Around the world. ( Part 3)

I love going to Europe.  It feels so different than North America.  It is rich in history. Everywhere I  stop to  take photos. They help to  keep the memories alive.

The first countries I visited in Europe are France, UK and Wales. Then Denmark, Switzerland , Italy and Spain. There is not a country I like best . They are all interesting to me. I wish I could see them all.

What is your favorite country  in Europe ? Is  the language a problem when you visit a country where you cannot speak the language ? Do you try to learn a few words before you go ?

I will share a few pictures taken during my trips in Europe.

Every time I have been to Switzerland , I enjoyed the green landscapes. So many nice places to see .  Spending time in Gruyeres was fantastic. Another time we went in the Canton of Valais and we did some hiking. The Lavaux Vineyard Terraces very scenic .

In Italy, the first city I visited was Rome ( I showed some pics from my 2003 trip in the previous post). In 2012, we went to Venice. It was a dream for me. I remember being so excited. We spent 4 days in the city walking everywhere and going to the islands of  Burano and Murano.  If you knew how  many pictures I took during that trip, you would not believe me.

In Italy, on other trips, we have been visiting the  Gran Paradiso National Park and  Turin. We discovered Piedmonte area and Cinque  Terre  ( on a walking trip). We really enjoyed Cinque Terre and went on hikes between the villages. We stayed in Vernazza one of the 5 villages of CT.  We also went to Genova,  Pisa, Lucca and Florence.

In 2015, at last, I went back to Paris after 23 years and this time my husband was with me. As French is my first language, there was no worry for me to get by.  On my bucket list was to go up to the very top of the Eiffel tower. The view was great.

On that trip we also visited the Bay of Arcachon, the Dune du Pilat, the lighthouse of Cordouan.  We even flew over the whole bay in a small airplane for 4.  So many great memories.

Bordeaux and  St-Emilion  were also part of that 2015 trip.

We were also lucky to visit Toulouse and  wonderful villages of the Haute-Garonne. Albi, Cordes-sur-Ciel, Carcassonne, Foix .  Here another collage for you.

Many  green vistas to see while we traveled in France.

Spain is another great country. We know quite well Barcelona as we have been more than once. We  walked on the  Camino for 11 days with a group and guides ( On Foot in Spain). You can find some posts on our walks here on my blog.

So many good memories . I can’t wait to discover more of Europe .

Thank you for reading my post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Gr65. Day 8

Each day, we are ready earlier. It means  two things. We are getting stronger  and we sleep so well that we are ready to start  walking as early as possible. When we leave the gite it is still a bit dark  ( shortly after 8 AM) . The sky is wonderful. I need to capture  this moment.

We follow the road, the same road  we were able to see from our bedroom window.

We are enjoying the moment. Our body knows well that this is another day on our feet. How many km will we do on day 8 ?  29 km counting the steps we do when we arrive in Lauzerte.

But before we get there , we pass the town of Montcuq. We do not visit. We prefer to get going and have more time when we will get to our destination.

We stop later to have our picnic. We see donkeys and sunflowers. We also see a few pilgrims. It feels good to know we are not alone in that adventure.

We arrive in Lauzerte and we have to climb  a street to get to our gite. Les Figuiers.       A very friendly  couple  runs this gite. We have booked a room instead of sleeping in a dorm.  Each room has a name. Our room is called Marguerite  and we have a great view on the area.

We have time to go to  the town center.  It means we have to climb a little more. But it is worthwhile. We are enjoying it very much , the Church, the square, the beer we are having with other pilgrims and the good weather. Is it possible to say we are having the time of our life ?

At  7 pm we have to be back in our gite for dinner. And it is quite a great dinner with  apero, soup, prosciutto and melon, sausage, ratatouille, cheese, desert and wine as we wish ! We are a good group at the table. Across the table is a man from Mexico. He does not speak French and not much English either. So I  have to communicate in Spanish with him and he shares with me the reason of his pilgrimage. He plans on walking all the way to Santiago in Spain.

Another great day. We feel fine. We are happy.

Thank you for reading and comments.

 

On the Gr-65. Day 5

Day 5. St-Jean de Laur to Bach.

Well rested after that night in the quiet gite Mas de Jantille.

After  good breakfast, we are ready to go. No rain ! Every morning it is easier to get organized . By 8:30 we are on the trail. This day is not going to be  so long, only 20km.

I mostly stay behind and look for anything unusual or interesting. 

It is quiet on the camino. Feeling that the trail belonged to us only. Around mid-day we try to find a good spot to have our lunch.

Luckily we arrive in a place where there is a bench. I don’t think we walk very fast  but at 2:30 pm we are in Bach.

We see that the gite ( where we had planned to stay that night) is not open yet. So we walk some more to get to the village. We find the church ( open) and a bench. Actually my feet are sore and I am more than happy to sit down.

