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I woke up on the Sunday and Adrian was going to do crêpes tonight, I planned on writing a blog in the local bar Champillon in the towns square. Good internet, smiling people, reasonable prices. Some rugby players came in and made the place a little more chaotic, but still, it was all good natured. Returned home after writing a little bit and watching a few Youtube videos and yea, this place is not all that bad.

The crêpes were fucking beautiful. Adrian, next to being a musician is also an artist in the kitchen. The crêpes, if you folded them, become gallets. Pancakes, but the Dragon kind. Mushrooms, creme fraîche, an egg in the middle, some cheese – all bundled and folded into a square pancake of sheer happiness. I absorbed the food in my stomach and the recipe into my head. Easy to make but so fucking good, holy shit. This dish made me realize Ive been doing pancakes wrong all my life..

Ate some the next day as well, folded it like a burrito with my peasant ass but its whatever. Still tasted great. I went to do some writing and I picked up Petra on my way to town, gave her my laptop so she could do some work (you see, her phone had been KIA a couple of weeks earlier and she was too Swiss to replace it). She was planning on doing something but not quite sure yet. When Im talking about being stuck in Figeac, she’s the epitome of that. Coming here in November, quitting her job before that, getting to know the locals and boy, was she Stuck (capitol S). Not really though, just living life and enjoying the city, its just that much of a good city. Small enough to a point where everyone knows one another, runs into each other. Big enough to have a stable, local economy and little hidden gems to find. Own mannerisms and musicians that came to chill and just never left just because of the cool atmosphere, a vibrant pearl in a country of oysters.. A thought popped into my head that Alchemist Roland told me earlier in my travels, every place has its own atmosphere or energy if you will and things to take away from it. I, like so many people who never left before me, was determined to take a nice swig from this beautiful place and then some.

It was Marie her birthday and I gave her some sunflower and tobacco seeds, I offered to make Mexican food and this was no problem, in fact it was applauded. I made it just spicy enough to ruin Marie her day, she was accepting it though and plowed through it like a champ. Her boyfriend Adrian (maybe because of his Spanish roots) had absolutely no problem with it, and Petra (I believe shes from Liechtenstein) also doubled up..Yea not German at all..

For the next couple of days I made sure I ate at every kebab place in the town and this became sort of a running joke, where people would offer to take me to the kebab OR look straight through my excuses to go into town and assume I was just going to eat a kebab there. They were not wrong.. In France they call a kebab wrap a taco (WHICH MAKES NO SENSE) and they fill it up with local cheeses. Youre basically eating a unique one every time and to my standards its more of a cheese wrap than a kebab..

My package had the wrong address listed on the track and trace and when I found out I called them immediately. They told me its very well possible the computer just registered it wrong which kind of calmed my nerves.

During the following week, I chilled, wrote my ass off, ate all the kebabs I could get my grubby hands on and enjoyed some excellent company. All of Marie and Adrian’s friends were just popping in and out of the house whenever and it always made up for interesting conversations and experiences. A special mention to the gorgeous Perrine and the beautiful Apauline, who were (as far as I can judge) her best friends. Awesomely kind souls with a good sense of humor and their English was just as cute as my French.

I met Adrian’s band member one morning as they were playing their tunes in the room next to mine. Marie made a tartiflet (not how you write it probably), a cheese filled oven dish with cheese on top and she changed the pork in mine for duck and hamdullah, do I love me some ‘canard’. We went to a performance of Adrian in a casino that was run by the biggest fucktards Ive ever come across.

There was a house warming on Saturday the week after, Petra was leaving/not leaving/leaving/ not leaving and I looked for Blablacars to take me back from a bigger city Cahors, I would be able to hit in a couple of days so I was planning to leave Figeac, walk towards Cahors, take a Blablacar back to Figeac for the party and another one back to Cahors the next day. The weather was stunningly warm while I heard that storms were bashing the Netherlands. In the South of France, things were peaceful and if there was fog, it would burn off during midday and fondue the whole city in gold.

Then..Finally(!) My package arrived.. on a Friday. Almost missed it as well but no, this time it was meant to be. Finally got the goodies my family wanted me to have. Special mention to a small music box, that played “wonderful world” by Armstrong, putting a sparkle in my eyes and I could just see my sorry ass sitting on a mountain somewhere, freezing to death, pulling out the music box and crying myself quietly into the long night lol.

Petra and me went to Rampeart to listen to some nice music on Friday and it was cool. We talked about the differences in countries for these kind of places. In Germany this sort of thing is heavily infused with Punk culture and somewhat illegal. In France its mostly a sort of hippie culture thing and in the Netherlands it would just be normally regulated with bouncers and a license to pour liquor. Im not sure which formula is best but in the Netherlands, the bouncers would have definitely removed some of these drunk Frenchies almost face planting into the drum set.

We had several movie nights, some more great meals.. Drank some great wine..

The toilet bag arrived on Saturday and that about taco’s it all up (ITS CALLED A WRAP FRENCHY). 

If Im in love with this country, Figeac is definitely one of the butterflies in my stomach. I want to thank Marie, Adrian & Petra for hosting me and being so extremely kind and giving me a home away from home. I hope that one day I will be able to return the favor although I doubt I can play par..

Looking forward to walking again, I left on a Tuesday after having a very lengthy and nice conversation with Petra the Austrian. I found my way easy enough and Lucy looked even more happy than I am. Some spectacular sights/towns/people awaited and Cahors was only 75km away, should be able to get there easily by next Saturday..

By the time I neared Figeac I already had a response on Couchsurfing from a girl called Marie. She said that she needed to check a few things because she had a German friend (from Couchsurfing as well) over but she would get back to me soon..

Amazing how succesful this is. Before I left on this trip, I had only heard about these “typical Couchsurfing” stays and now Im having my third same day request approved on this trip. The setup was a little weird for this one but that made it all the better in my opinion. Variety is the spice of life after all.

Marie replied that she had work in the morning and that she already had the aforementioned German Couchsurfer over, she was going to ask if I could stay and soon enough the German girl approved and as I finished up walking to Figeac, I was greeted by her at the apartment. Marie was nowhere to be found. The German girl told me that she currently inhabits the old apartment and that Marie and her boyfriend (Adrian) were currently moving to a new house. The girl had been there since November and rode a motorcycle there from Frankfurt. Pretty fucking epic/ballsy in winter. The atmosphere was very laidback right from the start. I asked if there was still a kebab place open and before I took a shower or anything else we went to go get a cheesy, delicious, kebab. Now at this point in time I was planning on staying for 1 night, maybe 2. I had fire in my heels today and I felt good to keep on walking the next day. The fact that they were moving however and the fact that I wasnt in a hurry made everything possible.

The German girl (Petra) was really cool and chill, good natured and humorous, when I murdered the kebab, I went for a nice long shower and she offered to get my laundry done as well. The apartment was a little bare boned but still it was good to have shelter and a place to sleep, the laundry is just one big bonus.

After Petra and me shared a few beers and watched the ending of Captain America Winter Soldier – I went for a sleep in the other room where there was still a mattress and by now – I dont need much else. In fact I dont even need a mattress perse since Im carrying my own. Still nice to have some minor luxuries here and there though.

The next day we woke up and Petra was already helping Adrian move stuff to the new house, she wrote me a nice note saying Im free to do whatever and that they’ll be back in an hour or so. I met Adrian shortly after, a kind French soul and a reliable dude. Also funny right from the start. I went to help and in the meantime did some crucial writing in my diary, I was behind a couple of weeks and it was nagging me. In the evening I met Marie who was off work. A nice girl thats also a travels a lot. Petra and her spoke perfect English. She asked me how long I was going to stay and that I was welcome to stay as long as I want.. This is not helping in the pilgrimage department, but it is helping in my over-arching goal department – and that is to fondue myself in the culture.

Marie invited me to come along for the weekend, help them move and fondue at her parents. That sounded like an exceptional chance to experience more of France. Just every time I feel like Im done with this country, it just ropes me back in and throws me a curveball. This time in the form of some awesome people that were very welcoming and nice to me from the get-go. Since it was Wednesday, that meant that there was a whole Figeac ritual to follow for the upcoming days. Thursday night was game night and the beginning of the weekend, Friday was a thing called Rampeart – a music / improvisation evening in some raunchy house thats rented by some people, everyone brings their own booze and is free to grab the mic or any instrument thats there, then Saturday is Saturday which means going to the bar but in the morning theres a market throughout the cit and Sunday is rest day but maybe also the lounging in the bar.. Theyre French after all.. See if you give the moments you drink alcohol enough names, youre not really an alcoholic now are you?
So tomorrow was game night, then the day after we would go to Marie her parents in a nice town called Puycelci, we would sleep there and the day after we would move Marie her stuff back to Figeac, after which we had a sort of soft house warming with her family and close friends. Fondue me right there silvousplait.. Please allow me to cook for all you all, as a return the favor kind of thing (not to mention I really like/miss cooking for people and this was a golden opportunity).

SO THURSDAY! My laundry still wasnt dry and how could I skip gamenight huh? I cooked my “WORLD FAMOUS” pasta (without the sand this time) before hand and everyone except for Petra was slow as shit. Games were not really played, at least not by the group I was with. Beer drinking on the other hand – you bet. Then going to someones house to continue the party? Yes that also.. This is the first time I encountered a situation like home, where the party just never stops and everybody keeps pushing to get together somewhere. Good, deep conversations and my Frenglish actually held up alright. I went home as one of the latest, since Marie had work she had left earlier with Adrian. Petra gave me the key to the apartment and I went on ahead. This was shaping up to be a pretty nice time in Figeac, one alcohol fueled rampage perhaps, but I cant let up on the opportunity of sharing time with great people. The town itself is beautiful and extremely friendly, also known for its musical talent that never left.

Most people werent actually from the place and like my amis in Ambert, this makes the place full of people who are there by choice and work towards making it better. This is also reflected in the many associations the town has, helping homeless/immigrants (which was also Marie her job btw) and all-comers alike. Petra showed me around the next day and it was all beautiful. The churches and cathedral, the squares, some hieroglyphs in some alley way(?), sure. We drank a nice and quiet coffee at the end of all of it and Petra was a very interesting girl and she definitely made Figeac all the better. I dont really consider her German since she bore no resemblance to any German I’d ever seen. Freespirited and confident, little accent when talking English, structureless..French.. I teased her with the fact that she actually isnt German but Swiss.

We picked up Marie at the end of the day from work and walked through town. I grabbed a nice pizza from the Boulangerie on the way to the new house. Petra was planning on staying in Figeac while Marie, Adrian and me headed out, an hour drive away to her (awesome) family. They lived a little while away and driving there in the dark really didnt do the countryside any justice (as I would find out the next day). We arrived there and the pastis alla France flowed freely, with water is the French way and I cant say I dont like. Her parents were fantastic people, very welcoming, open, warm and it felt great. I met the grandma who had her own little apartment in the house but she didnt stay for dinner. Her mother is officially Swedish and a great cook. She made a sort of fondue (they called it fondue but it was mostly fon-to-due).. An oven dish with potatoes and vegetables, and cheese, omfg the cheese, so good..

Her brother Arthur was also there, just as cool, just as well spoken/good natured/kind as the rest of em. Man this is a blessing. At some point I just had to call it quits and I slept in one of her brothers room. Lucy was being a bitch to their dog Guus, a big ol’ stupid/lovely/kind australian shepard(?), its a dominance thing I guess.

The next day everyone was already doing stuff while I was being lazy and slow. The day started off exactly how it finished except for the alcohol and I had a cup of coffee in my hands before anything.

I started lifting stuff and putting it in the van, Arthur used to work for a moving company so it went really fast and efficient. We loaded up everything and then her mom had already willed another oven dish into existence, chicken this time with great herbs and just allround fucking fantastic..

We went for a little sightseeing tour through the little village close by (Puycelci), nested a top a mountain, walls, church, guardhouses..My kind of shit. Her brother was also pretty knowledgable about the place. Sadly I was unable to get a stamp but the town definitely left a stamp in my memories. Then returning home we drove the car while her parents and brother came with the big van. Marie had the jenkiest sleep ever and I was dj’ing, too bad I only had Cypress hill on my phone haha. Nothing like sitting in the back of a soccermom Renault SUV, driving through beautiful French countryside blasting vato rap..

We had the van and the car unpacked even faster than the packing up part, food magically appeared and it turned into a nice get together once again. Adrian’s parents also came by, really friendly and they even brought their dog Lou-lou to which Lu-Lu could be a bitch to. Trés gentiles.

I had my domain in the basement of the new house, which was basically an entire floor under the house. Petra also came by and the whole thing spiraled out of Figeac, I mean control. In a very pleasant way though. Fulfilled, I went to bed when the youtube games rolled by and by this time people were already asleep on top of Lucy. I was a bit worried for her parents since they were drinking and it was like what…fucking 0300h..? “Nahhh dude, they stayed to sleep obviously..” “OH ALRIGHT!”.
Woke up too late to wave them off as is (becoming) tradition, but its fine. Loose and laidback is the Figeac way..

TO TOP THIS WHOLE STICKY STORY, Monday was Marie her birthday, and I cant just leave on such a great person’s birthday now can I. STICKY CHERRY ON TOP, I forgot my toiletry bag at Marie her parents place. 
I was also still seeking revenge for the package never received. The one I had tried to get sent to my friends earlier in Ambert and this all seemed like perfect timing. Get some writing done, meet the locals, share time with awesome people, cook awesome meals and finally get that cursed package with December gifts.. Marie gave me the go ahead to let my parents send it again and I looked forward to it, her parents were sending the toiletry bag and I wrote my damn ass off to a point of getting RSI in my right hand. Not really though but being behind 3 weeks is not fun and it bugged the shit out of me. Not to mention that upkeeping the blog was also on the to-due list.

Santiago de compowhat..?

Just my luck..

Stuck, Stuck in Figeac <3..

I woke up the next day and the tent was actually pretty warm, a light drizzle made a soothing sound on the outside my little domain off the ground. I felt wrecked, my feet were absolutely destroyed and so were my shoes. It turned out the long trek over the tundra had scraped off the outside layer of the leather of my shoes, small holes appeared near the nose of the shoes but I was happy that I was dry now and decided to take a small rest day.

The grocery bag had lacerations all over it from the ice and the groceries cutting the side of the bag, still good to have food for the day though, the bread didnt turn into stone and I had a nice turkey bread and a coffee to start the day. 
The town itself was really nice but due to construction works being done it looked like the Gaza strip. The Office de Tourisme was open to get a stamp and also a nice boulangerie. Also found a bar to do some writing, sadly they didnt have any more food but they did have nice wifi.

Not a whole lot happened that day and I had a good recuperation day.

The next day I left and it was still raining a little here and there, fog. The baker was nice enough to give me a good deal on a bag of croissants and I thanked him for it. The road was nice enough, mystical almost. I wanted to walk on the roads but got enticed to walk the normal route (up the hill and down for absolutely nothing) and after an hour I regretted it. Yesterday I had sent out a Couchsurfing request to a guy in Estaing, the next town on the list and I was kind of struggling to make it there that day. The guy was nice and patient enough however and weekend was about to begin so tranquil was the name of the game. Still that didnt keep me from holding up my thumb after approximately 20km to hitchhike the last 10km. 

River road?

I arrived in Estaing and it was gorgeous, a river, a nice bridge, houses on a hillside and a nice castle overlooking it all. I had a feeling I would run into Francesco in a bar and yes indeed, there he was.. We talked a little and I send a message to my Couchsurfer, he said to meet between the church and the castle and it was close by. Francesco and me agreed to keep each other posted on what and where and I went to the my Couchsurfing host called Pierre. 

An interesting guy to say the least, designer by trade, running for mayor or something like that (language was a bit of a barrier but only slight), and also designed robots to clean up the Fukushima plant, really fucking cool. We got nice and drunk after I got a shower and did a laundry and he made a traditional regional meal, I forgot the name but it was mashed potatoes mixed with cheese in a certain way. Definitely a 2 man job since one needed to stir the mashed potatoes on low temperature while the other one added the cheese. Yea good luck with that while on alcohol. It still turned out great though and I was happy to share a nice local meal with an awesome guy. A good night sleep was what followed and Pierre already offered to host me another day, an offer I couldnt refuse. Looks like Ill be Esta(y)ing another day.

The next day we walked around the small town a little, drank a coffee. Lucy made a male dog shit all over the bar where we sat for a bit because he was so anxious, yea she does that.. There was a service at the church that evening that we attended where we also ran into the real mayor. Funny..


The next day I went back on the road and Pierre and me said our goodbye’s. Great to meet extraordinary people. I left on a Sunday and there wasnt a lot open, the road itself didnt really take me along villages anyway. Up a hill, down a hill, following a river. When I walked on top of a hill I could see Espeyrac in the distance, the river had thrown up a big fog bank around the village and it made it look very mystical as well. Such a good area for hiking and walking (apart from the fucking mountains lol).

I put up my tent next to a gîte on a grass lawn and it promised to be a watery night. The next day the fog had all but cleared and I hung my tent up to dry in a public toilet. The clouds later on also dissipated and it turned into a really sunny and warm day. Sunshine, birds, a coffee in the sun. Conques was coming up and Manon from Le Puy already recommended it to me as being a great place. The town itself was mostly left medieval and it was dominated by an abbey. Now a popular pilgrim town and like Estaing, one of the more beautiful villages in France. Something that I heard before and even though all the villages were truly inspiring and gorgeous, none of them deserve the title of most beautiful (yet). The country is just breath taking, and the villages make the country.

I entered Conques through the back, which made it all the better. At first you see nothing and then the trail becomes cobblestones with crooked house roofs, smoke coming from the chimneys. Old roof tiles and houses and roads built from the local quarry’s. Really, really, beautiful and the weather just made it all the better.


I went for a tea in the local bar and there were already some French people smiling at me. Of course I smiled back and drank my tea and did a little diary writing. A Spanish couple talked briefly to me, of course they knew the way to Santiago. Then the French group of people left and asked me if I was a pilgrim, I told them I was and they dropped 20 € on my table, ‘Ill just leave that here’ the man said. I thanked them but was so flabbergasted I didnt ask them for their names.

I went to the abbey and there werent any people there. The abbey store was open though and the lady said that she could let me in. Lucy wasnt allowed sadly but our combined charm made her rebel against the rules. For 1 night it would be no problem but we would have to keep it quiet (not sure how Im going to manage that..but sure, thank you very much!).

I was able to grab a quick piece of bread before the evening service began and I decided to take a shower after. There was a nice monk who greeted me when I entered the chapel and even though the chapel itself was pretty Luciferian, lights shined in the exact way where the shadows casted dark wings on the center statues. Also the fact there was a goat head above the cross. As well as a lot of duality imagery in the chapel itself, imagery from Revelations as well. Short hair, dont care. They have food and Im not here to mess with their belief and I doubt the monks even knew what most of the things meant (but thats an arrogant assumption).

Black wings & goathead

The monk who also greeted me in the chapel also was waiting in the dining room, assuming I would go to eat or drink (and he was right). He explained to me that they would like to see me for the late evening service as well so they could pray with me.. Sure Ill be there, better not prey on me though..

