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Hello and welcome to my blog formerly called Gypsy-K. Please note that I am only updating this blog while I am walking from Rome to Jerusalem from September 2015. My online home and permanent blog is at You can also sign up for pilgrim postcards and newsletters here. Thank you for being here and supporting my journey. With love and courage, Kym xx

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Day 28: Choye (which was meant to be Gy)

Number of kilometres today: 33.7
Total kilometres walked from Canterbury: 747.1
Total steps since Canterbury:  1,058,696

Oh what a day.  It started off with me waling 20 minutes in the wrong direction when I attempted to leave Dampierre-sur-Salon this morning at 8.10am.  When I realised my mistake, I actually laughed in amusement and turned around and started marching back into Dampierre and out the other side.  It could have been worse.  I could have realised my mistake in 40 minutes or an hour.  This little mistake added 3 kilometres to my 26 kilometre walking day.

It was a charming day walking through petit farming villages along quiet country roades and in between woodlands.  I stretched out in the sun at lunchtime by the lavoir and spent 30 minutes reading my book, relaxed by the sound of the running water and the warmth of the sun on my skin.

I wandered into a very quiet Gy at just on 3.30pm. It had to happen sooner or later, that I would arrive into a town and not be able to find accommodation.  I went to the first place on my list.  Gite de la Fontaine.  They were closed so I rang the phone number on the door. No, there was not room for me in the inn tonight.  No problem.  

I walked up to the road to Hotel Pinocchio.  I had read such good reviews about it from other pilgrims, one person describing it as a three star hotel for the price of a two star hotel.  As I walked up, I saw the brasserie next door and planned my pizza and beer I would have for dinner. I walked up the steps to find the door locked and a sign with a phone number to call for information.  I sat down on the step and rang the number.  It rang once and disconnected.  I tried again.  Same problem.  And again. I sat and waited for a while, turned my phone on and off, then tried again.  The sixth time I dialled, it kept ringing and eventually a woman answered.  

I gave her my usual spiel, that I am a pilgirm on La Via Francigena and do they have a room tonight? She didn't answer "oui" or "non" but something that was completley out of my range of comprehension. 
"Je ne comprende pas," I told her.  "Je parlais un petit francais"  This didn't help.  She kept rambling in French. I still didn't understand. 
"Non, je ne comprende pas," I told her starting to feel exasperated.  "Une chambre ce soir, oui?"
She still didn't answer yes or no but rambled.
"Une chambre ce soir, non?" I asked.  
I really just wanted a yes or no. After more rambling, I finally heard a "non" which I took as my answer, thanked her, said good-bye and hung up.

I had counted on getting a room at the hotel as my back up plan but I had one final card up my sleeve. 
The Office de Tourisime. They would be able to help me find somewhere to stay.  Except they close at 2pm on Saturdays and it was now 4pm.

A little pot of panic started to come to the boil except a definitive voice from within told me, "Keep calm."

I walked to the bus stop, one of my favourite places to hang out because there is usually a seat, sat down and studied my guide book.  There was one other option in Gy, or just out of it, a rural Gite.  I rang the number.  No answer.  I rang the mobile number and left a message.  Then proceeded to phone stalk both numbers for five minutes before I gave up.  Just as well I did.  I still haven't heard back more than 5 hours later.

And now what?  There was nowhere else in Gy.  There were a few places I had passed hours earlier but I didn't want to backtrack.  I looked forward into the next section.  There was very little before reaching the end of the section in Cussey-sur-l'Ognon another 15.4 kilometres away and a decent part of that uphill.  That would be another 4 hours walking and I wouldn't arrive until after 8.30pm in the dark. On the list was a Chambre d'Hotes in a place called Choye (pronounce like Shwa).  I found it on my map.  It was four kilometres south-west of Gy and in the opposite direction of the trail. 

I had two choices.  Walk 15 kilometres uphill and partly in the dark making it a 44 kilometre walking day, or walk 4 kilometres off the trail and 4 kilometres back tomorrow.

I rang the number for Choye.  A lady answered.
"Bonjour Madame.  Je suis un pelerine.  Excusez-moi mis je parlais un petit francais.  J'arriver a Gy et non chambre ici.  Avez-vous une chambre ce soir?" I asked.  Actually it was more like pleading.
"Oui," she answered!
"Merci, merci beacoup," I told her. "J'arriver a quinze heures et trente (5.30pm)." I told her then walked straight to the boulangerie to buy bread for dinner and lunch and marched to Choye with a smile on my face, grateful for having found a room and amused that I almost didn't have one.

