Sunday, 20 September 2015

Walking alone with no Bert !

Distance from Aosta 28.4km. Distance from Dijon 391.2    

Friday 31/7/15

I am getting used to early mornings and today was no exception. Today was going to be a new chapter in my Pilgrim walk as Bert was heading home to his family, having completed his planned two week walk. We headed down for breakfast at 7am and were surprised to see a veritable feast of breakfast goodies. We were used to the meagre bread, jam and coffee options so to be greeted with fresh fruit, yogurts and chocolate desserts, pastries, breads, cheeses, eggs etc etc etc We certainly took advantage of what was on offer.

With full tummies we set off on our final path together. I took advantage of a local bakery / cafe to get bread to go with my eggs today. As I entered the shop my ears were blasted with a cacophony of noise coming from every direction. With everyone talking at and together at the same time, this was my very first taste of Italy. With fresh olive ciabatta bread bought, I very gladly left everyone to their own noise.

At the edge of the city it was time for me to say goodbye to my by now very good friend and walking buddy...Bert. We exchanged goodbyes and man hugs, promising to be in touch and swap the photographs we had each taken.

I set off on my own!

The guide book had stated that it was to be a strenuous walk along the valley hillside with the option of breaking the day at a village halfway. I had already planned to decline this option as my wife Rachel was flying to Italy today to hopefully meet me somewhere the next day. No sooner had I left the city than the hills started and this was to be the case for the whole of the morning. Soon I was out of water but in Italy there is so much water coming off the hills there are water fountains in every village. Ensuring the water was advertised as non potable I took my first hesitant taste at the first opportunity of water. It was very cold and slightly chalky but perfectly ok to drink.

By late morning I had reached my half way point and amazing views back down the valley to Aosta and the mountains far behind. I sat on a bench, took my boots off, put my feet up on my bag and made and scoffed with delight my fresh egg sandwiches. Once completed I was on my way again. The guide book was not wrong about the strenuous journey, I was already thinking that maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew, but I pressed on. Again the weather was hot but a slight breeze kept the heat out of the day. On and on I walked, up and down and up and down the path went along fields, tracks and vineyard terraces to Chatillon.

I arrived late in the afternoon and very very tired. After paying a visit to the church, my end point and naturally at the top of lots of steps, I went in search of a hotel and a beer. Fortunately there was both options in the square so I sat down at a table on the terrace and waited for somebody to come out and ask what I would like. This never happened, and after seeing the landlord come out and provide other guests with coffee and ignore me, I went in search of him. I approached the bar and in my English Italian I asked for a beer please, he looked at me after removing his eyes from the game he was playing on the phone as though I was stupid.......and no comment from those of you who know me! I tried again, same response so this time I pointed at the beer tap. O an bierro, now I ask what is the the difference between a beer and a bierro apart from the obvious O? I decided that I was not going to provide this hotel with my presence and went in search of somewhere else. My guidebook mentioned another one and off I went in search off it. Sometimes you just wish you had stuck with what you had been offered. Formidabla more hills and up and up it went to the hotel I was in search of. I walked through the door hot and bothered and very tired. I must have looked a state as the landlady asked if I would like and drink of orange which I drank eagerly. The landlady spoke no English and I spoke no Italian so with phrase book in hand I took a crash course in trying to make myself understood. I must have been almost fluent, I wish, as I secured a bed for the night at Pilgrim rate including breakfast. I think the landlady had the last laugh as she promptly escorted me to my room on the ground floor..........the disable room......how appropriate!

My feet were making some serious complaints today and the thoughts of going down the hill and back up and speaking Italian was just too much. So I decided to stay in my room and save my appetite until breakfast. I thought maybe the Internet would take my mind off things as I had accommodation to secure the following night when Rachel would arrive. Stupid thought, backwards and forewords I went to reception to try and get on the Internet, eventually I plucked up courage and in Italian I said the Internet was buggered! Well I certainly felt like it. The landlady disappeared and her husband came back and reset the Internet modem. He came back and said ....five minutes, give it five minutes......English, English he could flipping speak English,

I returned to my room and made a request for some accommodation that had been recommended to me in Issogne my next day's destination. Soon my IPad rang and it was my wife On Skype calling. We had a god natter and I asked before we completed the call if she could send me some pastries that were in her room. She did but I could not eat them as they were pictures. With thoughts of fresh pizza, steaming bowls of pasta, and lush green salads I drifted off to sleep...........hungry!

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