To make a long story short. When we go back to the gite at 3 pm  and ring the bell, we do not get a very nice welcome.

I am rather surprised. It looked like they had forgotten about my reservation. I knew they had confirmed with me ( via email)  that they would be having a bed for us on that day  but I couldn’t show the message on my cellular as  I  don’t have connection to prove that .  I started to think I made a mistake.   What I did not understand is that most pilgrims do not book ahead and this gite did not have a sign that said  closed.  They had other plans for the night and were not willing to accommodate us.  With this attitude from the owners, we were surprised.   I looked in my book  ( Miam Miam Dodo) and saw there was another gite in the town. The lady called and we got the OK that we could go. It was a bit outside the town (maybe one more km) so when we arrived we were more than happy to relax.

The lady was not there yet  but the door was open.  She arrived  shortly after us and we discuss about the dinner. I was happy that she did not mind to prepare something simple for us. Everywhere we could we liked to take the demie-pension ( dinner, bed and breakfast). Once again, we were the only 2 pilgrims in this gite. Relais Arc-en-Ciel was a bit old   but the lady was very nice . That day was a good lesson for us as we never  know what could happen on the way.

Later that night, I found the message  with the confirmation for the first gite ( Grange St-Jacques), so I followed up with the lady to tell her it was her mistake and not mine.

After dinner, we needed  to sleep and get ready for a longer day. It will be the story for next week.

Thanks for your comment. It is always nice to see what you think of this adventure, especially that day.

 

On the Gr-65, Day 4

Day 4. Grealou to St-Jean de Laur

We got up well rested. We took our breakfast upstairs in the kitchen of the house. I could see the sky and the great colors. I quickly took a picture.

When we were ready to leave the rain has started. We put our raincoat and covered our bags. We found the trail and followed it for a while but then we were not sure at all which direction to go.

We followed a trail but it was wrong. We backtracked our steps to only take another direction (walking along a road) and it was wrong also. We only  needed to see the markers:  two horizontal lines, one white, on red but there were nowhere. How frustrating! Finally a nice man driving saw us and stopped to tell us where to go and told us also that this section of the GR-65 was not very well marked.

I was so happy when we got back on track .The rain had stopped. We walked until we reached the town of Cajarc. We found a little park with a picnic table and we had something to eat. On the other side of the park , there were some public washrooms.

We walked through the town stopping quickly to see the inside of the church ( it was open).

And then walk, walk, walk. Mostly we were in the countryside. Fields of corn and sunflowers.

We only saw 2 pilgrims that day. There we going further than us.  I was really happy when we reached our gite, le Mas de Jantille. Roger and Colette have renovated this old farm to make this gite for the pilgrims. They have been doing the camino and they know exactly what we are our need.

Colette  welcomed us with a cold drink. We chatted a bit with her. I had  reserved our beds on line a few weeks before we left for our trip. That gite had 10 beds but that night we were the only one to stay there. We had time to do some wash, had a shower and rest a bit. We bought some food in the little “grocery store” of the gite. We chose what we wanted and put the money in a box. We cooked our dinner ( pasta  with sauce and cheese) and enjoyed some red wine.   We  prepared some boiled eggs to bring with us and eat the next day.

We were not going all the way to Santiago but those reminders were interesting to see.

Thanks for  reading my story on the Camino.

 

 

 

France (part 2): Conques.

We were in France with a special  plan . Our friends drove us to Conques. Ah! What a lovely village.  On a sunny day it was  so pleasant to walk around .  The Abbey Church of Sainte-Foy  in the middle of the village has been  a popular stop for pilgrims traveling the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela.

There is little exterior ornamentation on Conques’ abbaye  except necessary buttresses and cornices. The exception to this is the Last Judgment tympanum located above the western entrance.

This was the reason for us to go there. We were going to start a 9 days “pilgrimage” on the GR-65 that is also called Via Podiensis. This route starts in Puy-en-Velay.  200 km east of Conques.  For us it was just  easier to start our adventure in Conques. But we have plans to go back and walk the part we missed in 2017.

We had time to enjoy the  village before and after we left our bags at the Centre d’acceuil Abbaye Sainte-Foy. A team of volunteers help us to check-in. We bought our lunch for the next day and someone  showed us our room. We could feel this place was perfect for us to start our adventure.  There was much to explore in Conques. We decided not to visit the cloister. Maybe we will go back and have more time.

In the Abbaye , in the afternoon, a lady was playing the organ.  It was fantastic to visit the Abbaye at our leisure.  We had a busy schedule ( vêpres, dinner, pilgrim’s benediction , explanation of the tympanum of the Abbaye, organ concert). “Vêpres”  is s a sunset evening prayer service. We did not have to attend  but I felt this was part of our experience on the Camino.

At dinner, we met some friendly French people at our table. There were about 70 other pilgrims. Most of them would be walking the next day but some were ending their journey.  They  were from France,  Germany, Switzerland, South Korea, Quebec.