I walked into the warmest welcome by my hosts, Jean-Noel and Samia.  They don't speak any English and my French, well I am learning more each day and can string together sentences of words that are hardly gramatically correct or fluid but get me by, but despite this, we sat around the table in their courtyard for an hour and a half chatting.  

I ate my odd cheese rolls for dinner without a second thought for my pizza and beer and I will eat my plain baguette for lunch tomorrow happily.  

Everything always works out.
We end up exactly where we are meant to be.

The Chambre d'Hotes I stayed in Dampierre.  My host Monsieur Monney was so very friendly and welcoming.

The sky when I was leaving Dampierre

On the way out of Dampierre, the wrong way.

I discovered this on the way back into Dampierre.  I wouldn't have seen it if I didn't walk the wrong way.

Walked past glowing golden fields of this.  Anyone know what it is?

Walking in between the woodlands This is their fate.

Ruined farm house in Sainte Seine.

One of my favourite gates so far.

Gorgeous Mare and her baby.  She was very protective and didn't want me standing there.

Arriving into Gy for my quick visit.

Brilliant colour on the way to Choye.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Day 27: Dampierre-sur-Salon

Number of kilometres today: 17.6
Total kilometres walked from Canterbury: 713.4
Total steps since Canterbury:  1,010,943

I slept in today, to all of 7.30am, but I lay in bed for another hour, enjoying the stillness, not needing to start walking until after 11am at the earliest.  I rolled out of bed tentatively, expecting the electric pain to shoot through my feet upon the first steps after yesterday's epic walk but there were a couple of twinges in each arch that ceased after the first few steps. My body is finally conditioning to the long distances.

I lingered over my simple breakfast, coffee, croissant and fresh baguette with butter and jam and then went to the supermarket to pick up supplies for today.  Dampierre-sur-Salon looked smaller than Champlitte on my map, so anticipating that there could very likely be no brasserie or supermarket or even bar or boulangerie, I purchased my dinner and lunch for today and tomorrow; fresh baguette, mortadella, cheese, quiche lorraine and levure de boulangerie which I discovered is not anything like butter even if it was a small rectangular bar wrapped in gold foil like little butters.

I went back to my hotel and packed, badly. For the first time, I forgot to fill my camelbak (my hydration bladder) with water and put it in my backpack first and then pack everything else in front of it. It's near impossible to fill it after the bag is already packed without taking everything out again and reception had already rung asking me to vacate the room.  I used the small plastic cup in the bathroom to pour water into it 9 times hoping that would get me through the day then tried to cram it back down which of course it wouldn't so I folded the top of it over the top of my bag and hoped it wouldn't break or flood my bag.

It was 11.30am when I finally started walking, slowly.  I promised myself after yesterday that today would be a slower walk and whilst I felt like I was walking more slowly, I wasn't really. I arrived here just after 4pm giving me my usual average speed of 4 km/h. However, it was a more enjoyable experience and not emotionally strenuous like yesterday, not because it was a far shorter walking day, 4.5 hours compared to 10 hours yesterday, but because of how I walked. I felt relaxed and I knew I would arrive when I arrived.  Yesterday I was tired and uncomfortable but I walked with a subtle essence of desperation, a silent and unconscious voice reminding me what a long walk it is and how far I have to go and this sense that I'm never going to make it. I know now to be aware of that subconcious voice and change its message.

Out here, the scenery always changes but I wouldn't blame someone for describing it as same same but different.  Farms, mainly corn with the empty fields currently being ploughed.  The crows that congregate and scavenge them. Stretches of hilly woodlands.  Roads and gravel paths that bend and wind but go on and on and eventually lead you into the next small village with its old brick houses, brightly coloured gardens and welcoming pots of geraniums and pansies.  Even if it seems the same, there is always something new to see or a different way to see something old.

I try to walk each day open to the gifts of my surroundings. Today, I have seen at least six hawks some circling above the woodlands, majestic, others swooping into the shelter of a tree. I watched a tiny lady beetle walk silent across the dry earth at my feet.  I helped a crazy cricket to the safety of grass after it kept falling over onto its back and flailing its legs helplessly, unable to navigate the bumpy bitumen.  A fat green caterpillar hot-shoe-shufflled over the bitumen before my feet into the coolness of the grass.  Being outdoors heightens my senses.  I always look down at my feet just in time to adjust my step so that I don't step on a critter and I am always stepping over them, slugs, crickets, beetles, snails, worms and even toadstools.