I grabbed my coffee (haha you thought I was going for food huh) and I went back to my room. The monk had also showed me the dinner in the fridge and after my shower I went to get some, then back to the room to give Lucy all the food she could even want, slowing her down a little bit in the process.. I was just in time before the late service and it was kind of awkward but also cool. 13 monks in white robes, all with specific tasks. One of em called me in front of the group, Im not sure if they expected me to kneel or anything but thats not happening brother bro.. He put his hand on my shoulder and gave me a small book. “The word of Marcus in Gewone Taal”, hmmmmMMMmmMM Ill swing back to this later. He said some words in French and I thanked them. I appreciated this though.. My first pilgrim blessing this time around, last time around I already got it just before I left the Netherlands, this time around leaving the Netherlands seems like a distant dream, although very clear.

SO the book they gave me contained the gospel of Marcus, in Dutch.. Now I dont dislike this but I do dislike a couple of things about it. First off Im reading the bible in English and the booklet they gave me is an insult to the original gospel, a simplified version that just tells a version of events without some of the deeper layer underneath. They leave out several facts for example that Jesus gets called of a house by his family, to which he responds that his family is the people hes talking to right now in the house. Also they give lines of thought in the book instead of just giving you the text. So there you have 2 sins already, first off youre removing stuff that carries weight and meaning and second, youre pointing people in a certain direction instead of them letting think for themselves. Yea this book is everything that’s wrong with Christianity or religions in general nowadays from my point of view.

I walked around town with Lucy a little bit and everything was closed but it was as beautiful during the night as it was during the day. As above, so below..

The next day I woke up and attended the morning service. The brother who blessed me last night overslept and the service itself had a little sand in the eyes all together. Still nice though, good singing and inspiring. Afterwards I had breakfast with 2 brothers and we talked a little. One brother offered to ring the church bell if I climbed up to the chapel and rang the bell there.. I didnt even know I could ring the bell, I didnt even know where the camino left the town.. Still a very cool offer though. I left my stamp and a little note in the guestbook and I went on my way after I packed my bag. I drank another tea at the bar and I didnt get 20 € from random strangers but then again, not really counting on that..

The sun was out, the fog had burned off and I could see a chapel high up on the mountain as soon as I left the Barry’s Gate (true story). The climb began and I felt good and fast. When I arrived at the bell, there was nothing. I smoked a cigaret and ringed it again. The church down in the valley responded! Fucking epic, I must say.

Chapel with Conques in the background

Francesco and me kept in touch and he recommended me to not take a certain part of the GR route, since it takes you up the hill and down for nothing but a supermarket, which is fine but I wasnt planning on doing that. The road took me along some ridges and it was a nice walk all in all. Wind picked up and dodged some small rainstorms preying on me and Lucy.

I walked and reached a field where I took another route that seemed more logical to me instead of the GR route Im following, then I reached a fence and a hillside and I was like whatever, Ill just go over the fence and just…..river… hmmm, Im sure there must be a crossing somehwh…..sticks, sticks and branches.. Thats it? Meheheh sure, get over here Lucy, stick on my back. Lets try and do this. As I balanced over what looked like some washed up sticks and brush in a river bend, I managed to already put Lucy over, then I was able to jump it. Cool, made it. Lets take a left here and follow the riv…fence. HMM, this isnt going the way I want it. I walked back and up a tiny hill. Opened a few make shift fences. The sun was slowly setting and I could see Livinhac le Haut in the peninsula below. I found an old citroen car that looked like it was from a Fallout game. Also a dead bird (that in retrospect I definitely should have taken a claw from (or at least a feather)). Down the hill I found a very busy road and I decided not to walk it, cars were flying by and there was no room on either side of the road to walk. I looked on the internet for local taxi’s, the first one was 200km away from Livinhac but was nice enough to point me in the right direction. The second one could be there in 10 minutes. His name was Thoma and he rushed me to Livinhac where everything was closed. Did find some building site though where I could easily sleep tonight. He told me the town had a little shop that was open during the day but closes in the evening. He also gave me a discount on the journey coupled with a nice conversation in shitty Frenglish deserves him a spot in my memorial for sure.

Had a good sleep and he told me to greet the store owner, when I did the guy thought I wanted to call him but nahh, just regards man, just regards..

I was on a cloud walking towards Figeac and decided to send out a couple of Couchsurfing requests, on account them being so fucking successful. Little did I know I was about to get stuck..

Stuck in Figeac..

Francesco and me said our goodbyes and I left with my shopping bag attached to the front of my bag. It made walking a little bit annoying but ehh, Ill find a spot. And now I can grab snacks while walking, so +1 for efficiency? Haha whatever.

Im leaving town walking through a beautiful, clear night. The moon was bright and I could see everything very well. I didnt even need my flashlight that much. Lucy chased some deer out in the fields and I followed the only road that seemed logical. Turns out this was just the silence before the crescendo..

Following the path it led me up a slight hill, nothing too serious but the shopping bag was beginning to become even more annoying. All of a sudden there was a closed fence saying interdit, privee. Go left for the camino.. as I stared down a field, that had some touches of snow here and there, I thought to myself – there must be a path up there somewhere. I already walked quite a bit and even the roughest parts of the camino so far didnt really push my limits. Up the side of a mountain in the dark? No problem! Through a spooky-ass-forest with a faulty flashlight? Bring it Slenderpuss! Sleeping on a cemetery in the dark with owls screeching at you? Ticks? Rain? Nuns? All no fucking problem and the path wasnt that hard to follow usually so I should be fine. They say that pride comes before the fall and although Im always mindful of my surroundings and not really that prideful or overestimating my chances, Im still pretty confident in the things that I do with a sprinkle of recklessness sometimes..

So the spots of snow slowly turned into patches of snow with a layer of ice on top, that I was heavy enough to sink into but Lucy (thankfully) wasnt. The moon and the stars shone brighter than ever and on the horizon-clouds I could see the reflection of the next cities over. Keep on going! A red and white marker spurring me on every 500m or so. Today was a very long day and thats why I bought a big dinner, the shopping bag at the front of my bag went from “haha fuck off bag” to “hmm maybe I could fit it in my backpack somewhere” but I kept on pushing anyway,, determined to find a spot to eat and put up my tent. I saw the footprints of other people with the paws of a dog swirling around them and I decided to follow them. Hmm this shit seemed to be a little unending I thought to myself..No biggy, there must be an end somewhere..

Go take a right here! REALLY? TAKE A RIGHT HERE? But mannn theres the fucking valley on the left and right takes me UP the fucking hill, not down..Gimme a break, whatever, Ill follow..

I struggled to find a connection with my phone to look at the different maps, not to mention I could see the battery draining due to the cold. I took the road leading towards the valley and I could see multiple red and white crosses painted on trees telling me I really really shouldnt go there. So back up the hill I went.

Patches of icy snow began to take over the landscape and it was glistening beautiful in the blue shade of moonlight. I would occasionally sink knee deep into the snow and everytime I did Lucy came running back to check on me, licking my hand when I reached out for her. After a while I felt so tired and my backpack weighed heavily on my shoulders. I had shortness of breath and even though the wind was picking up and every bone in my body told me not to – I took a tiny rest on some rocks that were sticking above the increasingly deepening snow.
The red and white marking became scarcer and scarcer and my light didnt cast far enough to see the next marker sticking out of above the snow.

As Im taking a little break with Lucy tucked inside my jacket, I went to look in my backpack for some room to put this damn grocery bag, which went from “lalala snacks while Im walking” to “Im going to be the end of you on this damn mountain”.
Just as Im catching my breath on this rock, a cold wind chill completely drains me of the warmth I had built up walking up the side of the hill..and I wasnt even on the fucking top yet..

Fuckit, no choice but up, just follow the scarcely placed markers pointing up the hill..So fucking tired however. Lucy was slightly panicking when sitting still and that put my head back into the game. I heaved my heavy backpack + grocery bag on my back again and crawled up the mountain. Following the footsteps of previous hikers that have since frozen into place. The moon ever silent and watchful..

A small stream that cut through the ice like a dark vein, the footsteps were hard to find after that but I managed, Lucy seemed to understand that we were following them as well and I decided to trust her as the “path” took me around the top of the hill. Sinking deep into the snow and hitting displaced rocks under the layer of ice and snow every now and again, making the whole thing that much more shit.

Thank you sweet baby Jesus, finally the signs point me towards the top of the hill from what I could see and when I finally did reach the top, I found like a small hunting/resting lodge, it wasnt much but at least it kept me out of the wind and I ate a chocolate bar and drank some water. No chance that I was going to sleep here but at least it was a place for me to come to my senses.. I wasnt out of the tundra yet though. This was a very welcome sight however, placed exactly right and I wondered about the many that came before me, who were also in these shitty circumstances, as I read the encouraging messages of triumph and agony on the walls of the shed.

No service to check anything and my battery did weird shit in the cold.

What looked like shapes of houses in the distance might as well be rocks or forests at this point and I could feel the wear and tear on my body as I continued and I decided not to risk walking up to a rock, thinking it was a house and not being able to get off this snowy plane.

I hope my shoes were going to be alright since the ice on top of the snow cut like a knife into my freezing hands when I sank 1m into the snow. HAH WTF, Im actually thinking about my shoes, I need to think about my fucking life over here, fuck the shoes my dude!

I entered this weird trance of just pushing myself while also being mindful from where I put my feet, the hidden rocks seemed to be getting more abundant and also a couple of more oily, arteries to cross that tore through the frozen dunes. Its whatever at this point, too far up and too far gone to even think about going back, also backing down the mountain and running into a cliff or a fence seemed too big a risk for me to take.

I remembered in one of my Whatsapp group chats that the last thing I said was “<3 bread” and ya just cant go out like that. You need to have some dignity..

I finally, finally, FINALLY found myself in civilization again. Sort of at least, there were houses and what had the layout of a town, but it was still snowy and windy and wet and no soul around that wasnt fast asleep. The moon was cloaked behind some clouds but at least I was at a place where people would find me in the morning. I continued down the mountain on the normal road which was slippery and icey.. SURE! Add those cherry’s on top of the whole shit Sundae..

It got easier over time and the ice was gone, I tried lockpicking a few old sheds but it wasnt meant to be. Down in the valley town of St. Chély d’Aubrac, it was quiet like the little community of Aubrac on top of the mountain. I called my parents and let them know that I flew a little too close to the sun on this one and they were glad that I was alright.

What I thought was going to be a kilometer at most turned into a 10-15 km clusterfuck through one of the most hairiest situations I have ever been in. Still I managed to pull through, Lucy was fine. I felt euforic and stupidity in equal amounts.

As a small token of appreciation from the forces that be, I found some cabins that were unlocked on the local campsite so I didnt have to sleep in my tent tonight. Yeaaaa maybe a restday again is going to be good.

Piano, pianissimo..

So Saint-Alban-sur-Limognole was nice, a town that actually cherished the pilgrims for the business that they brought and they looked after them well. The sour taste from my mouth disappeared soon enough just by how extremely friendly and welcoming the people were. First night when I arrived, I had a talk with a guy in front of the party bar and he later saw me sitting at the other bar and we actually laughed about it. On the 3rdday I even caught him going to the other bar. Thats what I like to see, people going to each others bars and caring about the community. Spread the wealth a little ya know. 

The little shed that I slept in was pretty basic but it had walls and a roof. The first night I stayed there it became so foggy that during the night that a thick layer of ice covered the entire graveyard. It looked beautiful in a morbid way. Im not really scared of these places anymore, I associate them with water and some sort of shelter and rest than a place where people. Which are matters of the living, not the dead.. I think a lot of superstition hoovers over these places but I really dont have much time or care for superstition anymore.

I went to the church service the next day and they had a pretty young priest, albeit a somewhat older flock. The people were very nice to me though and nobody even minded Lucy being there in the church with me. Maybe its because St. Roch is a pretty popular Saint in these parts. Ill loop back to this later on in the story.

After mass I went to some shops that were actually open on a sunday, which is a rare sight to behold for most places 5 years ago ALTHOUGH it seems that France is becoming more “liberal” in regards to this.

I spend the morning typing away in party, chaos, bar l’Europe, drinking tea and doing some writing while listening to everything from crappy 90’s music to modern day shitty hiphop to chansons only a French person would know. It was alright, people were friendly and the tea was alright. I went ‘home’ afterwards to my little shed and baked me and Lucy an insane omelette. Really good having some warm food in me since the temperature was fluctuating pretty hard. In the evening I went to scour the place for electricity and I found a restaurant/gite open. I got greeted with a smile once again and I saw that theyre daily menu was on the cheap side. I just couldnt resist. I drank a few tea, was able to charge most of my equipment and the old lady (who I assumed was the mother of the owner, maybe?) made me a great meal with rice and chicken and some vegetables with a local cheese. Not nearly enough to hold me over but when you had 6 eggs with 4 kinds of vegetables for lunch, anything in the evening is just a darn calorie bonus. This seemed to become more the tradition. Live off 2 pieces of fruit and then plow through 5k calories when you had the chance. Body weight fluctuation accordingly..

I woke up the next day cold as shit, although the fog returned it didnt nearly have the chilly punch it had before and nothing was snow covered this tim. Around the time I actually woke up, the fog was already burning off, good omens.

I went to the quiet little bar of the first night and saw the owner from the party bar there, he greeted me with the hugs and kisses any French person is accustomed to giving and it didnt even fell weird anymore. He joked when I left “if I was absolutely sure I was going to leave?” since he saw my ugly mug around town for the past couple of days.. yes, yes sir Im actually going this time around.

Oh I almost forgot, a couple of days ago I crossed the border from Auvergne department into the Haute-Loire department, I came across a statue of Saint Roch. A modest fellow carrying a staff and almost looked identical to St. Jacques (Santiago), except for the fact that he had a dog with him, needless to say I could feel the connection immediately. The guy was also plague ridding, pointing to a bump on his leg.. Now thats a cool but fucking sad saint, imagine being canonized as some little bitch, lifting up his skirt to piont at some bump on his leg until the end of time. Even the dog looks fucking sad. BUT STILL, COOL SAINT BRUH!

There was also a refuge on the border that I met my first other pilgrim this camino around. There was no light burning and the place looked deserted, so I open the door en I see from the corner of my eye a older-ish lady, sitting there doing some writing or nitting. I ask her like hey, youre another pilgrim? Shes doesnt even look at me but keeps on writing, tells me yea Im a pilgrim. Im like…okkkkkeeeyy….uhm did you start in Le Puy? She said; no Im already walking way longer than that. Still shes not making eye contact whatsoever and with the sun setting I felt like I was intruding on her property or something.. I asked her where she was from and she said Germany, I switched to German and told her I was on the road a little bit longer than Le Puy en Velay as well. A small pause before she glanced at me for the slightest and I continued in German telling her I started in the Netherlands. She went back to her business after that and I said well, have a good one. Shes like; oh youre not staying here? Im like hell nah, I still need some food and tomorrow is Sunday and I noped the hell out of there. After 5 minutes I felt bad because I should have asked her if she needed anything, since she was in the middle of nowhere and I was going towards civilisation.. Even little ol’ witches need water to survive.. Too late now. Weird fucking interaction with the first pilgrim on my journey, the fact that she was also German (same nationality as my cherry popper pilgrim 5 years ago) made it all a little bit weirder. I realized once again that you can lump all the pilgrims into 2 groups, differences exist within these groups but largely – you have people that decide to go there to have fun and do it in a upbeat mood and you have people that have been hurt by the world so much that it almost seems like theyre running away from something. The German lady and me certainly collided on philosophy it seemed. Its fine, everyone has their own camino and Im not here to judge or intrude..

Funny that I met the first pilgrim of my journey exactly on the border of the 2 provinces of one where I spent wayyyy too much time for my liking, but then again, Le Puy is a very popular starting point so it wasnt all that weird on paper.. The next bigger-ish town I walked into I had a stray dog come at me immediately. It looked like a hunting dog but without an owner and it was very well natured, it was wearing a orange collar and Lucy hated his guts right from the start. She’s become more bitchy as she matured, or at least less gullible, so I decided to not entice him to come with me too much. Still he was pretty relentless in his pursuit and ran into the road, over the road, in front of cars and fuck me, people look at me angry like ‘dude watch your dog’ but my lil Lucy was walking neatly on the sidewalk and all I could do is just desolé my way to the nearest bar. The first and only bar in town was pretty nice and friendly, the lady even gave me some complementary nuts.. Theres a tea bagging joke in here somewhere but I cant be asked, sorry.

I sat there writing until the sun went down and I already secured a nice parking spot for my tent in a park not too far away. There were only 2 people in the bar and one of em bought me a croque monsieur, thats very sweet monsieur..Bruno? Cool.. Lucy ate the pork.

I had a very good night sleep but when I woke up it was raining and not too warm either, just above freezing point and hmmmmm, didnt really feel that chill about it. I sat at the bar from the day before some more, warming up and some other guy popped in. He sat at the bar drinking beer and I didnt even notice him at first since I like to keep to myself unless asked in most places. Around 1600h I just up and left, the rain had dissipated and a little bit of darkness is not going to stop me and my Lux. The guy at the bar opened conversation with me and he told me he was a pilgrim as well, Italian and his name was Francesco (Italian and Francesco, German and territorial, 2 more to go and I got me a European-stereotype of a kind, all I need is the Lazy Greek (joke!) and the obnoxious Dutch tourist.., oh wait thats me..), after Blair Witch refuge from a couple of days earlier – he was a good sight. He looked at me funny though and asked me if I really was going to go today. I said fuck yea, the rain has stopped. Now is the time to move since in 4-5 hours its going to start again. He was like but you dont see anything of the landscape. I parried by saying theres no stars during daytime and walked out the door..ehh choices..? He laughed and I wished him well already on the move. Ill probably run into him later since were going the same way. Good to see friendly stereotypes though.

Just as it was getting dark I found a chapel at the border of a village. It was cold as shit but I could put my sleeping mat/bag on the wooden altar and it was actually alright. I had some coffee and cheese left that would have to pass as dinner and the tea and water from earlier were more than sufficient to get me through the night. Had some very weird dreams (that I wont get into) and waking up having a Maria statue look at you directly is also something that you just have to experience at one point in your life.

I left a nice Dragontree stamp in the guestbook and I continued my way.

It was easy enough, the hills after Le Puy seemed to become a little bit less hillish and no more ‘hey-come-see-this-ruined-ruin-up-the-hill-and-then-go-all-the-way-down-because-fuck-you-shenanigans”.

Nasbinals was up next and the atmosphere of that place was just completely opposite from the place I visited earlier. People unfriendly, looking at you weird and distrustful, crazy expensive shops. Its whatever. I wasnt planning on sticking around here. I went to a bar to drink some tea and I saw Francesco there again. He had a beer while I drank my tea and we had some good war stories to tell each other about camino’s. It was nice having a guy around who also travelled and I had already seen his footprints in the mud earlier that day, he usually chose the same route through difficult terrain as I did so I wasnt surprised at all when I found out this was the guy’s 5thtime on the camino. A very well disciplined walker however, more so than me, 30km every day / get up at 0730h kinda pilgrim. It was cool having some company. 

I told him I was about to leave and he declared me nuts again. I told him its my rhythm and I honestly dont give a fuck. 

Maybe more fucks should have been given because the camino was about to throw me a snowy curveball.. But shit Sundae’s are part of the diet..

Manon and me took the early bus to Le Puy and we said our goodbye’s at the station. I warmed up a little and waited for the sun to show itself.. Today was promising to be a lovely day.

