“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness” - Mark Twain

Camino treks have taken their hold on us and this year we decided to mix it up with a new destination and season. \240 There are a number of ancient Camino pathways through France used by centuries of pilgrims making their way to Santiago.

We decided to tackle the Way of Le Puy - Via Podiensis in South West France. \240We start in the high plateau of the Massif Central at Le Puy-en- Velay then drop suddenly to follow the Lot River Valley with its succession of fairy tale villages. \240Next is the rolling expanses of the Gascony region before we enter Basque lands to finish at St Jean Pied de Port on the border of the Spanish Pyrenees.

We leave Seattle on Aug 19 and our 10 Toe Journey starts on Aug 22.

485 Miles in 38 Days... Join us along the Way with \240this travel blog if you’d like...

‘Live with no excuses and travel with no regrets’

After 6 months of planning and training, we head out tomorrow for our ‘jaunt’ through Southern France. \240Weather looks good for the first week - no extreme heat or heavy rain in forecast 🤞🤞🤞.

After a couple days of luggage ‘gymnastics’, we finally got 6 weeks of travel into 3 bags that don’t exceed our weight limits (33lbs per bag). \240It was tough but we managed!

We’re off to Paris then flight to Lyon. \240Overnight in Lyon and train to Le Puy. \240A check in with the Pilgrims office in Le Puy and we hit the trail on Thursday morning.

If you’d like more info on the walk, this is a great overview: https://ilovewalkinginfrance.com/walking-chemin-de-saint-jacques-du-puy/

Bon Chemin!!!

Sarah & Arne

‘Always the Journey, never the Destination’ - Simon Rattle

The Journey begins.... smooth sailing so far. \240

Mount Rainer rose above a cloudy Seattle day to bid us farewell.

And Charles De Gaul Airport - still a grand dame of architecture - gave us smooth transfer to Lyon with all luggage and bodies on time.

A rainy afternoon in Lyon worked well for our jet lagged bodies. \240With only a quick trip to a local mall for the one thing we forgot - toothpaste!

Have bike will shop....

Had our first language snafu at dinner - ordered a burger and asked for cheese. \240Waiter said ‘in the burger’? \240Arne said ‘no - on top’ and here’s what we got - it was ‘on top’ 😜😜

Taking the train to Le Puy today and start our Ten Toe Journey in the morning. \240The ‘Yak’ is chilling before loading all the luggage - rain & hiking gear turns out to be pretty heavy.. 😜

Didn’t even start our walk and the Camino has already provided. \240Our direct train to Le Puy stopped - all directions were in French and fortunately the only other person in our rail car was French to understand we had to get off the train and go outside the station to find the bus to Le Puy. \240He said ‘follow me’ and we’ll find the bus. \240Again, the Camino provides...

Bon Chemin!

(French call the Camino Le Chemin so we’re adapting to our new language)

‘You’re off to great places, today is your day. \240The Mountain is waiting so get on your way’ - Dr Seus

Today is the start of our 10 Toe Journey in Southern France starting in the Velay Region of volcanic spires and gorges. \240We leave from the town of Le Puy.

It’s the home of the Chapel of St Michael - built on a volcanic spire in 962AD to commentate the local bishop’s Camino pilgrimage to Santiago. \240How was this construction even possible??

The Cathedral de Le Puy is a stately grand dame of Catholic architecture and history. It’s the starting point for one of 4 original Camino pilgrimage routes to Santiago Spain. Charlemagne also made regular pilgrimages to the Le Puy Cathedral. Today, it’s a gathering place for folks like us starting our Camino/Chemin.

We took the time, like others, to light a candle at the alter of St James as good karma for our journey.

After a pleasant evening of the local lentils and sausages dish along with a huge beer for Arne and local white wine for me, we set out on Day 1 of our Journey.

Day 1 is a good day to document the ‘before’ of the feet as they prepare to battle the Camino/Chemin as they won’t look this good for another 90 days. 😜

Today’s hike is 14.5 miles of mainly uphill paths through the lentil fields and other crops in this very agricultural region with very rich volcanic soil. The French countryside is beautiful with stunning old stone homes & barns all connected into one structure.

It took us a while to get our heads back into looking for the Way markers which means you have to be in the moment and consciously know where you are - one is the biggest Camino ‘gifts’. \240We soon realized how to look for the Red & White waymakers to find our way. \240See if you can find it in one of the pictures below..

We encounter 8 other pilgrims today - mostly French along with 2 Spanish women carrying really heavy backpacks. \240No other Americans or native English speakers yet. \240Arne is learning the art is how to look pitiful and hand gesture for his beers - and it’s working so far!

Our day ends in the hamlet of Saint Privat d’Aller perched on a hillside rock cropping. \240The village is built around a stone church constructed in 1633 and still used. \240This small town lost 24 men/boys in WWI and 13 men/boys in WWII.

Guide book says tomorrow is one of the toughest days on the Chemin so we’re off to bed early to ‘prep’....

Bon Courage!

Sarah and Arne

‘Nothing ever comes to one that is worth having except as a result of hard work’ - Booker T Washington

Last night’s lodging was a place you would drive by if you were in a car but if you’ve walked nearly 15 miles to get there, it’s an oasis. \240Even the duck dinner you eat sitting next to the bar of locals watching a French Kareoke reality TV show seems acceptable under the situation.

The Camino guidebook called today both strenuous and challenging as it’s 13 miles of seriously steep & rocky ascents and descents as we walk out of the Gorges area of Southern France. \240The day starts with a village local strongly suggesting we bypass the steep rocky downhill of the first couple of miles and offering an alternative road version. \240Problem is the road version has obscure directions like ‘take a right after this corn field’ and ‘follow this path along a stream’ that sounds like the perfect recipe for getting lost so we decide to take Mr Washington’s advice and do the hard work. \240The kind villolocal acknowledges our decision and gives one last bit of advice that in France the rescue helicopter is free - not sure what to make of that ‘advice’ but we carry on....

The path is super steep and rocky in places. \240We come across a rock tribute to path and decide to place our own rocks on it to ensure safe passage for the day. \240Our rock karma worked and we finished the day exhausted but all in one piece.

Part of the reward for the hard word was checking out this 12th century chapel and tower which were built to protect Pilgrims in early days. \240

Today’s path is in the deep gorges area of the Pelay region - famous for its rock formations and river gorges- tough day but the views were worth it. ese steep hills were a significant part of the French Resistance in WWII and were also home to many Jews in hiding from the Germans so it felt like we were walking on special ground.

Days are also getting hotter (84 degrees). \240After 5 hours of tough walking in heat, \240you look for any spot to find shade - including this farmer’s barn which worked for a much needed lunch break.

Speaking of lunch, after two days of asking, it’s official that you can’t order a ham AND cheese sandwich. \240Yesterday’s attempt resulted in one half of bagette with ham and other half with cheese. \240Today’s inquiry resulted in the cook giving me a look of distain and a quick ‘Non’. \240So in France, \240ham & cheese shall never meet. \240We’ll try to survive.

One of the consistently neat things about the Camino is the ‘art’ you encounter along the way. \240Today’s path was a mother lode of creativity.

By Day 2, you’re also starting to meet your fellow pilgrims. \240The two sisters I thought were Spanish are actually from Puerto Rico. \240I’m looking forward to an evening of wine & beer to have discussions with them about how they view things in DC. 😜We also chatted with a young Frenchman who is camping - which means his pack is insanely heavy (35 lbs) to include his tent and he admitted sleeping on the ground was harder than he hoped. \240Not sure what possesses him to take thanks challenge but kudos to the effort.

All is well that ends well and we managed to end another day with body and spirit intact! \240Bon Camin!

Sarah & Arne

‘One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things." — Henry Miller

9.9 miles - rolling hills

25,000 steps

82 degrees

Today was another opportunity for the Camino to show us a new way of seeings things. \240We spent last night sitting on a plaza eating Pizza (yes French Pizza and it wasn’t bad) while the owner’s dog watched us put every morsel in our mouths.

This morning was a slower start (after a home cooked breakfast - even the yogurt) as we realized we only had an 8 mile walk which means we could walk backwards and still arrive at our lodging for hours before it opens. \240

So today is about a slow ramble to our next destination- a ramble through the farmland and milk (cow/goat/sheep) area of the region.

It’s nice to watch the farmers as they work and smell the fresh cut hay in the morning. And visit with the horse asking for a head rub...

What detracts from this peaceful start to our day is when we walk around the corner and see the local 80-something farmer standing in his \240red bikini \240briefs not boxers tossing day old baguettes to his dog and wishing us a ‘Bon Jour’. \240His legs are as sunburnt as his red briefs. \240As the Camino passes right through his front garden, it seemed appropriate to wave and say ‘hi’ without acknowledging his ruby red briefs. \240No picture to provide you but rest assured it’s etched in my memory. 😆

Today’s our hottest day (85 degrees) so it’s a welcome stop at the dairy farmer that opens up his garden for pilgrims and sells cold drinks. \240We also run into the Puerto Rico sisters (Wanda & Dolly) who really struggled yesterday and are moving slower today. Wanda is a committed \240Camino piligrim. \240She walked from Canterbury England to Rome last year - took 4 months. \240She trains by doing racketball in PR as they don’t really have hiking trails.

Look carefully beside the hay bales in the farmers barn and you’ll find the toilet. 😎

If you know me at all, you know I’m pretty competitive so the thought of stopping after 4 sloooow hours was painful. \240Our lodging is also a Gite (aka hostel) in a VERY small hamlet so it’s a WTF are we going to do for the next 7 hours before we go to bed??? 😳😳 It doesn’t help that we’re told no bags/luggage allowed in our room as a bed bug precaution. \240WTF??....

