Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Montreaux to Bex (Saint-Maurice)

Sunday 26 July 2015 - 34 kilometres

We woke early as it was a long walk today to our accommodation at the convent Les Poules in Bex. This was not on my original planned stop over for the guide book that I am using but in Berts book it is a must stop over, so we we're going to do it.

After an interesting breakfast with Kevin, our new friend, and the completion of selfies, we were on our way just after 8am. The days walk continued where we left off the previous day, walking alongside and to the end of lake Geneva. The day once more was hot and sunny and soon, just before entering Villeneuve the route took us past the 12th century Chateau Chillon.

We have developed a well tried and tested routine now for the days walking that involves a coffee break in the morning and afternoon and with one such occasion we took the opportunity to sit on a hotel jetty set out for the guests hotel breakfasts on the lake. It was very tempting to just sit there for the day with lake stretching out in front of us with views as far as Lausanne but knowing the distance in store for us we wasted no time and was on the way once we'd had not one but two coffees.

The route took us away from the lake to walk alongside the river Rhone for much of the day. With caffeine levels seriously depleting we stopped off at Illarsaz to rehydrate, my feet were a bit sore with the constant pounding on the hard walk surface and so I felt I needed a reward and bought a gorgeous apple flan type thing and it also counted as one of my five a day. We sat there outside in the sun drinking coffee, eating our sandwiches which we had made from our breakfasts at the hostel. Two more coffees drunk and once more we were on our way to continue along the Rhone.

As the day progressed and our end goal became nearer I happened to casually ask Bert where we were heading for and he jokingly replied....you see that white house in the far distance, the one at the top of the hill, that's where we're heading. My reply was something akin to......if it is then you are carrying me up there!!

How little did we both know how true his remark was. We left the river and asked for directions the centre of Bex where we hoped to pick up directions for the convent. As we neared the centre a car pulled alongside us an the same couple we had asked directions offered us a lift to the convent. We proudly declined later to regret such generosity.

We continued on our March slowly slowly ascending hoping that at every corner we had reached our goal, only to find out that the road was just going up and up. Naturally my conclusion, much to Berts amusement, was that the white house he had pointed out was in fact to be where we were staying. After what seemed a lifetime we walked through the door of the convent to be met by a very joyful Sister Margaret. She was very enthusiastic to hear where we had come from and our intended end points and after explaining what time Vespers was and the meal times, we went to our respective rooms. O what joy to have some private space, a comfy bed and en-suite facilities.

After a wash and brush up and some quick washing I went to the church to attend the Vespers service. During my Pilgrim walk I have attended a few of these services but this one was to be different again. The service was very personable, with different nuns leading prayers which were sung and different sides of the nuns responding.  There were about thirty nuns of varying ages but significantly very few younger ones which probably indicates that as a vocation it is not attractive to current generations. There were two other Pilgrims attending and a special prayer was devoted to our safe travel....for me it was a moving experience.

After the service we all went for the evening meal which was simple but sufficient with local wine served too. It transpired that the two other Pilgrims were from Holland and Bert was pleased to here his mother tongue. I was quite happy to sit and hear the conversations but on occasions he three were keen to talk in English so I could join in the conversation. Our new Pilgrim friends were also heading in our direction but their guide book took them on a different route to the one I was using. Soon it was time to retire and get some well deserved sleep.

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