Walking out of the city was easy enough, with the path being clearly marked. Fucking warning signs that you shouldnt listen to strangers telling you ‘go here or there’ because you will get fucking lost pilgrim!!1

The road took me up and down several hills in complete disregard for my energy level. Cherry on top being this ancient tower, now a ruin. Where pilgrims would used to pay their toll fees for crossing the area.. I admire their sense of tradition here but that tower has long since been abandoned and aint no fee to cross this area anymore nowadays, not in the monetary sense at least. Still, it forces you all the way up a mountain and then all the way down just so you can take in the scenery/tradition, which was pretty nice I must admit.

Continued to climb and I saw a lot of signs along the way advertising bars/ gites/restaurants/little places to refill your water, and the best thing was that IT ALL WASNT TRUE. Water, ho(s)tels, restaurants..Everything was closed, entire towns that are open half the year but closed the other half existed on this route and I dont know whats harder. Walking through northern France, where there just isnt anything OR the sense of false hope you get and it turns out that theres absolutely nothing when youre expecting to be a lot. I prefer the scarce north to be honest. 
In addition to that – people were pretty pilgrim tired in this area. Some towns just being outright unfriendly. Also people locked their doors more and yea, a lot of things that arent working in my vagrant favor.
I would just have to find a new rhythm I guess. Relying on the bigger towns seemed the best bet and if Im just focused on that, its actually just like in the North of France.

I walked into a town where I found a hotel that was open, the weather differed over each mountain and it was pretty windy in this valley. There seemed to be noone there but when I unpacked and settled in the restaurant anyway and went out for a cigaret, I could see a sign blown over on the ground to call the owner.

The owner was a friendly British boomer. I call him a boomer because the good man started spilling out his entire life story, mixed in with a lot of advice that only a boomer could give. The guy bought a 200 € sleeping bag and of course that gave him the right to give me solid advice like, dont get stuck somewhere – just hitchhike, dont walk up all the way on the mountain – sleep in the forest (fucking stupid idea), dont let yourself go too hard and maybe you’ll find a job somewhere. I tried to explain to this sensei that I had been on the road for over a 100 days already and that if he thought I’d look decent now, I would probably look decent throughout. Alas, like any good baby boomer, he cared only for himself and his… The guy had absolutely no idea what he was talking about but still I listened to him ramble on about everything, turns out he left home in England when he was 19 and had been living with his ex wife ever since, a fine sage on walking long distances right here..

I finished my way too expensive tea and continued up the mountain, it sure was a bitch and it was windy as hell, all the way up. Lucy dragged me over it and on the other side it was actually kind of calm and tranquil. There was a town with minor things open and I had a little bit of a look see. There was a shed with hay in it and I hid my backpack there while I did some exploring, maybe also sleep there but that turned out to be wayyyy too cold. A little shop was open with way too many expensive things, regular supermarket stuff, left on the shelf for soo long the quality began to degrade, all the while being sold at exorbitant prices, yea Im back in the fucking pilgrim circus alright..

I only bought the necessities and parked my tent next to the church. Sour aftertaste but sweet dreams.

The next day took me up the hill and down again many, many times and not that many eventful things happened, I didnt really like the area in particular since they were mostly planes and pine forests but Im sure thats more the taste of some people. I really cant be bothered though, and all these steep ass hills and closed shops can really suck my peen.

I reached Sauges which again turned out to be a slightly bigger town. I didnt find any place to sleep and by the time I reached it, everything was already closed. The people seemed friendly enough and I decided to park my tent in the most obnoxious place I could find (as it turned out). In the evening it was a pretty quiet crossing, little grass field but at around 0600h in the morning, when the cars started driving – it turned into a high traffic intersection with even a fucking traffic jam at one point. Not quite the stealthy Dragon I sometimes am. 

I woke up from people making homeless people sounds next to my tent. I hoped they would go away but they werent, so I just zipped open my tent and dangled my balls in my camouflage boxershort in the wind. I was greeted by 2 friendly guys from the village. We talked a bit and they invited me over for lunch at a friend of theirs. The big guy who was with us towered over me but eventually he didnt want to come inside. The other small fellow made a very nice pasta and their friend – Gerard, was troubled, but nice to me nonetheless. Heavy, heavy Christian and at some point, when he started to put money into my hands, I had to stop em in his tracks. I had such an extremely slow start that it felt like a wasted day. Lunch was done around 1500h and it was going to be dark in another hour or 2. 

Still pretty nice for complete strangers to invite and feed me like that.. It may not be completely sane, it may not be completely clean, but it sure as hell was meant well and that, my dear readers, is just good for the soul. St. Philippe (the little guy) left at some point leaving me with St. Gerard the Troubled, it was strange but I just rolled with it. I told him I would burn a candle for his troubled ass and his eyes lit up like he was a little boy on Christmas. Oof, right in the karma..

I left town and after clearing a forest, mountainside and a short meadow I walked into a little town that had a very rustic, sort of chapel looking thing there. I just asked some people standing around if it was open and it turned out it was a place for pilgrims to stay (refuge). The guy walked with me and showed me around and was very happy to accommodate me. The place didnt have any running water/electricity/light at night but it did have a big ol’ wood stove..Argghh my kryptonite when it comes to choosing between continuing or sleeping there. I already saw some closed auberges in the little town that had enough wood to make me a good fire. The neighbors were kind enough to refill my water bottles and the dinner from this afternoon + the 2 oranges I had left were enough to hold me over to the next town. 
The stove didnt turn out as good as it looked as they had made a weird construction error with the chimney forcing all the warm air to enter up the chimney instead of into the room, very annoying I know, but I curbed that little perdicament by just building a bigger fire..arrgghh

The next day I woke up early and my bag felt lighter for some reason, made sure I had everything in it and it was good – I had. I noticed that when youre fasting a little here and there, your body actually adepts to work needed faster. With fire in my legs and in my soul I left and I soon found myself in another village where everything looked very nice in summer, now in winter – it was all closed..

The road was uneventful except for the fact that different villages tried to lure you by changing the roadsigns, in the distance I could faintly see clowns on unicycles juggling. Leading up to the village, its all markings and signs and whatnot and how the fuck youre going to get out of it was no care to anyone. I walked into a village and this nice farmgirl told me I was going the wrong way. I told her I was following the red and white markings and they led me here. She said theres nothing in the way where youre going. I smiled and kept on going anyway, man did I wish I listened to her but I thought she was clowning me.. As I walked all the way out of town, up the mountain, looking at maps, I could see Im going further and further away from the place Im actually going.. Ok, I should have listened, I walked back to the village, just in time for her to drive by me in her car, put it in reverse and thank God I had already looked up how to say; you were right and I wasnt in French, at least Im a prepared clown.. She was nice enough and explained the road to me again, since it was dark I didnt listen to her (again) and decided to just continue on the normal road instead. That way I would be sure to find the place where Im going (Saint-Alban-sur-Limognole). 

I arrived in that town and there were 2 bars open, I chose the one that had people in front of it and they were playing the most obnoxious music inside, with young people chilling and playing darts and a whole rugby/soccer team yelling and drinking beer. The circus is actually complete now. The people were still very friendly to me and I ate a small, disgusting overpriced microwave sandwich there. I thanked them and went to the other bar and took the menu of the day. I’d only eaten 2 oranges today and the food was a nice. The other bar was a lot more quiet which was more my style but the other place had nicer tea. Its whatever. 

After dinner I did some diary writing and went to go sleep on the cemetery in my tent. A little shed at the edges peaked my interest and when looking inside, it was perfect for a night. I hate to put up my tent when its unnecessary, especially when its dry. If its already wet, I have less problems with it.

I had a very good nights sleep and the next day I went to the mass to get a nice stamp. I decided to keep a little pause in this village since the wool socks (that a friend gave me) absolutely rekt my feet..

Yea this was turning slowly into a little bit of a shitshow, too touristic for my taste and with that – more unfriendliness. In equal measures though, it just seemed the ends of the bellcurve were a lot more apart. I didnt find any dogs the entire route that were as dangerous as when I left Le Puy, literally almost fighting a couple of em in at least 3 villages since they were after Lucy. Also the fact that everything is closed and gives you false hope is a real son of a bitch. Continuing seems the only logical way to go and this little shed/town may prove to be a blessing, nothing is ever permanent.

hardships and blessings, in equal amounts silvousplait

After Daniel and me said our goodbye’s I went to sit in a park and smoke a cigaret, looked at a map and apparently the office du tourisme was 2 streets away. It was cold as shit but that seemed like a great place to start. I need to drop my bag first somewhere (preferably in a place where Im sleeping) and then do groceries and take care of some things.
My charger for my laptop finally went to shit, held together with spit and duct tape after Lucy chewed the cable 5 years ago and my dad had fixed it and I never had a better charger, it was gone now however so I needed a new one to provide you guys with updates.

Also remember when I wrote I tried to fix my pants? Yea I completely botched it and made it all the worse. So on my to do list I had – sleeping place, find a new charger, find a pro to fix my pants.

The office de tourisme people were nice enough, although a little bit weathered in recommending stuff to tourists, especially tourists on pilgrimage. She called to a auberge and it was on the border of town and about 25 € a night, Lucy wasnt a problem and although that seemed nice, I didnt quite feel it. So I went for a tea in a bar at the border of the city centre. I looked at hostels/hotels/auberges and sent a couple of Couchsurfing requests around. All the prices were way more expensive than the one the office de tourisme recommended. Just as I was finishing up my search, I went for one last tea and got the bright idea to look at Airbnb’s. Of course most places didnt allow dogs but I thought I’d give it a go anyway. The first dude I messaged was like ‘Yea no problem! I can be there in 5min’ to which I agreed. I chugged my tea and the address he gave me was about a minute walk from where I was. Smack dab in the city centre. The guy was already there and he showed me around the apartment, little kitchen, little bathroom, 1 person bed and a little table to sit at. Oh did I mention the price? 20 € a night and I booked it for 2 nights. Another very big blessing. Now I was able to cook and I just get a kick out of sleeping in an apartment located in a historic street in the city center AND cheaper than the auberge! Just fucking great.

Next up was getting a charger/fixing my pants at a professional. I looked on maps and I walked by a couple of places but they were all closed because it was Saturday afternoon, there was one sowing shop open and the lady there was very unhelpful. The left artistic type that just liked to design stuff but not grind away on the sowing machine fixing things. Its whatever. A charger I found soon enough, a big electronics store was located and after bobbing and weaving through the city centre I found it and got one for 85 €. I hope it lasts me 5 years as well (only way its worth it). Looping back and forth through the city, my eyes fell on this woman sitting behind her sowing machine in what looked like a clothing shop. She smiled when I walked in and I asked her if she was able to fix my pants. Fuck yes she was and she told me to come back in an hour. The price? 10 €. Lol I should have done this right away instead of trying to do this shit myself.

I went back home, had a couple of coffee’s and returned to find everything fixed, she even did the ankle parts of the pants that had completely ripped over the time. The woman was very nice and friendly and I was just glad that she gave new life to my pants.

I went by a big store and decided to not do any sightseeing today, but tomorrow, Sunday seemed like a nice day to look around town. I went back home, made a great tuna sandwich for myself and had a very good nights sleep in my single bed. Lucy was chilling all over the place as is tradition and I bet she also really liked the fact that we werent homeless while in this town.

The next day I woke up and had a nice breakfast that I got the day earlier. I called a friend and took Lucy for a little spin. The apartment was located 2 streets from the cathedral, also the bigass Maria statue was really close to the apartment. Last time I was here I slept on the campsite that was located on exactly the wrong side of the village, climbing up a hill for 30 minutes, just absolute shit.. This time I was located on the commerce side of the town and the cathedral.

I went to the cathedral to get a stamp for my credential but sadly nothing was open. Someone did play the jurassic park theme on the organ and I must admit, that was pretty epic. Also Le Puy is famous for having a black Madonna statue which I still remembered from last time, it was still there this time around (not that surprised, there wasnt a French revolution or anything in the meantime). 
Also did some exploring around the cathedral but since Lucy was tied up outside, I couldnt go to far. Maybe for the better.

The statue came after that and last time around I climbed it in the dark, scaling a fence that Lucy fit through, walking behind the lights so my shadow wouldnt cast on the wall for the whole town to see – until I couldnt go any further. This time during daylight I had to pay for entering it but thats not my style so I only went up to the entrance. They also buffed up the defenses of the place, placing a barbed wire fence on the wall that I used to climb over it. Not sure if I was the cause but I remember one of the stars that I clung onto was loose back then, so Im probably not the only one crazy enough to climb historical monuments after closing hours.

After that was chappelle St. Michel d’Aiguilhe, a chapel constructed (also) on top of a chimney, a long winding path alongside it. When I arrived there it was closed for renovations. Great stuff. I always renovate shit in the winter as well.. I still got in through the fence since the iron doors had major holes in it but there was an office over the main staircase and the elevator was out. No matter, still beautiful pictures.  A lady saw Lucy when we returned and wondered what that cute dog was doing there, then she saw my face and I flashed her my shell necklace like I was in the fucking FBI and she giggled and walked off. Honestly the amount of shit you get away with while wearing this.

On the other side of town is a massive statue of Joseph, holding a little baby Jesus. Its actually taller than the Maria statue but the Maria statue is on top of a higher hill, creating this perspective that it looks higher. I arrived there just after dark and it was already closed, the gift shop was still open and I had a nice chat with an old lady working there. I also bought a pendant to put on my shell necklace of J-man himself.

I went back to my apartment and made a bossy bread (recipe on request). Did some writing after that and felt really content, this time around I’d seen much more of the city and I didnt just feel quite done yet. I asked the owner of the Airbnb if I could stay another night but it was already booked. Just when I got a message back declining my request, one of the couchsurfing requests that I’d sent yesterday got back to me. A nice girl called Manon offered to host me later in the week if I still needed a place to sleep and it couldnt have come at a more convenient time. We called after dinner and she told me to meet her at the station around 1800h the next day. Perfect! That actually gave me an extra day in this beautiful place.

The next day I fucked up completely, I went to sleep way too late the previous day and I got woken up by the owner of the Airbnb. He gave me another 10 minutes to get everything in order and I used it to pack everything, putting the key on the table and closing the door to the apartment. THAT screwed him up even more because I was supposed to hand him over the key. Yea I messed up this dude’s monday proper as he lived outside of the city at least a 20min drive.. I kinda felt bad but he did end up leaving a nice review so blessed be him! I went to the cathedral and while sitting in front of eat eating a croissant a woman walked out her door towards me and offered me a coffee. Tres gentiles! I went into the cathedral and just knocked on the door leading to the treasury, to my surprise someone opened the door and was all the more happy to give me a nice red stamp of Le Puy en Velay.

I drank some coffee and tea at the bar that I sat at on the first day and the people there were very friendly to me as well.

Manon and me met at the station later that day and we had to take the bus to a little town called Rosières. Manon spoke English very well and we hit it off right away. She had prepared to make me dinner when we got home and we got a nice bottle of local wine (Ventoux), a nice pumpkin mash with lentels, very healthy and good! She was a good cook! Cant believe that Couchsurfing put me in touch again with this fantastic person. She offered me a much needed laundry session and I took a great shower.


The next day Manon had to go to school early but she offered to let me sleep in and just spend the day at her appartment! Extremely friendly. In return I planned on cooking my pasta that night since she had a long day at school. The little town had most of the ingredients and Manon had brought the rest from the city. We shared a beer and had a very good night sleep. 

The next day we went with the early bus to Le Puy en Velay, we said our goodbye’s and I continued on my journey. Really cool person and I hope we can stay in touch! Youre an angel Manon! Meeting special people like this really puts courage into my soul to continue on.

And that about rounds it all up. Le Puy en Velay, a city that in retrospect, I hardly did any justice last time around, but this time around made up for the things I didnt do 5 years ago. Beautiful and weird, friendly people, good food and just very pleasant place to spend a little time. I felt refreshed and satisfied, mostly thanks to Manon honestly, that last little boost on top of the things that I originally set out to do..

Thank you Manon <3, thank you Le Puy en Velay

Quentin had to pick up a new gas canister in a town that crossed the GR route to the place Im going – Le Puy en Velay. Le Puy is one of the official starting points and also a town that I visited 5 years ago. Theres a bigass Maria statue on top of an old vulcano chimney made from cannons seized by Napoleon, a cathedral built over some ancient druid ruins and also a chapel built on a chimney. The whole town is one big UNESCO heritage sight and a nice place to visit in general. The people are genuinely friendly and last time I had a blast there.

We had a quick stop in some town and I bought a pack of tobacco while Quentin got some ‘pain au chocolat’ for us, one of my guilty pleasures when Im in France. I always thought chocolat and bread was a waste of both until I ate these little rolls of happiness, and now Im borderline addicted. Quentin drove a little further and dropped me off, we hugged and said our goodbye’s and I started walking. I had little supplies but it was fine, after such a long period of eating like a king, maybe its time to cleanse myself and go back into survival mode. 

The area was absolutely stunning and reminded me Scotland, long outstretched golden grass fields with pine tree forests. Very calming although the weather was windy. 
It didnt take long before I took my first break and ate the only supplies (2 clementines) that I brought along. Too bad Pelagie took the last pasta to work this morning, a nice compliment but that would have been nice to have for breakfast. Im more glad with the compliment maybe though and I had enough pasta the previous day anyway.

To my surprise I came across Santiago shells soon enough and I realized that they were leading to Le Puy en Velay and I decided to follow them. Now this spells out a couple of things that would be typical for my journey up ahead – its more touristic, more towns that live (and thrive) off pilgrims AND SADLY MOST IMPORTANT, they were all closed because its not the season.. Its whatever. I can handle it. I noticed that the wool socks that I got from a friend were way to thick to be wearing together with hiking socks and I took them off soon. The road took me up and down several mountains and I felt like my bag was lighter than before I arrived at Quentin, a very good sign. Ate a bag of nuts on top of the mountain in an abandoned church (the other supplies I had) and got a stamp from city hall.

The mountains were beautiful but going up and down really takes it out of you. Still I did about 20 – 25 km on the first day and I ended up sleeping near a little nameless village bordering a forest. Not ideal but the other option was somebody’s garage and I didnt feel like they would like finding a hobo in their storage area. Still had a pretty good sleep and the weather stayed soft but windswept.

Next day I walked to a little village that actually had a store and some lady that refilled my water bottle was kind enough to tell me that everything opened at 1500h. I wasnt going to wait but then I saw a nice bar just when I left town that swayed my mind, maybe just have a tea, wait here, get some more supplies for the road ahead. All the towns I passed didnt seem as lively as their ‘on’ season and I didnt want to get stuck with nothing, not just yet.

That day I ended up in Pontempeyrat, smack dab on the border of Auvergne again. I didnt even realize but Quentin dropped me off over the border and now I had to walk back into the province I came from, 50km south but still. I found a grass field next to the church and there even was a little spot to hang my tent from to dry the next day and a little sitting area. 
The next day I went to the local boulangerie and it was a cool store, the lady even offered to fill my water bottle, I made an insane omelet and even made Lucy an egg while my tent was hanging to dry. 

It was still 52km to Le Puy en Velay and I was fully committed to reach it. Rain was on the program and I did not look forward to walking in the rain, so I set out for Le Puy with a fire in me.

