us will continue to Santiago and then to the Atlantic.

Totally unplanned, but this year is a Catholic year of "Divine Mercy" and on those years there are generally celebrations along the trail we are following. Also, again totally unplanned, we will be in Santiago for the Feast of St James celebrations. The remains of St James are buried in the Cathedral at Santiago so the whole city should be a giant celebration/festival/party.
 

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Doc

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Wow, time flies. Here you are all ready to go on this fantastic journey. Enjoy. Will be thinking of you guys and your trek.
 

Melensdad

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Safe travels and best of luck on your endeavor

Have a great time. Keep us updated.
Thanks.

I'm planning to take my iPhone to snap some photos and also a small Amazon Fire tablet with a wi-fi connection. Apparently some of the places along the route offer free wi-fi. So with any luck I'll be able to supply some periodic updates of the trip.

We land in London the morning of Aug 9. We stay with my sister for just along enough to get over jet-lag. Then we go onto Biarritz.

I believe we will be walking across the border from France into Spain on the 13th or 14th. Pamplona about the 16th? We will stay in Pamplona for 2 nights to rest/recover from the first part of the walk. Our plan is to walk for about a week, stop for 2 nights to rest/recover. Walk another week, stop for 2 nights to rest/recover, etc. etc. etc.
 

MNoutdoors RIP

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mini C-PAP machine (doctor says I stop breathing 47 times each hour?!?) will be repacked into a 'Dry Sack' just to make sure it's electronics don't get soaked in a rainstorm. We hike rain or shine.

Bob, at that rate you might want to cut back and check that your coffee creamer is not mislabeled and it's really morphine! :unsure: and have dammmmmn good batteries
 

Melensdad

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Leaving out of O'Hare Airport tonight. London in the morning. Biarritz, France on the 11th or 12th?

A friend of mine from Alaska is about 8 days ahead of us (he is approaching Pamplona today) so no chance we will be able to meet up with him and his family. He's walking with his wife & 2 daughters.

Lots of last minute stuff to do around the house today before we depart. My sister-in-law will be house sitting so at least the lawn (should) will be mowed and its unlikely we have to worry about anything major.
 

Melensdad

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House sitters have all their instructions.

Backpacks packed & unpacked & packed again. ugh

Don't think I forgot anything. Valuables in the safe. Copies of passports, etc made and in the safe.

Flight leaves about 10:30 tonight. Leaving for the airport plenty early, we have TSA Pre-Check as 'trusted travelers' so we should (hopefully) breeze through the short security line for Pre-Check passengers only and go sit in the Admirals Club lounge while we wait for the flight. But with O'Hare security being such a cluster lately I'd rather get there early and make our flight than get there on time and miss it because we are standing in a security line. Last flight we took out of O'Hare, even with Pre-Check, was still about a 30 minute wait to get through security ... non-Pre-Check passengers waited in line for up to 3 hours and many missed their flights.

Have a few hours to relax before we take off, I think everything is ready.
 

Jim_S

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Hope you have a good trip!

Be careful, don't over do it.
 

Melensdad

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Hope you have a good trip!

Be careful, don't over do it.

Getting ready to leave the house shortly to head up to the airport.

And I think this trip is the definition of "over doing it" :hammer:
 

EastTexFrank

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Bob, tell me in the most general of terms, what are you doing for cash on the trip???

Getting ready for out Scotland trip in 5 weeks, we are stymied about currency. Nobody seems to want to use Traveller's Checks anymore. We can transfer dollars to our son's account and draw on that but there has to be a better way. Nobody around here knows anything about depositing dollars in to a Pounds Sterling account to use a Debit account while we are there. I'd be interested to know how you are handling it?

If you feel more comfortable, PM me.
 
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Doc

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Bon Voyage Bob. Have a great trip.

Frank, I was talking to a guy who recently visited Italy and the topic of money conversion came up. This was not his first time. Conversions and fees at the bank can get expensive. So he talked with his bank card company (not sure who that was) but got it okayed to use his card in Europe. He would use the ATM's over there to get cash (Euros). He said he had to be careful to only get what he planned to spend or a tad more as the money was pretty much worthless if he brought it back home. So he took it out and spent it that way. He said it saved conversion fees. All 2nd hand but thought it might help.
 

EastTexFrank

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Bon Voyage Bob. Have a great trip.