On my next post, I will  start tell what happen during our 9 days on the Camino. Thank you so much for reading my story. And if you have time and feel like leaving me a short comment, I will be happy to read it and reply if you have questions.

 

 

Camino in photography.

Today, I will not post about Barcelona yet but  I will share some photos taken  on the Camino. (June 2015)

We were lucky to have Nancy and Jose as guides for this great adventure.

On Foot in Spain is the link if you ever  are up  to do a walking/hiking  educational journey in Spain or Portugal. You would be having a good time .

Now , the photos with  little description! But if you want to read and see more on our adventure with On Foot in Spain, I have written 11 more  texts ( you can find them on this blog). It was a real pleasure to write  our story and to share it here.

The shell, is  the symbol on  the Camino. We all received a shell to wear  around our neck  or put on our bag or just to bring home as a memory.DSC00017

St-James. The history of the Camino de Santiago goes back at the beginning of the 9th century (year 814) moment of the discovery of the tomb of the evangelical apostle of the Iberian Peninsula.  Since this discovery, Santiago de Compostela becomes a peregrination point of the entire European continent.DSC00216

Pamplona is the first city where we  met with our group. I really liked that  city . We had  time to  walk and get a feel of the place.  It has a nice  square where people come and sit on benches and visit. Pamplona is very famous for the run of the bulls.DSC00227.My texture (1318)

Alto del pardon. monument to the Pilgrim. A  14 iron figures of natural size.DSC00249

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This man  had set up a table with little crafts and food. He is only asking for donation.2015-06-06 01.06.04

Our friend, David, took a photo of me at the Sta Maria  La Real Monastery in Najera. David and I got along because he was taking as many photos as me.IMG-20150713-WA0018

Sometimes, my husband also took photos of me! Thanks, Stephen.

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Food never tastes so  delicious when you have walked a few km.DSC00912

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Walking “la meseta” on a beautiful day. DSC01427

A snack … Little Bee is  never too far .DSC01489

Part of our group listening to Nancy while she explains history of the San Zoilo Monastery in Carrion de Los Condes . They were all happy to be  sitting after 20 km walk.

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Sam with the rock I brought with me.  As I didn’t want to leave it at the “Cruz de Ferro”, I gave it to him as a souvenir. It was a rock I painted a few years ago.

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Rainy day on the Camino…2015-06-10 03.41.21

Always a place to stop for coffee if we want to.DSC01958

Cyclists on the Camino . DSC02014

David is taking photos … and I take a photo of him!DSC02143

Nancy , our guide . With Jose , they have been leading those adventure for 17  years. The best guides for this experience. Great people  with so much knowledge  to share. DSC02095

A  monk  at the Monastery in Samos.                                                              DSC02188

Jose is mixing the salad for our picnic.DSC02314

Some animals we saw while we were on the Camino…DSC02285

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On our last picnic, we enjoyed some cider !DSC02602

Thanks to Saint-James, we had this wonderful walking experience.

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and thanks to Nancy and Jose, this trip was a success.

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Thanks for reading ! my next post will be about Barcelona.   A unique experience. Maybe it will inspire you to do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camino de Santiago (Spain)-part 10

Day 10. After a night in Samos, we left in the bus to reach  Sarria.  We have only two more days of walking with our group. The morning walk started in Sarria. We could see many hostels  (albuerges)  as this town is more or less exactly 100 km from Santiago. Many pilgrims  only walk this distance in order to get the Compostella ( the certificate- proof of walk on the Camino).

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This part of Galicia is quite bucolic and dotted with numerous small hamlets and quaint parish churches.  We pass the 100 km marker.  Our 14 km morning  walk finishes in Ferreiros. It was  time for another picnic. Notice the cheese   in shape of a breast. We  eat  empanadas, olives, salad , bread , fruits. Every day our lunch was an enjoyable feast.

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We saw  horreos, typical granary built in wood or stone , raised from the ground by pillars ending in flat saddle stones , to avoid the access of rodents. They are used to store grains.

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We shuttled to Santa Maria de Melide. Only 5.5 km of walking in afternoon. When we saw the sign Santiago, we knew we were getting very close. We were excited to arrive at our destination. Our good friends, David and Gayle ( from Australia) were happy also.

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We were going to spend the end of the day and night in a rural mansion. “Pazo de Andeade“, 29 km from Santiago It was constructed at the beginning of the 18th century and lovingly restored in 1995.  We had some time  to explore a beautiful garden.

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Our group  was perfect to use all the rooms they have . We had dinner  together and it was a pleasant evening at the table with good food and local wine. One more night and then we were going to be on our last day on the Camino.

Thanks -as always-for taking the time to read.  Gracias !

I have a few more posts on Spain .  And soon it will be  stories of other adventures on my blog FUN and LIFE. Ciao for now !