The route again was pretty beautiful, a lot of fucking mountains though and it was harder than expected. Having had the shortest daylight day at the 23rd, it was a very welcome sight to see the days becoming gradually longer again. That being said – its still fucking dark around 1730h. Its whatever. Ive grown used to walking through creepy forests in the dark now. 

I was smoking a cigaret and it was still 22km to Le Puy en Velay, around 2200h and yea I could make it. Just as I finished up and started walking again I saw a caravan by the side of the road. Still on some property mind you but still just left there. The door was facing a little drop down ditch, which lead to another drop down and to a river. Maybe the owner insured it and now just left it there to crash into the river someday, so he could cash out. I opened one of the doors and saw there were also some cushions inside that I could use as a makeshift mattress, this would work for a night. This thing was probably the jenkiest thing I’d ever seen, the caravan shook a little bit during strong winds and at some point I was afraid it was going to topple right in the river during the night. But I was too tired to really care.

I slept great and the next day it was indeed raining like crazy. I waited it out and then continued my journey. 

I took a little break in a cafe in one of the villages in front of Le Puy en Velay, called St. Paulien. There were shops and I did bought some bullshit and food and just as I was about to pack up my stuff, this fella comes up to me and asks me if I needed a place to sleep. My French is so fucked still that I thought he asked WHERE I was going to sleep and I said I had a small tent. He said, do as you wish, one time offer.. I apologized and said I would be honored to stay with him. 
We left the cafe and went to his house which was a stones throw away from the cafe. I took a shower right away and he made dinner. Fun guy called Daniel and apparently he had Galician blood running through his veins, his father being Spanish and his mother being French, Santiago de Compostella (where Im going) is in the province of Galicia, Spain. Funny coincidence. 

Very nice to sleep inside and the cherry on top was that he needed to go to Le Puy en Velay the next day and he offered to take me there in the morning…just…fucking…perfect. And a spot for you on my memorial good sir!

The next day he woke me up and he already got breakfast, so really nice! We drove to Le Puy en Velay and he dropped me off near the city centre. Another small blessing, I looked forward to being in Le Puy en Velay and taking care of some minor stuff and exploring the city.

After completing the challenge I set for myself of posting a blog every day and fixing up all my gear (not done by a longshot but whatever). I decided to give mysel a little treat and played some video games. Its been a while. Time having fun is hardly wasted. Kevin and me postponed the attic a little bit because he also had other stuff to do. Pelagie came home and thank God Kevin spoke English and I was able to make myself understandable. Maybe I should have spoken more French but I think the best way of learning a language is to not necessarily push yourself too hard. This is no excuse and I certainly could have tried harder and I would have had better results but looking back on 5 years ago or fucking highschool, yea my French has improved a lot and I certainly picked up words and the culture just by being there.

Quentin and Julie came home a little bit earlier than previously planned and by this time Sacha was gone again, so I moved back into his room until he came back after New Years.

New Years was cool, at first instance we were going to have a lamb slaughtered but this eventually didnt go as planned and the lamb is still alive. I got pretty drunk but somehow did manage to sabre open a champagne bottle, not bad for my first try. The fires I built were also pretty massive. Also due to some other stupid stuff I decided that I was done with alcohol again for a little while. Doesnt matter how much fun it is, it just keeps luring me back under its wing and I really have no more taste for that. Apparently Im just the kind of guy that doesnt know when to stop, which isnt bad persé but also not really fitting for this moment in my life. 

Also had a bump on my arm the next day, filled with fluid, I had no idea what happened but when we left I saw this patch of ice on a slope down the road and I remembered that I went to get some wood for the fire – decided to take another path than through the house – and got my feet swept out under me so fast that I had to sit the fuck down for a sec to catch my breath. The nice fluid bump went through all the colors of the rainbow over the next couple of days, and writing this before I left. Its still a little bit thicc with a blueish hue around the elbow.

Kevin and me finished up the attic and when Sacha came home I became his roommate for a night. Quentin had a camper that he travelled around in 3 years ago, playing music in bars and sleeping in the van. I asked him if I could sleep in the van and this wasnt a problem at all. I remembered that we found a heater on the attic as well that I put inside there, plus the isolation and I was able to take at least the edge of the cold. 


My package still didnt arrive, it just stayed on the final action of being ready for delivery from the 31stupwards. What the motherfuck. This was week 3 that I was here and I was long, long, LONG ready to go again. I had hoped that my package would have arrived before, or just after, Christmas but no such thing.. The good food and the lack of, my now regular exercise, made my body also put on some of those hard needed reserves. I paced myself, trying to make myself useful around the house and taking care of my stuff. Its funny how fast you fall back into old habits again once you off the path, literally. When I stayed with Andy it was differnt, I still walked a lot more than I did now and we cooked together, here Im caught up in social situations and its not like Im completely stagnant but I felt the rest take its toll. Its probably all good for something and soon I would be heading out again and lordy lord lord would I be reminiscing about my time in relative luxury. 

Around this time donkey, I saw several donkeys in the area and its a little bit my dream to have one, not to mention that I wouldnt have to carry my bag anymore.. Also Lucy could have a little break and even though it would bring extra responsibility and public transport/hitch hiking would be a non option after this. I would be able to carry a lot more stuff with me. A donkey is about 150 € in the area. Either that or a free one that was very young but about 150km away (the wrong way), I dont know jack shit about donkeys so I asked around and tried to inform myself on the topic. I ended up not taking either donkey before I left because it was too much hassle and it was pretty expensive in vetinary costs. I mean the food isnt expensive, the donkey wasnt that expensive but if I get a donkey I also want to keep it healthy, so that means vet costs, I cant just tie a rope to its head and take it along or bolt my bag to its ass like Im playing pin the tail on the donkey. So gear for the beast is also required, this turned out to be more expensive than the donkey 5x over. Yea no, Ive opened myself up to it and maybe in the future. I would keep an eye out but I wasnt going to leave Fougere with a donkey.

Because of the mysticism of the place, I couldnt wait to do some magic mushrooms here. When I told Quentin he was so psyched that he also wanted to do em and before ya know it, the entire group ordered a portion and this made scheduling the thing a bit difficult. Not to mention that to me, doing shrooms is a pretty personal experience. Not that I cant or dont want to do em with a bunch of people that I previously didnt know (this isnt my first rodeo) but I think that doing magic mushrooms is best done alone. I meditate and go inside my own mind scapes, places that are not easily accessible through standard meditation and they always felt like they kind of put my brain to ease. Ill do a separate post on magic mushrooms to lure all the secret services to my blog, get some more visitors and maybe I can start monetizing this shit..

I ended up doing the shrooms a few days before I left, my package hadnt arrived and Quentin offered to send it after me, we chose that I was going to resume my way to Le Puy en Velay next Tuesday..


Monday the 13th(a day before), saying that the fucking address was wrong and that it got shipped back to the Netherlands. Fuck, fuckerdy, fuck….fuck. After calling with PostNL they did have the right address. The address was a little weird, since the house had no house address (actually pretty normal in France) and apparently some fuck on strike thought, HEY no house number, leave work early today.. PostNL was of course just as brick to the face and said the package was already on its way back and my parents would get the money back. I had thought it strange since a friend had send me a carry thing for Lucy, some socks and some tea and PostNL filled the wrong address for that, adding house number 0 (wtf?!) and spelled his name wrong, 1 phone call and that package arrived 24 hours later. Bless your heart! For the gifts and keeping an eye on it!

I write this blog now a day before I left, Quentin agreed to drop me off on the GR03 leading to Le Puy en Velay. 

Really good brush with French culture. Quentin asked me on the final night what I remember the most and I think I mentioned all in these blogs. Very friendly for letting me stay this long. 

Even though I lost momentum, the weather was promising and I felt revitalized completely, I even packed on some extra weight in the last month, reserves that would be welcome for where Im going. All my gear was fixed, my blogs were up to date. I had healed up (and damaged some things), met great people, tasted some really great food and yea..Ultrea!

some pictures from the last 3 blogs for your amusement

On one of the hikes we could see all the way to the Alps, the Mont Blanc and in the other direction the Puy de Dôme. An inactive vulcano, one of many in the region of Auvergne. Big impressive mountains leading up to the heavens, once active but long ago went silent. Gigantic forces of nature really do give the landscape its character and if you focused on nothing you could feel that something is stirring beneath the quiet, idyllic countryside.

Most people that moved here are either from around here but traveled or they moved here outright because of people they met. Point is that the whole area is filled up with people who made a choice to be here and build a life here. This creates a very coherent atmosphere, where everyone is ready to help each other with stuff. Buy wood here and there, people starting businesses able to provide services for people in the area. Theres a big market where all the locals sell all their produce and products and Ambert originally is famous for its cheese (Fourme d’Ambert). Its one of the oldest cheeses of France and apparently has its origins in Roman times where druids and Gauls made this extraordinary cheese. Naturally it came with or after any meal and the only time that I didnt see it appear, was when I made Mexican food and I put a Dragon portion on their plate.

About the food in general, French people just do things differently, its like looking at soccer in Spain and soccer in the Netherlands. The food in France is just on a higher level. This is also reflected in the different stores, they have a bucherie but also a charcuterie or a boulangerie but also a pattiserie. Where boucherie is a butcher, then charcuterie is a delicacy version of a butcher. Same with the boulangerie en and the pattiserie, we only have a fucking bakery in the Netherlands where they sell both but in France the pattiserie is specialized in cakes and pretty pie’s etc. So instead of just having a collection shop, there was (at least in the past) economical space for diversification.

So the attic was just in terrible shape, the farm itself was (estimated) around a 100 years old and not that very well maintained by the owner. The attic was full of isolation on the floor and there were a couple of small holes in the roof that birds used as a doorway. Apparently there were mice and spider webs the size of that one scene from Lord of the Rings, where Frodo is almost in Mordor. They had a pretty good vacuum cleaner and Kevin and me formed a pretty good team as time went along. We had a good method and even though I didnt think it was going to take longer than 1 week, it was still one hell of a job. Maybe the first time in 25 years that its actually cleaned in this way.

We found some treasures along the way, a few photos from a long, long time ago, some old beds. Old closets and cupboards and to me the first day was the most interesting I think. Just because of the potential of finding treasure and to get a start on the thing.

The first day didnt went as fast as expected and we mostly sorted out stuff that we wanted to keep or that they could use for something else. Found some glass doors that theyre going to use to build a greenhouse and some other knickknacks. Kevin and me didnt wear any masks and this proved to be a little bit of a mistake. The place was dusty as shit. At the end of the first day some others from the house came to help and we noticed that some beams were sort of dislodged in the roof. Also some holes in the floor making it able to peek into the rooms below, Yea this room wasnt going to get used as a recreation room anytime soon, still fucking cool though and now that we started it, we might as well finish. All the junk that we had no use for we set on fire on the 2ndnight since they had a nice fire barrel outside, and God knows I luv me a fire <3.

Some other things that happened in the first week here was that we went to several markets. Apparently theres an ever bigger hippie town nearby called Cunlhat, where the people from the house knew a lot of people. Every year theres a festival that they are co-hosting thats being held in that village, focused on all kinds of artisan things and performances.

Lucy her jacket was all busted up and it was more of a summer rain jacket than a proper winter jacket. I went to the petstore and I found one exactly in her colors, weird thing was that I already had it in my minds eye before I actually saw/bought it and it looked great on her.

When I asked Quentin on how to hitchhike to Ambert, I asked him if I should stay the night in Thiers or in Vichy, he told me that Thiers is this old alchemist/forging town, that now was slowly emptying out, needless to say he recommended Vichy to me (good advice since I got to stay with the Couchsurfer Mathilde) and that we could go to Thiers together. So that also happened in the first week, we went there taking his old camper van that we also used to get around when we met 2-3 years ago and it felt like old times. Thiers itself is a pretty cool place, build on a hillside, beautiful cathedral/church but indeed the town emptied out over time. Still it was cool to go and to do a little exploring. Didnt get what I hoped for but I dont really know what I hoped for when visiting an alchemist town.

There was a Christmas mass in the evening that I would like to attend and it was horrible. First I lost one of my freshly bought gloves on the walk there, then the service itself was just off tune and only attended by about 20-30 people and to top it all off, afterwards I walked with the priest to the office and he put the stamp wrong in my credential..OH AND I had to wait for so long until he was finished so now all the stores were closed so I couldnt buy any bullshit that I didnt need. Nuff said right there.

Around this time, the guy that I borrowed the room from was coming home but Quentin and Julie were also leaving for Christmas to their families and my package was nowhere in sight, so I could move to their room. The package…that fucking package…My parents had send it as soon as I arrived in Ambert and at the post office they garantueed that it would arrive in about 3 business days. Well, within 3 business days it was handed over to French customs and it didnt get released until the 27th(it was there for 7 damn days..). Now France is on a sort of brink of revolution nation wide, the yellow vests (Gilet Jeune’s are just the tip of the iceberg). There were people that worked for the electricity company that turned off the electricity to about 50k households, trains werent working properly like earlier mentioned, post offices were slightly affected and yea.. Just general glitches in the Matrix due to crumbling system. You see this all around the world where if you push people hard enough, they will set the limit to the pushing and after that limits is reached, things like this are but natural. In the Netherlands we have farmers, France has Gilet Jeune, Barcalona has their seperatist movement and the Chilean government raises the price of the metro with 1 € and whole cities go up in flames. France being France and being pushed a little bit harder in certain ways in my opinion, theyre a little bit ahead of the curve. Its whatever. Times of tribulation and all dat jazz..

On Christmas I was alone with just Kevin and everybody else had left, some friends in the area had a husky that was about to give birth to puppies (which were cute as fuck although hard to see since they were just born 5min ago), we went by to look and the girl friend was Swedish and made a sort of fish pie. It, being Swedish actually reminded me a lot about flavors and tastes we use in the Netherlands as well and it was a fun little gift for Christmas. After that Kevin and me got drunk back home and it was a good evening. Weird not being with family like I normally would but not necessarily in a bad way. Of course I did call my parents and they were doing their usual thing of having good food and some small presents.

Didnt really feel homesick but its definitely a first.

Quentin picked me up from Ambert and we drove about 10 minutes to where he lived with 5 other people. His girlfriend, Julie, some French people – Pelagie, Sebastian, Sacha & Kevin. Kevin spoke English, as did Julie. Pelagie and Seb not so much but this was all fine and everyone was very friendly. Sacha wasnt home so I could stay in his room while he was away for the holidays. 

The environment is absolutely stunning, located in a valley of sorts and the house overlooking the valley. A river flowed through the valley where the actual town associated to the house was – Marsac-en-Livradois and now the temperature had gotten colder, a myst would arrise from it, Im using the word myst here because fog is not really an accurate description. A truly mystical place with forests, open fields and lonesome houses scattered everywhere. Sometimes foggy and sometimes sunny, beautiful night skies and high mountain tops blanketed by snow but this wouldnt be the case for my entire stay. 

It was awfully warm for this time of the year and they already had snow about 3 weeks back, what remained was only on the highest peaks and barely some in the valleys. The expectation was that more snow will come in the following days/weeks and I hoped to dodge that. 23rdof December is the day with the shortest daylight hours and I planned on staying there for Christmas and if at all possible, maybe also New Years.

In the “living room” was a dining table that we got on our first night (I love me a mission) and a big ol’ wood stove that they used as heating and to prepare food on. Very oldschool but very much to my liking. It all grew pretty organic as the food that they ate. Every Thursday there is a market in Ambert that we used to get most ingredients as well as things from their own garden. Pumpkins the size of my confidence were great ingredients for soup and other goodies. Every night everybody cooked together, cleaned and lived together. Everybody owned a room in the house but the living room was where everybody congregated most of the time. Quentin also had a dog named Obi-Wan and even though him being bigger, Lucy was still a bitch to him a few times. They did get along great though and I noticed that Lucy and Obi really liked the company they provided for each other. They had this game where they would constantly try to bite each others neck and I must say the Dog-Fu was pretty entertaining.

I didnt waste much time and decided to start fixing broken gear right away. My sleeping bag was a little bit torn from when I had Lucy sleeping in there and when I turned around, the thing came apart at the seams. Easy to fix though. My bag also showed some signs of wear and tear and that was easily enough fixed as well. I also wanted to finally fix my book binder as well as my pants. I would say that my pants had gotten the worst of the beating. Buttons came off, the fabric in the place where I had my phone in my pocket, but that rubbed against my bag when walking was getting awfully thin and a hole started to appear. 
All this was easily fixed and I started on the things that Ive been putting off the longest. So sleeping bag and backpack it is for starters. 
My parents had sent me a package with gifts for the December month that I was waiting on and in the post office in the Netherlands told them that it would arrive in 3 business days. I could track the package through their website and I had my doubts from the beginning, still.. I gave them the go ahead, thinking/hoping it would be alright. It was whatever, what happens happens but I dont like to overstay my welcome but this seem to be a recurring theme in my travel at this point. Its fine.

Besides there was enough to do for me next to fixing all my stuff, I had fallen behind on my diary and my blogs, my blogs were the most bothering to me so I decided to write a couple of blogs and post one every day until Christmas. More than fair in my opinion and it also felt good to be productive in that way. I set a nice challenge for myself and the words just flowed after that. 
The house was an old farm, tons and tons of space all around and all the people living there took up about a third of the house. There was a big attic that was just a mess but an extremely cool room. When I saw it I immediately thought it would be cool to clean it up, not having any idea where to begin though.

In the first week I was there I mostly acclimatized to my new environment and getting to know several people that walked in and out of the house like they lived there, staying over for dinner/lunch and just chilling. Met some really cool people along the way and we spend some time hiking around in the area. Beautiful mountain tops where there even was some snow. Very laidback atmosphere all in all and it was a very good place to rest up and recuperate.

Everybody in the house had their own specific role, Sacha was the one with the green thumb, making most of the garden providing the house with fresh vegetables during the summmer, inventing/thinking up ways to make it all sustainable and the hillside that was full in the sun for most of the day was ideal.

Kevin worked with iron, welding and whatnot.

Sebastian & Pelagie had jobs but were great cooks (which was a group effort anyway).

Quentin made wood bowls/spoons/ladle’s and all sorts of other stuff. Benches and stools were also not out of the ordinary, just by looking and being creative. He never had an education in woodworking mind you. 

Julie sowed and made things from textile. 

Together we all kept the house clean/walked the dogs/cooked and it reminded me of this place I was during my first camino in the Netherlands although be it more of a dorm style than the place I went 5 years ago. This looked more like a group of friends that just formed a family and it was very heartwarming being a part of that for some time. Also getting to know French culture was a really useful and exactly what I hoped for.

All in all very organic, not just the food but also the social atmosphere. In the next issue Ill talk more about the house and the layout and the environment, Im sorry this post is a little bit of a mess. I have a hard time focusing all my thoughts into words, but bear with me 🙂

A slightly awkward vibe in the car and only when we arrived in Autun I realized this werent mother and son, this was a Blablacar! So these people had no relationship to each other whatsoever. Fine, makes sense. Free Blablacar ride, sweet.

They dropped me off at the station and I went inside to look for busses/trains/public toilet to sleep (joke! Fuck you! Haha). 
Busses: none, trains: all on strike, people? A lot and very friendly! I walked around town a bit after it was pretty certain I wasnt going to find a ride anywhere, off to find some decent places to sleep it is, and fine places I found indeed! A doctors office still open with a heated stairwell was my best bet. The station itself was a close 2ndand I like my sleeping spots like how I like my women nowadays, as long as its warm, Ill take it..(omg the lengths I go to make you laugh, dont take this seriously mom).

