Moonset on the Meseta

Moonset on the Meseta

Friday, October 12, 2012


We arrived home last night after more than 21 hours of travel door to door, apparently bringing Europe's clouds and rain with us, although this storm is coming from the Pacific.  It is great to be home, and this will end the group emails.  Pictures coming on Flickr before too long, and I'll try toad some to the blog and perhaps re-organize it to make it more readable,

Linnea and Kent
Pilgrims home at last, at least for now

Monday, October 8, 2012

Paris: Il Pleure dans la ville

The other day when we were walking I began thinking of snatches of French poetry I once knew, and one misremembered poem was this one by Paul Verlaine. It is certainly raining in Paris today, but fortunately not in my heart. English translation is included in the link.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


After 2-3 hours of train rides through country similar to that through which we'd walked for 19 days, we arrived in the big city of Lyon, gastronomic capital of France. As I had remembered, the Part-Dieu station was a huge, bustling, confusing place. We found no information desk, except for train travel, and a handicapped assistance office with a bank of wheel chairs, of which I wasn't desperate enough to take advantage, so with my 12-year old pages from the Rough Guide, with handy maps, although prices were still in Francs, we set out for our hotel which we estimated was about 2 km away. Along the way we came to a couple of Sunday street markets closing up. We bought 2 apples from a Tunisian vendor. When we reached the Rhone, runners were completing what must have been a marathon along the esplanade. Just before the square where they were finishing, we decided to turn down a restaurant-lined street. It was nearing 2 p.m., so I wasn't sure we could still be served, but it turned out that the place we chose, and perhaps others, were open on Sunday from from noon until 11 pm! Remarkable. We chose a place where the diners all looked happy and seemed to be having a good time, and we dined very well on salads, two heaping bowls of moules (mussels) in wine sauce, with a jam-covered crepe for dessert.

I had booked our hotel through Agoda during our first morning in Le Puy -- it was also in my old guidebook, which I thought a good sign. So, a bit groggy after our lunch, we shouldered our packs once more, and found Rue Victor Hugo and Hotel Alexandra not too many more steps away. Here we are in a starkly modern red and gray attic room, with a skylight and one window about 6 inches high by 40 inches wide, however with a couple of enormous hand hewn wooden beams supporting the sharply sloping ceiling which is perhaps 4 feet at the low end. We were whisked up to this 5th floor in a glass elevator.

It has been a day of contrasts from our room in the ancient stone house in the center of medieval Le Puy, to the ultra smooth, quiet, and fast train rides to bustling Lyon, and this room that combines old and new.

A man in the restaurant noticed my scallop shell necklace, and I am sure noticed our packs as we entered, and had to ask where we walked and tell me that he too had walked from Le Puy to Compostelle.

Tomorrow it is the fast train back to Paris. It has started to rain, and clouds and rain are predicted for the next few days, which should be fine for exploring museums in Paris, although what I'd really like to do is buy a whole new set of clothes from the inside out and shoes on up after 3 weeks in these same clothes.

It is good to have wi-fi (pronounced wee-fee here) in our room once again --it will be the last time before we get home.

Linnea and Kent
Pilgrims on the road of life

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Le Puy

Hello all,

We arrived in Le Puy by 3 this afternoon after a pleasant stay with a family in St. Julien-Chapteuil last night, 20 km from Le Puy. We got lost briefly for the first time since our first day, following a different grande randonnee out of town. We had bought quiches and pain au chocolat at a boulangerie, and continued on our merry way until we realized we were not heading in the right direction. We asked for help from some neighbors visiting at an intersection with big white turkeys bobbing along the roadside, and soon were straightened out. There was lots of difficult walking today, along roads with noxious fumes from vehicles and a chemical plant. There were a few lovely spots, one with a bench where we ate our pain au chocolat and were joined by a friendly orange kitten. Just before that a sweet woman with white hair and red shoes asked where we were from, and was thrilled that we were the first American pilgrims she'd encountered passing by her home. After exploring a fascinating very old church, dating back to at least the 12th century, with an earlier tower that had obviously once been a fortification), we climbed up Montjoie (Mount Joy), where we got our first look at Le Puy in the distance and had our picnic lunch. Then it was downhill for a long way, over some interesting stone bridges across the Loire, which is a mountain stream here with Mallards playing in the ripples, through endless suburban parkland, playing fields, a couple of huge supermarkets with parking lots(!), and community gardens, until we were suddenly right below St Michel D'Aighuile, and I said to Kent, "Now, we are really here." It was very emotional for me to see Le Puy again, in such different circumstances than I was in two years ago. We sat on the steps of the cathedral, from where I had set out on the long walk to Santiago, and I asked two gentlemen to take our picture.

