Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Lausanne to Montreaux

Saturday 25 July 2015 

The route today started with a long stretch along the main road out of the city before reaching the edge of Lake Geneva. Again the day was to be a long and hot one, with very little opportunity to shelter from the sun.

After walking on the main road it was soon nice to briefly walk along the lake. Our route taking us so close that the waves splashing and breaking across the path gave us both much amusement. Especially when I was too slow to avoid a decent soaking, much to Berts amusement. We left the lake and headed up to and to walk through the grape vines above the lake. Our route took us through Culley and arriving at a Boulongerie it would have been rude to walk past so we availed ourselves of their finest coffee........a cake for Bert and savoury tart for me. Well it is important to keep the energy levels up!

We continued on our way, once again meandering up and down and through the vineyards above the lake. Every now and then Bert mentioning that we were nearing a station and we could get a train, or a bus!

We never formally stopped for a lunch stop we just grazed when we took an opportunity to stop and have water and a short rest. Taking every opportunity to marvel at the sight of the lake and the views of the Alps ahead in the far distance and our ultimate direction.

Before not too long we were down by the lakeside and enjoying the pleasures it had to offer. We stopped a couple of times to phone our accommodation for the night but each time there was no reply. In Montreaux we were getting a bit desperate so Bert spoke to the Villeneuve tourist information asking if they knew of anywhere that could provide accommodation with Pilgrim prices. Well so and so hotel have Rome for one hundred and sixty Swiss Francs, or there is a cheaper one at one hundred and twenty. No thanks, he replied. We were both not surprised that for some reason the tourist information do not understand or support the Pilgrims that pass through.

I found the details of an International Youth Hostel in my guide book in Montreaux and tried to contact them but they were closed until 5pm. I sent a text message to my wife, Rachel, to ask if she could check if they had rooms and the reply came back that they did not......formidable!

We decided to wait and just before 5pm we were first in the queue at the hostel reception to seek a room. We were in luck, accommodation was ok and soon we were once more going through the routine of making beds and getting refreshed. 

Tonight we were both in for a treat.......the room we had been allocated had other beds free and this were given to three Taiwanese young men who were travelling Europe. I met them first in the dormitory whilst I was literally operating on my very blistered heel, using scissors and the opposite hand I am used to using. As the more talkative approached me very closely he uttered loudly, o my goodness what are you doing?..........operating on my foot. Why? .....Because I need to so I can walk. Where are you from......England, I replied whilst trying to concentrate on what I was doing. England, I wrote a letter to your Queen and I can sing your national anthem, do you want me to sing it.....Er no!  She wrote me a letter back..........Did she invite you for tea with Phillip? I uttered whilst still trying to sort my ankle out, concentrating with all my might. I was certain I might chop my foot off if the conversations continued.

What is your job? The conversation continued whilst my new friend was almost breathing in my ear watching what I was doing. .........I am a long distance walker and writer! You are a writer, a very famous writer, what is your name? ........No I am not a famous writer, I just write the walks I do for others to follow. I don't think he understood that. Suffice to say the conversation did end and I did manage to successfully operate on my ankle without having to sew my foot back on because I had chopped it off. The rest of the night passed without any further events but Bert (my walking companion) did mention that he had met my enthusiastic friend and he had told Bert is name, and then stated that his English name was Kevin!!!!

The next morning we all woke early and Kevin was keen to join us for breakfast. This proved once more to be very interesting. Kevin's thirst for knowledge and information knew no bounds. He informed us that they were all traveling firstly to Interlaken, then to Munich and finally to Amsterdam and the red light area. We all laughed and I told Kevin he had to be careful taking pictures. Over breakfast we talked about the history of his country and some of the events. He asked us if any of our parents had been to war......how old did he think we were? I mentioned my Grandfather was on the beaches on D Day. Kevin then proceeded to name every one of the beaches!

We returned the questions and mentioned that there were a lot of Oriental people on holiday and could he tell which countries they cam from. Very proudly he told us the countries people were from in the breakfast room. But the icing on the cake was when he told us that he can't tell where the western people come from because they all look the same........we all burst out laughing. I think we all could have stayed there all day swapping stories ........ Before we left Kevin was keen for our photograph and we reciprocated with a selfie.