It was cold but not too cold so I continued on sightseeing. The cathedral in particular was very beautiful and on the fringes of town were even some Roman ruins to admire. A temple dedicated to Janus.

As Im walking around I remembered there was nice kebab place on my way to the cathedral and I decided to chill there, with my sleeping spot secured and all (I thought I could sneak into some doctors place near the station that was still open and sleep in the stairwell).

The Kebab place was named Le M, run by 3 nice Turkish ladies of varying age. I asked them if Lucy was a problem and it really wasnt so I took shelter from the increasing cold there. They were friendly and they also had the hardest wifi password imaginable, a note dangled under it saying ‘if it doesnt work, just try again :)’.

They were extremely friendly, giving me tea, fruit and I thanked the mother in my bestest “teşekkür ederim” and I stole her heart right then and there. They had already given Lucy some kebab and fries which she in turn, in style, treated like they were Armenian – she murdered em (auch, God help me), and now they even gave me the kebab I had for free after I told them what I was doing. All jokes aside, this act of kindness is really humbling.. In exchange I offered to change their ridiculous wifi password and I hope to this day that I didnt genocide their wireless ATM machine, I only changed the password so I just wont recognize that it was genocide, then it’ll be fine and only 32 countries will probably say otherwise.. 


After that many horrible jokes about past events, ya just Erdogant expect your sleeping spots to still be available. Temperatures dropped into the –celsius after all those puns and I soon had to make some tough decisions. Found some shelter in a greenhouse in a garden center but this wasnt ideal, not to mention blatant trespassing. As I looked on Maps, I saw that the hospital was open all night. Hospitals in France on Maps are like the campsites on there however. Theyre not open even if the app says they are. Thanks Avallon! Island of Apple®.. But I did manage to find a pumping station, under the hospital, right by some Virgin Mary statue. Door open, hot pipes heating up the room and there was even a nice spider hiding there and my avid readers know that I love me a good spider in the middle of the night. 

I used the champagne bottle that I was still carrying as a pillow and whatever, had an unexpected decent night.

I woke up the next day and I saw a Blablacar to Moulin, pretty decent but the guy sadly never got back to me. It started raining and I went to the station to check if they had resolved the strike. Obviously not but I was able to tell the guy where Ambert was and there was a bus from Vichy. There was a bus ride to that went to Nevers, from Nevers To Vichy and then I would basically be home free with a final bus ride to Ambert where Quentin would pick me up. I went to look for Blablacar rides since they were a lot cheaper and more fun in my opinion and there was 1 going to Nevers. A nice full ride as well, awkwardness guaranteed since I dont speak the language, right up my alley. I eat awkwardness for breakfast nowadays.

The ride showed up and after I introduced myself I fell asleep with Lucy on my lap. The driver was called Hamid, nice guy, friendly soul. Also in the car were a girl and a guy that I forgot the name of. The ride went by pretty fast and the environment was really changing now. More hills, more forests and Hamid being the boss that he is took a cigaret break right when I woke up. The 2 non smokers in the car must have loved us. 
He dropped Lucy and me off at the station of Nevers and I decided to just take the high speed train to Vichy, reasonably priced for the amount of distance covered and when in Rome right? The TGV is arguably as French as baguettes or croissants.

I thought I’d go to a store to buy some food and I totally misjudged the distance that I had to walk, by the time I got back on the station I barely had any time to eat something BUT thank God theyre on strike everywhere and my train was delayed with several hours. Great. The train ride flew by and I had some fun looking at the map at how fast the train actually went, too bad I always drove the TGV in the dark but still a nice feat of engineering that I really enjoyed. 

Getting into Vichy, the weather had soured completely, rain was pouring and when I looked on my weather map it was going to clear up a little bit in an hour or so. During my trip until this point I hadnt really used Couchsurfing because the application was sending my requests way too late and also some other features seemed completely broken. Nonetheless I gave it a shot and within 5minutes a very nice girl named Mathilde reacted. She lived close to the city center and I just couldnt believe my luck.. On such a short notice getting someone to react is absolutely unheard of (at least for me) with Couchsurfing. After waiting in the station a little bit and gazing at the homeless people there (who were very nice to me as well), I went to get some more dinner while I waited for the rain to pass. I found her house easy enough and when I arrived she welcomed me with open arms. So sweet. She is a dancer and this is her passion, she apoligized for not having anything in her house but sheesh, I didnt expect much. Not one hour before had I contacted her and here I was, warm bed in the living room, a good shower and I was even able to wash some of my clothes. Absolutely amazing and this is the sort of Couchsurfing experience I only heard about but never actually experienced. She even made me a hot chocolate, how very sweet!

The next day she pointed me towards a bar and I made my way to the train station. I knew there was a bus ride to Ambert in the afternoon and I arrived at the station 50 minutes in advance. The waiting line was long and was it not for a nice SNCF (French railway company) lady that asked if I could skip the line, I wouldnt have made it. 
The bus ride was bumpy and I was amazed at how inefficient the public transport in France has gotten. Abandoned train stations/rails throughout the entire country but they had been discontinued around the time I did my last camino and now there were mostly busses. Bobbing and weaving through streets that clearly werent made for these large a vehicles on a daily basis.

A note about discontinuing the public transport. I find it funny that they discontinue the public transport, or at least the trains in most parts and then they crank up the price of diesel, targeting mostly the lower class in France, this is what caused most of the protests of the Yellow Vests or Gilet Jeune. This protest has been going on for over a year now and the people at the protests, the hardcore ones, are people that have absolutely nothing left. They protest because theres no job for them in this technological future and taking away their modes of transportation by increasing the price of fuel, is just low down dirty. This is also why Blablacar is so popular in France but thats a direct result of the government shafting the French. Its whatever. 

When I arrived in Ambert I left my bag in the station and I walked around a bit while I waited for Quentin. I saw a tobacco store in the distance and decided to walk there. A awfully familiar van stood in front of it and when I went in I saw Quentin also buying tobacco! What a coincidence and we hugged and the lady behind the counter melted. 

When we walked back to the station my bag was still there luckily and we drove towards Fougere, a small enclave of sorts from a time long passed. No house number system here, just a street and a couple of houses changing names every 100m or so. The nearest town is Marsac-en-Livradois and its all in the same valley. Mountains with snowy tops and thick forests blanketed the landscape. A river flowing through the valley, pretty amazing and mystical place. 

I got to know the people from Fougere pretty well and I was very lucky to have some speak English. My parents were sending me a package with gifts for the December month and looking back on this in hindsight while typing it now, /spoiler alert it was slow to arrive. 

A French friend of mine that I met 2 years ago while I went adventuring on the Pyrenees. On my way there I met this guy on a campsite in Rocamadour. Legendary city that is built inside a cliff and has a medieval sword that supposedly was thrown there by a general on his way back from fighting the muslims (not a true story).

Anyway I crawled out of my tent and I had nothing to eat the previous day except for a salad. I make my way to the toilet and he yells me over, saying its his birthday and that I should have breakfast with him. He made music while living out of his camper van and we ended up traveling through France for several weeks. It ended up being a little bit of an alcohol fueled adventure but very good nonetheless. Troubadouring around France really taught me a lot more about the country and Quentin and my interests aligned quite well.

We kept in touch throughout the years and he now lives with his girlfriend in a sort of commune thing called a colocation in French. He already invited me many times and this being my Magnum Opus adventure, I couldnt pass up on the opportunity.

I needed to go to a town called Ambert, which was about a 10 minute drive from where he actually lived with 5 other people. To get there I had to travel either 260km by foot OR 380km by vehicle. I chose the vehicle option because the weather was just absolute shit and in my mind I had a sort of Christmas deadline, not to mention my bag was showing signs of wear and tear, just as my pants, just like Lucy’s jacket and just like my fucking mental fortitude. No worries though, the last one will fix itself over time and the rest is just busy work.

My parents were also sending me stuff for Christmas and St. Nicolas and sent it there so it would arrive at around the same time as I got there (HAHA OFCOURSE NOT, THE WHOLE FUCKING COUNTRY IS ON STRIKE, its good to be an optimist though).

380km is not that much, if youre able to find the good rides, use Blablacar or even the public transport that did drive. I left father Ivan with my sign in hand and went to the nearest highway that led to a road leading to Ambert. 

After standing in front of a roundabout for about 15minutes I wasnt really feeling it and decided to go over the roundabout instead. There it didnt take long and the first friendly monsieur picked me and Lucy up and drove us to a town 20km away, we chatted about his son working for some Dutch company and he offered me a bottle of water when he dropped me off. The first one is always the hardest but it usually also drops you off in the hardest place. This town was no exception and there was absolutely nothing there. In France its so common to hitchhike that when people see ya standing there, they will just stop for a sec and check on you, one of the reasons why I fell head over heels for this country.

So the first guy, middle age man dropped me off in Shitville, Inhabitants: 3, services: none. I had my thumb up as soon I left the car, waved the man goodbye and it was a good start. 
Like earlier mentioned some guy just stops, even though he wasnt on a strike, he asked where I needed to go, I told him every shitty village away from this one would be perfect and he told me theres a bar in the next town over. Fucking aye mon frère. We talked a little and he dropped me off right in front of the bar. Since it was nearing 1200h already and the whole country takes a break from being on a strike and just goes to the nearest bar..I decided to chill there a little. They also sold some tobacco and wouldnt you know it, I was just running out of that. Just kidding, you think Im stupid? Cant hitchhike without enough nicotine in your bloodstream, I had more tobacco than food with me to be honest.

Drank a nice tea and some people started chatting me up, sadly none of them were going anywhere I was heading to and depressing as it was that I only ended up traveling 20km in 2,5 hours. I was undeterred.

I walked to a place I thought was good but really wasnt, sometimes you just gotta relocate if it doesnt feel right. Dont stand in depressing places for hours on end waiting on that one lucky ride that never comes. You want a place that has a nice stopping place, is well lit and maybe, just maybe also had some shade/sun and/or a place to sit. Since winter is cumming still, a place in the sun was preferable to this particular moment.

Lucy on my bag, on my Mexican blanket, I tried to act the perfect stranger part of smiling and waving to people in cars whizzing by, not all but most of em friendly. A guy with the biggest beard stopped alongside me and I believe he also wasnt on strike, he needed to drop off some things the next town over and if its gonna be a crawl, then its going to be a crawl. I might as well wait in the next village on the same road, on the perfect ride that will take me more than a measly 20km.

There was another bar and also a little shop that opened around 1500h. 1+1= more coffee while I waited for the shop to open. Didnt need much, just some food for Lucy and some bullshit to keep my spirits up.

The town was depressing for the rest. The boulangbarie was nice, the shop was expensive and all the trucks tearing the town a new asshole made it horribly dystopian and out of place in this beautiful upcoming sunset. 

Getting colder now and I found a piece of grass to put my tent on but hah! Under 50km travelled? I think not, it’ll take me weeks to get there. I continued on and a nice lady stopped her car, she actually needed to go to a reasonably large village that had services and shops and stuff and would shave about km total off my entire journey. Her dog was cute and Lucy apparently understood that being jealous to this fine, fine animal would probably not be the most tactical thing. The pooch stood on my shoulder and Lucy lay on my lap. Pepito? Papoeti? Pappedipoopie? I have no idea but that little fella had a name with P’s and T’s.

She dropped me off on the main road and I didnt quite feel it, not to mention it was in the shade and there wasnt really a stopping place unless the person willing to offer me a ride had Schumacher or Verstappen as a last name, ugh Formula 1 joke, shoot me.

I walked to what I thought was a road to a town but it was a little farmers road into nothingness, with the sun setting, yea no. Lets not get stuck in French Racist Ville, population: 5, services: Gendermarie.

I walked back and saw there was a supermarket, great place to hitchhike! Theres a parking lot, bullshit that you dont need, a lot of people visiting, lights. Yea great place.
5 minutes later some lady stopped and said she was going to Dijon, very nice madame but not on the route sadly. It did lift my spirits though and a car with 2 people in it stopped right after that.

Mother and son was what I thought but they had the weirdest demeanor about them, they were driving all the way to Autun, which was in my mind one of the places I would like to end up on the first day. Roughly 100km from Avallon, a third of the journey, not bad.

A slightly awkward vibe in the car that I couldnt quite put my finger on.

It was no matter. Autun tonight!

Apples..Avallon, Island of Fruit or rather the Apple. See if my luck will hold up here. I must run out at some point right? 

Josiane dropped me off at the end of a busy shopping street, the whole place was painted Christmas and the jingles were in the air from speakers outside of the different shops. She told me that I was always welcome at their place and if I was ever near, I shouldnt hesitate to ring them up. So sweet. She told me about an tourist office at the end of the street as well as a church. A most logical place to go.

I walked there and the tourist office was closed, the church opposite the street wasnt and I took a moment to look around, found some spot on a top floor in the hallway, closed off from the public, cold but somewhere I could sleep at least. Open until 1800h.. Time to go to a store.

I bought some ingredient for an outrageous salmon sandwich and even found a 3 way converter to hijack free electricity even harder. As I returned to the church, it was already closed, fuck me. Not even the church displays the right opening times anymore. What has this world come to haha.

I walked around a bit confident that I could find something else that provided me with a little shelter. At a parking lot in some back alley I found some sort of attic overlooking the parking lot itself, meheheh its something and I dropped my bag and groceries while I went on the hunt for something better. 

The train station, another chapel, some garage somebody left open..Not ideal but I chose the chapel. It was cold but with my gear I would survive and it would be better than outside of the rain. Also a cinema across the street that provided me with a toilet and drinking water. I filled up my water bottle and went to the chapel and since there was a table there, I prepared my outrageous salmon sandwich. Just as Im finishing up my meal the door pops open and a guy walks in with his doG. I got Lucy with me and they started barking and playing immediately. 
He asked me what the hell I was doing there and I explained to him I was a pilgrim, just eating a sandwich and I asked if he was there to close the chapel. He was.

He was also the head priest of the local parish and said that he could host me for a night!

The parish itself was just around the corner and Lucy and me walked after him and his dog Nestor. Father Ivan was his name and it looked like he appreciated the company just as much as I enjoyed his offer of kindness.

At the 5* Holy resort, he showed me to my room. The bed wasnt clean he said but haha, clean is completely subjective to me at this point my dude, Father, dude.. He offered me some soup and we shared a wine while Lucy and Nestor were continuously barking at each other. Some nice conversations about God and life in general and it was a nice addition to the whole warmth/shelter/food thing. He also gave me some advice on which route to hitchhike towards Ambert.

I had a very good night sleep and the next day I attended service together with Father Ivan, there was 1 other pious person there and it was just the 3 of us today. Slightly awkward, since Im not going to sing in a language that I dont fully master. The Bible says to sing in praise of God but it doesnt mention what kind of singing, maybe whales sing to Him? What about birds? Lame excuse but whatever.. My God doesnt need me to butcher song and word in his praise..

I got a stamp from Father Ivan and we had breakfast, he insisted that I paid absolutely nothing which was just really friendly and lucky again.

I’d made a hitchhike sign with on one side “SUD” and on the other side I put “Lyon” and I went on my way.

Bought some snacks and refilled my water bottles so I wouldnt be stuck with nothing in some place, that had nothing. Hitchhiking in France usually goes really well, its more of a culture to offer each other rides in this country. Where people in the Netherlands often look at you funny or laugh at you, over here its the complete opposite and people even apologize by putting their hands up when they dont go your way. Of course this is mostly in hindsight and finding the right spot to stand can be tricky. A little adventure thats mostly fun to talk about afterwards.

I took a small stop at some medieval watering hole on the way to Versauce, where the nice people lived that I met 5 years ago. They have this beautiful old farm setup that was impressive then, when they only resided there just a couple of months, but turned even more beautiful in the last 5 years. 
As I walked up to the house, I could already see the friendly face of Josiane in the kitchen, waving at me. I walked upstairs and Roland also came into the hallway.

Amazing, 5 years have gone by and these people have not aged one single bit, like nothing. I remember them then being very spiritual and this time, now that I myself have looked more into the esoteric, I could recognize a lot more purpose in the way they designed the place. As above, so below..Duality in all things forms the whole. 

I gave them some tobacco seeds that I brought, along with some sunflower seeds. What a perfect thing to take with me to give to people. They were very happy and friendly and welcoming and it was really good seeing them again.

My plan was to visit friends further down south near a town some 200km away, called Ambert and because they were all heading out for Christmas, I decided to travel their by other means than foot. Roland and Josiane said that the whole country was on strike and that either Blablacar or hitchhiking were my only options, public transport was completely out of the question, our conversation diverged a bit into the state of the world. The whole world is on fire at the moment, new shifts in balance are happening all the time and it is my personal belief that we are currently living at the end of an empire. One that was under caucasian control for the longest time but has since long ago peaked. All the signs of a collapsing system are there, the money being worthless, corruption in the upper echelons, weird ass leaders that pop-up, even the deification of TV Chefs is something that shares similarities with the end of the Roman Empire (and thats only the most recent empire that we see).

We ate a beautiful light dinner in contrast to our conversations, all from their own garden, all fresh and I could see a glimpse of why these people hadnt aged a bit during the last 5 years. I agreed to earn my stay tomorrow by helping Roland with some stuff around the house. The guy was building a palace and when thats the case, theres always some more work.

After dinner, Roland started talking about the world and alchemy. All of a sudden I realized that I watched a DvD with him 5 years ago about the way of Saint James (El camino de Santiago/the camino/St. Jacques de Compostelle) and how it influenced how I looked at the entire journey. I have no idea why the contrast became so apparent all of a sudden but now it was crystal clear to me that meeting him and his wife, staying with them and watching that movie 5 years ago actually changed everything for me. No longer was I just on some Christian pilgrimage but I sank into this new perception, with him as my guide, that Christians stole this route from whomever owned it first, rooted deep inside ancient pagan rituals and standards. My visit to them was more extended now however and I gladly accepted his sage advice. We watched another part of the DvD after dinner and even though it was full of matrix music to hype it up, there was still some very good information about it. One part of the movie also touched on the subject of sticking your hands into the lion mouths in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela itself, a picture that I already chose to put on my contact page.

“If one knows how to make gold, one does not need to make it anymore” is a quote from the movie and I cant agree more. The movie this time around focussed more on the idea behind placement of buildings and certain symbolism. As well as the opportunity on improving oneself instead of the world around him. Transmutation is a big thing in alchemy, at least in the mainstream, where the focus or the goal of the alchemist is to find the philosophers stone and with that the secret of transforming other metals into gold. The movie went through different places that I visited along the way, either 5 years ago or now and added an extra layer to my understanding of these places.

The purpose of alchemy is maybe not to be able to transform the physical world around you but rather transmute your own soul into something thats more precious. If taken all allegorically then its maybe not about gold at all but rather just a metaphor for something valuable. I felt excited by the whole thing and it was very good to sort of touch base with these kind souls, all the while etching and grooving deeper into my own sense of reality. Also the fact that now Im doing it in winter is a very important part for me. It may be harder and it might be cold but last time around it was warm and things were plenty. It was still hard back then but I already mentioned my transformation of a boy into (what I think) a man and this was by and large due to the Camino. Hell my own grandmother didnt even see the old me in me and I believe her one of the wisest persons in my life, at least on an life experience scale.