Bad attitude is setting in and then the Camino provides.... today turns out to be a people day. \240We’re sitting outside out Gite stewing over how to kill a long afternoon and a young couple (fellow pilgrims) come up and sit down to talk. \240Turns out they are from Slovakia and have been walking from there for 3 months and are walking to Santiago Spain with a goal to arrive before end of November. \240Both quit their jobs, are camping out and contacting priests in a village to ask for food and lodging - some priests have said ‘no’ 😡 but most have opened their space. \240If they can’t find a priest - which it seems it hard to do in France - local people have given them water and food. \240Don’t mistake them for beggars as they are not - they don’t expect but if you offer assistance they are grateful as they are trying to live off Euro 100 per week for 2 people- we spend that in one day and our lodging is prepaid!! \240 Just when we thought nothing else could impress us, we learned the women is an insulin diabetic and they sacrifice weight in their packs for her insulin.

Totally rewarding and humbling... another reminder of how the Camino provides.....

14.5 miles - rolling hills

33,778 steps

82 degrees and sunny

What started as a boring stay in a super tiny village ended as a great evening with two other pilgrims in a comfortable Gite (combo B&B and Hostel). \240Two solo women pilgrims joined us - one from Austria (having started her Camino in Geneva so she’s been walking for 20 days already and planning to walk to Santiago) and the other from N. France and walking to Conques.

They are both carrying their packs with all their belongings and we’re reminded our 3 bags being transported each day are a big luxury but that’s A.O.K as each \240person’s Camino. 😜

Today’s start is delayed to allow the ‘girls’ to make their way from the field to the barn for milking. \240More than 30 cows follow their farmer thru the village as part of a ritual they do daily.

We’re walking into the Aubrac region and the landscape changes quickly to resemble the Moors of northern England and reminds us of our Coast to Coast Walk.. \240Turns out this was a Celtic area of France in the past. \240Also turns out our days of climbing have taken us to one of the highest elevations on this Camino as we peaked 4,450ft today.

We shared much of today’s walk with horses as they roam freely in this area and are friendly enough that even Arne was able to say ‘hi’.

We ended today’s segment in Saint Albin sur Limagnole - one of the larger (still small) towns in the region. \240It’s a sleepy Sunday and a friendly inn keeper who provided a couple of ice cold beers after a long hot day so all is good and the Camino continues to provide......

Bon Camino!

Sarah & Arne

‘People don’t take trips, trips take people.’ - John Steinbeck

10.3 miles - steep and gentle hills

25,665 steps

82 degrees and sunny

Short day today as we start into The Aubrac region. \240But it’s 5 days of \240walking so the legs are starting to feel a bit heavy by the end of the day. \240Sun is also pretty intense and draining after 5 hours.

The Aubrac region is a high volcanic rock plateau that runs for 45 miles. \240Barren, rocky land that is home to 50,000 of these Aubrac breed of cattle. \240

The region is also home of the popular Laguiole knives that some of you may have in your kitchen. \240They really are works of art and shops here have single knives that sell for over Euro500!!!

Today we were out of sync with our guide book (actually we forgot to look at it 😜) so we didn’t anticipate the steep rocky up and downs of the trail. \240We managed OK but only because we trained a good bit before we left Seattle as these kinds of days are hard on your feet & ankles and also run the risk of an injury. \240So far we’re OK in both departments.

The stone villages of these part of France continue to be super picturesque and also a sad combination of decline in many places - just like rural areas in the US.

I really love the old barns the best!

No better treat at the end of a hot day than THREE scoops of ice cream.

We’re staying in the same Inn as the Puerto Rican sisters tonight. \240Hopefully the wine will be flowing and we’ll get into some ‘good’ conversation! 😜

Tomorrow is a long (17.5 mile) day in the heat so early night tonight!

Bon Camino

Sarah & Arne

17.5 miles - rolling hills

41,635 steps

Cloudy and 75 degrees

Destination: \240Nasbinals France

It’s our first full day walking in the Aubrac plateau and I think we met most of the 50,000 cows that spend their summers here.

The Plateau is at 4,100 ft elevation and the beautiful rocky terrain reminds you of the Moors of N. England. \240We were expecting the French version of Heathcliff to appear around most corners.

It’s a long stage of the Camino (almost 18 miles) on tired legs after 5 days of walking. This terrain can be punishing in bad weather (rain or heat) and we were lucky to have a cloudy cool day. \240The Camino certainly provided today.

In anticipation of a long day, we got up EARLY and made it to the bakery before the baker was even finished with his baking.

I was the baguette and croissant Yak today as there’s no shops on the way and we didn’t want to go hungry!

This barren landscape is beautiful and one of my favorite days so far - even with the long walk to get here. The Celts were in this region in early times and you can tell their influence.

We left the Puerto Rican sisters behind today as they stop a town before our destination. They are \240worried about the forecast for the latest storm/hurricane so a shorter day works best for them.

We picked up an Aussie couple from Melbourne today so the rolling Camino encounters continue. Brian is a retired veterinarian and Jody is a landscape architect. \240Interesting, friendly people who asked us ‘what’s the deal with Trump?’ as soon as we met them so we knew they were great!! 😎

Today was the first day we encountered some of the Camino graffiti we enjoyed in Spain. \240Underpass tunnels are a treasure trove of ‘art’ and expression.

Early night for us so we can recover and do it all over again tomorrow. \240At this point, we’ve walked beyond anything we trained for and we still have 5 more days of walking before our first rest day. \240This is the ‘out of your comfort zone’ part of the Camino which I really like. \240Arne is less a fan...

Bon Courage!

Sarah & Arne

11.5 miles - cow paths & rocky descents

28,156 steps

78 degrees and sun/clouds

Nasbinals to Saint Chely du Aubrac

After a fun evening with the Aussies, it’s off to Saint Chely along the start of the UNESCO World Heritage section of the Le Puy Camino. \240The next 40 miles are UNESCO classified for the unique terrain, villages and architecture.

It’s a later start for us as we take our time in the village of Nasbinals to check out the cafe with Tour de France jerseys - the town was a staging point for the 2017 Tour.

The church is imposing from the exterior but pretty unremarkable inside - but its held up since 1125 and that’s impressive.

This town is popular in both summer and winter as this region gets a lot of snow so it’s a popular cross country ski area in the winter. \240Today’s Camino signs had the odd intersection of hiking and skiing directions. \240Arne took time to check out this warming hut

After what is becoming an unfortunate trend of a difficult early climb, the trail rambles through Aubrac plateau myriad of cattle fields with stone walls. \240There’s strict instructions regarding the cows you’ll encounter and a warning not to anger a cow by walking near her calf. \240All good instructions until we come to a gate we must pass thru and ALL the calves are huddled around the gate.

Big guy Arne starts to have his own cow and declares we have to stop and stand there until the cows decide to leave. \240I remind him we have bigger brains and sticks than the cows and we can use both of them to get through the gate. \240Reluctantly, Arne agrees and we pass safely with only some odd looks from the cows for all the commotion. 😜

The village of Aubrac is midway in our walk today.

It’s a charming village with a couple of top quality restaurants that people travel from long distances to try. \240Sadly, we didn’t know this and still had cheese croissants and pastries from our morning bakery stop that needed to be consumed so no Michelin lunch for us!!

Although this local canine managed to sneak up and almost take care of our lunch before we could eat it. \240It seems he’s done that a time or three by the look of his big fat belly. \240Arne managed to save the day....

Aubrac has the remains of a 12th century monastery with a famous bell that once rang to guide travelers crossing the plateau in bad weather.

Our stop for the evening is Saint Chely d’Aubrac. \240Once a hub of activity in the Middle Ages but now a quiet village of 500 people making a living off Camino travelers and farming.

After what ended up being a longer & rougher day than we anticipated, it’s a welcome stop. \240Especially welcome after the last 2 miles of steep rocky descent to arrive here. \240It seems the pattern of these Camino segments are tough uphill first thing in the morning before you’re really awake and then steep rocky downhill to finish the day when your legs & mind are tired. \240Welcome to the Camino getting you out of your Comfort Zone!

Bon Camino!

Sarah & Arne

Aug 29 - 11.5 miles - hot and hilly

Destination: Saint Come d’Olt

Aug 30 - 15.5 miles - really hot and hilly

Destination: Estaing

We’re 9 days into walking and have covered 120 miles - 365 miles still to go!

No blog post for yesterday (Aug 29) as we had our first (hopefully only) mini meltdown day on the Camino. \240Started with a hot and hilly day on our way to Saint Come d’Olt which is billed as one of the most beautiful villages in France.

It’s a beautiful village but also a really DEAD village on this last Thursday in August which is the French vacation month. \240After sitting in the hot sun waiting for our B&B to open, we get shown up to our 4th floor attic room with no window. \240Not gonna happen on a boiling hot day! \240I contact our travel agent and before Arne can get out of the shower we have a super pissy French woman drag our bags to another room while yelling at us in French. \240It’s 90 degrees so at least we got a room with a window.

What we didn’t get was dinner as we couldn’t ask the pissed off French woman to prepare our dinner (as is customary) so we walked to the only restaurant in town to learn it was fully booked. \240At that point, panic started to set in as we haven’t really eaten since our 3 croissants breakfast.

Fortunately the patisserie was still open so we managed to get end of the day pastries and a cheap bottle of rose.

We had a left over chocolate bar from our pack so we make it a full meal. \240BTW - the French woman was still pissy at breakfast this morning. 😳

Today was a new day on the Camino and as usual started with a kick ass climb to enjoy beautiful views

We’re in the Avelyon region now and walking near the Lot River.

Landscape has changed from the high open plains of the Aubrac Plateau to the forested hills and valleys of the Lot River. Cows are are still our constant companions regardless of the terrain.

The trail is as strenuous as usual but the villages and towns are postcard worthy. \240This part of the Camino is still in the UNESCO World Heritage segment.

Espalion is a fabulous town on the Lot River with a castle on the hill town from the Middle Ages.

