Basque Country


Quite morning farewell view of the beach.
The Sanctuary of Loyola

Rose, early on day two, breakfast was still an hour or more away, so Roomie and I decided to venture out looking for coffee. It was a lovely brisk morning in San Sebastián; the sun was rising over the bay, and partygoers were finishing the night’s festivities. With no coffee to be found, we enjoyed a walk around the bay and then returned to the hotel. After a tasty breakfast, the group boarded the bus to Loyola and Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France.

Our journey through Basque was stunning, green, lush, and hilly. Upon arrival at the sanctuary site of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, we were in awe at the beauty of the baroque-style gardens, birthplace museum, and Basilica. Ignatius was born into a noble and wealthy family. He was called into a military life where he was severely injured, which ended his military career. Ignatius spent his convalescence time reading about the Saints. During this time, he converted, dedicated his life to God, and founded the Jesuits’ order.

Monument of St. Ignatius Loyola

Our group toured the Museum of Saint Loyola, which houses several chapels. We celebrated Mass in the room where Loyola was born, convalesced, and converted.  A museum caretaker invited our group behind the gates, closer to the altar, which allowed us to participate in Mass as a family.  It was a very emotionally intense and spiritual moment. Father Dan, the priest and spiritual leader of the group, was a military Chaplain serving during the war.  The surrounding was an inspiring place for the moving sermon concerning the suffering and faith of the soldiers’ Father Dan ministered. The desire of these soldiers to open themselves to the Eucharist, the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus and the feeling of grace and the power of the Holy Spirit was very emotional, bringing everyone to tears. Soldiers give up their innocence to protect us. Know it is important we honor our military soldiers, keeping them constantly in our prayers. After a very moving morning, it was time for another meal of pintxos and wine. The table held a variety of small bites of tastiness. My favorite bite was a sumptuous slice of pizza topped with a piece of boiled egg and an olive. I know, boiled egg on pizza, right? I also turned my nose at it, but ya’ll know me, I gotta try it. So glad I did, it was totally amazing. The sauce was light, the cheese was buttery and creamy, and the crust had the perfect crunch.


After lunch, we boarded the bus and headed to Saint Jean Pied de Port (Saint James footpath). The quaint historical village was amid the festival of patron saints. Bands performed up and down the streets, dancing, beer, wine, and treats flowed in abundance, and fun abounded! The Basque know how to celebrate, and our group was fortunate to participate in several celebrations.

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France

We could have partied longer in Saint Jean, but we needed to head across the border to our hotel in Roncesvalles, Spain. Before our group dinner, we met with our Camino guides and were informed of how things would work for the next 11 days. We each chose an arrow with a word that expressed what called us to the Camino. During dessert, we were to share our thoughts on our arrow; however, the meal, following Spanish tradition, was as is this blog, long and drawn out and had to end without the needed closure! The Camino and what called us begins, continues, and changes throughout our walk.

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