I fell into a deep slumber, breakfast was at 0800h the next day and I better get my ass in line so I did make morning service this time.

I overslept a little bit but this was not bad at all, breakfast consisted of a salad of fruit with avocado, different seeds, a piece of full grain bread and some more fruit. No bullshit and I could see why these people havent aged a bit. I still have no idea how old they are or what they did in life before retiring. Roland and me went to the basement of the palace after breakfast and he lend me some clothes while his wife ran all my clothes through the laundry, blessed be they who wash others their clothes!

Roland showed me some wood that needed chopping and fuck me sideways, Im such a meek city slicker. I thought I’d knew my way around an axe and some firewood but Im nothing but a suckling, still relying so much on the teat of technological progress. As Im contemplating this I hit the axe the wrong way and mess it up on a big chunk of wood. Roland smiled and he still had 6 more laying around so it was fine, but I wasnt all too pleased with myself mind you. We fixed a door together and wauw, this man has everything in his house to be fully self sufficient. A big industrial wood heater in the basement that heated the entire house, a whole workshop that he knew his way around and when I asked him what he did in life prior to this he could only answer that he did many things.

Well alright mr. Renaissance man, lets leave it at that then..

After work Josiane had prepared a kings meal again, a little bit heavier than the breakfast or the dinner, some pheasant with vegetables and some nice mashed potatoes. Fresh spinach that I only tasted as good with my grandmother and yea, Im not even surprised at this point anymore. Roland a magician outside the house, Josiane a magician inside the house. As above, so below.

Josiane had an appointment in the only place that the train did drive through (if it normally drove) and I remember it being a little bit of a bigger town. I gladly accepted riding with her that afternoon, and Roland, the sly wizard that he is put on another episode of the alchemy dvd collection. I was just in time to take a shower and collect my bag to go with Josiane. Roland and me said our goodbye’s and the bowing at each other sort of came natural. Pretty fucking legend..

At the end of the final episode there was a mention of the magical island of Avalon, a hidden island literally meaning the island of fruit (or apple) and wouldnt you know it, thats also the place where Josiane had an appointment and took me too. Cant help but feel this is all related somehow, Vezelay being one stop over / all the duality inside the church and meeting with Roland and Josiane for a 2ndtime that almost didnt come to pass entirely. First I couldnt find their house, then my parents barely found the paper with their address on it and them inviting me over, is not something to take lightly on such small notice. Easily missed but some things in this life youre not supposed to miss. 

Vezelay is a touristic town by all means, underneath is a layer of ancient history however. Legend has it that the bones of Mary Magdalene were brought here from the Holy Land by the towns founder but this is debatable. Nonetheless they worship the Holy Virgin here and that has its reflection in the basilisk as well as the town. Beautiful Romanesque archways inside and outside of the church. Perfect lighting and even though the basilisk doesnt look that big from the outside, its fucking massive on the inside. Its mostly nuns here but there are a few monks as well and just like in St. Thierry, the flock had been culled a little bit. No matter..

The reason why I visit all the services and the church itself is not because I think that this is a Christian thing to do, for me its endlessly interesting to see how people practice their religion. Besides that I think the singing and the incense are pretty nice, especially in the morning. I dont do all the rituals like receiving the blessing or going up for a cookie and a zip of wine. I mentioned 5 years ago in one of my blogs that NO FUCKING WONDER the black plague got around so fast in medieval times. Everybody was religious in that time, so that means that the churches were the movie theaters of today and I dont see how drinking from the same cup or trusting the priest washed his hands before he broke the cookie has anything to do with hygiene. Not to mention I dont read that stuff anywhere in the Bible. So to me its manmade and I can barely get my ass up from the seat when the rest of the room does. THAT>BEING>SAID – I do like attending services and I dont mean any disrespect.

My temporary apartment on the edge of town gave me a perfect base of operations from which to walk and explore the town. The whole town is in the shape of a raindrop where I slept at the “tail” end of the city and it was a pretty steep climb, through the town, up to the basilisk. The whole hill is a UNESCO world heritage site and still very beautiful. I remember last time being here, I slept on the campsite thats about 4 km away from the city center. Not ideal for exploration. This however was smack dab in the middle of it all and warm, and free, and warm and water..

Most bars closed early and there is a little supermarket being run by a muslim that charged exorbitant prices which is funny because after a 1000 years, Vezelay is still being plundered by muslims in a sense..

I made an effort to visit most of the services and they “varied” enormously in quality, the place certainly has a weird energy about it and it being a site for pilgrims for so long really shows and makes the place feel different.

The basilisk this time around was in rafters which was some conciliation for yesterdays fog soup. Who wants to look at some rafters. I planned on staying there for only a night, maybe 2, but this ended up being a little bit longer.

The first day I woke up to late for the first church service of the day but decided to walk through town anyway, up the rampart leading up to the basilisk gave a great view of the surrounding valley. Another dog came towards us and the owner was jumpy as fuck, this triggered me to pull Lucy back just in time as the dog lunged in to attack Lucy, nipping just her ear. Motherfucker. Lucy was whining and the lady I met later said that normally the dog has a muzzle, WELL WHY THE FUCK NOT NOW? I downplayed it so Lucy would do the same and it worked, she had her tail up and was running around happy again within minutes. Just let it wash off, be like water. I bought some breakfast and some disinfectant to clean her ear. Easy peasy and now I also have some disinfectant with me. Very handy indeed.

I did a nap after my outrageous breakfast and went to look for the house of the people I met 5 years ago, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. 5 years ago I practically only had a compass, no internet connection on my phone and the guy who invited me came across me when driving his quad. Having a phone this time around kind of complicated things because I was looking around constantly, guessing on where to go. Not to mention the fact that in 5 years, several things have changed. Soon I decided to go back home and attend the evening service. Also went by the nice woman (Sylvie (who put me in my temp home the previous night)) to give her a little gift, some sunflower seeds. She was thankful and I didnt dare to ask her to stay another night as then I might get no for an answer, later on I did come across some monks though that I talked to and I steered it towards a miscommunication that I was going to stay several nights.. Its fine damnit!

My family back home was celebrating Sinterklaas/Saint Nicolas and I felt kind of lonely although very content with my room and the luck that seemed to be on my side once again. I mean I got tickbites and still on antibiotics at this point but things are working out pretty well and I could have been outside in the cold.

Instead now I have everything I could ever need + instant coffee.

My parents also dug around in some memorabilia box that I had back home and found a paper of the people living in the area – Roland & Josiane. Looks like I was somewhat close in my estimates of where they lived but I still wouldnt have found it by a long shot. I decided to drop them a message saying I was in the neighborhood and they got back to me almost immediately asking if I would like to come by on Sunday (day after tomorrow). Exactly what I hoped for but Im really not taking this kindness for granted just like that.

The next day I was too late for the early service (AGAIN) and I still had to find a place to stay for the night. During the 2ndservice of the day I had a short chat with one of the brothers and he invited me to stay another day, since it was raining like there wouldnt even be a tomorrow. 

I went by the office and there was a sister there instead of my savior Sylvie from 2 nights ago. She was a little bit more..erm…stern? Pious? Whats the word here.. But because I could name a brother who already invited me for another night, it wasnt a problem, I hope…I think. Nobody came to kick me out at least..

During the evening service I came across a woman who talked to me called Valerie, she told me she also did the camino, in November..From Vezelay..Hmm pretty cool to meet another crazy person, who also did it in the winter and we talked a bit. When we left the church she lit a cigaret, fucking glorious I tell you.

After the last service I decided to walk back down the hill to the Swallow bar I was at before going to Vezelay. Friendly people, good tea, good wifi and power outlets and the music was like they put on one of my playlist. I dont swallow though. A great workplace if only a little bit of a walk away from where I stayed. The people behind the bar still recognized me and the atmosphere was friendly and welcoming. Really cool place. The next day I was determined to go to the early service (Laudes) so I only had 1 wine (je me sens aventureux).

Today was Sunday and the whole congregation was as tired as I was, they were a off tune, off beat hot mess. One of the nuns that pointed me in the right direction on my first night did play a Lyre. A fascinating instrument resembling a cross between a guitar and a harp. It was angelic, especially because of the early morning with the lighting in the church, not to mention a priest throwing around incense like a boss.

After the service I said my goodbyes to some people and went to make a final sandwich in the normal pilgrim hostel. Now this was the third time I was here and all the other times it was no problem for Lucy to be inside, nor was it for me to smoke outside, nor was it for me to make a sandwich. They just let me be and I left the place exactly how I found it, even leaving a small donation for the items that I used.

This time around however there was a nun and just as I was finished eating my lunch, she came inside and told me that Lucy couldnt be inside. I didnt argue..I put Lucy outside in the rain under a small roof covered by my jacket.. Then when I walked outside with a cigaret, she said that I couldnt smoke it here.. AGAIN I did not argue with her, shes the boss and Im the guest and if she takes pleasure shoving me around then by God, please act out your vengeance..Be like water. I walked a bit further down the street to make sure the smoke didnt blow in and by the time I came back she was also doing my dishes.. I told her that I was going to do that and thats when she actually seemed surprised. By this time I had no humor left in me so I didnt try to make her like me or anything but I did make it very clear that Im not some freeloader, not doing anything, avoiding responsibility and she seemed as sorry as she was surprised. Its fine. Be like water.

No time to dillydally on useless shit now, I cleaned everything, left a donation in the box and grabbed my bag and took off, the people only lived 5km away and I was aiming to arrive there before dinner.


As Im packing my bag I hear mumblings of people in the house, some girl opens the door and Lucy barks her off. I smile at her terrified face and she eased down. She looked at my shell and understood that I was a pilgrim and that I slept there, we chatted a little and she took a liking to Lucy. Brave young thing she was, going into an abandoned house on a grey and windy Sunday, finding some raggedy guy, 4 times her size and she enters into a conversation with him.. She didnt strike me as dumb either.

We left the house together and I went to the local bar to do my dishes and drink a nice tea. Too bad they closed in the afternoon so I just started walking.

Finding nice thick forests quick enough, rain is good at this point because it means that its a lot warmer than clear skies. I gladly accepted the cover of grey clouds and I walked through beautiful woods, slowly I was leaving the open fields of the north of France behind me. Dogs barking in the distance and the odd gunshot that spooked Lucy. Hunting season had started and I hope they werent in the business of hunting Dragons..

Sunset dropped on me a lot sooner than expected and I could see some lights along a road that was as straight as it was unending. I stopped for a small cigaret break to talk to some hunters and some guy holding a gun in one hand and a bottle of Pastis in the other was very friendly and he told me about some Pilgrim place in the next village over. Too bad they didnt invite me over for some food but my belly was still full from the omelet I made in the morning. I kept walking over the endless road to a town called Flogny-la-Chappelle. A droit de Église, right from the church was what the hunter told me so I went there. It was clearing up by this time, so it started to get pretty fucking cold. I went through some photos to look if they mentioned anything about a pilgrim refuge in the town but I couldnt find anything. Also near or behind the church was nothing that resembled anything like a hostel. 

Some guy walked out of a backdoor and Lucy verbally assaulted him, I asked him if he knew where the refuge was but he didnt know. His English was impeccable though as he lived in Strasbourg and was visiting family. He was dropping something off close by and I returned to my phone, deciding to give my parents a call to ask for some counseling. As the phone is ringing, the guy starts running back and Lucy verbally assaults him again. Turns out the thing he needed to drop off was at the lady that actually ran the refuge.. And that I should go with him… WOW! What? Sure! I walked down the road with him and he brought me to a sweet ol’ lady, whos husband was out hunting and I wondered if it was the same guy from this afternoon. All 3 of us walked towards the pilgrim refuge. She was very friendly and I wished I talked more French. The Strasbourg bro was coming along because he was curious and acted as a translator throughout. 

She brought me to this fantastic place that had a kitchen, little living area, shower/toilet and a few bunkbeds. Fucking perfect! She asked if I wanted some food and hah! Yes! Please! While the Strasbourg bro and I talked a bit, she came back with a big bowl of sauerkraut, 3 types of meat in there, some chocolate desert, bread and fruit. Fucking amazing. I couldnt thank her enough! I dont come across that much sauerkraut in France (or anywhere for that matter) and I remember my grandmother always having a solid one that she made. Couldnt help but shake the feeling that this was a nod in her direction of sorts.

Lucy and me murdered that meal without 2ndthoughts after the lady and Strasbourg bro let me be. Afterwards I took a very good shower and did some writing at the kitchen table. 

I cranked the heating up to the -TROPICAL ISLAND IN HELL-setting and it got nice and warm in the apartment.

Very lucky to have found this. Also found another tick on my ribcage that I was able to remove. A tiny little shit and I could just barely see it..

There were also shops nearby that I went to the next day, I saw the lady again and we talked a little. She gave me a stamp for my credential and I gave her some money as donativo. I could just chill and bring the key back whenever. 
When I arrived at her house I could see the hunter who told me about the place, was indeed her husband. He was too hungover to really recognize me though.

I walked out of town and found my way easy enough until I walked in one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever seen. An orange glow as far as the eye could see with the moon also already being out because of the nearing winter. Beautiful duality and the walk was gorgeous. When I arrived in a little village called Vezannes, I smoked a cigaret, got my mexican blanket and put that around me as a poncho under my jacket. I could see a wasp on the floor squirming from the cold. I picked it up and held it in my hand while I blew some hot air on it. It seemed to like that as it was getting more active and I sat it down in a good spot under some leaves as I reminisced about the wasp that stung me in the bus, when I just arrived in France a couple of months earlier now.

If wasps are freezing their asses off, I better not hang around in the village too long and decided on a hard march to Chablis, which was a larger settlement. It also meant another good 10km through the cold but Lucy and me were warm enough as soon as we found our rythm.

Chablis still had a couple of open shops and a bar that I drank a tea at. It was also a hotel but it costed 40 € a night and yea no, fuck that price. Its weird to me as a Dutch person that they would rather have an empty room in the off season, than host a pilgrim half price and at least make some money but its whatever..

I walked around town in the freezing cold and I (AGAIN) found some toilet area that was clean and warm next to the town hall. Whats with these public toilets that are clean and look unused?Is it just my standard of living reaching absolute 0 or what? Not going to look a gift horse in the mouth though and I managed to make a makeshift lock on the door using my walking stick and some rope. Hot air blew in through some vent connected to city hall.

Vezelay was still around 50-60 kilometers from here and I just plowed through the next day. First I got a stamp from city hall and it was beautiful, then the lady started writing all kinds of shit through it. Its fine.. Really nice route although not as beautiful a sunset as yesterday. I was still content. I still had some food and as long as I kept walking – I was warm. A small medieval town came at just the right moment called Cravant when the cold swept in again and I walked towards some campsite/bungalow park at the edge of town. There I found a couple of condo’s that were in use but there was nobody there. I tried calling the owner of the place but he didnt pickup. There was one open condo that was being built and I put my bag inside as I walked into town. 
There was one little shop that basically served as the bar, bakery, grocery and the lady behind the counter offered me a coffee while I bought some bread, cheese and vegetables. Tres gentile Madame. She tried to think of something for me to stay or someone to call but she couldnt think of anything outside of some public laundry place that you see scattered throughout France. Yea no forget that, that literally only is a roof and I have a better chance of not freezing in my tent. I ended up staying in the little shed on a concrete floor that at least gave me some, very basic shelter from the elements. That night it was -5 and yes, I could feel that in my bones.

Lucy started growling the next day and this time around I didnt wave away her warnings. I started packing my stuff as I stalked the owner of the establishment walk out to his car, just outside the fence. He turned on the car engine and I thought this was going to be my window to escape unseen. UNLESS HE, OF COURSE, JUST TURNS ON THE ENGINE AND WALKS STRAIGHT FOR THE SHED IM IN. Needless to say he was not amused and I said sorry and finished up packing in a couple of minutes.

He asked if I slept there and I didnt lie and there was not a single molecule in his body that had any respect for this. I walked off within 2-3 minutes and went back to the lady in the shop/bar/bakery called Marine. She offered me a coffee again and looked on the interwebs how far it was to Vezelay still. Around 30-40km and she was very kind for looking but I already knew most of what she said, she also didnt really have to look for shelter along the way since “LADY I DONT EVEN KNOW WHERE TO BEGIN” but it was honest and cute nonetheless. She also gave me a little pastry for the road that Lucy was very content with. Watervapor from a nearby stream looked like a hotspring and the grass was still white and crackly under my feet. I increased my walking speed a little and walked through beautiful serene landscapes of frozen forests. Very beautiful indeed but in this beauty also lies danger, last night had been the coldest night so far and I would do well not to just spitball my way around.

After walking most of the day I decided to just take a go at Vezelay, when it turns dark the temperature usually drops with 5-10 degrees Celcius easy. The most beautiful sunset is like the singing of a siren – you get whoo’d by the most beautiful thing then bam, youre ship runs ashore and youre fucked. Maybe not as dramatic as that but you get the point.

About 10km in front of Vezelay I ran into a hunters cabin in the middle of the forest and I tried to look for an opening. But there was none sadly. Refilled my waterbottle at a nice lady in the town after and I managed to understand that it was only 7km left to Vezelay, up a hill, through a forest, down a hill, up the side of the basilisk and bobs your uncle, sounded easy enough.. The night sky was clear again and the moon being fuller than it was previous evenings which helped with navigating the terrain and I just kept pushing.

After about 2 kilometers, the path led me along another hunters cabin and of course I was going to check it out. This door was open! I looked around and there was no electricity or any running water but there was a big ass barrel inside of the room. I walked around back and found a big stack of firewood. I wasted no time and took a couple of handfuls inside and started lighting the barrel. The thing basically lit itself by the way it was shaped and the quality of the firewood. I had it up and running in no time and decided to make my bed on top of the table. The place warmed up pretty nice and before I knew it, it actually became too hot and I didnt even need my sleeping bag, I fell in a deep sleep, rationing my water as best I could. The place being around 30-35 degrees didnt really help though. I did manage to find a water bottle with some water in it and going through the calendar I found out on the bulletin board, it was probably from last Saturday. Decided to drink it regardless. Because it was just an overblown shed, the place had cooled down tremendously in the middle of the night and I had to relight the fire. Hard living but very satisfying if you really do take care of shit.

The next day it was foggy and quiet throughout the forest and I walked on to Vezelay, this weird suspenseful feeling sort of, being almost there. If I have to describe the camino’s momentum, I would say that its like water getting sucked into a sink, where the closer to actual hole you get – the easier it becomes and after a while it almost starts pulling itself. Most of the hard work of the trip is the north of France and it was slowly drawing to an end.

Because of the fog I couldnt see anything further than 10m away. This was kind of a bummer since Vezelay is positioned on top of a hill overlooking the entire country side. A massive basilique surrounded by walls, makes it all the more impressive to walk towards. But now everything was grey soup and I decided to just walk into the bar nearest to my endgoal to have a little break, hoping the fog would burn off during the day.