Then we descended to the lower part of the city and sat in the Place du Plot to celebrate our arrival with a beer. Before long Corinne passed by, and I ran to catch her. Then, along came Michael and Gabi, who were actually looking for us. They had arrived just the day before, and would be leaving by train early tomorrow. We missed Bernard, as he had departed this morning.

We shared recollections of our journeys and promised to email, and then Kent and I set out to find our chambre d'hôte, which is on the edge of town, but delightful, pretty and clean. And it has wi-fi, so write!

Two tired, but happy pilgrims!

Linnea and Kent
Pilgrims on the road of life

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

St. Jeures

Hello all, After our fairly long haul to Les Setoux, we have had two shorter days of about 18 and 19 km each day. The morning starting from Les Setoux was glorious with mist rising out of the valleys and sun breaking through onto green hills as we made some fairly steep descents and ascents through woods and farmland. By noon when we stopped on a grassy slope to picnic on bread and cheese, clouds were forming and we thought we would be caught in rain. We arrived in Montfaucon en Velay, cold and under clouds, but still dry, finding our way to a pretty, colorful giite with no one there. The door was open, so we left our packs and took off our boots, jotted down the phone number of the place, and found the friendly tourist office -- the first we've even seen -- who called for us, made some additional reservations, and let us check email. We had a room to ourselves, and beautiful modern bathroom down the hall.

Brilliant sun this morning, with moon setting. I snapped a lot of pictures, and would have taken more except that we stopped in a church to look at a fascinating series of 16th c Flemish paintings, each of a month of the year and referencing a gospel passage. It would have been nice to have had more time there. We had more ups and downs with marvelous views of distant villages and hamlets. A most amazing experience was entering a very dark fir forest from brilliant sunshine. It was like walking into a black hole or a dark theater. The canopy was so thick that nothing grew on the brown needle-covered floor. But at the edges of the circle of woods a halo of light surrounded the dark., with brilliant emerald green undergrowth edging. After awhile we came to a place where beams of light penetrated, creating a carpet of green moss on the ground and the tree trunks.

Wednesday morning. We are in a most delightful chambre d'hôte where we had our very own room with sheets on the bed and attached bath, and warm radiators. The dinner with 3 French non-pilgrims and two pilgrims with whom we have been for two and more nights, Corinne from Switzerland who is walking the entire way to St. Jacques from her home for a second time in 12 years, and Manfred, a rather heavily laden German, the only pilgrim we've met who is slower than we are, perhaps in his 30s or 40s.

We go up again today, over one big peak up to nearly 1300 metres We are in crisp clear mountain air, temps in 60s during the day, and much colder at night. Tonight with a family in St. Julienne-Chapteuil, and Thursday the last 19 km to Le Puy.

We are holding up well. Especially since their soaking my boots seem to have accommodated better to my feet, and the assorted pains in hips, thighs, and back I was experiencing in the first week have disappeared. Legs and feet still are very tired by the end of the day. It is amazing we stay so healthy given some of the primitive conditions we have faced and lack of sanitary amenities. It must be a healthy life to be outside walking for 8 hours a day. It is hard to believe we are almost done.

We we will be back in Paris at Hotel Esmeralda for nights of Oct 8-9-10. Meanwhile, more adventures on the track to Le Puy, and perhaps meetings with Gloria and some of our camino acquaintances there.

Linnea and Kent
Pilgrims on the road of life