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Brian "Gadget" Lewis
Begins: May 21, 2019
Date: Tue, May 21st, 2019
Start: Le Puy en Velay
End: St Privat d'Allier
Daily Distance: 23
Trip Distance: 23.0
Entry Visits: 217
Journal Visits: 3,943
Guestbook Views: 70
Guestbook Entrys: 3
Allons-Y ! (Let's Go!)
Note: throughout this particular trip, I'm going to list distances and elevations only in kilometers and meters --- because it's easier for me (!) and because I think it's just best overall that I think in those terms while I'm here. It's not hard to do a rough conversion, as a kilometer is roughly 6/10's of a mile and a meter is a touch larger than a yard.
Yesterday we were relaxed tourists in Le Puy. Ann got up in time to make the pilgrim mass at the cathedral at 7 am; I got up too but opted to stay and do some minor chores. So she got the pilgrim blessing and a tiny little necklace/medallion and I didn't. She said there were perhaps 50 pilgrims there, maybe 15 of which weren't French.
After breakfast yesterday, we walked and then hiked up on the dramatically situated Chapel Rocher Saint-Michel, took in the views, had a nice lunch, and in the afternoon we enjoyed the town museum.
And then this morning we started our hike, about 7:30 in dry but cool/cold and almost continuously overcast weather. We had almost no rain, but it looked threatening for much of the day. The route was nice --- pleasant scenery, well marked trail, very little overlap with car traffic. Lots of green grass full of multiple yellow plants, I guess primarily daisies. And cattle, the odd horse, lots of bird song along the way.
Another nice thing about hiking today was that we encountered at least three public toilets, at least two of which were put in place specifically for pilgrim. This in contrast to the Camino Frances (oddly named in our current context as it's essentially all in Spain) --- where I can't recall a single public toilet along the way.
We encountered a good number of pilgrims along the way, and exchanged very little in the way of conversation. One couple that we passed back and forth a couple of times with the obligatory "Bon Jour!" greeting turned out to be from Vancouver B.C., which we found out when we sat near then to eat a rather chilly lunch at Montbonnet.
It was windy a good bit today and just a humid sort of cold, so not the best, but as we had to generally climb throughout the day --- perhaps 600 meters of climbing --- we generated a decent amount of metabolic heat and at times were just in shirtsleeves.
While the availability of toilets was nice, water was maybe a little less prevalent, but I can think of at least two opportunities to fill water bottles along the way. And food was pretty thin on the ground --- we brought our own and will likely hit the boulongerie (bakery) in town before starting tomorrow to grab a baggette, plus I think that this one offers some fruit too (small town).
The company that arranged our lodgings and is shutting our suitcases (CaminoWays) put us mostly in lodgings that are fairly close to the trail, with two exceptions where we're to call to be picked up and then driven back to the trail the next morning. This first stop (St. Privat d'Allier) is one of those. So we went into a bar in the little town and ordered refreshments on arrival (maybe 2:30 pm?), and I used my stumbling French and the responders limited English to work things out and, voila! 20 Minutes later or so one of our hosts (Jacqueline) came in, a smiling woman who whisked us along a winding road with some impressive views (including a modest chateau/castle sited over a dramatic canyon). In the car already were a couple of nice French women from near Toulon (I think?), southern France anyway. They had hiked about 15 km today (we hiked maybe 23). We're in a bed and breakfast, but we have "half board" which means that we get dinner too. There are just three couples staying here, and the others are also French, so conversation at dinner tonight will be interesting. I expect I might listen a whole lot more than I speak, not a bad policy in general anyway, n'est pas? It's a comfortable place and we're glad to be here.
Particularly glad as we really weren't in optimal shape to start this hike. We had thought that since we have no car and walk everywhere in Europe we might be alright, but at least speaking for myself, my legs are pretty tired and feet a little sore. This is something to work through to some degree for any hike, but I think I'm usually a little better set up than this time (?). Hopefully several days of hiking will start to set me up to enjoy the walking more, though despite some leg fatigue I enjoyed it well enough today.
It's hard to capture a day of hiking like this, and with dinner tonight the day's adventure isn't quite over yet. But hopefully this gives something of a picture. We look forward to happy hiking ahead on a trail that seems well worth hiking, and we hope that we can improve our French at least a little bit (un peu petit) going forward.
Gadget's Trail Journal
The Camino de Santiago is the name of any of the pilgrimage routes to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many take up this route as a form of spiritual path or retreat, for their spiritual growth.
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