And an 11th century bridge over the Lot River.

It’s also a busy market town where pilgrims can pick up lunch and other goodies for the route.

These jambon & fromage sandwiches with extra butter were AWESOME and kept us going thru the afternoon heat - which was 93 degrees!

Today’s route had plenty of old Roman era churches. \240We’re not religious but it’s still special to walk into these historic dwellings and feel like you’ve gone back centuries in time. \240They are also cool so you get a respite from the heat. 😎

After baking in the afternoon sun longer than we hoped, we arrive at our destination - Estaing - another ‘most Beautiful village’ in France. \240The Estaing Family was one of the oldest in France and produced a lot of famous knights and crusaders. \240But the name expired with the last male heir was guillotined in 1794. \240The town still stands and it’s a good place to end our day!

Bon Camino!

Sarah & Arne

Day 10 - 10.5 miles (more hills and valleys)

85 degrees and sunny (with a few clouds)

Destination: \240Golinhac

Last night turned out to be another ‘adventure’. \240Our B&B made a mistake and gave our private bath room to another guest so we were left to share a shower & toilet with the couple in another room. 😳😳

Trying to figure out the ‘protocol’ of the shared shitter and bathing with strangers who don’t speak your language was more complicated (and stressful) than we thought. \240Who gets to shower first? \240Do you send your whole team in or is it a ‘one of us- then one of you’ type thing?? \240Does the light stay on all night or go off?? \240Do we all have to share that nearly empty roll of TP?? Tough questions to ponder... we made it through the night and set off early this morning without having breakfast with the other couple in case our shared shitter protocol was way off!

We did manage to have a great meal last night - tender veal with a brown sauce. \240Our dinner companions were another Assie couple that have been on our same schedule for the past 3 days. \240They’re a nice couple with a bittersweet story. \240They walked this Camino and then continued onward to Santiago (1,000 miles) in 2015. \240They are back for a short section as a last hurrah as he’s developing Alzheimer’s at an early age (they’re our age) and it’s their last adventure together. \240He’s pretty checked out and not able to communicate but physically strong. \240You can see the sadness in her eyes. \240Bittersweet...

We also ran across our first fellow American (besides the PR sisters). \240A solo guy from Charlotte NC who’s done four 500-mile Caminos in 18-months. \240Not sure what his story is - and there’s bound to be an interesting story..... he’s also a guy who tells you he’s done it faster, longer, harder than anyone. \240If we don’t run into him again, I’ll be A.O.K!

We’ve been walking long enough to recognize most of our fellow pilgrims. \240As I’m sitting outside our quaint inn for the night (with our private bath!), one of the more interesting pilgrims walks by. \240He’s a guy around our age walking on long blue jeans (in this crazy heat), carrying his belongings and chanting. \240He doesn’t talk - just chants. \240Probably doing his Camino in a very spiritual way, \240whatever works... 😎

Golinhac is a tiny but quaint little hamlet up on the hillside with a great view.

Like this view from our room.

Two of the ‘locals’ greeted us on our way into town. \240That bull is a serious dude! \240I’m sure he’s worth a fortune as this area takes their cattle VERY serious.

Tomorrow is a long walk into Conques. \240One of the highlight villages of these entire Camino and more importantly, home to our much needed REST DAY on Monday!

Bon Camino!

Sarah & Arne

Day 11 - 14.7miles - standard hills and valleys

Cool 69 degrees and cloudy!

Destination: Conques

We reluctantly left our little oasis hotel after a delicious home cooked meal, a good nights sleep and awesome sunrise view.

Gazpacho, homemade pate, roast duck and garlic potatoes with a fruit dessert. \240YUM!

Nice view to wake up to!

Our destination for today is the village of Conques - another UNESCO World Heritage site on this Camino. \240As most of these beautiful villages, it centers around a huge church. This one was dedicated to a 12-yr old girl who was murdered by the Romans in 303 for refusing to sacrifice to pagan gods. \240Her remains where brought to Conques in 866. \240The history around these structures is really interesting. \240We’re saving Conques to tour tomorrow as we have a REST DAY!!!

Today’s journey took us through very lush green pastures and fields.

With small villages along the way.

It’s a sleepy Sunday but we scored as we found 2 small markets open - there’s not much to buy in these markets but when your breakfast is a single croissant and coffee, it’s not much fuel for a 14.5 miler - even when you pile on lots of butter & jam!

We felt like we hit the mother lode with the cheese, croissant, nectarines and chocolates we found today!

If there’s an open market, you’ll find plenty of backpacks sitting outside as they aren’t allowed inside.

Our great picnic lunch was marred by the fact Arne sat on a tree stump and the but of his pants are now gooey with sap. \240Where ever he sits - he sticks to the furniture. \240He only brought 2 pairs of hiking pants so part of our REST DAY is now devoted to figuring out how to get rid of the sap. 😳

In one village we came across some locals playing the old European lawn game called Skittles. \240A game that is popular after church in this region.

We bid goodbye to the Aussie couple on their bittersweet journey as they don’t stay in Conques

Our lodging in Conques is a Michelin restaurant inn so the plan is to have a blow out dinner tonight as we’ve earned it!

Bon Camino!

Sarah & Arne

Day 12 - REST DAY - Conques

Day 13 - 13.5 miles - most hills & dales

Destination: \240Decazville

Day 14 - 7.5 miles - more is the same

Destination: Monterdon

Weather - awesome! \240Sunny and high 70’s

Rest day was much needed and was also a blog rest day. 😜

We explored more is the town with its huge cathedral and also some of the ‘villagers’

Our friends from Seattle (Sue & Marty) joined us and will be walking with us for the next 2 weeks. We’re glad to have some company.

Yesterday was a 13.5 miler to Decazville which is a pretty non-descript industrial town so we opted to stay at a hotel in a neighboring town. \240Turns out the hotel was further away than I planned but we called the hotel and they drove 10 miles to pick us up. \240They also drove us back to the trail this morning - all at no cost. \240Can’t imagine asking a hotel in Seattle (or almost any other place) to do that. 😜

We walked into a side door to check out the Decazville Cathedral- turns out the church wasn’t really open but the Church lady LOVES Pilgrims and even though she speaks no English she ‘insisted’ on showing us her church and also that we use the toilet behind the alter. 😜

Lunch was whatever we could concoct from this ‘store’ along the way. \240Turns out if you ask for extra butter everything turns out great!

Unfortunately my Yak (a.k.a Arne) are something that didn’t work for his stomach so we were happy to see the church with the public WC

Lucky for the Yak, today is our shortest day on the Camino as it’s only 7.5 miles. \240Even so it was a struggle for Arne on a bad stomach.

One thing that has stood out in the past 2 weeks is the WWI monument is every small village. \240Monuments with a lot of names on them and many names from the same family. \240WWI had a devastating effect on these villages- much more than WWII

We arrived a couple hours before \240our lodging tonight will open so everyone is relaxing in the shade. \240Seems like the Camino provided for the struggling Yak....

Bon Camino!

Sarah and Arne

Day 15 - 11.5 miles - perfect weather

Destination: Figeac

Day 16 - 8 miles - more perfect weather

Destination: Mas de la Croix

We arrived in Figeac yesterday and immediately took advantage of the great food and wine - so much so there was no blog posted. 😜

We have left behind the Aubrac region with its hills and valleys for the Quercy region of more rolling pastures with a few climbs thrown in for good measure. This region is big on foix gras and was also originally settled by the Celts in Roman Times.

As you can see from the Celtic symbol above this door.

Figeac is home to two impressive churches with very different interiors. With the wooden alter of the ‘smaller’ church being the most impressive

As I said, Figeac is about the food and wine. \240Our hotel was on the Cele River so it seemed like a good night for wine & cheese on the balcony- rather than writing a blog post...

Figeac is also a thriving town with tourists and Aerospace companies that supply Airbus.

Not a bad view from our room!

Today’s destination is the hamlet of Mas de la Croix. Along the way, we had another postcard day of beautiful villages... all of which center around an striking church.

We arrived at Mas de la Croix too early for our B&B to be open so we wandered to the next village in search of a beer. \240Along the way, we passed an imposing Château. \240As luck would have it, the only two people at the village bar were an Dutchman and a Brit staying at the Château as they are friends of the owner (another Brit). \240They were quite chatty and knowledgeable of the region so I asked about why every town has a significant WWI monument but nothing about WWII. \240They smiled and said this is the region of France that was sympathetic to the Germans.

We’re in the Vichy Government section of France. \240The government led by Petain and that collaborated with the Nazis (probably for self defense).

We also learn the aerospace industry of Figeac was one that built parts for the German Airforce in WWII. \240Until the Brits came behind enemy lines to blow it up. \240Love the history lesson!!

Fall has arrived as we’re still having awesome sunny days but the winds are cool now and the evenings have a chill...

Longer walk tomorrow to Cahors....

Bon Route!

Sarah and Arne

Day 17 - 13 miles - more is the hills and rollers - perfect weather- 73 and sunny

Destination: Cajarc

Last night was spent in a very small village where we had a great conversation with the young waiter at the ONLY place to eat which happened to be a pizza place so sadly we can report we had pizza while in France but the conversation was good and our waiter is off Melbourne Australia next month to be a Sommelier- great to see a nice kid escape his Dad’s pizza tavern in no-where France.

Today we cross into a new region - landscape has changed and become much more arid and rocky as we crossed into Causses Regional. \240This area is know for Saffron and our destination (Cajarc) is the Saffron capital of France. \240

Today’s landscape wasn’t that interesting so this old car is the best landscape pic

Simple towns along the way with small churches that had surprisingly interiors for town with almost no inhabitants

This region is also known for odd looking Dolmens - huge stones piled together 3,500 years ago for funeral tombs. \240Hard to imagine how they were moved by hand

Interesting painting on the wall that suggests a different origin - from outer space - I tend to agree.... 😜

This rocky landscape also provides some interesting caves. \240This one right before Cajarc was full of interesting cairns - which we decided to add to for good luck.

