Monday, 10 August 2015

Switzerland to Italy in less than ten minutes !

Col St Bernard to Etroubles
13.2km, Distance from Citeaux Abbey, Dijon 346.9 km

Well a new day and a different country beckons. Once again it was a long walk as we were all keen to complete two short days in one. With breakfast pre-arranged for 7.15 it was another early start. We had been sharing a large mixed dormitory and not everyone was getting up at the same time in our room, so with the lights off we all fumbled around to pack our sleeping bags and clothes into our bags, making as little noise as possible. Job finished in the corridor we traipsed down for breakfast only to find out that a local walking group was already up and breakfasted. This group were staying a few nights, walking in the mountains, averaging around 1000 metre climbs each day, with bags carried by a mule! Wonder if I can arrange something like that with my local walking Group - Your Outdoor Group?

Once again Bert and I separately set from our other Pilgrims. We took advantage of the early morning sunshine to take selfies while we were still in Switzerland and then within a two hundred metre walk we were crossing the border uneventfully into Italy!

It was a steady walk down off the mountain, following a well trodden route through fields, across electric fences and along hillside terraces. All the time we were being dogged by our fellow Pilgrims close behind. Bert had mentioned the previous night that  jokingly we really did not mind if they wanted to walk with us! Eventually this became the case and as we naturally came together we all chatted away in a mixture of Dutch between themselves and English wanting to keep me in the conversations.

With the hot weather it is common for the fields to be sprayed with water on occasions to stop it drying out. As we left the village of Cerisey we encountered one such event. The field we had to pass through was littered with water sprayers and the ground was a veritable quagmire. By now the other Pilgrims were in kind of them to show us how to get through. As they watched the machines at work to identify the pattern of their water dispersement, they slowly made their way through. Thinking they had outwitted the machines Margy was blasé and was treated to a quick drenching as one of the machines quickly turned itself on her back to the sounds of squeals of shock. Next it was our turn and like dancers on a ballroom floor we tango'd through the  machines uneventful,  aside from a river of water in my shoes.  

We continued to Etroubles, the half way point of the day and yes it was coffee time. Our companions asked if they could join us and of course we said yes so we found a sunny terrace and quenched our thirsts. 

With the same distance ahead in store we set off, by now having taken our time with the drinks it was well after midday. The route was a steady decline to Aosta passing through fields, wooded paths and alongside the numerous aqueducts that littered the valley edge. By now Bert and I were once more on our own, did we smell? Well quite possibly yes!

The views were to die for, the horizon littered with numerous mountains, some with snow like icing sugar on a cake, oozing down the sides. The sun was hot but the air was dry and not humid like we had experienced in Switzerland. 

Just before mid afternoon Bert announced it was probably time for something to eat and I asked where he had in mind. He replied that just around the corner was a bench and stream just waiting for us, well it wasn't round the next corner but round the next did he know? We set up camp for our lunch spot and I took the opportunity to take my boots off and put my feet up. No sooner than we had had the first bite of our obligatory jam sandwich then our Pilgrim friends appeared. We all laughed and they joined us and we all grazed on our jam butties. We were soon in deep conversation about all manner of things, laughing and joking away once more.

After a good break it was on with the boots and this time we all walked together chatting away. Soon we were in the centre of Aosta and this time all heading to the Tourist Information to find a bed for the night. As we made our way there an extremely tall and I mean tall, probably over seven foot American asked if we were Pilgrims, we replied yes and set off together to the Tourist Information. Bert and I were offered a hotel about a kilometre away and I asked if there was any closer in the town. Yes came the reply, it's a few Euros extra and it's only a double bed. We looked at each other and replied we'll take the first one please! Jean (pronounced Jon) turned round to me and laughing loudly told me it was probably Bert and my destiny and we should have taken the one with the double bed.

Once we had secured accommodation we retired for beer. By now we were all in high spirits have been up an Alpine mountain.....survived ......and come down. By the time the second large beer arrived we were all joking and crying with laughter and probably could have stayed there all night. Everything must come to an end and it was Berts final days walk and with beers drunk we all hugged and gave the traditional triple cheek kisses, including the men!

Bert and I wandered off to find our hotel which turned out to be across a very busy dual carriageway. With perfect timing we crossed the road alive. The hotel was basic, there was no extra charge for the traffic fumes or noise, it was cheap and once again the beds were very very separate. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tony, just had a catch up of your blog whilst sat in an office ... dam. It is bringing it all back and I'm enjoying following your walk. Jess told me you had met up with Ozzy George... she if off in Borneo at the moment and soon set for her walk in lucky things.
    Enjoy every minute, I am with you in spirit. Dave ( Jen and Jess Hubby - Dad)