The bar in Asquins, Les Hirondelles, was cool as shit, everyone started talking English and people were all gathering there for typical Frenchillings in the afternoon. The food was good and reasonably priced, they played very chill music and I had a very good time there. Apparently the whole town is inhabited by people that work 1 or 2 days per week in Paris but live in Asquins because its cheaper. Inviting friends over and bringing more young people, more of a community town and this reflected itself in this establishment. 2 man bun touting owners that had the whole thing down to a T. Did I mention Les Hirondelles, means the Swallows? Like the birds..Yeaa Im just going to let that sit here for a sec..AN-Y-WAY.

I chilled there all afternoon, eating a nice pasta and hijacked their wifi completely. Vezelay was literally up the hill but the fog only seemed to increase in intensity and by the time I left it was getting dark already and the fog was so thicc that you could almost take a bite out of it.

Arriving in Vezelay I went to the monastery house hoping they could host me, I ran into a nun who was late for service, since she forgot her bible and pointed me in the right direction. Apparently they had moved since last time I was here. The lady there spoke German very well and let me wait in the eating quarters of the monastery. We had to wait for one of the priests to ask him if I could stay there with Lucy. I ate some bread and made myself a tea while I continued to do a little writing. The lady was very nice and we walked to the mass when it was about to end, I could wait outside and the lady went inside to ask. Only to return 10min later because the service lasted longer on a Thursday and she said we were going to do things different, she and I didnt want her to disturb the brother during prayers so she just made an executive decision of driving me towards a side building at the edge of town they have in case someone with a dog or they have more guests than expected. It was basically a small and sober apartment but it was also exactly what I was looking for. It had a nice bed, shower/toilet, a water cooker and even a table. Fucking luxury right here. She gave me a handful of powdered soups/coffee’s and tea’s. Also a few cookies and then said her goodbye’s. 
Really lucky once again to have found this once again, now I had somewhere to chill and I didnt have the greatest of nights last night, waking up to light the fire again and sleeping on a fucking table.

It was almost Sinterklaas (a Dutch tradition of gifts/poems and the start of the December month) and I phoned my family and they were celebrating, which kind of felt hard but on the other hand I was just happy with my warm room and had a very good night sleep. There were some people living in the area that I met 5 years ago that I maybe wanted to visit, as well as go to the basilisk and enjoy the town a little. 

This time around I was a lot more experienced with what the different symbolism meant in the town. A lot of duality is embedded in this place that I completely missed last time. 

I couldnt help but walking around town in the fog and sneaking into the chapel where all the pinguins were praying. Worshipping an Ankh? Sure. Found some more “as above, so below” symbolism scattered throughout the basilisk and it was cool being there without any other people around. The light in the church itself was perfect, I wasnt going to linger on too long, I didnt want to leave my light alone for too long. 

Me and Lucy ate that rainstorm with dignity, being spurred on by the cold and the rain itself we pushed through it harder than we walked all day. No shelter anywhere in the field and forward was our only option. No point in trying to walk to lights in the near distance to take shelter, no point in getting my poncho, no point in trying to be stagnant. 

We pushed on so hard that when the rain stopped I was actually sweating and Lucy was even having fun, as she hopped through a field going after mice and what seemed to be hares from the contrasted shapes. I slowed down just a tad and just took in the evening air. Walking was slippery and shit but that was the case all day, the darkness didnt help though.

I walked into some village that I could already see from a distance and decided to park my tent next to the church. Another rain storm blew in, a little bit less intense but a little bit longer in duration. I spotted it just after I refilled 1 water bottle at the local town hall (which was still open due to some hunters meeting there). I was also able to take shelter from the rain in an enlarged bus stop 20m away. I tucked in Lucy nice and warm in my mexican blanket and I ate a can of Fringles. I contemplated drinking the bottle of champagne but hahahellno! Prepared putting up my tent and gave my parents a call to let them know whatsup while I waited for the rain to pass.

The next hour was cool, especially if youre tired, cold and slightly wet. Do jumping jacks/pushups/pull ups to stay warm, as soon as it stops raining or it dies down a little, run towards the church, bag in hand, put up the tent as fast as possible, run back to the busstop as soon as it starts raining again. Rinse and repeat.. Then when you finally have the whole thing setup, youre more full of adrenaline than a Korean dog being prepared for dinner. It was whatever. I made it. Eat those fucking lemons son..

The next day it was clear and cold, I took my meds and turned around and went back to sleep until it warmed up more. Went on the hunt for some water but there was none until I found Lucy barking at some dog, the owner came to see and I asked him for some water which he was happy to give me. I continued on through fields alongside a forest later, quick stop in a small village to drink a tea and eat a few quiche. Not much but its something.. Then I took the same damn route through the forest I took time, even though it was hardly a route, more like completely off roading up against a steep hillside. Ended up on the same road and walked towards a place where 5 years ago I wild camped next to a cemetery like my mentor Bob had instructed me to do. I even built a shower out of a planter, how’d you like me now Bob? This time the shower was complementary of nature and I didnt have to setup anything for it. I thought it would be fun to go into city hall and get a stamp there, as a sort of remembrance and the lady asked where I was going to stay for tonight. I told her in a tent and she looked at me funny. At this point the mayor walked into the room and said I should stay in their humble pilgrim abode, WELL GOOD MONSIEUR MAYEUR, I didnt know you had one!

He drove me to a little sort of house on the edge of the town and showed me around, shower/kitchen area/toilet (haha not really, just a hole in the ground, never skip legday)/common area where you could sleep on a wood bench. I didnt care. It was going to be in the -celsius again tonight so even the fact I didnt have any food didnt matter at all. So much for eating alongside your antibiotics.. Or maybe the antibiotics IS the food? The mayor of Sommeval tried to force some alcohol on me but I kindly declined.

I showered and even took the time to take a shave and do my hair. Drank some green tea and was going to do some writing but ended up getting in a pretty interesting discussion with a friend of mine on Whatsapp <3.

The next day I continued and waved them goodbye as I passed the town hall, friendly people. On the hunt for some food it is.

Its funny how you almost never have everything at once on a trip like this. You have enough water but lack food and electricity. You are cold but you have enough food/water, still no electricity, you have electricity but no food / plenty of water. Your just playing 4 of a kind with your basic needs. Its all cool, Ill just eat the lemons that this trip has prepared for me. And besides I Ramadidnt fast for nothing earlier this year. Now it will pay off as Im already used to the feeling of not eating and I wasnt even that hungry to be honest. My body switched to the reserves that I crammed into myself while living the caravan life in Troyes like flipping a switch and I maybe even felt more energetic.

Ervy-le-Châtel was up next and I remember being really, REALLY fed up with Lucy last time, this was wild-camp-night-4 in a row, where she would just start barking in the middle of the night and then run off.. While I crawled out my tent, looked for her in the cold damp night, not to mention being scared shitless of the unknown that she barked at because I had no hair on my soul yet.. This time no such thing and I knew exactly where to go, the camping on maps said it was open, so I absolutely knew for certain it was closed for the winter and low and fucking behold..

Hmmm I uhmm..Did find..uhm..some….abandoned buildings at theee edge of town? Hmm? HMMM? Maybe? Am I ballsy enough for this? I wondered..

Store was open until 2000h which gave me a good amount of time to scope the place out. It was a whole housing block, abandoned for not that long a time.. Windows? Check! Floor? Check! Doors? Some! Bed? yuck..CHECK! Meheheh its something. Did some further recon on the housing block and even went through a garden filled with thorny bush, up a stairs, through a cellar into some sort of workshop area? A hole the size of any bad horror movie in the floor, 2-3 meters across, leading to some cellar/crypt subterrain area. I expected any ol’ serial killer junkie to pop his deformed head through it, asking if I had some sugar for him at any time.. It dawned on me,,, what the hell am I doing down here.. I didnt even have my blade handy.. All I had was a fully loaded Lucy and a slight flame in my breath from my citrusy diet. I went back upstairs to the reasonable room, room. Flipped the mattress so I at least could pretend I slept on a clean part (which it was). Closed the windows, barricaded the door with a closet and went to the store. If you think its healthy to power a ≈50km hike with eating antibiotics/ginger and a rogue cookie I found somewhere in my bag in a day then youre just as crazy as I am. The omelet sandwich I made was terrific and I was happy to have some food in me. 
The bar I was going to write a little bit, was closed and I just barely made it to a pizza place to refill a water bottle. It would have to do, slept in my sleeping bag all the way zipped up until it felt like a proper condom and had a reasonable sleep.

The place was not abandoned that long ago it seemed. Bills scattered across other rooms suggested the guy left in a hurry. During scouting through the rooms I quickly waved through an old photo book displaying the owner in what seemed happier times. Drinking a beer with a grandchild (HAH, I fucking hope) on his lap, daughter with her arms lovingly around his neck, smiling at the camera, sitting at the table that now laid toppled over on the floor.. Sunshine, beaches, a new car, weddings, barbecues. Yea this isnt helping on the depression scale..

The odor of hasbeen and oncewas filling the air, weighed heavy on my soul. The next day, besides being glad I survived another night, I decided to leave the place, it was Sunday today so I might as well prepare for another day without food. But nothing turns out the way you expect it.

You see at some point you eat so many lemons that they start turning into strawberries, and thats when you get thrown one lifeline after another.

I had all my stuff clean and I decided to just chill around the city a bit, visit the cathedral and get some nice food (and candles). I noticed that the normal tea lights were way less effective at warming the place than bigger round castles (duh! Still a revelation for me though).

At the cathedral there was a man who took an interest to Lucy, he told me about a dog that he lost just like that and I asked him if it was Lucy, turned out it wasnt Lucy. Also he was a little bit too clingy for my taste and I didnt quite like the look in his eyes. He also asked if the dog was for sale, which gave me weird Indecent Proposal (1993) vibes. I told him the dog was not for sale obviously. Even if it belonged to him and he lost it, he would have had to fight me for her and his creepy ass better bring a gun to that knife fight.

I chilled a bit around the city, there was a big game going on about 500m away from the caravan in a stadium which got me a little weary since there was also Gendermarie (police) everywhere. I also decided on buying some stuff that I needed from Decathlon, it was located at the edge of the city and a little bit of a walk but I could use it honestly.. When I went there the next day, I also found a Star Bucks so I wouldnt have to solely bum around in the shitty-Subway anymore.

At Decathlon I found a new power bank that I needed and a thermo pants. Also some magnesium tablets to reup my mineral balance. Some tiger balm may also come in handy so I also bought that. I did some writing at the caravan at the end of the day and decided on an early night. The blister on my foot was also in pretty good shape and I was really happy with this caravan and the closed off campsite.

Did some more snooping around but I couldnt find anything useful like electricity or water. It was whatever, there was an Aldi about 200m away so I could easily go there.

After another beautiful night’s sleep I woke up and went on the hunt for electricity. The new powerbank had a few charges in it when I bought it but I used them up already. After walking through the city looking for a power outlet I thought of going into the cathedral and looking for one there. This may sound weird but most churches and cathedrals have secluded outlets and I did actually find one at the back of the church, I could even hide it behind a pillar so it wouldnt be noticed. Thank you Jeebuz.

Now I just had to think about picking it up the next day.

I did some writing in a local bar and Troyes in itself was pretty small and uneventful. Maybe it would be nice to go to the outlet center the next day and just chill there and do some writing. I knew that Starbucks at least wont make a problem of me bumming around the establishment like I felt some of these French places did have.

Had a good dinner in the caravan that I prepared myself and I felt like the antibiotics were doing their job. I tried to stick to a good regiment and usually I would wake up in the morning, take one pill with a piece of fruit and go back to sleep, then another pill during mid-day and one in the evening. With antibiotics I know its pretty important to eat alongside it because your stomach can have a hard time digesting most pharmaceuticals. Also it dehydrates you or at least takes a toll on the kidneys so its important to drink enough as well. Not alcohol though, that actually doesnt only make you more drunk, faster. It also decreases the effect of the antibiotics itself.

France has a big problem with antibiotics abuse, as they are/were given to people with a common cold and whatnot. Abuse and over exposure will all lead to the previously mentioned antibioticapocalypse.

The next day I went to the toilet when Lucy was rummaging around on the campsite and when I called her we re-enacted our meeting scene, so thats a full circle after 5 years. Very satisfying indeed.. Lucy didnt give a shit xD

I went to the Star Bucks cafe and it was nice and easy chillin’ there, of course I ended up watching a Joe Rogan podcast instead of actually doing some “work”. c’est bon (you know its fine?). Went by Decathlon again since I just love walking around a crazy outdoors store like that. The weather was supposed to clear up again tomorrow, even though it was clear it was also rotating with some really shitty rain.. and OH SHIT I forgot about my powerbank..! Fuck me sideways. Ok so maybe tomorrow then..

The next day I went back to the cathedral and the powerbank was still there, fully charged and I also saw the guy again. What the fuck is going on here, is he like in the cathedral every day? Or is he just watching me and he lives close by. This time he took a photo of himself and Lucy.. Although being weirded out I didnt really take offense though., I know what kind of effect this dog can have on people and I just walked off after being friendly.

I actually managed to get some fucking writing done in the shitty-Subway. I dont know what it is but the smell of baked bread and fastfood sauce just gives me inspiration or something. Nobody went there and I practically had the place for myself the entire time. The staff also didnt mind since now they actually had a customer in the shop and they were on their phone for most of the time anyway.

The next day it didnt clear up at all and the weather was insanely sheit. I ended up packing most of my bag and in a dry spell I went to the city to do some sightseeing, also worked on the blog and my diary, so at least I was being productive. Couldnt help the feeling that I was kind of stuck though and Troyes looked nice and all but it wasnt all that alive and I was kind of done with the city as a whole. 5 years ago I almost didnt exit the campsite because of Lucy and blisters and it gave me some slight comfort knowing that at least I didnt miss much.

The day after that it was clear enough, or at least dry enough. Wind blew in rain every other hour or so but I just forced myself to leave. Really, really done with this city, the subway and creepy French dudes creeping on Lucy. On the road again I felt better as I walked out of the city. Met some people while doing so and talked with them, even got a can of Lidl Fringles (fake Pringles) from someone while taking a quick shelter. Timing the rainshowers and the shelters together turned into quite a dance but I managed to keep dry most of the journey, with the odd wintery-jizz in my face.

At the end of the day, I saw that fields were up ahead. Last time I was here there was a heatwave and its funny that now its the exact fucking opposite. 5 years ago I had a very hard time following the route book because the route book actually recommends people take the bus out of the city, so that means less signs on the way, a description of the road with just 2 sentences and no real sense of direction, oh yea and 40 degrees of relentless sunshine on your cranium.. Like last time, I wanted to walk again and the internet access really does make a very big difference in terms of navigation.

As Im tapdancing around rain showers left and right I end up sitting in a farmhouse right before absolute sundown. I see a rainstorm (pretty heavy one by the looks of it) incoming. I decide to take shelter and as Im sitting there waiting for it to start and pass over me, this owner/farmer spots me. Hes like ‘no no interdit, privé bladibla’ and Im just trying to explain the situation to him. The cunt points me in the “right direction” just as it starts raining and doesnt let me sit in his fucking rundown shed for half an hour.. The fear on this absolute cunt’s face was priceless I have to admit, him juggling his phone trying to call whoever with no cellphone reception whatsoever as Im walking up to him in full gear all apologetic and shit. I know where to go you peasant, Im trying to show you my phone where I have satellite images of the upcoming rainstorm thats only here for half an hour..

Alas, it was all for nought as he even drove his car after me to make absolutely sure that I wasnt taking the wrong turn and still chilling on his land.

The rain was thick and blinding, winds raged around me like crazy and I couldnt see shit. Lucy had her jacket on so she was alright, as was I after the storm had passed. Just a bit of a bummer that after literally dodging 7 or so rain showers of 10-15 minutes, I was now being shipped off into the biggest, in the dark, through a field.. Its whatever, Ill just eat it and Im sure this is all part of the design. It cant be that when its looking peachy – thats part of the design, but when life gives you lemons – thats not, either both are or both arent. Ya cant cherry pick..

And there you go, 3 metaphorical pieces of fruit in the same paragraph.

How’d you like them apples?


So one of the caravans in the campsite where I found Lucy was open. It was reasonably clean but cold af. I did have a nice bed to sleep in and my sleeping bag managed to keep me warm enough. There were a couple of things that I wanted to do in Troyes besides just returning full circle with Lucy to where we met, namely get a shower, wash my clothes and write some blogs.

ALSO I had a fucking tickbite that I needed to attend to and that took priority over everything. When I woke up I walked around a little with Lucy over the campsite and she was roaming a little bit further and a little bit more than usual. Could just be me being biased though but I thought I noticed a little difference in her behavior. The toilets were out and so were the showers. No Wifi and no electricity. That made the campsite also a potential trap.

I went to get some breakfast on the way to Clinique de St. Jacques, since Im doing “the way of St. Jacques”, it seemed like a logical place to go. I already knew what was up and I only needed….

***We interrupt this blog for an important newsflash***

Modern medicine is a bit of a joke, it doesnt matter if you eat from a garbage can like Lucy did or if you get a tickbite or if you stick your peen in places where its maybe not supposed to be. The doctor will look at you, listen to you, maybe/maybe not he will know what you have and then he will prescribe antibiotics, this is 75% the case at all times. The rest is just fluff with a painkiller sprinkle. Most complaints people have are due to lifestyle and no medicine except for magic mushrooms will help with that. A little tip for my readers, if you happen to do get a nasty red bump on your vagyn or your peen and youre a little bit ashamed to tell “a professional”, just go to the doctor, point at a pimple somewhere on your body (best if its somewhere where your clothes are up against your body) and say that youve been bitten by a tick but that youre not absolutely sure. You will get the same antibiotics that you will get when you get cooties or when you have an infection. There are 7 antibiotics in the world currently and we use about 5 in our modern medicine and meat industry, we decided not to use the last 2 because they fuck with your kidneys and because we need to have a failsafe that bacteria are not resistant…OH NO WAIT, China used them in their meat industry, never fucking mind.. All hell is going to break loose when antibiotics start to fail and this has been more and more the case in recent years. Bacteria have the nasty (for us) habit of sharing “knowledge” and experience with other bacteria they come across. Thats why people die from a doglick nowadays, our antibiotics abuse and our need for clean in the form of hand sanitizers gave them a big boost and were basically setting ourselves up for antibioticapocalypse. Wash your hands with normal soap people! Stop touching your face and when you sneeze, put your elbow in front of your face, not your fucking hands you like a little kid..

***We now return to the regular broadcast***

I already knew what the fuck was up, Ive been bitten by ticks before and I have a mild interest in the subject so I knew it would be some antibiotic course that I needed to take for the following week or so. I went into the clinic of San-fucking-tiago and they turned me down, even though I explained to them that I just needed the doctors signature on the dotted line of a piece of paper but it was to no avail. Its whatever. They told me to go to a public clinique across town so I walked there. 

The people there were friendly enough and as I was sitting between crying children and some viking looking motherfucker that basically cut off his whole finger, they did find the time to call me in. I talked to the doctor, who barely spoke English but we managed and he did…wait for it…prescribe antibiotics. The corona around the bite should dissipate in the following weeks and I had to take 3 pills a day, for 2 weeks. Pretty rigorous monsieur doctor sir, but youre the “expert” here.

On my way back to the camping I bought some candles as a light source and to take the edge of the cold. I also noticed an open window on the caravan which was just grand, easy to close though. I ate a nice sandwich and hmm, yes, I was pretty happy. Went for an early sleep as antibiotics kind of make me sleepy. Washing myself and my clothes is going to be a task for tomorrow.

