Archive for September 30, 2013

Badass Name For A Town

Dax. Very scenic as well but you’ll have to take my word for it since I had to leave my camera (phone) back at the O Petit Hotel so it could absorb the 1.8gb final episode if BB. 

I did everything I could think of that didn’t require a smart phone. Walked around a lot, got my ‘passport’ stamped, finished reading “Wild”, and even got my hair cut. Getting a haircut in France is easy. One-word easy and for me that word is “trois”. The universal clipper language makes it very easy. She asked what to do with the top (bald part) of my head and I gestured “whatever you want”. I haven’t taken a good look at it yet but walking back to O Petit Hotel I could see the shadows cast by the street lights behind me. I seem to have a tuft of hair in the center-front of my head that’s pretty well established and she must’ve left it intact because the shadows make me look like a unicorn. So I got a badass unicorn haircut in Dax. 
Anyhow, 1.2gb downloaded so far. Only 600mb left. I should be good to go in about 4 hours. Till then I’m taking a nap. 

In Onesse et Laharie, No Food On Sundays

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So I’m at the camp ground in my trailer home and although it does have a church, that’s about all there is here. 

The trailer usually costs 40e but for pilgrims it’s only 10!  The campground has a little snack bar that sells pizza but its closed. The father and son who work here both told me its closed on Sundays but about an hour ago the matron of the place stopped by to say that she’d injured her arm and couldn’t make pizzas today. She sis however take me over to the snack bar and gave me a bag of pasta, some butter, bread, a couple of eggs, an ice cream cone, and 2 beers!!
No charge for the bread , pasta, butter and eggs. 6e for the ice cream cone and beer. I love this place. 
From here I really have to design not only my route, but tomorrows destination as well. The official destination, a village called Taller has a pilgrim house that you can get into by entering a code into a digital lock. You get the code at the bar next to the house. However my guide book explains that the the bar is closed on Mondays – no further explanation. 
I’ve had enough of this super flat terrain and perfectly straight roads. Over the past two days I’ve probably walked 20 km on the service road next to a superhighway. On the upside, I’ve passed two 7.50e tollbooths so I somehow feel 15e ahead of the game!

Finally Wearing A Shell

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And not one of those store bought shells they sell at gift shops either. 

I never did capture a live clam this past summer but I did find a lot of scallop shells. One of them had a hole in the perfect place to tie it to my pack. Yesterday I finally got a string to do the attaching with – and not one of those store bought strings either!  This is a genuine used French shoelace I found by the side of an industrial road.  Now that “The Way” is showing in France, maybe someone in this part of the country will know what it means. 
I can’t wait to get out of this region. I think the only people who travel through here are tractor and fertilizer salesmen so lodging is expensive. 
Tonight I’ll be in a place called Onesse et Leharie. I think I’ve found a campground where I can rent an RV for the night. The guy on the phone might have though I want to park my own RV there for the night, in which case I’m sol. Staying in an RV on the day of the BB series finale sounds aprapo though, right?
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Not Fair!

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Maybe I mean too fair. Here’s how this restaurant charges for their house wine. A clear bottle with markings for each increment. 

- un peu (18cl)
- beaucoup (25cl)
- passionement (50cl)
- a la folie (75cl)
I don’t know how they charge for amounts between the lines but just in case it’s rounded to the greater amount, once I pass beaucoup I’m going straight for passionement!

Nearing A New Blog Map Solution?

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The other day Tara complained that the lack of a mapping component to this blog is hard to deal with. So I’ve spent the last hour or so trying to come up with a solution and feel so close yet so far. 

The iPhone Photos app has a fantastic feature that when you hit the “Places” icon you get a map of where all of your pictures were taken. Very cool, right?  So now I’m trying to figure out how to share it with you guys. 

A Town That Doesn’t Even Have A Church!

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That’s where I am alright. Le Muret. I’m in the thick of the Landes region and although I know I’ve only been in it for two days and I know it can’t go on forever, it’s pretty desolate. 

