Sunday, 20 September 2015

Rachel's first day walking....proper!

Distance from Pont-Saint-Martin 21.8km Distance from Dijon.

Wednesday 5/8/15

After a good breakfast and with full tummies we were soon on our way. Our route out of Pont Saint Martin took us over the impressive Roman Bridge to then skirt the back of the house along the vineyard terraces and out of the town. This was Rachel's full experience walking through the Italian countryside and soon she was taking every opportunity to stop and take photographs to preserve the memories.

It was not to be too much of a long day but at over 20 kilometresl it would test Rachel's stamina. She had been practising on similar terrain at home, with her rucksack full of the tinned produce from our kitchen cupboard she had jauntily bounced around the hillside in the Dales.

Whilst the weight was of a similar nature the terrain was a different kettle of fish. The path meandered along grapevine terraces, through sleepy villages, all the time climbing and descending the hillside at all too frequent intervals. Very much like step training at the gym, but outside and in the sun!

As we took a brief respite from the hills and walked alongside a busy stretch of roadway two additional Pilgrims briefly caught up with us. We exchanged pleasant  waves to acknowledge each other but we never got the opportunity for a chat. By lunchtime we were both ready to put our feet up and have something to eat. On the outskirts of Montestrutto we spied a picnic bench in a playground and made a beeline to it. With packs off our backs I gazed around and by chance happen to see a cafe in the distance, we were sat outside it within seconds. With two ice cold cans of Fanta unopened we took advantage of rolling the can around our necks, face, arms, legs to cool down. What a sight we must have looked. We shared an apple strudel cake and then took advantage of a flat surface to make our sandwiches which we would later eat on the hoof. Reluctantly it was time to leave, we were about half way through the day and not too much more climbing left before the end of the day.

Now I have mentioned Rachel's keenness to get some training in before walking with me in Italy, what she could not train for was the heat. It certainly took its toll on her until she developed an ingenious way to cool down. In every village there is, somewhere a tap or a Lavoire (wash house) dispensing cool drinkable water. Upon coming across one such fountain of coolness Rachel promptly took her hat off and put her head straight under the tap. Once cooled down she then proceeded to fill her hat with water and then put it on her head. This technique she practised regularly and with absolute gay abandonment at every opportunity that arose.

All too soon we were skirting the commercial district of Ivrea before descending into the town. Tonight we were staying at the Canoe club a Pilgrim hostel that offered all the facilities we needed, bed, shower and kitchen. What we did not bargain for was the mosquitoes! 

The accommodation proved just what we wanted and all for the princely sum of twelve Euros per person. We had experienced the lack of food outlets in France so we were carrying some dried supplies with us for tea and breakfast so with the exception of a Chouffe beer for me, some water and eggs for sandwiches the next day, it proved to me an inexpensive overnight stay.

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