Monday, 30 December 2013

Via Gebennensis - 2013 YouTube Video

I have created a video for the second leg of the long walk that being from Geneva to Le-Puy-en-Velay. Not many people walk this route...have heard 4,000 a year tops therefore I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to do so. It is a really scenic and peaceful walk.

Hope you enjoy it...see link under Videos on St. James Way titled Via Gebennensis - 2013. Any comments and suggestions for improvement are always welcome...and now to the third instalment Via Podiensis or The Puy route.



Thursday, 26 December 2013

Via Jacobi - 2013 YouTube Video

My first attempt at creating a video has now been uploaded to YouTube...I expect millions of people around the world will now see it...maybe it will even go viral! Then and only then I will be famous!

Somehow I don't think so... If you go to the right hand side of the blog you will see Videos on St. James Way where you will find the link to the video. 

Unfortunately a message pops up indicating that the content owner has not given permission to view this on a mobile device. I have further researched this and it seems the problem is related to the use of songs...which I can assure you were purchased from iTunes. The author of the YouTube video on this issue indicates that there isn't a way around have to watch it on a PC...we watched it on Apple TV.

All suggestions for improvement are welcome i.e. video length, music choices, transition time between slides etc. I have two more videos to create therefore would like to improve as I go along.

UPDATE: Based on early comments an additional song has been added to allow some additional time for viewing video length is a shade over 16 minutes.



Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Via Podiensis (November 5, 2013) - Day 58 Urhad Mixe to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

I'm here...success!!! Over the past 58 days of walking just under 1,600 official kilometres I have walked across Switzerland, a good part of France and completed 3 Caminos...Via Jacobi, Via Gebennensis and Via Podiensis (The Puy route).

In the past 8 days alone I have walked 245 kms or an average of 30.6 kms...that kind of distance was not in the plan however the planning went out the window some time ago!

Today was another really tough rained all night and the wind was howling. This morning the wind was still really strong and it was pouring out there. 

At breakfast Anna was in obvious difficulty and could not walk. Marie and Jean-Michel had some soreness in their backs and the prospect of walking in this terrible weather resulted in their decisions to take the bus to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Claude reluctantly agreed to do the same to support Marie.

That left Cyrille, Samuel and me...I left at 7:45 as I found it difficult to get motivated in the midst of all this negative thinking. No way was I going to bus it in after coming this far.

NO PICTURES TODAY due to yesterday's rain and my camera being toasted...thankfully the pictures are ok as the photo card is still good.

When I left it was really bad out however I persisted and over time the rain let up a bit. I found the walking a real treat as I knew this part of the adventure was coming to a close...27 kms over 6.5 hours and I was there!

Tonight I will be going out for supper with Cyrille, Anna (if she is capable), Brook and Ruth ( who bused it in from a longer distance). 

Future Pilgrims

I am staying at the Erracladia B&B which is 100 meters or from la Porte de Saint Jacques...the official start for the Camino Frances. I am sharing a room with Cyrille for 60 euros per night including breakfast. Tim the owner is more fluent in English than in French and has been very helpful. Perfect way to end this portion of the walk!

Post walk

My final supper was a lot of fun...Brook and Ruth will return in spring to walk the Portuguese way...learned that Jean-Michel returned home to Switzerland for a few weeks...Anna's friend with whom she will walk the Camino Frances joined us at the end. Oh and my final Armagnac courtesy Brook.

Plans have been made...I am returning mid April to complete the Camino Frances and Camino Finisterre. My brother Marc will be joining me...will for sure be a good time...also Cyrille has been in contact and we hope to meet up in Cebreiro where he had to stop his walk to Santiago de Compostela due to injury...looking forward to that.

In a future blog prior to returning in the spring I will post some videos on my set to music. I expect that my exposure to System Architects will enable me to tackle this project using bug free software.

Finally I am unclear as to whether I will blog while in Spain or post walking as I have just done...need to reflect on this.

Thanks for following the blog, and for your comments. Wishing each of you and your respective families the very best over the special holiday season and into 2014!

Via Podiensis (November 4, 2013) - Day 57 Navarrenx to Urhad Mixe

Only one way to describe today...absolutely BRUTAL walking...30 kms in 7.5 hours of which 5+ hours were in rain. A good portion of the day was spent in a hard driving rain...the type where you feel like every part of you is going to...and eventually does get wet.