Without a church there isn’t much to take pictures of out here.  The final few kms were along this lovely trail. Le Muret is right on the other side of this superhighway – about a half a km away but Gomie kept insisting the only way to get to the other side was to keep going another 3km to the next exit, then come back up 3km. That would have been over an hour. Luckily, 200 or 300 meters after this picture there is a construction tunnel under the highway. Imagine the thrill it was for me to see Gomie go from “Le Muret – 1 hour, 12 minutes” to “Le Muret – 10 minutes”!


Barp (Excusee Moi!)

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I’m in the town of Le Barp, around 30km south of Bordeaux. As you may know already I’m not much of a hot weather person so I didn’t much enjoy today’s trek out of Bordeaux. It was around 90 degrees by 1pm and tedious. 

There were some grapes in the first couple of hours but then I apparently exited the Gironde region and entered Landes. The problem with Landes is that it’s one if those places that’s totally flat and there’s no shade. For the most part the walking route is at least unpaved, but some of the paths go completely straight for more than five km. 

All of the regular rooms at the local flop house were booked so I had to pony up an extra 10e for the premium room. It has THREE AIR CONDITIONERS and a heated towel rack, which is the only thing that will dry my super socks overnight after they’re washed. 

This is the view from the pool cabana entrance to the sitting room (note walking stick). Bedroom to the left, bathroom to the right. 

A Restful Day

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I wasn’t able to load yesterday’s post until this morning due to a wifi conflict between the blogging software and downloading the latest episode of Breaking Bad. It took three tries but after managing to keep the connection alive for seven hours, I’m pleased to report that the download was successful and I’m all up to date!  

Back in the day, before Bordeaux was the the huge metropolis it is now, the pilgrimage route had stops in two different neighborhoods, Bouscat and Gradignan. I decided to stay for two nights at a budget hotel between the two in the center of town. 

It looks like I have one more day in wine country before entering the Landes region, which is the largest coastal pine forest in Europe and the last region before Basque country.  It goes on for five or six days and it has a reputation for being expensive and tedious. 
I walked around town a bit today but wasnt able to take any pictures since my phone was occupied with the BB download. But I do have this picture of a very handsome looking Donkey that I took a couple of days ago. 

It shared a pasture with two other, shaggy looking donkeys. They were too far away for me to get a good shot of them but when I got to my day’s destination and read about it online I found out that they’re actually a very rare, endangered breed of donkeys. I’m not sure if this is one of them (without the shag) but still – a damn nice looking donkey, right?  Actually looks like a horse except for the ears. 

Looks Like a Nice Place, Right?

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It isn’t. Even though its on the water and the gateway to the Gironde region (which so far is pretty spectacular) the town of Blaye would be best experienced this way:  find out when the ferry leaves for Lemarque and arrange to arrive in Blaye 15 minutes beforehand. 
As I write this post, episode 6, season 6 of Breaking Bad is downloading to my phone. The place that I stayed at in Blaye  last night advertised free wifi. When I got there I found out that wifi was only available for devices running WINDOWS! No iPhones or iPads, no Samsung galaxies, no androids of any kind – just windows. Breakfast this morning was 7.5e and was a cup of coffee, a glass of oj and yesterday’s bread. 
The ferry out the Charente Marine region to the Gironde was glorious, and the walk to Bordeaux was great too. Vineyards all over the place. Zero corn. Zero sunflowers. All red grapes. The bunched are perfectly formed but it looks to me like they have a couple more weeks until they’re ready to be picked and stomped. 
The wineries are hearing up though. This place seemed to be power washing all of their equipment and had just received this supply of wine bottles. 

Eighty Percent Grapes

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Happy Birthday Mammy!

Every single person walking the “Tours” route seems to have bunched up onto the same schedule. Last night there were five of us in the ‘pilgrim house’. So many of the places to stay along the way are closed for good, closed for September, for Sundays, etc that five at a time maxes out the capacity of a lot of towns along the way.*
Today’s stage was 17km and tomorrow’s 20km. The other four from last night snagged all the spots 17km out from Mirambeau so I kept going though tomorrow’s stage and am now in Blaye. 
I don’t think Its technically Bordeaux until I cross the Gironde river tomorrow but it is unambiguously wine country. If things go as planned ill be in the city of Bordeaux tomorrow afternoon. 
* The movie “The Way” opens for the first time in France on Wednesday. The five of us from last night might all go see it in Bordeaux!