Camino de Madrid

Camino de Madrid
Camino de Madrid

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Day 2. Breves a Varzy (23 kms)

31 May, 2012

There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio.

Patrick's girlfriend is writing a book on twin souls, who are apparently like soul mates, but with a spiritual, almost telepathic connection. They can feel each other's pain, and he told me how, when he was ill in South America, she, at home in Belgium, suffered with him. And vice versa. If any of you out there have an inexplicable pain in your legs easing into a sense of euphoria as if you were drinking un bon petit vin de pays, then perhaps you are my twin soul.

But I shouldn't be facetious. Certain people may indeed experience this phenomenon. I would like to read her book.

We had a bit of a storm last night, and this morning the weather was fine again. Not so hot as yesterday. Good walking weather. We walked about half the time on minor roads, the rest on trails through the woods or across the fields. See the photo below.

Walking through the fields,I noticed that the wheat was barely two feet high, and I thought about the book Wheat Belly by Dr. Davis, and his contention that today's wheat has been bred to be so high-yielding that the stalks have to be much shorter to carry the extra weight of grain. Gone are the fields of waving wheat celebrated in song or the ones I remember years ago in the West Australian wheat belt.

After reading this book and his claim that modern wheat is not what it used to be and contains all kind of harmful products, I went off wheat and lost about seven pounds. In France, of course, I have had to abandon this regimen. How could I survive here without eating bread?

I'm feeling quite fit, due to our Friday rambles and almost daily climbs up Mt. Doug. Thanks, Juliet and Paul.

Day 1. Vezelay to Breves (c.30 kms)

30 May 2012

Many a true word spoken in jest

I must have walked a good 30 kms today, unhappily to advance only 14.2. I won't even go into details, beyond saying that my Flemish companion, Patrick, suggested jokingly that perhaps we were walking around in circles, and when we saw the cathedral in front of us after three hours of walking, we realised that we were.

We were the only pilgrims setting out today, and we attended the pilgrims' benediction in the cathedral this morning as the two religious communities sang Lauds. It was quite beautifully sung and at the end they called us up to stand between them for the blessing. Very impressive! Shame if it's all a load of old cods!

Patrick has the right attitude for the Camimo, finding everything amusing, even getting lost. He is something of an exception, for Belgians aren't known for their sense of humour.

Tonight we are staying at a typically European campsite in a field by a river. There are half a dozen tents or caravans scattered around us. People are sitting in their plastic chairs enjoying the sunshine while their kids ignore the half-hearted attempt at a playground and potter down by the river or climb trees. We are sleeping in what is euphemistically called a bungalow, but it's actually a kind of plastic tent on a square frame. It'll do the job. The weather is changing and It's about to rain.

Here's one to add to my collection of English translations by French people who think they know English well enough not to need a native speaker to check it out before they post it on their washroom wall:

By measurement og hygiene it is interdict to empty chamber-pots into the wash-hand basins.

Lots of flowers along the way. Some iris are still out, bluebells and buttercups abound along the verge, and poppies are thick in some of the fields.

Saturday, 26 May 2012


May 29, 2012

Chicken or beef?.

I like flying to Europe, into the night. Some people find long flights boring. Not me. I enjoy the food, the wine, and the reading and relaxation that follow.

Of course the service used to be much better. The wine would flow freely in the old days, and be followed by the post-prandial brandy. Now you have to ask for it. "Well, I'll have to go and see," she says, and just when you've given up hope, she returns with a little bottle hidden in the palm of her hand lest someone else see and want one too. I don't dare to ask for a second.

Once, on this very same flight, AC 870 Montreal to Paris, I was upgraded to business class. Champagne for starters, and then white wine with the fish, red with the meat, and not your usual plonk either, but a nice Aussie Shiraz, port, a Scotch or two, and the plane landed. I didn't even have time to snooze in the comfortable recliner.

I jettisoned the iPad in Winnipeg. It was just too heavy, so I'm tapping this out with one finger on my iPhone.

This morning, I took the RER from the airport, picked up a mobile phone at a Boutique Orange, and then caught a train from Gare de Bercy to Sermizelle-Vezelay. From there I was hoping to get a taxi for the 10 Ks into the cathedral town, but no such luck. I had to walk.

Imagine a 10 km hike around Elk and Beaver Lake ending in a climb up Mt. Doug. That's what it was like. And it was hot! And now my passport is soaked with sweat and I'm drying it out.

But I'm here now, and I have somewhere to stay, and I'm enjoying a leisurely beer.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Le Chemin de Vezelay

Despite my resolution at the end of my last post, I am going on another walk, this time from Vezelay, about 180 kms south-east of Paris, to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the Pyrenees. About 900 kms long, it is one of the four feeder routes leading to the Camino Frances in Spain. I am following the northern branch through Bourgues.

This route is a little longer than the Chemin d'Arles, but less hilly. I suspect that there will be more road walking. I begin walking around May 30. You can expect posts after that.

On the right is a map of the path. If you tap on it, it should come up large enough to read.

If all goes well, I plan to post une photo du jour. As a trial, I'm sending you a picture of the pastoral countryside I hope to walk through. You should be able to tap on it as well to make it larger. Or you may have to go to the website to do this.

Until the 30th.