Cajarc is a small town on the banks of the Lot River. \240We arrived on a busy Saturday afternoon with a local market underway and an outdoor Rock Festival of the WORST bands around which made for a fun evening of what sounded like really bad karaoke.

Not much of a crowd for the ‘rock concert’

Even the local dog wasn’t sure about the music.

Bad music aside we had a fun evening and great meal at our small hotel so we’re ready for another day of walking in the morning!

Buen Camino!

Day 18 - 13.5 miles - cool sun & clouds

Destination - Limogne-en-Quercy

Left Cajarc this morning after a great Saturday afternoon and evening. \240Our Innkeeper is also a great chef so we had a wonderful dinner with goat cheese & roast tomato terrine to start followed by A great pork dish with the prerequisite haricot vert.

Left Cajarc this morning - beautiful Sunday morning stroll out of town until we start down the country lane outside of town and come across a dead horse - yes dead horse in the ditch beside the lane. \240The Godfather and Animal House dead horse - so no pics! 😳😳

Fortunately the walk quickly redeemed itself with beautiful views of the Lot River and a local farmer picking peaches who insisted we each take 2 peaches for our walk. \240The Camino still provides.....

Lovely homes and flowers in this arid region.

Joan of Arc is well loved in this Region as well with most churches having a statue in her honor. \240Hard to imagine how in early 1400’s that a 19 yr old woman led a French army to victory over the British - only to get burned at the stake afterwards and then made a Saint. \240Nuts!!

There was no possibility to buy lunch during today’s walk so last nights chef made us AWESOME ham and cheese sandwiches with roasted tomatoes, arugula and lots of BUTTER! \240YUM!!

A pilgrims rest stop today offered up \240plenty of fun photos

We ended our walk into Limoges-en-Quercy with an appropriate encounter with a very alive 4 legged pilgrims to offset our start to the day. \240

As we arrive, we encounter an older Irish couple we \240ran across a week ago during a rest stop in the burning heat.. \240They are really struggling and she can’t walk anymore- 10k out of town yesterday they had to stop and call a taxi - taxi never came and it was getting dark so she tried to start to hobble. \240A car pulled over and an older French last who spoke no English put them in her car and drove them to town. \240The Camino always provides... 😜

Bon Camino!

Sarah & Arne

Day 19 - 18.5 miles - cool start (can see our breath) and sun later

Flat trail and roads

Destination- Lalbenque

245 miles completed and 245 to go!

Today was a slog - you wake up and know you have a long day ahead AND it’s a Monday so most things in Southern France are closed. \240Fingers crossed you get a good breakfast served and you walk down to BREAD only! \240Very friendly and sweet innkeeper but some fruit, coffee and bread with some really strange jams is her idea of a hearty breakfast for an 18 mile day! Who are these people? \240Obviously they haven’t walked 18 miles! 😳

Her English and my French are good enough for us to hear there may be a market open around the 8 mile marker. 🤞🤞🤞 So we set out in hopes of the possibility to buy lunch rather than eat the emergency baguette and goat cheese we’ve been carrying for 3 days. 😳

It’s a bleak trail today with only the odd LIVE horse and rider which is great as we’re not in the mood for another dead horse experience. \240We past the lunch stop town and backtrack out of desperation to find the oasis we’re seeking. \240And it’s there - a market open on a Monday!!! \240We’ll have lunch! \240What a mood changer AND they have chocolate croissants! \240We hit the mother lode!

The Camino gives you lessons in appreciating the small stuff. \240Lesson learned and chocolate croissant consumed!

Our friends Sue & Marty leave us after tomorrow’s walk into Cahors so we take the time for another group photo along the way.

After 15 miles, everything is a slog regardless of where you’re walking and today was no exception. \240Our lodging for tonight is in the town of Lalbenque which is apparently the home of the Black Truffle. \240It’s also 3.5 miles off the Camino along a boring road.

To add to the slog aspect of the day, the GPS coordinates we were given for our hotel put us in a field on the outskirts of town. \240At 18 miles, you really don’t want to end up staring at a dirt field. \240So we backtrack and make our way to our hotel and very nice Innkeeper who remarked that she usually picks up her guests so they don’t have to walk 3.5miles on a shitty road!!

After a nice carafe of Cab Franc and \240today’s slog is a distant memory!

Bon Camino!!

Sarah and Arne

Day 20 - 12 miles - hills & flats

Rain in the area but we stayed DRY!

Destination: Cahors

Day 21 - REST DAY in Cahors

We went to sleep yesterday worried about rain so ponchos and rain gear was put in our packs. \240Fortunately, we stayed dry. \240Even more fortunately, the kind Inn owner offered to drive us back to the start of the Camino so we avoided a repeat of the boring 3 miles along a road to reach the Camino. \240Camino continues to provide...

As we head towards Cahors, the largest city in the Quercy region, the landscape starts to be less arid and rocky. \240

And the route continues to ‘surprise’ is with long hill climbs just when we think we’ve done the last one. 😜

Today is the last walking day for our friends Sue & Marty as they head to Paris in the morning before flying back to Seattle. \240It was great to have their company on the Camino.

Quercy region provides some toilets in some areas of the Camino and sometimes you can have a ‘traffic jam’.

It seems we have a regular pattern of our actual walking being longer than what the guide book indicates so our expected short day of a 8 miler into Cahors was really a 12 miler. \240Once you cross over the Lot River, you in the city. \240Cahors was established by the Romans in the 1st century and was a main intersection of Roman roads in the region.

Today it’s a main thru point for Camino piligrims

With a beautiful cathedral built in the 7th century.

And a vibrant square with locals and tourists alike.

The old town architecture is varied and beautiful.

Today (9/11) in Cahors is our second REST DAY! \240Almost 260 miles in 20 days with only 2 rest days - tired legs but no blisters or injuries so we’re all good!

As luck would have it, our rest day is also Market Day! \240

Market starts by the church and goes for a few blocks.

This vendor is offering jars of duck in every possible way. \240Last night we had a duck dish (by surprise as the menu didn’t translate to English) - it was delicious but it was also a full plate of every part of the duck delivered to our table - including his long neck 😳.

For you mushroom lovers, check out these Chanterelles!

Lots of pepper and other spices

Bread, bread and more bread...

And sausage of every size, type and color.

Rest day also means Laundry Day! \240We literally stumbled upon a laundromat that is unknown to Google. \240Yippee!!

But then we had to figure out ‘how do we operate it?’, where does the money go?, how much does it cost?, do we need to put the soap in?’ All pretty challenging questions to answer with the French instructions. \240Happy to report we have some clean clothes and yes they did get washed with soap!

After all the hard work in the Laundromat, \240we built up an appetite and once again stumbled on a small place serving amazing dishes like this heirloom tomato filled with avocado, apple, artichoke, squash and raspberry. \240Who knew that would be so good mixed together!!!

Bon Camino!

Sarah & Arne

Day 22 - 18 miles \240Sunny & Hot

Destination: \240Gamel (no where France)

As our rest day in Cahors came to a close, \240Arne’s ‘stomach ‘issue’ that he had for a few days got to the point he decided (at 5:30pm 😳) to see a doctor as we’re in a larger town and head into the countryside again the next day

We did something NO ONE can do in the US. \240Randomly walked into a clinic/doctors office and asked via Goggle Translate if we can see a doctor. \240Answer was ‘yes’ and, embarrassingly, they took us back immediately while others waited. 😬

Ten minutes (and 25 euro) later, Arne walked out with a prescription. \240Another 5 minutes (and 12 euro) later a Pharmacy filled the prescription. \240No appointment - No ‘do you have insurance’ and ‘if you do, give me your card’ crap. \240Just basic health care provided!

Healthcare is a Human Right and France treats everyone (regardless of country) as having the right to medical treatment. \240Kudos to France and 😞😞 shame on the US for not making healthcare an accessible Human Right!

As a side note, Arne has used Google Translator twice on this trip. \240Once to ask for more toilet paper when we had the shared shitter and then to discribe his diarrhea symptoms to the doctor. \240Sounds like he’s working on a theme... 😜😜

Fortunately, the meds did their magic and the Yak was back on his feet and feed this morning!

Which is a great thing as when you look behind the awesome Roman bridge built in the first century, you’ll see the rock hill climb we faced right after taking a lot of great bridge pics. \240That bridge REALLY makes you pay for the view!

We’re heading further south now (still west as well) and apparently out of our crisp cool Fall weather as it was 80’s today with a weekend forecast of the 90’s so we’re back to baking in the sun like raisins. 😳

This region is famous for its Malbec vines and these grapes look ready to go!

Since the Yak is back on his feed it was ham & chèvre baguettes for lunch!

And our late afternoon ‘break’ consisted of all the ‘food groups’ as we need to fatten the Yak back up a bit.

That smile was quickly gone when we realized we didn’t have any cell coverage so following the on-line directions to our lodging for the night was out. 😳 minor panic and then a 4-mile ‘wander’ that got us to our lodging and made it an 18-miler rather than the promised 14 miler 😡😡.

Our attitudes improved when we arrived to an oasis in nowhere SW France - complete with pool and the promise of an outdoor dinner with 12 other people (all French) - should be ‘fun’ 😜

Bon Camino!

Sarah & Arne

Day 23 - 16.5miles. More Sunny & Hot - 85 degrees

Destination: \240Lauzerte France

All toes and other body parts still operating on all cylinders! \240Yak has conquered his stomach bug and we’re good to go!