I woke up and ate the other half of my awesome omelet sandwich, the caravan was actually pretty warm, when wearing my jacket/2 layers of pants and a hat *.*..
The office du Tourisme was in the city and I decided to stop by the cathedral, it was pretty beautiful I must say and I didnt visit last time around because it was closed and I didnt have a leash for Billy, I mean Lucy. I also barely left the campsite back then.

The tourist office told me to go to a monastery that hosted pilgrims in the summer and I went there, next to the cathedral I already found a laundromat so it seems I got things taken care off. The monastery people were nice and this old nun lady and me went looking to ask if I could get a shower. We couldnt find the person so she just showed me the shower was instead. I gladly accepted and thankfully, finally had a good – well deserved scrubbin’. After that I went to do my laundry which was also well needed and then I sat at the subway, writing/eating and stealing their electricity. They didnt seem to mind and this may have been the jenkiest Subway I have ever been to, it didnt matter to me since I got most things that I needed.

Returned to the caravan to find it hasnt burned down thank the lord (I left a candle burning to heat it up). I shouldnt be doing this as the whole time I wondered if I was going to go back greeted by firefighters while I was in the Subway. The nights were very clear but it was good to have shelter and Lucy also seemed to be enjoying herself, in and outside the caravan.

This was a good place to get stuck for a little while..

So 5 years ago, I walked into Troyes with the German guy, we did about 105 km in 3 days and I had blisters from around the time I started walking in the Netherlands. I cant really tell you how long Ive been on the road at this point but it seemed way shorter than I currently am. Maybe thats because time seems to move slower this time around because Im more used to the traveling. 

We walked into Troyes and we had 2 days of 50-55 km and 1 rest day in between. I was teetering on the edge of getting an infection on my feet and even though we got offered a ride as soon as we entered the city limits, one that I was inclined to accept. The German guy refused because he wanted to walk every single bit of the entire journey. Now I dont blame him for this but I just couldnt keep up with him (literally). As soon as we arrived on the campsite I was rekt, my feet were swollen like 2 fucking sausages and I was just tired as fuck as I could feel the fever chills running down my spine from infection. A little high off painkillers, I told him right then and there that maybe we should break up. This wasnt working and it was also going against how I think I should do this. We didnt separate as enemies or anything and he also didnt leave right away and we hung around on the campsite a couple of days. I couldnt go to any supermarket because I was limping like an extra on The Walking Dead and he was kind enough to fetch me fruit from the grocery. In the showers weirdly enough was a boxer short in light blue (color of France) with little white dogs on it, the cleaning crew wasnt going to touch it and every time I went to take a shower it was still hanging there. Foreshadowing much?

I finally got my head in the game and decided to buy some cream for my dry as fuck feet. With Shea butter. This made a big difference right away and I felt better in a couple of days. 

On the 2ndnight I got to know some French people that I hung out with, with my clunky French but luckily a bar guy who worked there could translate some things for me. They had family that had their own vineyard and this was the first time I got drunk off champagne. I remember also eating fake surimi crab sticks when drunk and this was not a mix I can recommend. No no, not at all. I didnt sleep in my tent but in a room behind the recreation room since there was also wifi there and it was nice and warm on a couch. 
The German guy left in good time and I decided to keep going on fruit, champagne and foot creme until my feet were completely healed up. 

This took around a week, week and a half. At the time, a mouse also found some shelter by gnawing straight through the side of my backpack and make himself comfortable in my underwear. At least it gave me something to do. The campsite was run by Dutch people and there were a shitton of Dutch people on the campsite (just like every campsite in France ever). I heard rumors about some animal going inside people’s tents in the middle of the night licking dirty dishes and digging up bones but being very much on her toes and nobody seemed able to catch her. 

At some point I was chilling with the French people again and it was warm as fuck. We had a very cosy evening and I decided to go back to my tent to sleep. First I wanted to go to the toilet and as Im sitting there, I could hear the scratching of nails on the hard surface of the open shower/toilet area. All of a sudden a blond nose pops under the door and when it saw me it bolted. I was already whiping so I got up and told it to be calm. I knew where there were some plastic bowls and I told Billy to come with me while I filled one up with water. Little Billy was thirsty as hell and while its drinking like its been in the desert for the past couple of weeks, it kept looking upwards to me. When Billy was finished it jumped at me and started licking me and I tried to tell her not too since I have no idea where that tongue has been lately. After a little inspection I noticed that she wasnt packing a gun, so Billy may not be the most appropriate name. I settled on Lucille – Lucy – instead since this was the most French name I could think of.

We walked back to my tent and she was a little bit distracted by thingies here and there but she did listen reasonably well. It seemed like for her the choice was already made but me being a cat person, it took me a little getting used to.

I went inside my tent and she didnt understand what the hell was going on and started jumping against the tent. After telling me it should come here it crawled under the outside tent and slept against the inside tent, right next to my head and I whispered to her that if she was still going to be there tomorrow I would take her along. 

The next day I woke up and it was a wake up like so many Im used to nowadays, just instantly being pounced and doggy assaulted by the cutest animal ever. Crooked teeth, white gold fur and a look in her deep brown eyes like dude-lets-fucking-go-already! Yes this was meant to be. I remembered the boxer short and put it in the washing machine. All the while Lucy was galavanting around, being cute, still looking like an animal although slightly more owned. We took a shower for an hour, where I removed all the little seeds from her fur and gave her a good scrubbing. The little pillows on her feet were fucking weird and Ive never felt anything like it before. She looked alright like the night before, no weird shit in her eyes/ears, no drooling, wet nose and a tongue that smelled like cheesy fish or fishy cheese, whatever.. She didnt have any ticks or fleas and things were looking promising. I finished drying her which she seemed grateful about and when the boxer short was ready, I cut it up into a scarf to put around her neck. 

My feet were still rekt and I took the time I needed to heal to whistle to her so she knows what to listen for. We moved around like a pack and I decided to get her some food. This was a Sunday sadly and the only thing in the area open was a sushi stall, yea I gave her fucking salmon on our first date, the way to a lady’s heart? I told the camping boss lady and she gave recognized her because she scared her back on the campsite about 3 weeks ago because she thought it belonged to someone. 
I still wasnt completely sure on the new team format so I looked for other options, apparently the dog pound in France only gives animals 40 days to get a new owner and after that its sleep inducing injection to doggy heaven so that wasnt really an option. No I decided to just keep my promise I made to her and keep her around. The camping boss lady still had some food for other dogs that sometimes come around and gave that to me, she told me to mix it with bread but as soon as I put it in front of Lucy it was gone down the hatch.

After a week or so chilling together, I decided to continue my journey. Lucy of course didnt know we were going on a little walk of lets say 1500km but she was there, all the way, always 10m in front of me. She did her business in the bushes away from where people might walk, she begged harder and better than any professional gypsy I encountered in France and when she smelled a bone it would be hers for the next 10 minutes. All left overs from her time out in the wild I reckoned.

We left Troyes and in the first dead angle corner, she didnt listen when I called out for her and a car that was revving up hit her. It didnt hurt her but it did scare her enough to remember her name next time I called out for her.. A French guy yelled at me to put her on a leash, dude I just fucking found this dog and I cant go into a store without her stalking after me.

Her not having seen an open field in the last months, she just started running as far as I could see. Then she started running back when I used my whistle, stopped next to me, jumped and gently bit my hand and then she was off again. She did this about 5 times and I could only see this as her, showing her appreciation for this.

I thought she was going to close doors but the opposite was true, she is a door opener and an icebreaker. Some French lady that was taken in by her charms told me that her name comes from the latin word Lux – which means Light.

And I couldnt agree more..

Cumming all over my face, its cumming all over Lucy, all over my tent and all over my backpack. By the time I left Andy the temperature had dropped about 10 degrees and I somewhat underestimated what this meant, especially at night. The condensation is un-fucking-real, condensation happens when something warm or warmth comes in contact with cold air and it creates water particles.. Something I knew about but never really felt directly or was bothered by.

Leaving Andy’s place was alright and I could find the road pretty easily. On the way I took a little break at a nice house and I ate some traditional Champagne region cookies that you usually eat with champagne called Croquinolles, a little sweet cracker thing that you dip into the beverage. As I was plowing through the little bag the owner of the house drove up and he asked me if I needed some water for the dog. When he returned he also brought a bottle of his own champagne. Too bad I kind of quit alcohol but still, very good to barter with or to give as a gift to whomever deserved it. It also meant another extra kg or so. ITS FI..!

As Im creeping through the fields I could feel the cold air taking a hold of me, it wasnt windy and in fact it was sunny all day but that also meant a clear night sky which in turn meant probably subzero temperatures. I did find a nice spot near a church in a small ass village and I barely made it in time before the sun completely set, already big clouds of smoke from my breath. I set up my tent as fast as I could and drank a lot of water (which increases your mass so it keeps you a little warmer, also means you have to pee in the middle of the night so choices..). I crawled in my tent and I tried to get some sleep but since it WAS FUCKING 1800h, that wasnt gonna happen. 
Fiddled around on my phone a little but the battery gave up on me after about 20 minutes, yea this was going to be a splendid night. It didnt take Lucy long before she started begging to crawl into the sleeping bag. This is nice since shes a little dog sized heating element but it also means that the sleeping bag is tighter, so less space between you and the cold air so more condensation.

I woke up several times during the night and I wasnt exactly freezing but I wasnt exactly warm as well. My socks froze, my tent froze and yes winter jizzed all over me.

The next day was sunny again and when I woke up I did my rounds around the church to keep warm, I still had a little food that I ate and I did some pushups/jumping jacks to get warm. This helped and the I was glad I luckily parked my tent in a place that was in the sun, because the field was still very frosty where the sun didnt shine. While taking a piss I noticed that what I thought was a pimple, turned out to be a tickbite. There was a corona around the bite itself and this meant fucking trouble.

I did a rigorous march towards what I thought was a village that had a doctor, but apparently the doctor had already left years ago, thanks for updating Google and Apple.. I continued on and it actually wasnt that far to my next stop, a biggerish city named Troyes. Instead of going to a doctor immediately I was aiming to go there (unless I ran into something on the way). Lucy seemed to be doing very well and seemed to not have any congestion anymore, so thats a silver lining at least.

I remembered there being a campsite between Sézanne and Troyes that was very nice, I hope they were still open. Méry-sur-Seine was the name of the town, a couple of kilometers in front of the town I did find an abandoned house, left a long time ago and just far away enough from society to get fucking murdered without anybody noticing. After I had a little look see, at which time I also found a black cat eyeballing me from a distance, I decided to leave Blair Witch-sur-Seine and continue on to the town. Ofcourse the campsite was closed but that didnt stop me from peeking around anyway. I found that the showers had only been closed off with a roll down shutter AND just my luck that they didnt lock the one facing away from the entrance to the campsite. Even though it was cold, it was still better than being outside or in my tent, I had a quick run towards the city where I went to a shop and drank a tea at a Chinese restaurant. 

I remembered there being a campsite between Sézanne and Troyes that was very nice, I hope they were still open. Méry-sur-Seine was the name of the town, a couple of kilometers in front of the town I did find an abandoned house, left a long time ago and just far away enough from society to get fucking murdered without anybody noticing. After I had a little look see, at which time I also found a black cat eyeballing me from a distance, I decided to leave Blair Witch-sur-Seine and continue on to the town. Ofcourse the campsite was closed but that didnt stop me from peeking around anyway. I found that the showers had only been closed off with a roll down shutter AND just my luck that they didnt lock the one facing away from the entrance to the campsite. Even though it was cold, it was still better than being outside or in my tent, I had a quick run towards the city where I went to a shop and drank a tea at a Chinese restaurant. 

In the morning, Lucy started becoming anxious and had I listened to her, I would have probably avoided the city workers and some of the neighbors that were alarmed in the evening when they heard the sound of the shutters moving. They saw the shell and realized that I was a Godly hobo and wished me good luck, the guy from the city wasnt all too happy but even he gave me some space to pack up my stuff and go. Having a little break near a bench and some water, one of the people from earlier brought me a coffee, tres gentiles monsieur!

The road today was beautiful again, walking along what French people still call a canal and it was about 35-40 km walking path alongside that to Troyes. On the way I saw beautiful birds, friendly people with dogs for Lucy to play with and I even got out my speaker and listened to some music. The sun was out but I could taste the winter in the air. 

One town before Troyes I decided to just chill for a sec but the owner of the cafe wasnt all that friendly, other people in the cafe were, maybe especially since the owner kept telling me to move all over the place because he wanted to have only drunk customers in his place and apparently I was holding up the seats or something. Its whatever, Lucy begged her ass off and got some good meat from several people.

I said goodbye to the people that were friendly and continued on my way in the dark. Clouds rolled in when it became dark so the temperature was actually not that bad compared to the -2 last night. It also meant a little rain and because I didnt put any creme on my feet this morning, I decided to take it slow to Troyes with a few stops here and there avoiding rain.

Troyes is an alright city, nothing too special. The people are friendly (I seem to be repeating myself) and theres a nice cathedral. The last time I was here I also had a big fucking blister that made me stop there in the first place for a longer amount of time. I will do a blog on the full Troyes story from 5 years ago including how I found Lucy. Coming up to the campsite, OF COURSE, THEY WERE CLOSED. I seem to be repeating and repeating and repeating myself but its fine. Of course I wasnt going to just let this be the end of it, I hadnt come all this way just to wildcamp somewhere near a church. I walked around the campsite and I found a very large hole in the fence. Doing a little recon revealed that there were also caravans. Maybe inhabited, maybe not. I mean the fence was closed so why would there be people on the campsite? This was my reasoning when I turned the doorknob of one of the caravans and opened it… Noone. Cold like expected but there was noone. I put down my bag and dumped Lucy after which I did a little bit more scouting of the place, I dont want to get caught during the night and then get kicked out on my ass into the cold unprepared. The place seemed quiet and peaceful however and I decided to not push my luck any further and just get a good night in the caravan. 

Yeaaa this journey was shaping up to become a long, long list of misdemeanors..

Castling on the kingside is sometimes called ‘castling short’ while castling on the queenside is called castling long

Andy came and picked me up and it was really really good to see him again. It also felt like we’ve never really been apart that much although we only met a few times in person briefly, 5 years ago. His uncle, Bob is the one who taught me most about wild camping in France and as a personal development thing, I could say that meeting Andy (and Bob) was really a breaking point in how I did things.

Being recently divorced from his wife, the guy bought a fucking mansion in downtown Sézanne, its a smallish town with everything you could want or need, without really turning into a big, impersonal, city. A big Liverpool fan, the first night was going to be pizza with his 3 sons and I welcomed the normalcy of the situation. His sons spoke English very well and Liverpool won the game of some spaghetti cup that I cant remember the name of, against Arsenal. Leading up to that we had to drive back 10min to the town where I forgot my walking stick! OF ALL THINGS, you must be kidding. I did buy a small St. Anton (patron saint of lost things) pendant thingy to hang from my shell necklace so at least I got some divine help going on or something. We drove back and the walking stick was still there, leaning against a bench in the middle of town, Anton be blessed. Even though it seemed enticing, we decided not to go for a 4 € tea at Cheval Blanc..

The game was weird as it was good, 5-5 and finally Liverpool winning on penalties. I must say I didnt care too much but it was nice to have a “normal” family setting life with pizza and beer. Which both tasted dangerously good. Yea it was good to have some R&R and its also good to see the team win for which everybody in the room was rooting, even if it was by the skin of their teeth.

The house was a mansion, old building converted to office space and then converted to living space. It had a bit of rustic look about it, with crypts under the entire building, 3 stories high. More rooms than you can count but since it was an office space before, it did need some well deserved ‘homely’ renovations. Looks like my job was cut out for me while I was waiting on a package that I ordered. At least I didnt lose my walking stick. Lucy took a liking to the whole family right away and reserved herself a nice spot on the couch for the next 3 weeks and I had reserved myself some weed left from the first Castling.

Andy and me chilled most of the time, I went for bread in the morning and we cooked together in the evening. All the while renovating his place here and there. Small subtle touches to make the place more like a place thats being lived in rather than an office space. Also changed the Wifi code to something a little bit more suitable and yea, pretty cool reunion all in all. Just to mention a few adventures; we went to visit his parents who lived close by.

The meals we cooked were pretty impressive. Ow and at some point I feared for Lucy’s life!


No like literally, no poop whatsoever, she put her best effort in but it was all to no avail. I suspect its something she ate from a trashcan when I walked her in the 2nd week, she didnt respond to my whistle and when I walked back I could see her munching on something. Normally shes a tank and anything from bones to sticks to mice is no problem at all, this time however it was like somebody just put a cork in her colon.. The first day was fine when this happened and Ive seen it before but the 2nd day, she was getting very frail and just slept all day. I really feared for her because Ive never seen her like this. I made her a little mock up hospital bed on the couch and since this was in the evening I took her to a veterinarian right away in the morning. Andy by my side translating. The vet couldnt see what was up, no obstruction that she could feel. A little blood from the pooper but thats normal since she tried to poop so hard, it probably rekt some arteries (this can also happen to humans).. The vet gave her antibiotics and we got some paste that she needed to eat 2 times per day to help with her stomach lining. I thought the price was going to be through the roof and indeed it fucking well was! 12 daily budgets down the shitter, I must admit though – I would have paid a 100 daily budgets without hesitation, if it meant for her to be be well again!

Sick puppy

After a week of turning the living room into a 1942 shower in Auschwitz, she finally started eating normal again. Her poop didnt really come yet but there was only one way to go and that followed a day or so later. Im joking about it but I would have never forgave myself if something happened to her, even though its her own stupid fault for being a garbage muncher. I still have no idea what she ate.

Andy throughout this was a saint, very chill and relaxed and I met his daughter and his parents somewhere along the way, and we watched more Liverpool as well (nice going van Dijk). I made Andy a stick at some point since he is an Aikido practitioner. I saw his son kill at least 500 people in Fortnite and I even got to hold the controller myself for a night or 2. Also somewhere along the way I decided to lay off the alcohol. Not only did I write some horrible pages in my diary (horrible in the sense like, dude-I-didnt-know-you-wrote-Cyrillic-bad), I also displaced several glass objects that would have probably been spared if it werent for that damn ethanol. The alcohol did put me into gear when it comes to my website however as now I was able to turn all those sweet sugars and ethanol into creative, writing-frenzies. 

Besides resting up I fixed my boots, made some tough decisions about my gear (like leaving one of my pants behind since I now ordered a new, lighter and more stylish pants suited for my needs). I watched The Boys on Amazon Prime (can recommend) as well as Fargo season 3 on Netflix (can also definitely recommend).

Andy took me to one of his Djembe lessons that he teaches in the town, which was slightly awkward but still very fun and impressive to see.

By the time my packages finally arrived I was ready to head out again. The temperature now having dropped by 10 degrees, it was a price I was willing to pay for the luxurious life I had for the last several weeks. Also Lucy still alive and well made continuing easy. It wasnt that far anymore to Vezelay, which is where my preliminary route book stopped. Being on the road is only good when you have time to recuperate any losses every now and again. Andy was so nice as to open his home and his heart to me and sick Lucy, for that I am forever in his debt. 

Thank you Andy! A 1000 blessings upon ye!