As we continued on our Pilgrim journey we reflected on our experience with Kevin and both shared the same thought that an evening and morning was good, but 45 days....their holiday period, well Kevin's friends were very lucky to have his company!

Orbe to Lausanne

Friday 24 July 2015

We woke refreshed and raring to go. Today was to be a long day and with the hot sun and high temperatures it was not going to be easy.

Bernard insisted on showing us the way out of the town and a path that would give us some shelter and respite from the sun. It was very decent of him to provide this support, but one couldn't help but reflect it was like being marched out of town hoping we would never return! Bernard is not a young man and he walked at quite a pace with Bert and I trailing behind hoping he would slow down a bit. We were taken past the home and birthplace of Nestle and Nescafé and soon then on our own we followed the instructions we had been given to reach the river and the all important shade.

With the mission of reaching the river accomplished, we were both surprised to find the way markers for the official route we should have been following anyway. After ten kilometres and one of the first serious hill climbs so far we both took the opportunity of a log pile that sufficed as tables and chairs and soon our packs were discarded and we both replenished our energy levels.

After ten minutes of rest we set off once more but unfortunately we had not stopped at the top of the hill, and once more we were climbing as our path continued through the woods. At Goumoens-le-Lux the village shop had seats outside so we decided to have our first coffees for the day. We were greeted with a smile and enthusiasm at the walk we were undertaking and although the shop was due to close we were very welcome to sit outside as long as we wanted. It was nice to get the feet up, drink coffee, have our lunch and just enjoy the moment. Little did we know that we were being watched by a different 'wee man' from the roof across the road!

By now the midday sun was at its highest and hottest and we were only half way to the end of the day, so reluctantly we set off once more. The route continued on woodland tracks and minor roads. We are both of a similar mind and interests and neither of us would ever pass off the opportunity for a coffee, and about mid afternoon we spied a local hotel and dived to the nearest table under the shelter of a tree to once more to top up our fluid levels. Whilst sat there we were passed by our fellow Pilgrims but they carried on.

With fluids once more topped up, we set off on our final stretch, to the end point and the suburb of le-Mont-sur-Lausanne. Bert informed me that Luasanne was a very large city and from our end point it would not be a nice walk to the centre and our Backpackers accommodation, so we got the bus and did not feel guilty one bit!

Distance - 28.6 kilometres
Distance from Citeaux Abbey, Dijon - 162.8 kilometres

Jougne to Orbe

Thursday 23 July 2015

After the storm the previous day we woke to a cloudy, humid morning with the freshness of the rain hanging in the air. After a typical final French breakfast we set off to walk down from the village past the Chapel of St Maurice, parts of which date back to the nine century. The path continued along part of what was a Roman road and formerly a main route across the Swiss border - today there was just myself, Bert and Wee Man crossing.

At the first village we decided that it was time enough to search out a coffee spot. A local gentleman bid us bonjour and after asking the question we were told the hotel was closed but the local shop served coffee! Sure enough the hotel was closed so we turned round and popped into the shop. Two coffees later, a chat with the locals and we were once more on our way.

The area around here is littered with tank defences and bunkers from the Second World War. Some of the bunkers have been turned into barns and accommodation.

The route continued steeply down out into the valley bottom, before briefly climbing once more to pass alongside the valley gorge and the river snaking through it. We were in and out of the shade of the trees and the air was sticky and humid.

Before reaching our destination we came across two Pilgrims also from Holland. Bert burst into conversation and surprisingly was able to understand them. After swapping Pilgrim stories we continued once more to reach our final destination of Orbe and two very welcome cold beers each.

Once replete we head off to our accommodation which we had booked the previous night. Prices are generally expensive for accommodation and food in Switzerland, so any opportunity to save money is welcome. For this night we are Pilgrim guests of Bernard and Annette and our room was a small flat in the attic of there large farm house. With a small kitchen and living  / sleeping area, we did want for anything more. Bert informed me he did not cook so I offered to rustle something up. Once the shopping was completed we were soon dining on pasta arrabiata, fresh salad and a cool Chardonney to wash it down with.

With all the chores completed we just mooched around the flat before eventually heading outside and the cool evening air and then finally to bed.

Distance - 17.9 kilometres
Distance from Citeaux Abbey, Dijon - 134.2 kilometres

A new start and a new friend !