Last night’s dinner was delicious - homemade fresh goat cheese and tomato tart, squash gratin, grilled steak, local cheese and homemade custard dessert - along with the hosts own wine and homemade port. \240It was also an interesting exercise in being the only people at the table of 12 that didn’t speak English. \240As the wine poured, we really missed a lively conversation. 😜

Fortunately, a ‘local’ joined us - a Dutchman (Renee) who lived in the area part time to work on & drive his antique car collection. \240Renee was able to fill in a few blanks for us... the lovely villages in the area are empty because Airbus has a major plant in Toulouse (2 hours away) and all the young people left the villages for the chance to work at Airbus. \240He said there are plenty of Dutch & Brits living in the area and with Brexit fears the Brits are starting to leave so it’s a good time to buy property. 😜

Renee also answered our question about the very regular low flying Mirage Jet Fighter we see on a regular basis as we’ve walking. \240Seems this is the least populated area in France and has special permission for the jets to practice their low altitude flying. \240It’s like a Blue Angels show a couple times a day!

Last night’s full moon was beautiful to see rise over the fields.

We traveled to Lauzerte today and found ourselves leaving the arid & rocky hillsides behind for more Fields’s. Sadly, we’re a month late to see the acres and acres of sunflowers in bloom. \240I’ve never seen so many fields of dried sunflowers waiting to be harvested for seed and oil.

Did you know that as sunflowers mature and dry they only face East? \240After walking past fields and fields of dried sunflowers ALL facing the same direction, this enquiring mind had to know so I googled it. \240Who knew??

Medieval Village of Montcuq above a dried sunflower field

Our destination- Lauzerte- is medieval bastide perched above the valleys and hills of the area known as the Quercy Blanc for the white stone every where. \240It’s another one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France, a distinction granted to only 155 villages in the country. Founded in the 12th century by the Count of Toulouse, Lauzerte sits high a top a steep hill that I’m sure you barely notice in a car but when on 10 toes it’s a butt kicker! \240But worth it for the streets and the view!

Was expecting Mr Bean to jump in this car!

Tonight, we’re the only guests at a quaint white stone B&B owner by a British couple so we should be able to converse at dinner!!

18 miler tomorrow so will an early evening tonight!

Bon Camino!

Sarah & Arne

Day 24 - 21.5 miles- cloudy

Destination - Moissac

"And at the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy, and your eyes sparkling.” — Shanti

Thought we had an 18 miler and ended up being 21.5 miles. \240Butts officially kicked, feet dirty, hair messy and eyes only sparkling after a couple glasses of recovery wine 😳

Blog post will be tomorrow as need to chill and make it an early night!

Blog continued.... today was a slog of day but also beautiful. \240We had a great evening discussing Brexit and Trump with our British hosts which was much needed to sustain our 21 miler the following morning.

The countryside has changed to fertile fields and orchards. \240We can also see the Fall colors starting to arrive. \240The forecasted very sunny hot day turns into a very warm it cloudy day. \240The Camino provided!

The homes and structures like this old grain bin are beautiful. \240I didn’t get a picture but on the other side of this Bush was a ‘beautiful’ young French with bare chest and kilt (this area was originally Celtic) so the day had a good start. 😜

Farmer’s in this area provided the occasional Donativo stand of fruit and beverage - which is much appreciated.

Even with the netting to protect against the birds, you can enjoy the sights of the kiwi, apples and grapes of the region. \240Harvest time is soon.

We were mentally prepared for an 18 mile day so when it turned into 21 miles (we officially hate our guide book!) we almost skipped the Abbey of Moissac. Fortunately, we agreed (actually I ‘talked’ Arne into it) to make the stop and we’re glad we did. \240

It’s the oldest cloister in Europe and a wonderful place for us to rest our tired legs.

Moissac is a vibrant town on the Tarn River with accompanying canals. \240In Medieval times, it was a very strategic land and waterway connection point. \240Its also where we connected with our Camino friend Molly who will walk with us for the next 19 days to finish up our Camino.

Bon Camino

Day 25 - 15 miles - 85 degrees & partly sunny

Destination: \240Auvillar

Today was just what the doctor ordered for our tired legs. \240The Camino provided for an alternate route without hills!! \240yippee!! \240Hell yes!!

Which started with a seriously peaceful relaxing (FLAT) 6 miles along a canal. \240 We’ve crossed into a new region - Gascony- which has been occupied by the Romans, Franks, Norsemen, Basques and England. \240In the 13th Century, England’s last possession in France was Gascony and the fight for it started the 100 Years War between the two countries.

We shared the route with bikers.

Beautiful small villages along the route.

Bright pots of flowers

Historic chapels with old wall murals

Our destination for the evening is the old fortified village of Auvillar- built in the 10th Century on a hill overlooking the Garonne River. \240Which means it’s a walk up a flipping steep hill to get there. 😳

But Auvillar doesn’t disappoint. \240It’s a beautifully restored village that in its heyday was also a major producer of goose feather quills (pens at the time).

And for us a great spot for a beer with a view!

Bon Camino!!

Sarah & Arne

Day 26 - 12.5 miles - rolling hills and HOT - 87 degrees & not much shade

Destination: Miradoux

We reluctantly left our oasis village of Auvillar this morning but only after enjoying one of the best meals of the trip at our hotel restaurant which advertises they are Eggplant Militants. 😜

Only super local food is prepared and the chef (who is also the hotel owner/cleaner/bartender) is both talented and humerous. \240His menu offers a ‘Cassoulet Radical-Socialite (because it puts the world in agreement)’ dish. \240It was a 4-course meal that required we walk the next day (or two) to burn off.

We left town this morning with another donkey piligrim group which seems like an interesting way to travel - actually seems like a lot of hassle but many of the places we are staying in will also accommodate horses and donkeys - who knew?? 😳

This morning we met up with an older Frenchman who spoke a little English. \240Fortunately, Molly’s French was good enough for decent dialogue as he really wanted to know how we felt about Donald Trump. \240He was quite happy with our response 😡😤😡😬😱. \240 Turns out he’s retired from Michelin and has been to Greenville SC - world can be a very small place.

Sign along today’s Camino which speaks a lot of truth. \240

Today’s path included the ‘typical’ centuries old church with medieval drawings still on the walls - not sure how that’s really typical (as it’s not) and these churches have open doors for all to walk in.

Speaking of walking in... it’s a Monday and nearly nothing is open in S. France so when you come into a village with someone selling drinks there can be a bit of a pilgrim ‘traffic jam’

We hit the mother lode today and found TWO villages selling drinks!

Today’s lunch was from the bakery and hit all the ‘food groups’ - ham/cheese croissant, chocolate croissant, fruit cake, nectarine and Diet Coke! 😜

Typical old structures in every village

Our lunch village in the distance and fields of dried sunflowers until our destination village for today. \240This area in July when they are blooming would be stunning!!

Lodging tonight is in a wonderful old house with 20 ft ceiling. \240Our hosts are Dutch and the other guests are also Dutch so good chance there will be some English spoken at dinner! 😜

Bon Camino

Sarah & Arne

Day 27 - 11 miles - more rolling hills and hot! \24090 degrees

Destination: Lectoure

Last night was a great evening with our Dutch hosts - Karl & Wilma - in their stunning villa home. \240They bought it 20 years ago and moved permanently 15 years ago when the number of Camino pilgrims as reached a point they could quit their jobs in Holland and make a living with a B&B. \240Turns out we are their last hosts this week and they retire and close the inn next week.

It’s a shame as their villa is an oasis.

A great mix of Dutch and French furnishings

Wonderful art

Great terrace with views of the fields of now dried sunflowers.

And a kitchen with a 12 foot tall pantry - gotta love a pantry that requires a ladder!!!

Looks like we’ve left the steep hills and valleys of the Lot & Aubrac regions behind and we’re now in the fertile rolling hills of the Gers region.

The rolling farmland is a relief but to comes with cost as not many trees and the 90 degree heat becomes a ‘replacement’ torture for the hills. 😳

Our destination is the fortified city of Lectoure. \240When you see the words ‘fortified’ it also means it’s at the top of a flipping hill! 😳

In the Middle Ages, it was the main residence of the powerful counts of Armagnac (the aperitif guys). \240It’s also a city that Napoleon favored and some of the citizens had powerful positions in his government.

Quaint streets and plenty of restaurants except for the ‘quirk’ that many restaurants in small towns don’t serve dinner on Tuesdays and today is a flipping Tuesday! 😳

Our hotel as a pool so we’ll ‘manage’ 😜😜

Bon Camino!

Sarah & Arne

Day 28 - 12 miles - hot (85) and sunny

Destination: La Romieu

Day 29 - 11 miles - sunny and not as hot - Fall breeze in the air - yippee!

Destination: Condom

No blog last night due to poor wi-if and and interesting evening conversation...

Yesterday was a pleasant walk to Le Romieu which is a small village in the middle of a fruit growing region that is well known for the huge church and cloister build in the 14th Century.

Originally founded in 1062 by two Benedictine monks as a proiry. \240Then a \240local rich guy who as the story goes ‘had a brilliant church career’ - especially since his uncle was Pope Clemente V - took control and made it grand so it would be his personal place to be buried - along with his 3 ‘nephews’...

The opulence and spending by these church ‘officials’ is pretty over the top so it’s no surprise these churches were burned and pillaged in the French Revolution.

The painted mural ceilings survived.

Last night was on of those quintessential Camino evenings - we stayed \240at a farm house owned by Derek - a S. African then British then French guy who was a bass guitarist and is now an artist. \240Other guest was a very spiritual German engineer that started walking from his house in Cologne on May 19. \240He’s on a quest to see all things Roland (the mythical warrior from Charlemagne’s time) so we got an ‘education’ on all the virtues of Roland. \240Who knew?? \240And he has visions..... and he's into science fiction...😜 Certifying one of the more interesting personalities so far.

Getting our Roland ‘education’ - Arne is a skeptic for sure..

Group shot with Johan our Roland crusader! 😜

Today started with a quick trip to the epicure to check out goodies for our lunch.

Made a couple of stops to check out old churches and to rest our legs along the way.

