November 18, 2008

Almost on my way for the 5th time!

I plan to leave tomorrow morning from our house in Champagne and walk across the hills down the length of France and then on to Santiago, crossing the Pyrenees at St Jean Pied de Port from where my previous 4 Caminos departed. This would be a 2200 km journey, or 1200 kms longer than the previous walks!!

I hope to finish by my 70th birthday, 4 April 2009.

This year, for a change and for security, I will take a cellphone that doubles as a 5mp camera, the combined unit being lighter than the cameras I have carried before. Luckily I have learned how to upload photos and a short text directly to this blog for the many friends and followers who have requested updates about the state of such an admittedly ambitious undertaking.

My emotions include both anticipation and trepidation. As always I wonder how it all will go. My reasons for the journey include non-traditional spiritual ones offering thanks for my life so far as well as the excitement of another new adventure. As it is written in Psalm 119:45 "And I will walk at liberty:for I seek thy precepts." Ultreia


November 19, 2008

Baulne en Brie

This an attempt to write my blog via email. On Nov 19 I started my trek. After leaving our b&b at Reuilly I walked west for 4 k and then made my big turn south. For the next 1000 k or so I will be walking south by southwest. Slowly I walked through our neighboring villages getting used to the bulk of my pack (7 kg) as well as the general places to sit. After chatting with a few curious folk I ate a chilly picnic lunch sitting in the Condé en Brie cemetery. An hour later I arrived at Baulne en Brie which is my first stop. Bill joined me for dinner. We tried to establish our telephone connections. Bill left for home and I went to bed. I had walked 20k.


November 20, 2008


I walked about 21 k in a light rain. Picnicking was difficult. The only places to sit were in bus shelters. Crossed lots of sugar beet country. Great piles of them resembling coconuts or rocks were left along the road waiting to be collected.My hotel was typically old fashioned with toilet and shower in the hall. The L-shaped Windsor bench at the entrance was most handsome. My mother would have loved it! Bill joined me again for dinner. It was strange to think that it would take him only 20 minutes to drive home what took me 2 days to walk!


November 21, 2008


Today I did 20 k. It was raining,cold and very windy. All was exhausting! Nevertheless I stayed in a comfortable pension usually occupied during the week by oil pump workers. Since it was a Friday I could get a room. On the way a pleasant young postgirl stopped to chat. She was amazed that I was walking in such weather to Vezelay alone. I passed this old manoir with a moat which Bill and I had looked at years ago when searching for our house. At that time it had a goat tied at the gate as guardian and was in need of great repair. Now the goat is gone, but even more repair is needed!


November 22, 2008


It was bitter cold but the sun shown brightly as I walked 21 k to Villenauxe. Unfortunately I was stricken by diarrhea mid route. What a fluster to try to find a hidden patch of woods in time! It was not the best of moments. Bill met me and we stayed at the Hotel Flaubert. Our room was worse than ordinary, but the dining room was outstanding! We even bought a case of their champagne! Truly an example of taking coals to Newcastle since we live in the midst of the Marne valley champagne region.


November 23, 2008

Bouy sur Orvin

After Bill and I said goodbye, it was a long cold trek of 29 k to Bouy sur Orvin ending in a snow shower! Exhausted and drenched I finally located this remote 300 year old manoir which is a handsome b&b. My suite, larger than many NYC apts, was 20 euros! There was even a full kitchen area. What a bargain! My hostess kindly offered a cup of welcome tea in her kitchen. I met her grown daughter who had worked in Chicago as an au paire. Sleeping on a cot in the kitchen was my host. Unfortunately he had recently suffered a stroke. The women referred to him constantly, but as the absence of a presence. Next morning when I said goodbye my hostess asked the traditional 'Pray for us at Compostela'. Indeed I shall.


November 24, 2008

Villeneuve l' Archeveque

Starting out this morning the first 100 k were completed; only 2100 more to go! It was a long, hard 29 k to Villeneuve l' Archeveque. At times I was ready to faint. After hours along back roads the last 5 k were on the verges of a national route! Chaos! Huge rigs kept whizing past. It was bad as the entry into Leon on the Camino. Pure hell! At last I arrived at Le Vieux Moulin a converted riverside mill. Attractively renovated and very friendly the atmosphere resembled a Portugese pousada. Unfortunately my room was up 3 flights of stairs! The traveler's rate for room,dinner and breakfast was 54 euros. Good price and stop.