Tuesday / Wednesday 21/22 July 2015

Today I arrived where I left off in Pontalier, hopefully feet rested, bag lighter and now raring to go. Once again it was the usual routine, find somewhere for coffee and then head to the International hostel to wait for it to open at 5.30pm.

Looking towards La Cluse village and the valley beyond.
This time things were going to be much different. Fate had a pleasant surprise in store for me this time. After being quenched with good strong coffee I made my way to the hostel and sat in the sun to read my book and wait for it to open. It was at that point that fate was to deal its hand. I was again engrossed in another crime thriller and just reaching another exciting twist to the story when a man with a rucksack made his way towards me and sat down. I was to later on find out his name was Bert from Breda in Holland!

After sitting down he politely said, Bonjour and asked if I spoke French, Bonjour and no I only speak a little French. Agh you are English he replied easily and it was from that point onwards that fate arrived! It transpired as the conversations unfolded that we were both Pilgrims heading in the same direction although Bert planned on finishing in Aosta before returning to work and I was heading to Vercelli. We continued throughout the evening swapping stories about walking and generally getting to know each other.

The following morning although we were finishing in Jougne we were taking two separate routes. My day was a pleasant twenty kilometre walk after stocking up with supplies for the day at the Boulongerie. With rations purchased I continued out of Pontalier and was soon in the countryside following the train line to Switzerland. Train lines were to be a continuing theme for the day. 

My route soon took me away from the current railway line into a beautiful sunny valley and then up to the ancient monument of Chateaux Fort de Joux. After descending down a very steep and narrow path I arrived in Oye et Pallet. Once again to follow a railway line but this time one that had not seen a train for a long time. As I made my way along the ravaged, scarred and eroded surface it eventually transformed into a scenic railway line and to my surprise with two former Orient Express carriages being restored to carry passengers once more. 

Orient Express carriage being restored.

My route continued alongside the track which was not being used. By now it was early afternoon and the forecasted storm looked imminent with brooding black skies and a light breeze that was starting to increase in strength. My route was to leave the track but before that occurred the weather turned, the rain started to fall and the skies started to rumble and flicker with lightening. Now last year I was caught in a violent storm in the middle of a field as it passed over my head. Not wishing to experience that again I changed my route and continued along the line to the next village.

As I neared the village the rain was increasing in strength and despite the humid air I put my waterproof jacket on. Not long after that a motorway bridge came to my rescue and as the forces of nature literally fell out of the sky, I jumped onto the concrete barrier, put my feet up and replenished my energy, gleefully watching the torrents of water run down the road. Little did I know that this was going to be repeated twice before the end of the day!

After a well deserved break, some food and drink the weather eventually turned to one of very light drizzle and time to set off again on the last few kilometres to my Chambre de Hote for the night. I passed through the village, ignoring the numerous opportunities to quaff more of the dark nectar of French coffee. As I left I was soon to realise the error of my ways as the heavens once more emptied heavy rain down on me. I spied a pub not too far away in the direction I was travelling and with the thoughts of a coffee made a beeline following the shortest possible line.......Ferme (closed) it 
announced. Not being one to be defeated I hunkered down in the doorway, rucksack on the floor, feet elevated and 
watched the rain fall and the thunder and lightening bounce around the sky once more.

I checked my location in relation to my end point and realised that I was probably only 1km away, so as the rain eased off to a fine missel I set off on my third attempt to reach my destination dry. The route took me off the road and down to an underpass, unfortunately due to the heavy rain this now resembled a river and without a lightweight portable boat on hand I decided to do an about turn and follow the road. 

Formidable....... As I turned round the heavens opened again, I briefly hesitated under the smelly ugly underpass wondering what my step was going to be and spying a garage across the road I made my way there. Fortunately a jet 
wash canopy came to my rescue and a took shelter under it. I am sure the locals using the garage were quiet amused at the sight I presented, loitering without intent under there.

After another thirty minutes the clouds started to turn blue and the dark skies moved on and within about ten minutes I was finally walking through the door of the Hotel de Poste, my refuge for the night and a very welcome and very cold beer! They even had a welcome sign and Union Jack poster on the reception desk......just for me.

Distance - 19.3 kilometres
Distance from Citeaux Abbey, Dijon - 116.3 kilometres