Decided the best place for lunch was actually a shady ditch where we could rest our backs and legs. \240Might sound crazy but was actually pretty damn comfortable!

Tonight we’re in the town of Condom which has nothing to do with profolatics and is instead the capital of Armangac - a strong brandy made in the region.

Bon Camino!

Sarah & Arne

Beer with a view

Arne and our friend Molly enjoying a cafe

Lost in the ruins....

Day 30 - 13 miles - blue skies and hot with a nice Fall breeze

Destination: Montreal de Gers

Last night’s dinner was a treat- French salads and pizza! \240After a month of heavy French food, it’s a relief to have fresh salads (fig/goat cheese and tomato/goat cheese) and pizza. \240Who knew simple pizza could taste so good!

This morning required a stop by the vegetable/fruit stand for a couple of nectarines for lunch. \240It’s hard not to pick up more - especially the tomatoes- but you have to carry it 10 miles to eat it so we settle on a couple of nectarines only.

We can’t leave Condom without a picture ‘dueling’ with the Four Musketeers. 😜

Today is a reasonable day’s walk (12 miles) through the most vineyards that we’ve seen in France. \240It took us a month to both see a lot of vineyards and to also have a bathroom with a bidet. \240What is happening in France??? 😳

We left Condom and walked along the river for a while

Enjoying the footpath along the River.

Crossed a Roman era footbridge along the way

And then ran across the tall Brit pilgrim named Richard. \240A laid off school principal from Yorkshire who’s taking advantage of his sudden unemployment to walk from Le Puy to Santiago (1,000 miles) - carrying a 35lb backpack that includes his tent as he only camps out. \240He walks 20+miles a day.

Richard was also keen to talk politics- British and US - so he was an awesome walking partner for as long as I could up with his long legs. 😜 \240 He queried me on how the US ended up with Trump and I queried him on the Brexit disaster. \240Great day on the Camino!

As a side note, he just finished Madeline Albright’s autobiography. \240How many American’s have read the autobiography of a recent British PM???

When we couldn’t keep up with Richard anymore 😞😞, we explored the moat village of Larressingle. \240It was an important 13th Century village during the 100 year war with England.

Before arriving in Montreal de Gers - our destination for the day. \240

Enjoying yet another B&B with a pool and getting to know our fellow pilgrim from Melbourne Australia...

Not a bad day on the Camino!

Bon Camino!

Sarah & Arne

Day 31 - 16.5 miles - cloudy & warm

Destination: \240Eauze

Last night was a lovely dinner and evening with our B&B hosts - Mimi and Claude. \240After a refreshing dip in their pool - with the required glass of French white wine to cool off, \240they served a great Basque dinner - olives, cold cream of zucchini soup, roast chicken & peppers, cooked pears with eau d’vie liqueor and chocolate mousse! \240YUM!

Dinner was accompanied by the local aperitif called Floc de Gasgone which is a fortified wine of 1/3 Armagnac and 2/3 fresh grape juice from vine. \240Very popular here and actually pretty good. 😎

Dinner was shared with a new Camino pilgrim (Louise) from Melbourne Australia. \240An interesting person with strong opinions about Aussie politicians and also Trump. \240My kinda pilgrim!

The other big hit at Mimi’s table is she serves scrambled EGGS for breakfast! \240We haven’t had eggs (or any real breakfast protein) in a month!

We started our first day of Fall morning with optimism & full bellies. \240Which faded soon thereafter when we got lost and took a wrong turn that cost us 3 EXTRA miles of walking. \240OMG! \240WTF!!

Fortunately, once we got back on the Camino, it was miles and miles of vineyard. \240The grapes are heavy on the vine and ready to be picked soon.

As the day started to heat up and our spirits were still a bit low over the 3 mile ‘error’, we stumbled upon a Pilgrim cafe in the middle of no where that made fruit smoothies so it was a smoothie kinda lunch! \240The Camino provided...

Trying to laugh about our 3 mile ‘detour’...

Our destination is Euaze - a 1st Century village that fell to Julius Ceasar and was a Roman capital until the 4th Century. \240Today it’s famous for its Armagnac brandy and has the most prestigious vineyards - all of which we must of walked through...

What Eauze isn’t famous for is having restaurants that are open for dinner. \240It’s Saturday in Southern France and we’re going through what has become a reoccurring theme of what f$@king restaurant is open. \240😳😳 \240what’s up with these people??? 😳😳

Bon Camino!

Sarah & Arne

Day 32 - 14 miles -RAIN!

Destination: \240Nogaro

Our streak of awesome weather ended today with an 11 mile walk in pouring rain. ☹️

Before heading out in the rain, we enjoyed a nice outdoor tapas evening in Eauze. \240Even the Yak decided to try the local wine.

Don’t worry as he quickly switched to beer. 😜

There aren’t many pictures or tales to share from a heads down ‘let’s get this the hell over’ rain day walk.

We spent the dy slogging through vineyards and corn fields. \240Enjoying our new & very brightly colored ponchos and also realizing there’s nothing that keeps you 100% dry after 5 hours of walking in the rain. 😡😤😡

Even worse is discovering the only town along the way doesn’t have ANY store or cafe so lunch is a soggy pastry from breakfast. \240Does that look like a happy face on the Yak???

Even the geese were unhappy with the weather.

When the rain stopped, we realized we passed a Greenwich Meridian point where East & West officially meet.

Nogaro is a pretty non-descript town with an economy based on the wine industry. \240It’s also renowned for the Gascone sport of Course Landaise - a traditional form of Bull Fighting that involves leaping or dodging charging cows. \240This rink is outside our hotel. \240Who knew France had Bull Fighting rinks???

Relaxing and waiting for dinner - hoping not to chew our arms off as it’s Sunday and NOTHING is open until dinner. \240You can buy a newspaper and drink as many beers or coffees as you want but God Forbid you want a bag of chips or anything to eat!!!!! 😬😬😬

Bon Camino!

Sarah & Arne

Day 33 - 19 miles - sunny and nice

Destination: \240Aire-sur-l’Adour

We work up to mostly dry boots, the sun was shining and our bellies were still happy from our dinner of the best crispy skin duck ever!

Gigi, the flat faced Persian that ran the Hotel was also happy to see us off. \240Ya gotta love her face! 😜

We have an 18 mile day ahead of us but it’s a promising morning so we’re off with good spirits- better spirits than the Canadian couple from Alberta who shared our hotel for the night as they are walking too many long (18 mile days in a row) and are in sore need of some rest.

We’re definitely in a grape and corn growing region. The fields are beautiful- so beautiful we miss a turn and give ourselves an extra mile tour of a damn cornfield which makes it an 19 mile day.

Happy times in the damn corn field before we realized our mile mistake. \240😤😤

Staying focused and trying to avoid another wrong turn. \240Tomorrow is a rest day and our minds & bodies are both tired.

These farmer provided Donativo rest stops for pilgrims are the BEST as the chance to sit and have a coffee or cold drink is a much needed pick me up on long days (or really any day).

At some point, someone put a couple of random chairs along the Camino which are also welcome rest spots. \240 The Camino really does provide on most days.

After days of nothing but white grape vineyards, we’re transitioned to red grapes and it’s amazing how many fields of beautifully maintained vineyards heavy with grapes that we walk through.

Today’s lunch included a couple of new additions - we’re now in the Basque region of France so Chorizo sausage and a bottle of Advil. \240Love the Chorizo but have to say it’s not the best lunch meat for a 10 mile hike after lunch. \240😬

Speaking of Basque, we got our first view today of the Pyrenees. \240Faintly rising off in the distance. \240We’ll continue to walk towards them for the next 2 weeks until we arrive in St Jean Pierre du Port - our final destination.

Tomorrow is a REST DAY!!! \240Yippee!!!

Bon Chemin,

Sarah & Arne

Day -

Day 33 - REST DAY in Ai

Day 34

Day 34 - REST DAY \240Aire-sue-L’Adour

Day 35 - 13.2 miles - Showers/sun/wind

Destination- Miramont-Sensacq

Yesterday was our 3rd and final rest day after walking over 400 miles so I also took a rest day from the Blog.

Our town really wasn’t the interesting but it had all the Rest Day essentials....

The much needed laundry mat- with credit card payment and automatic soap. \240These are da bomb!!!

The Yak was getting shaggy so he got coerced (OK - maybe forced) to get a haircut. \240Let’s just say a #2 buzz cut in France is the same as getting your head as a shiney as your buttocks. \240Arne was not a fan. 😬

Aire-sue-L’Adour has a good farmer’s food all with all the favs beans you can eat.

More is the amazing heirloom tomatoes we’re seeing in every garden.

And rabbit to go with you duck dinner. 😳😳

Again as we’re now in a Basque region, \240there was the awesome huge paella. \240Yum!!!

Today’s journey started with a nice surprise. \240We walked past a High School (Joan of Arc High School) and the students asked us to participate in their Camino survey project.

The kids were great and very excited to interview Americans. \240Great way to start the day.

Also kind of hilarious to see their questions and the odd English translation. \240Arne had difficulty to answer if he was a nun or a sportswoman. \240Nice to see some reverse stereotyping for a change. 😜

Today was another romp through fields and it didn’t take long for us to get wet.

Keeping a positive attitude in the rain.

The Traffic Cone is now directing traffic or so he thinks...

At one point, we had to take refuge in a church with the local German Shepherd that really wanted to be friends.

Staying dry and waiting out the rain.

Barns now are made with individual stones placed on top of each other. \240Painstaking work and really beautiful!

We’re in a town that really has nothing but our lodging is an amazing old farm ‘house’

Beautiful old courtyard

And huge hydrangeas that line the area. \240 Very idyllic and then you have a squadron of French jet fighters buzz the house for 30 mins. \240What an odd dichotomy....