November 25, 2008


Truly a freezing cold day. Did 20 k on back lanes crossing frozen beige and pale green fields. Ice crusted the puddles and fog swirled. I stayed in a simple farm b&b near Cerisiers. The heat was not so great so I wore my knitted hat to bed! Unfortunately my legs started to ache. No wonder since I am not only walking, but continually upright for 6 hours each day! There are few benches along the way. Thus ended my first week.


November 26, 2008

Laroche Migennes

Another cold, foggy trudge of 26 k to Laroche Migennes. Along the way I bought a welcome goody at a small boulangerie. I ate it happily while sitting on a public bench, too lazy to remove my pack. Once I started walking again a car of Gendarmes passed, stopped, and checked my papers. You just can't be too careful about old ladies out hiking! The police were rather stunned that I was aiming for Vezelay; I didn't dare mention Spain and Santiago! At the end of this exhausting day I stayed a small riverside hotel. My room was down a flight of very steep steps;dinner was up the same damn steps. Each one hurt.


November 27, 2008


Started to move south towards Auxerre. However, it wasn't easy. Had to do a long stretch on the verges of National 6. My body and nerves are exhausted. So many huge trucks! Stopped in Appoigny at a Formula 1 motel. The tiny roomette is like a train compartment (not the Orient Express) with toilets and showers in the corridors. For dinner I had a delicious steak and baked potato. Nervous walking produces an appetite.


November 28, 2008


Walked 16 k on back roads to Auxerre. Actually talked with some helpful locals who showed me the way. It's a lovely place, but cold in the winter sunshine. Visited the impressive cathedral. Staying at the attractive Maison des Randonneurs where I have a tiny private room for 15 euros. No other guests. Spiritually I'm beginning to feel more 'at one', but right leg is very sore.


November 29-30, 2008


Exhausting 25 k walk in sunshine along the Yonne river to get to Cravant. My right leg hurt tremendously when I arrived. In a rather luxurious hotel, the Hostellerie St Pierre. It is a very good value with room, gourmet dinner and buffet breakfast for 62 euros. Started taking Paracetamol for the pain. Spent two nights here in bed with my leg propped up writing my blog. Slowly felt better. Tomorrow I move on.


December 1, 2008

Mailly le Chateau

After a full day of rest on Sunday, it was a relatively easy walk of 14 k to Mailly le Chateau along the Yonne. At long last I saw a street named Rue de Vezelay! It was getting closer. Unfortunately I had another attack of the 'trots' en route. Bill arrived by car. Our b&b for the night was called Le Camino with a painted shell, the shell of St James, for its sign. Warm and cozy it also boasted a fine collection of books about the trail. Our hostess had walked to Santiago in 2000 so we compared memories.


December 2, 2008

Chatel Censoir

My right leg still hurt a lot. Since Bill had the car he took my backpack while I limped on 12 k to Chatel Censoir. It was difficult walking beside such great rocks! After a good lunch I rested all afternoon at another b&b. Even indoors whenever I moved my walking stick was necessary for support.


December 3-4, 2008


Without a pack and in a light rain I walked the final 19 k into Vezelay. As I staggered up the last hill I knew that physically I needed a long pause. My leg was almost useless. Bill and I checked into a most comfortable hotel.

Next morning we visited the magnificent abbey church of St Mary Magdelaine. For the last 50 years or so ever since university days I have loved the interior of this structure. Romanesque, Gothic, and 19th century intervention are all combined into timeless beauty. Whatever one believes here eternal peace is combined with man-made perfection. I gave my silent thanks for getting this far and vowed to continue if and when possible. ... Bill and I then drove back in 3 1/2 hours the 220 k which had taken me almost 2 weeks to walk. Hopefully I will continue in January 2009.

...later in Comments Martha wrote...

.........Dear Margaret, I stayed up way too late last night reading your 2008 posts. You have my admiration for undertaking the Camino in winter! I hope by now your leg has recovered and that you are getting ready to resume your 5th Camino. Best wishes to you.

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