Sunday, 20 September 2015

A taxi to the start of the walk

Distance from Viverone 14.7km Distance from Dijon 481km    

Thursday 6/8/15

We had asked for breakfast early to try and complete much of the walk before the midday heat of the sun. Breakfast was laid out for us both and once again we were treated to to a sumptuous feast of delights. A welcome change from the meagre croissant, jam and coffee we were used to in France.

Our host had very kindly offered to drive us to the village we had finished at the previous day and we both accepted without a second thought. Soon we were at the start and we jumped out of the car and said our goodbyes and went in search of water for the day. Outside the Tabac with a handful of small bottles between us we decanted them into our containers and set off. After only a few metres I happened to notice I had something missing, my hat, my sunglasses, my guide book and my notes. Rachel was not happy at my forgetfulness and so we returned to the Tabac to call our previous nights host. Eventually after trying quite a few times I finally got to speak to her for her say she was waiting in the square she had dropped us off. Wasting no time I ran to retrieve my things, apologising also to her for my stupidity and I would sometimes forget my head if it was not screwed on tight.

As I left her I noticed four people with rucksacks and eating pastries and drinking coffee. I asked if they were walking the Francigena and they all nodded excitedly and laughed when I said I was too and would see them in Santhia later in the day. I returned to Rachel with the news.

As we headed out of the village the first thing we came across was a bed and breakfast with a swimming pool.......Well if it was meant to be it was meant to be. We both just thought about being in that pool the previous night!

The route continued to be the one that Pilgrims took in the 12th and 13th century and may of the villages have remnants from that time, usually in the form of the towers in them. Two kilometres outside Piverone is the 9th century church of Gesiun and despite there being no roof and open to the elements one small painted section still exists.

Passing through vineyards soon there were views of lake Viverone to our right a vast expanse of water that we walked by for the first half of the morning. We both took the opportunity for a comfort break in the first village we came to, and for me to top up my caffeine levels with a strong hit of coffee. As one village rolled into another we soon passed the four Italians I had met earlier in the morning. Rachel and I both commented and queried how they had got in front of us since they had not passed us, had they got a bus or a taxi? We continued on.......

Last year when we travelled together, me walking and Rachel either pushing or riding her bike, neither of us had any problems with the distance or the heat. For Rachel this time it was to be different. From the first day she had started walking with me this time she had a developed a heat rash on her legs and today it was getting worse and more intense. By lunch time we were both ready for a cool drink and Rachel needed to resolve the issue with her legs so we took a pit stop in a cafe. Rachel immediately disappeared to the bathroom and came back with cool wet paper towels over the backs of both legs.....quite a sight but a lot happier!

With a more permanent solution now required to keep the sun off the backs of her legs Rachel went in search of a Farmacie. Once located a large roll of tape was purchased and soon the cool damp paper towels were a permanent fixture and fashion accessory to her legs.

The kilometres were slowly eaten away and by mid afternoon and the hottest part of the day behind us we were strolling into Santhia and our home for the night. We had secured Pilgrim accommodation here the day before and we're glad we had as it turned out that of the six beds available there were seven staying with one person sleeping on a camp bed on the floor of the office. The Ostellier was centrally located on the edge of the town square and while I quaffed my beer Rachel went to lay claim to our bunk beds for the night. 

Once the beds had been claimed we both sat in the square enjoying the peace and quite, the late afternoon sun drinking our drinks. After we'd been sat there for a while the four Italians came round the corner and once more we all exchanged pleasantries as they too sat down for drinks. It transpired that these four Pilgrims were not booked into our accommodation so that meant there were now to be eleven in town for the night.  I had never seen so many in one place since I had set off from Canterbury!

We bid our farewells to our new friends and went to get showered and cleaned up. Now I am a big believer in fate and the notion that sometimes we are in particular time and place for a reason, today was one of those reasons. We had been in the Ostellier for about an hour and two more Pilgrims arrived, one staying outside on the phone. I never took any notice and just happened to glance out of the window as one passed by.  Mmmm I thought, I am sure I recognise that person but ignored it not being able to place a name or location to the person. I carried on and went to the bunk room to do some faffing. The second person walked into the the room and I looked up, Tony she uttered and gave me a hug! It turned out that these two people were some Italians we had walked with last year on the Francigena. Isaac came into the room having finished his phone call and was just cool at the whole notion of bumping into each other again.

The accommodation was not a huge space, just one room with three pair of bunk beds and some floor space. An office as an overflow for the odd camp bed and one room with a toilet and shower and that was it.  The princely price for the this sumptuous luxury, ten Euros. Now I am not speaking out of turn or turning my nose at the facilities and was more than happy at what was being offered and the price. I just wish such accommodation was more frequent along the route of the Francigena.

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