The camera was put away early and then placed in the pocket of my weatherproof GORETEX jacket. Yeah sure! At the time of this writing the camera is not working as the pockets of my coat were PUDDLES...not impressed and a hard lesson to learn. So far I have confirmed that the photo card is still OK...plugged in battery and we will see.

Last night's supper was in a local inn and I chose something different...steak and fries!

Steak and fries...pretty fatty taken after finishing my caramel dessert
I made it even harder for myself by taking the GR65 at Aroue instead of a variante like the rest of the group...I was ahead of the group at that point so I went for it...truthfully I missed the variante! My benefit was an extra few kms and one of the steepest ascents so far on the Le Puy route. It was raining very hard at that point however it felt like being back on the Aubrac plateau up there. A few pictures from the day...

Interesting sign...palombiere is a bird. We are being asked to be silent so hunters can kill them!


Donativo rest stop where pate was available...Jean-Michel on phone, Marie and Claude

Desolate rain stretch

Unfortunately Anna has hurt her back and is trying to arrange for some physio later.


Future Pilgrims

We are staying at the Escargot in Urhart-Mixe. Upon arrival we were immediately offered a drink. A fire was lit and our boots were lined with paper and placed by the fire. Then our raincoats etc. were hung by the fire. The owner has also offered to wash a load of laundry for free.

We have a room for 5...I am presently eating a ham this is hospitality +++. The cost is 30 euros for demi pension. A highlight of the trip and a blessing for it to appear just when it was needed most.

A Michelin 5 star rating from this pilgrim!

Monday, 9 December 2013

Via Podiensis (November 3, 2013) - Day 56 Arthez-de-Bearn to Navarrenx

Today was another strong day of 31 kms over 7 hours or so...the day had a few tough climbs. I left early just past 7:30 at the same time as Anna from Austria and we walked together over most of the day. Walking together means some talking and walking mostly in sight of the other's not possible to walk and talk all day...too tiring.

Speaking of tiring I was exhausted...more later.

Last night the meal delivered by Chez Celia was compliments of Georges on his last evening before he sets off to see a pilgrim friend.

Left to right - Cyrille, Claude, Marie, Jean-Michel, Georges and Anna
Delicious soup...almost a stew!
Porc Terrine
Pasta and Beef
Apple pie

Georges and Anna, both vegetarians, received a huge plate to eat...finally for Georges a good meal!

Last night was interesting, challenging...weird and funny as there were 5 of us in a dorm room...Anna, Georges, Cyrille, Jean-Michel and me.

I quickly fell asleep however at 11:30 or so Jean-Michel starting snoring loudly, making all kinds of noise and madly flailing his arms. He had warned us that this could happen. Cyrille cried out "Pas croyable!"...apparently I say this frequently. We all burst out laughing...I dozed for a while but the noise continued. During all this time Jean-Michel slept through it all.

Cyrille in total frustration took all his stuff and went downstairs to sleep on a sofa. Last time I looked at my watch it was 2:30...woke up at 6:30 and simply started to get ready.

Before leaving I shook Georges' hand and wished him Buen Camino. The agreement we are to exchange post cards when each of us get to Santiago de Compostela.

The morning was comfortable for walking however rain was forecast. I was concerned as I twisted my foot leaving the supper table last night and it felt a little tender this morning. I taped it up to give additional protection and all went well.

Anna is a strong walker...she has walked over 1,000 kms. Like many she has left her job...closed a tea shop and hit the road. She phones her husband daily to give him progress reports...he in turn tells her what the upcoming weather will be like. A friend from her earlier walking will join her in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to complete the Camino Frances in Spain. A few pictures from the day before the rain came around 11:30 BIG TIME!

Anna on a long stretch

Future Pilgrims

Very comfortable in the Communal Gite in Navarrenx.,,picked up key in the local bar. I am in a dorm room for 4 people (Jean-Michel kindly agreed to take a room for one!) and the cost was 11.30 euros per night without breakfast. The Gite is clean and basic and fits the bill just right.

The walking on Le Puy route is really winding down as I expect to be in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on Tuesday Nov 5th and flying home within the week after. 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Via Podiensis (November 2, 2013) - Day 55 Arzack-Arrizguet to Arthez-de-Bearn

Again a relatively easy day from an elevation gain perspective...a couple of 15 minute walking uphill stints but at this point these don't seem too difficult. I walked 29 kms in a little less than 7 hours in perfect weather...shorts and a short sleeve shirt.