Dinner is with our French hosts tonight and the other French pilgrim guests. \240With today’s political news in the US, \240I’m hoping for a big bottle of champagne but I imagine I’ll be celebrating with some good French wine instead. \240Not too bad...

Bon Chemin!

Sarah & Arne

Day 36 - 12 miles - clouds & sun

Destination: \240Arzaco-Arraziguet

Reluctantly, we left our wonderful French Farmhouse Inn this morning. We had a great communal dinner last night with a group from Paris - older walkers doing 7 days on the Camino. \240They are retired execs (Air France and others) and enjoyed the chance to speak English which was a gift to us. \240

We had a great local meal and wine. \240At the end of dinner, \240one of the men asked a question you could tell they had wanted to ask all night. \240‘What do you think about Trump?’ \240They we’re happy with our response and we poured more wine 🍷

The picture on the top left is what the farm house looked like when the owners bought it in 2001. \240They’ve done a shocking amount of work. \240Two people (husband & wife) cook, clean and entertain 10-16 guests nearly every day for 10 months of the year. \240Really hard work!

I continue to be enthralled by the manual books of these small inns & hotels. \240All on paper in diaries.

Love this country architecture

Making sure our Country Jambon et Fromage Aveo Buerre baguettes are secure for the walk 😜😜

Beautiful countryside ramble - that’s a duck farm with a ‘field’ of white ducks. \240These farms are everywhere and the ‘eau de feces’ smell when you walk by is 🥺🥺

We’re 600 miles from Santiago Spain - the finish place for all Caminos. \240Many of the pilgrims we are walking with in France are continuing to Santiago. \240Our legs and minds don’t have another 600 miles in them. \240We have 80 miles to go and we’re happy.

Look closely over the door of this church. \240It says 1829.

Sun finally comes out in the afternoon.

Our destination town is pretty unremarkable but it has a cool Rugby bar with big beer glasses so all is good....

And they have great Wi-Fi so we can follow the latest crazy going on with the White House.. 😤

Bon Camino!

Sarah & Arne

Day 37 - 14.5 miles - partly sunny - 75 degrees

Destination: Pomps

Last night was \240typical Camino. \240You are walking through very rural towns & villages and you never know what to expect for lodging. \240It can be a guardrail to guardrail experience - from the previous night’s wonderful restored farmhouse to our crappy room at the combination bar/paramutual betting/crappy restaurant/hotel.

The bottom left picture is the ‘reception’ desk. 😳😳 We has a handicap room with a bathroom that was all shower so you could sit on the toilet and shower if your heart desired. \240We did not desire...

It was a less than restful sleep and a rush to be on our way this morning but not until at breakfast we noticed a pretty dirty bowl of water with an ice cream scooper. \240Our previous evening two scoops each of ice cream suddenly sprang to mind. Yikes!! 😳😳

So we hussle to leave the town and our prior lodging behind. \240And as the Camino will do, we stumble into a wonderful experience with a local farmer.

He’s feeding his cows and calls out to say ‘Bon Jour’. \240When he hears our English, he motions us over to see his garden and the view.

Once we get to his garden, he insists we pick some tomatoes. \240We have been lusting after all the tomatoes for weeks so the chance to pick them and feed our face was great. \240As usual, the Camino provides and our prior night’s lodging is just a memory. 😎

We’re in the Pyrenees region now so the Grand Pyrénées dogs are starting to show up in the farms. \240This guy was a sweetie.

All of the dogs love Arne! \240

Today’s trek was beautiful rolling hills of the Midi-Pyrénées.

We passed through a number of small villages with somber WWI remembrances. \240The toll of that war in these villages continues to be staggering.

This is an elementary school in one of the villages. \240Small but full of happy kids in the playground. \240Which is a good reminder as most of these villages seem pretty empty.

Lovely mill house and grounds along the Camino.

Our stop for today is the small but pretty village of Pomps.

Our lodging for the night is 5 miles off the Camino so the arrangement was for the host to pick us up. \240Problem was no one told us that was going to happen until 5pm and we saundered into Pomps at 2:30pm. \240Pomps has one lady who opens up her shed and will sell you drinks/wine/beer. \240She’s the lady with her hands on her hips. \240She fussed over us for 2 1/2 hours to make sure we were happy and well taken care of. \240Our Paris ‘friends’ also walked up so we made it a party. \240The Camino really does provide!!

Bon Camino!

Sarah & Arne

Day 38 - 13.5 miles - partly sunny & 75 degrees

Destination: \240Maslacq

Last night’s farm B&B was off the Camino and a bit odd as it was a place without much joy from the hosts. \240Fortunately, there was an older French couple (from 40 miles away) also staying there. \240They didn’t speak any English but our walking partner Molly speaks pretty good French (I can understand a good bit at this point but can’t really converse) so we managed a conversation, \240The older couple were very surprised to see Americans in this countryside area. \240They wanted to make sure we felt welcome and that we enjoyed France. \240As wine started to flow, we talked about Rugby - it’s very popular in S. France - and the fact the US is playing France on Oct 2 in Japan in the World Cup. \240I think France is supposed to cream us.. 😜

At the end of the meal, the couple wanted to know how we felt about ‘our President’. \240They went to bed very happy to get our response. 🖕🖕🖕. 😎

We started our walk this morning back at the small shop of the Madame who was so gracious to us yesterday. \240She was there to open her shop up early for us to buy some supplies for the day. \240She is an example of how the Camino provides - in the middle of no where with no shops is this kind woman.

We set off on another Indian Summer morning through the corn fields.

We turn a corner and there’s our friends from Paris. \240We may not sync up again as they finish tomorrow so we get a group picture. \240It was fun to have their company the past few days.

Perseverance is what I’m calling this line leftover Sunflower in a field of soybeans.

Beautiful countryside but we can’t see the Pyrénées because of clouds in the distance. 😤

Love these gardens with the last of summers bounty

This really old and friendly dog hobbled out to day ‘hi’ to the pilgrim walkers.

Blue skies and palms as we get closer to Spain.

More of the beautiful homes long the way. \240This region feels wealthier than some we’ve been through but still totally farm industry as nothing else is around.

Stop for lunch provisions at a great patisserie/Boulangerie. \240We wanted one of each of these but sadly they don’t fit in a backpack. 😞😞

Securing our ham & cheese baguettes to make sure they are safe & sound. \240This is precious cargo as no other place to buy lunch today.

As we’re in the bakery, a gentleman walks up to us after hearing us speak English. \240Turns out he’s a loca priest (who is drinking a Heinkein at noon in a bakery) and he wants to make sure we know we are welcome in France. \240Very nice guy. \240It’s been surprising now many French people have gone out of their way to tell us they are happy we are exploring France and Americans are always welcome. \240Good to know the current Administration hasn’t squandered all our Good Will in France.

The town has a Pharmacy vending machine. \240Creative but also tells you how limited stores are.

More of the lovely architecture of the area.

Tonight our lodging is a Gite (combo B&B and dorm lodging). \240Rustic but Comfortable. Nice garden and lots of line to hang our laundry.

Oddly, we also have a bidet on wheels in our bathroom in case you want to roll it over to flush water on your buttocks. \240Really??? \240Just can’t sync with the bidet fascination... 😳😳😳

Dinner tonight will be prepared by the host as we’re in another town with a lot of people and no restaurant...

Bon Camino!!

Sarah & Arne

Day 39 - 15 miles - 82 degrees and sunny

Destination: \240Navarrenx

Last night at our Gite (combo private room and dormitory) was great. \240We got to know a single young woman we’ve seen for the past week. \240She’s from Toulouse France (which is nearby) and was a pharmacist for 10 years but now wants to be a teacher so she walks the Camino - all the way to Santiago (1,000 miles) and then becomes a teacher.

The town we’re staying in doesn’t have a restaurant so it was a problem for how we would have dinner. \240The woman running our Gite stepped in and agreed to make us a home cooked meal. \240She provided fresh tomato soup, homemade pate, two homemade breads, lamb stew and homemade apple crumble. \240 As usual, the Camino provides!

Today was another beautiful sunny day as we walk through corn fields on our way to the Pyrenees.

In the distance, we can start to see the mountains.

This picture is entitled ‘Breakfast Buffet’ as the cows are chomping away as we walk by.

As usual, we have some new faces on the Camino. \240It’s amazing how you weave through old and new faces along the way.

Midway today was an old 11th century abbey dedicated the to pilgrims. \240This area is part of the region of the French King of Navarrone who became a Protestant and aligned with the English which kicked off the 100 Yrs War between England & France.

Today’s Camino ‘gift’ was a very cool snack bar/oasis open on a Sunday which is a big surprise. \240The owner is very eccentric and has this sign post which is a good overall lesson for life.

His cat is in charge of the bar.

I love his quirky taste and it was a great stop that we didn’t anticipate. \240The Camino provides...

Chance to get a group shot with Molly as we set off to tackle the hills on the second half of the day.

We stopped looking at the elevation map in our guide book a couple of weeks ago as knowing what’s ahead when you don’t have any option but to do it can be a drag. \240It’s better to just let it happen... 😜

Today’s elevation is a good example. \240If we had known it, we would have been dreading it as it kicked our BUTTS!

Arne isn’t sure if it’s the elevator or the fact he just ate a Blood Sausage sandwich for lunch. 😳 \240Rookie move by me to think I ordered regular sausage. 😜 The Yak was not amused. \240It was almost Yak down today.

We all survived and enjoyed the houses and landscape as we made our way to Navarrenx. \240An old walled city that withstood months of siege in the 100 Year War and never surrendered.

Bon Camino

Sarah & Arne

Day 40 - \24010 miles - sunny and warm

Destination: \240Lichos

Today was big - we broke the 500 mile barrier! \240Whew! \240

Fun dinner last night as we bumped into an Aussie couple we went and enjoyed back on week 1. \240That’s how the Camino roles- people weave in and out of your days. \240Some new people show up you’ve never met and then you cross paths with old connections. \240Brian & Jhody are from Melbourne - he’s a retire Vet and she’s a landscape architect. \240We have a lot of travel experiences in common and the Aussies are always good fun for dinner. \240Plans are to meet them at St Jean for a final evening dinner. \240Should be a good send off.

