Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Day 16/17 - Dancing Bumblebees and Hitch Hiking!

After my wonderful night in my comfy bed in Laon I walked all day and found a lot of places where bumblebees danced in lavender :-)

After arriving at my campsite that evening I discovered that I forgot my passport and my adapter at the hotel, oops!
So the next day I hitch hiked back to Laon and then to my next destination at the Benedictine Convent in St. Thierny.
I've become a hitch hiking pilgrim for a day all because of my own stupidity! 
.....well at least I met some interesting people along the way ;-)

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Day 15 - Laon

Located at the top of a long ridge, Laon is one of the most beautiful cities I've visited.

Winding cobbled streets filled with little shops and cafes make for a great atmosphere.

.....and of course the beautiful Cathedral of Notre-Dame, towering so majestically over the medieval town.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Hanna Rynkiewicz for her generous contribution during my indigogo campaign. You support has aloud me to get some much needed "super comfy" sleep at the ibis hotel in Laon. Thank you :-)

Day 14 - The Wild West

Today after a long day of walking I've made it to.........the French version of the Wild West!

Here you can enjoy a week in a Pioneer wagon,

A bohemian train car,

......or in an authentic Indian tipi!

The food at the Saloon is in the style of Tex Mex, servers are wearing plad and there's country music playing in the background, the only thing missing are real cowboys!

Friday, 26 July 2013

Day "lucky" 13!

The morning was tough. 
A heavy thunderstorm set in at around 7:30am, I was about to pack up my stuff but I realized that staying in my tent was a much better idea. Finally at around 9:30am the rain stopped, the clouds dispersed and the sun came out as if nothing ever happened. 
I knew this day would be special but I didn't realize how special till I arrived at my campsite.
After 13 days of walking totally solo I finally bumped into 3 pilgrims cycling to Santiago.
Though I've grown accustomed to being mostly alone, it was great to have a laugh in the company of new friends. Thanks for a great evening. Buen Camino!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Day 11 & 12 - I walk in silence.....

I walk in silence thinking about all the blood that has spilled on this land.
I think a lot about death and war. I pass many different war cemeteries a day and I think about all the mothers that had to burry their children, all the wives that lost their husbands and all the children who never got to meet their fathers. I think a lot about life as I seem to be surrounded by death.
I listen to the silence that surrounds me and I'm happy I'm here paying tribute to all those that lie in these silent fields in everlasting peace.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Day 10 - Arras, Notre Dame de Lorette and Vimy Ridge

Today I took a day of rest at the home of Jean & Anne Jung, who I'd like to Thank once again for their hospitality and generosity!

I visited the beautiful city of Arras, with it's Flemish architecture and winding cobbled streets.

I also had the privilege to visit the French war memorial of Norte-Dame de Lorette, the Canadian memorial at Vimly Ridge and a Polish monument commemorating all those who lost their lives during the Great War. It's astonishing how many lost their loved ones during those troubled times.
I'm so grateful that I get to live in a time of freedom and peace.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Day 9 - Mont-Saint-Éloi

As I walked from Bruay-la-Buissière to Arras I stumbled upon the ruins of Abbaye du Mont-Saint-Éloi.

According to legend the abbey was established in the 7th century by Saint Vindicianus, a disciple of Saint Eligius (Saint Éloi) and by the Middle Ages it become a powerful religious centre. The turbulent times of the French Revolution took their toll on the structure and all that has survived are the twin towers and the porch on the west wall.

During the Great War the towers were used by French troops to observe German positions on Lorette Spur and Vimy Ridge.

Day 8- Little Silesia (Śląsk) in France

Today I visited the mining cities of Bruay la Buissière, Marles les Mines and Divion. 
It felt like I was taken back to the Silesia (Śląsk) region of Poland. With street names such as, rue de Pologne, rue de Katowice and rue de Cracovie, I could feel the presence of Poland here. Something I had no idea about but learned during my stay is that during the 1920's a huge Polish population was established in this area to meet the labour needs of the coal mines. 
The mines closed down in the 1960's but a large Polish community still remains here today.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Day 7 - Waking in Fields of GOLD!

Today I walked in fields and fields of .....GOLD! 
I don't actually know what this (grain?) is called but it grows vividly in the fields of northern France.

I also stopped in the little village of Amettes where I visited the the birth place of a great French Saint.
St. Benoit (Benedict) Joseph Labre, who spent his life as a pilgrim, visiting most of the major shrines in Europe. Every year thousands of people make their way as pilgrims to his birthplace in Amettes. 

Friday, 19 July 2013

First VIDEO from my Journey!

Day 6 - Notre Dame in St. Omer

This mesmerizing cathedral is said to be the most beautiful intact example of gothic architecture north of Paris. It houses the oldest working  astrological clock in France (1558) that shows days, months, signs of the Zodiac and of course the time.
I personally couldn't figure out how it works but then again I'm blonde so I have an excuse ;-)

Day 5 - A Night with the Benedictine Sisters

Today I walked through fields and fields of wheat, barley and corn.
Got lost yet AGAIN!!!! ...but just once and managed to find my way back to the route that keeps leading me to Rome.

This beautiful château is the home of the Benedictine Convent of Notre Dame, where I was fortunate enough to stay for the night. The sisters here gave me my own room, fed me well and promised to say a prayer for my safe travels. 

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Day 4 - ....a little piece of heaven!

After getting lost and walking 27km instead of 17km!
I'm awarded for my troubles with a nights' rest in this lovely caravan at the Le Canchy Camping in the village of Licques ....... Life is good :-)

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Day 3 - O Canada!

On my way to Guines, I came across a Canadian War Cemetery where I stopped and prayed for all those who have lost their lives while saving the lives of others.

I would also like wish my father, who is starting his walk with the Canadian Army today at Nijmegen, an amazing journey. I hope it's all you've expected and more :-)

Monday, 15 July 2013

Day 2 - Goodbye England --> Bonjour France!

Goodbye Dover and your Beautiful White cliffs.
It's been short but sweet at the same time.
I don't appreciate your countrymen ripping me off with today's ferrie ride (30 pounds one way as a pedestrain????? come on!!!!!!!) but I had no choice but to continue my journey and say Bonjour to.....

..... Calais,
Yes! I have to "parle le francais" and so far no one seems to be impressed, oj :-(

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Day 1 - The Adventure Begins :-)

.... here in front of the Canterbury Cathedral.
After morning mass and a proper pilgrims' blessing, I go where few have gone before me.
My destination is Rome, only 2075km (1290miles) away ;-)
Both excited and scared I take my first steps and hope for the best adventure yet!