For the next few days we can expect rain...sure is cloudy out there now! I think our luck has run out...what a run!

Last night there were many pilgrims at our communal supper. The 3 Belgium couples, Claude & Marie, Georges, Cyrille, Anna, Jean-Michel and I were all there. At the end of supper Samuel, a young guy from Quebec joined us. Apparently Samuel is walking with 250 euros to his name and spends 9 out of every 10 nights sleeping outside. 

Supper last night what one can expect for 23 euros demi pension. Good but not haute cuisine.

Tomato based soup
Porc terrine
Chicken and macaroni
Fruit cocktail

This morning I left after Claude and Marie however finished in front of everyone by 45 minutes...walking very strongly again today...wish I knew why! A few pictures from today:

Arbres des Pelerins sandwich available so suffered badly
Nice trail
Even nicer trail!
Incredible building covered in ivy!

WW1- Fichous Rimougou where 6 soldiers died

WW1 - Arthez de Bearn where 12 soldiers died

An interesting moment when I passed by Larreuselle at 11:00. I had been passing signs for well over a km saying "SNACK BAR" I was excited as I didn't have a sandwich so I entered the snack bar and asked the lady....sorry no bread!


She kindly asked me where I was going...I said Arthez de Bearn. She looked at me and said I would be OK if I arrived by noon...17.5 kms away! So...10 miles in one hour with an 11 kg backpack...sure 6:00 miles. No problem if I was Greg.

I didn't make it for 12:00 so no sandwich.

Future Pilgrims

I arrived at the Municipal Gite at 3:45 and the door was locked...nice guy across the street offered to phone and the Gite manager was here within 5 minutes.

Great room, showers etc. 10 euros without breakfast. This is Georges' last night...we are ordering from a local restaurant Chez Celia's who will deliver our pilgrims meal for 11.5 euros each.

I'm sad that Georges is leaving tomorrow...will give him my contact details...that the way of the Chemin. I'm going to miss the hunter stories, the struggles for a vegetarian meal, trying to keep up on the trail and the many laughs shared.

Via Podiensis (November 1, 2013) - Day 54 Aire-sur-l'Adour to Arzack-Arrizguet

Today was another long day at 33 kms over 7 hours in once again perfect walking conditions. I felt very strong in comparison to yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed the day. The views of the Pyrennes, which are at the France/Spain border were outstanding!

Last night's supper was one of the best in quite a while. Attendees were the 2 Belgium couples, Anna from Austria, Georges, Jean-Michel, Cyrille and me.

Vegetable soup
Appetizer plate - four shared this
Ah the chicken!
Chocolate Mousse
Anna has walked from Austria to Enseldein Switzerland then took the train to Le Puy en Velay due to cold weather. She has injured herself therefore has arranged for a car ride to Arzack. I gave her a Canadian lapel pin.

At breakfast this morning the 2 Belgium couples were joined by another couple for the day's walk...3 extroverted sisters...what noise! I gave the new couple Canadian lapel pins as well as a lady sitting by herself.

It turns out she was in Canada for. period of 6 weeks on a cross country trip...she loved Canada and want to return someday. I also gave the hotel owner 3 Canadian lapel pins...he has a young son...he was really thankful...sympa he said.

Guess what...I was the first one gone at 8:15...the difference though is that I stayed in front all day until 1:30 when Georges caught up to me for lunch...think he was driving himself pretty hard to catch up. A few pictures from the day:

Not a nuclear power plant!

A rare shelter for Pilgrims
Dangerous bridge crossing
Nice welcome sign

Getting there!
12th Century church

At some point I met a couple from Normandy France, Claude and Marie, who are walking from Lectoure to Pamplona. Claude completed the Via de Plata Spanish Camino route earlier this year.

I gave them 2 Canadian lapel pins at which point Claude said "I heard about you from others". I am clearly famous up and down the length of the The Puy route.

Only a few more days left...both happy and sad at the same regrets.

Future Pilgrims

We are staying at the Community Accueil in Arzack. We have a room for 4...very clean and well laid out. Shower and toilet attached to the room! Demi pension is 23 euros therefore well worth it and recommended.