Navarrenx was a great rest night. \240Good hotel, good food and interesting walled Bastide town (established in 1315) which we explored this morning before heading out. \240

Short walk day today as we have two big days coming up (15 and 19 miles) on tired legs and it’s gonna RAIN! 😤

So we stopped by the artisan baker- still making his baguettes...

Ordered our sandwiches - secured them on the backpack and headed out of town to enjoy one last day of blue sky.

The Pyrénées are showing themselves in the background as we get closer. \240We officially cross into French Basque Country today.

A couple of kilometers outside of Navarrenx is the small village of Castetnau-Camblong with a beautiful old church. \240We stop at the Town Hall to get a Camino stamp and instead we get a great story. \240When the Mayor learns we’re Americans, he tells us this small hamlet has a big ceremony planned for Oct 28 when two Americans (one from El Paso and one from San Diego) are coming back to the village to be honored. \240They were German Jews who were secretly sent to this village in WWII and hid by the locals until the war was over. \240Great story - especially during the Jewish holidays this week. Shanah Tova!

Today’s lunch stop was a very popular local pate producer. \240He sold all types of pate. \240We picked up some wild boar and Basque pates to bring back to Seattle.

The Yak inspected his lunch baguette - found no blood sausage and was happy. 😜

After lunch, we found a pilgrim ‘traffic jam’ to the next town - Lichos. \240

We’re at our Basque B&B for the night - the host picked us up from Lichos as her inn is way out in the countryside. \240Our laundry has a nice view. \240And as usual, we having something for dinner the she is cooking but we have no idea what it is.... 😜😜. The Camino will provide...

Bon Camino!

Sarah & Arne

Day 41 - 13 miles - sun, ominous clouds and wind - 75 degrees

Destination: \240Saint Palais

We are definitely now in Basque Country and this Basque horse was happy to welcome us!

Last night’s lodging was at a Basque farmer Country House set high on a hill top with a very cold pool we gazed at but never entered. 😬

The wife, who spoke no English, prepared a nice 4 course meal for $20 a person that included beautiful TOMATOES from her garden. \240Walking past dozens of tomato gardens on a daily basis makes you crave a damn tomato!

Tomorrow’s lodging is off the regular Camino and there’s also a forecast of storms so Arne is mapping it out for us. \240There’s also nothing else to do as we wait for our dinner so it’s a way to look busy. 😜

After a beautiful stary night with a view of the Big Dipper that made it look like it was sitting on the swimming pool, \240we woke up to heavy lighting in the distance. \240So the ‘are we walking in that direction?’, ‘ do we attempt to walk in lighting?’, ‘will there be any shelter?’ questions dominate breakfast. \240Madame indicates the weather will be OK so we head out...

Morning fog starts us off...

Pyrénées still peaking out in the distance.

And the clouds and sun challenge each other on who will win the day as we walk on gentle climbs over green hills and pastures that are typical of the Basque countryside.

The hills are filled with milk cows..

Beef cattle..

The wonderful Basque horses..

And the famous Basque pigs that are know for their black heads and hindquarters. \240These guys were pretty friendly and curious about us until they realized we had ham sandwiches on our backpacks - perhaps relative. 😜😜

Relative or not, \240today’s ham sandwich (made with love from the farmer’s wife) was da bomb as she included more of her tomatoes!!

Fall is in the air and the colors are more golden than we when started this journey nearly 6 weeks ago.

Curious horses hoping we will share our apples but no such luck.

Basque style house with the typical white walls and red shutters.

Basque region has its own language as well so signs are in both French and Euskara. \240

We met a new fellow pilgrim today - Catherine from Edinburgh Scotland. \240She’s a retired attorney and an interesting traveler with stints in Borneo to care for monkeys and Burma to teach Scottish dancing. \240Really interesting person who also has strong opinions about Brexit, Boris Johnson, Scottish Independence and Trump. \240

We’re all sorry to part ways with Catherine as we spend many miles walking and solving the world’s problems. \240

Despite the morning lighting and the ominous dark clouds, we manage to arrive in Saint Palais without getting wet. \240Yippee! \240No one wants wet boots for the last two days of walking!

We’re dry and we have a lovely hotel with a great restaurant and terrace. \240As usual, \240the Camino provides....

Bon Camino,

Sarah & Arne

Day 42 - 14 miles - Sun/Rain/Showers

Destination: \240St Jean Pierre de Port - SJPP


Over a great Basque dinner in Saint Palais, \240we survey the weather (rain!) make a group decision to cut off 5 miles on our final day by taking a taxi to start our walk into SJPP. \240Plan was to leave an hour later and we had the hotel order a taxi,

Some how our taxi got ‘lost in translation’ as we thought the ambulance/taxi guy on the corner by the hotel was our guy. \240He didn’t have any reservation for us but made a few calls and agreed to take us. \240As soon as we paid him 30euro, our real taxi showed up. 😳😳 Mr Ambulance Taxi smiled and returned our money and we hopped in our ordered taxi and drove off...

Starting the day off dry and ready to enjoy our last day of walking!

About 50 yards from the taxi drop off, Mother Nature said ‘screw your plans to stay dry’ and dumped rain. \240😤. Arne’s poncho zipper got stuck and the Yak has a minor melt down on the first rain of the day.

So it’s a poncho walk after all...

The Basque land is so fertile that even the worms are huge!

Today was a wax on - wax off day with the weather and ponchos. \240Sun comes out - ponchos are hot as hell so stop yo take them off then it rains so stop to put them back on. \240

Basque People are renowned shepherds and we are really in sheep country today. \240We find ourselves sharing the trail with them.

They are sure what to think of a Yak with an orange poncho...

This may not look like an oasis to the untrained eye but this farmer has turned his front porch into a refuge for pilgrims- especially on a rainy day. \240For a donation, you can have a hot coffee or tea.

You can also buy some of the farmer’s sausage made from the pigs that only get fed acorns. \240Sausage in a jar don’t appeal to us so we pass...

The showery day is loved by these soon to be foie gras!

Smiles after hot tea & coffee

And the rainy slog of pilgrims continue...

Forward ho!

The Basque villages are beautiful even in the rain.

The Yak traffic cone poncho continues to be a stand out and he’s hard to miss on the Camino! 😜

Wet but beautiful

Basque churches has a very colorful interior

This little guy is staying dry...

Sign posts are now in both French and Euskara (ancient Basque language)

SJPP is an ancient walled city - it’s been a commercial, military and religions crossroads for Centuries. \240We make our way into the town on the old cobblestone way.

First stop is the Pilgrims Office to get our final Camino stamp for this trip.

Saying good byes to Catherine our Scottish friend.

Arne gets his stamp as well.

FINISHED and celebrating under the famous SJPP gateway!

Bon Camino!!

Great friends and great Camino!

Bon Camino!

Sarah & Arne

PS - one more blog post tomorrow as we have a rest day in SJPP and I’ll share some Camino thoughts and reflections

Le Puy Camino is in the Books!

530 miles - 42 days - 39 lodgings

Today is our last day on the Camino trail before we head off in the morning for Normandy and few days of R&R touring the beaches of WWII. \240It’s a bucket list thing for Arne and it kept the Yak motivated to complete our Camino.

We toured the town of St Jean a bit more today and also ‘gifted’ our boots with the Pilgrims Office - they are happy to receive them as many pilgrims show up without the proper gear. \240For us, there’s no way boots that have traveled 530 miles of mud and barnyard are going back in our luggage so it’s a big win-win

We bid farewell to Molly this morning and it’s a shame as she missed the treat from our host, Christian. \240He drove us up to that top of The Napoleon Pass - the tough route I hiked 2 years ago to start my first Camino. \240It’s a beautiful sunny day and he wanted us to see the views.

Sheep roam freely in the mountain meadows.

Spectacular view of the Pyrenees

These two young Korean women were lucky Christian stopped to see if they were OK as it’s quite late in the day for someone making the 7-8 hour hike over the pass. \240They had gotten lost for 3 hours, were crying and in bad need of a ride up to mountain. \240We took them as far as we could and explained how they should continue. \240Lucky women as the Camino provided for them on Day One!

Korean ladies are off again - this time with smiles..

Wild Horses also roam the mountain meadows - like this young one who really liked the car.

As we wrap up our 10 Toe Journey (and this blog), it’s a good time for reflections and learnings to share. \240There’s a ton to capture and think about but it seems the Camino offers three primary teachings:

1) Rediscover Simplicity: \240your days become very simple - What’s the weather? \240How to pack for it? \240Where can you find a meal? \240Pretty basic - not always easy to answer but basic. \240Answer those questions, \240follow the red/white trail markers and you’ll end up at your destination each night with a full stomach.

2) Expand Your Comfort Zone: \240don’t believe everything you think, you can do more than you think you can. \240Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and let possibilities open up - tackle climbs that make you nervous, \240take wrong turns and find your way back, allow yourself to be vulnerable and pretty soon you realize you’ve got really expanded Comfort Zone. \240It’s a great muscle so build it!

3). Trust for the Camino to Provide: \240there really is a global community of kindred spirits. \240The Camino has a way of reminding you of this nearly everyday - the farmer who puts out fruit, water & coffee, \240the shed that provides comfort on a rainy day, \240the host who goes above & beyond to provide you with a meal when she doesn’t have to, \240your fellow walkers who provide tips, encouragement and company. \240You learn both to allow for the Camino to provide and to also participate in providing when you can.

There’s much more to any 6 week journey on foot on an unknown path with unknown lodging and company so you’ll need to take your own journey to find out!

Bon Camino!!!

Sarah & Arne