Somedays are challenging and some days the walking is filled with more grace.  They are blessings either way.

Today it was a good walking day.  I am grateful to be here on this path.

Bicycle decoration at Champlitte

Rue de Bourg, Champlitte

Building facade at Place de La Gargouille, Champlitte

Donkey wasn't too sure about me

New Via Francigena signs now I am in the region of French-Comte and department of Haute-Saone

More walking between lucious green woodlands

This is not butter!

A ruined building with a tree growing inside it stands in the middle of a newly plouged field

Path towards Montot

The colours of the land changed today, more kermit green grass and yellow tinged soil

Never know what you will see when you stop to look at the wildflowers

Another arch and door to add to the collection

Street view in Montot

Loved this old street sign

Stone crucifix in the middle of a field

Fat green caterpillar crawling the hot bitumen in front of my feet

Arriving into Dampierre-sur-Salon

Friday, 27 September 2013

Day 26: Champlitte

Number of kilometres today: 40.9
Total kilometres walked from Canterbury: 695.8
Total steps since Canterbury:  986,004

Yes, I really walked 41 kilometres today.  I have to admit, it wasn't my best day's walk. It was a bit of a rollercoaster really. I slept badly for the second night in a row. The Devil just wouldn't get comfortable on my back.  My shoulder was shooting pain.  I would be comfortable for a while, find my rhythm and then lose it again.

This morning I walked towards an amazing sky, thick silvery clouds shrouding the sun and that summertime cool air with a promise of heat to come.  It eventually came.  After lunch, by which time I had clocked 25 kilometres.  I walked on minor roads with no shade in the scorching sun with no breeze and I was wearing black.  I had 16 kilometres more to walk. I cried. I let it go and accepted all there was to do was take one step after the other. My rhythm came back.

The last kilometre of the day was the hardest and uphill.  I know I take about 1417 steps to walk a kilometre.  I started counting to keep myself going and get myself there.

This section of France has been challenging because we walk through a lot of small villages where there is either no or limited accommodation.  Many villages, like Mormant, don't even have a boulangerie or a bar, just some houses and usually a church and mairie.

My body rejects a 41 kilometre day.  My spirit rejects it too.  Surprisingly, walking an average of 4 kilometres per hour (not allowing for breaks) is too fast.  It wants to walk slower, to meander and rest a little more and drink in its surrounds, these moments that pass and will never come again. However, there are a few more sections where it is hard to find accommodation and some more long walking days may be forced.

Tomorrow is a short day.  Only 18 kilometres to Dampierre-sur-Salon. It may also be one of the last days of sunshine for a while as rain is predicted this weekend.  I plan to sleep in, eat a slow breakfast, buy my lunch and dinner supplies and then amble my way to Dampierre and find some time to stretch out on the earth and in the sun and just be still.

Exiting Langres this morning.

Sunrise just outside Langres.

This morning's amazing sky

Chateau wall in Le Pailly

Chateau in Le Pailly

Forgotten logs near Ferme de la Gosse Sauve

Grapeviine draped above window in Leffond


Chateau in Champlitte

Chateauvillain to Langres in photos

School photo day...view from room in Chateauvillain before walking to Mormant

The hunting woods. I interpreted that I was safe except Wednesdays but I'm not so sure.  There was no hunting while I walked through anyway.

My path through the woods.

Autumn colours

It pays to look up sometimes.

Toadstools everywhere. 

Autumn leaves starting.

My accommodation in Mormant.

I still have my gate fascination.  This one is in Mormant.

The next three are ruins of the abbey in Mormant.

Neighbourhood watch cat

And then from Mormant to Langres my day was filled with purple flowers...

And there are still fields of sunflowers everywhwere but they are dead, heads bowed.

More doors and gates in Saint Martin-les-Langres

And then I discoverd lac de la Mouche

The view back to Saint Martin-les-Langres.

Dry parched earth

A steep climb up to Langres at the end of a day's walk :)

Arriving into Langres

My view at dinner (that I prepapred for myself in the L'Abri du Pelerin kitchen