Frank, I was talking to a guy who recently visited Italy and the topic of money conversion came up. This was not his first time. Conversions and fees at the bank can get expensive. So he talked with his bank card company (not sure who that was) but got it okayed to use his card in Europe. He would use the ATM's over there to get cash (Euros). He said he had to be careful to only get what he planned to spend or a tad more as the money was pretty much worthless if he brought it back home. So he took it out and spent it that way. He said it saved conversion fees. All 2nd hand but thought it might help.

Thanks Doc. That's probably what I'll do. Last time we were over, about 4 years ago, we used traveler's checks but it seems that is old fashioned now. They've pretty much gone to the same place as the flip phone. How quickly things change these days. :biggrin: It used to be easy when I had a UK bank account. I just transferred dollars in to it and cashed checks when over there but I closed that about 6 years ago after my parents both died and I had no further need for it.
 

Melensdad

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I got 1200 Euro in cash from my bank. Fee was $20. I also use an American Airlines credit card that has Zero foreign transaction fees. I pull cash from ATM machines if/as needed.
 

Melensdad

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Just my dumb luck but it's the Queens birthday celebration so we walked to the Gordon School, where the Queen is the patroness, to see their celebration parade. The school is only a 1/2 block walk from my sisters house. We get up early tomorrow and fly to France but the couple day visit here has allowed us to acclimate to the time change.
 

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tiredretired

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Getting ready to leave the house shortly to head up to the airport.

And I think this trip is the definition of "over doing it" :hammer:

It would certainly be more then I could handle and I consider myself to be reasonably good shape. Just know your limits, that is hard for us old guys sometimes. Enjoy your trip, you have been planning it for a long time now.
 

Melensdad

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The start of this hike is brutal. Pyrenees are beautiful but steep. The lovely Mrs Bob injured her knee. I have a bad sore throat, I also have a sprained wrist from a fall. We are currently taking a rest day in Pamplona and may not get out of bed.

We are officially the slowest walkers having need passed by an old man who smokes Camel non filter cigarettes while pushing a 3 wheel cart. He is Dutch has pushed it over 2500 kilometers and is heading to Santiago which will have him at roughly 3300km.

Scenery is beautiful. We hiked through a hail/rain storm for a day and a half. Watched eagles as they soared below us while we were in the mountains. I'll try to get some photos up here soon.
 

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Melensdad

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Hiking passed Orisson (everyone else stopped, we pushed on into bad weather)
 

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Melensdad

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People die out here but there are prayers too.
 

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Melensdad

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Sometimes the sun comes out, but ... Did I mention hard rain? Hail? Sometimes we'd be high enough we see rain on the next mountain below us but we would be dry(ish).
 

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Melensdad

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Met up with a Brizalian guy who only spoke Portugese and a 70-something Spanish guy who only spoke Spanish. The old guy never stopped. He just plodded along slowly. We finally lost him when we passed him on a long descent. The 4 of us communicated by pointing, using a couple Spanish words, looking at the trail map, etc. made for a lot of fun.

Many of the trails are rocky washouts. Had it been racing hard along some parts of he trail the trail would have turned into a nasty water slide down the mountain.
 

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bczoom

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Sounds like you had a bad start but things are getting better.

Looks like Melen sent along a school project (the stuffed varmint). What's the story there? (We had to do the same for our kids school when we went to Hawaii).
 

Melensdad

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Just thought the sock monkey would be fun to carry and might identify me from behind on the trail, but we've been hiking mostly in rain so the rain cover has been over the top of the monkey. So then I decided to put him in some photos.
 

EastTexFrank

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Hey, I thought that this was supposed to be a walk along what was essentially established roads, basically a stroll through suburbia. :whistling::whistling:

Some of that looks rough enough to definitely be classified as a "hike". Hang in there. How are you and Mrs Bob holding up?

Sorry, I missed the first post in the series!!!!! Looking at what you are going through, that's definitely a lot tougher that I thought it was going to be.
 

Melensdad

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So far the vast majority of it has been rugged trail Far more rugged than I would have previously guessed. Far steeper too. Should be tamer today as we leave Pamplona. We do have a good climb today but I think (hope) it is easier than the last few days.

The lovely Mrs Bob rested her knee, I think it needs more rest and maybe a brace too?
 
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