Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Day 43/44/45 - Valle d'Aosta

I feel so at home here!

Though it's much tougher to walk in the mountains the views are absolutely spectacular and I love every minute of it. 

The Valle d'Aosta is home to some 70 medieval castles and forts of which one of them is the beautiful Fenis Castle.

The last few days I walked with two pilgrim's I met at the pass and I must say that after 1000km of solitude having someone to walk with was such a blessing.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Robert, Beata and Emilka  Smolen for their generous donation during my indigogo campaign. You've helped make this adventure a reality, THANK YOU!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Day 41/42 - The Great Saint Bernard Pass

Walking along the most ancient route through the Western Alps isn't easy but once you get up here the feeling is amazing :-)

The pass has been in use since the Bronze Age, by armies as well as ordinary people who used the pass to trade goods between Northern Europe and Italy.

Napoleon and his army made their way through here in 1800, leaving behind a debt of Fr 40 000, after consuming  21 724 bottles of wine, a tone of cheese and 800kg of meat!!! .... I plan to be a little less extravagant ;-)

The hospice which is run by Augustine monks, was founded by St. Bernard of Menthon. Pilgrims and travellers can find refuge here, which is exactly what one needs after the tough climb.

The Grand St. Bernard Pass marks my halfway point to Rome, and though I'm tired and cold I'm so grateful and happy I'm here!!!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Day 39/40 - St. Maurice & Martigny

These last two days have been wonderful.
I still have a hard time believing I'm here and get to visit such beautiful and amazing places.

Built on the ruins of a  1st Century Roman shrine to the god Mercury and linked to the story of the martyrdom of the Theban Legion, the Abbaye St. Maurice is an exceptional place of great historical significance.

Built by the Roman's, this amphitheatre in Martigny is still used today during cow fights in mid autumn where the winning cow is declared "Reine des Reines" --> " Queen of Queens" :-)

Beautiful apple orchards near Martigny.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Day 38 - A postcard perfect day :-)

Have you ever had one of those moments when you see a post card/picture/photo and think I want to go there someday, I want to see that......well today my whole day was filled with those kinds of images.
I just walked and though "I'm so lucky to be here, to experience such beauty!"
It's hard for me to express how amazing this day was so let's just let what I saw speak for itself.

The never ever ending vineyard terraces of Lavaux.

The beautiful town of Vevey.

A little tribute to the nearby food museum ;-)

The resort town of Montreux.

Montreux Palace Hotel

Château de Chillon

Day 36/37 - Lausanne

Built right above Lake Geneva on many steep hills, Lausanne is called Switzerland's San Francisco. I've never been to San Francisco but as I walked down into the city and had my first view of the Cathedral of Notre Dame with the Alps in the background my heart stopped a beat.

I took a day of rest here and just wandered up and down the streets and indulged in all the amazing architecture and magnificent views.

I also really enjoyed the modern look of the old warehouse area that is now very up and coming.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my wonderful family from Waterloo - Marcin, Iza, Benjamin, Jan and Ola - thank you so much for your generous support. Your contribution helped me get and amazing night's rest on my very own bed during my second night in Lausanne. I'm now properly rested and ready to conquer the days ahead, THANK YOU AL!!! :-)

Monday, 19 August 2013

Day 35 - Orbe

Beautiful little town full of history and culture.

......there was again a castle, I think they're actually mandatory here ;-)

.......and some Roman mosaics on the outskirts of town (closed when I got there but I saw some pictures, woohoo).

.....and if you've ever wondered where your Nestlé coffee comes from it's here!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Day 34 - Yverdon-les-Bains

Walking to this town I was excited to take a dip in the famous thermal springs, which have been here at least since the Roman era, though possibly even before that since the spring site was thought of as a sacred place. Too bad when I got here I found out that currently the thermal baths are going through a much needed upgrade and are closed to the public till the end of August. 

At least the city centre is filled with beautiful architecture which made up for my disappointment.

There was of course a grand castle.....

.....lots of cobblestone streets......

....and even a lovely theatre.

Day 32/33 - Ornans & Pontalier

The lovely town of Ornans best known for being the birthplace of Gustave Courbet (French painter) really took my breath away. I can definitely see where he got his inspiration.

Didn't get to experience Pontalier as much as I'd like, since I arrived a bit late after a 38km day, but what I did see made my last evening in France all the more special.

Now on to Switzerland :-) 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Day 30/31 - Besançon

After 30 days of walking I've arrived in the beautiful town that brings an end to my first guide book. It feels quite empowering knowing that I've already walked 800km but a little exhausting realizing I still have another 1275km to go!!! .....which is way I've decided to take a day of rest and recharge my batteries.

The beautiful town of Besançon has some amazing views especially when you go up to the the Citadel, which I must say is to date the most impressive fortification I have ever seen.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my wonderful friends Paulina Robak and Martin-André Young for their generous contribution during my indigogo campaign and for their continuous support during this whole process. It's great to know I have you both in my life, thank you for your suggestions, comments and most importantly you honesty.



Sunday, 11 August 2013

Day 28/29 - Harvest

These last two days have been hard as fatigue is starting to show it's little ugly head. I've been doing 36km days for a while now and my body is giving me a little nudge that maybe it's not necessary to push so hard. 
Harvest is already here which makes me feel like so much time has gone by yet really it's only been a month. Funny how time can pass by slowly or super fast according to what we're doing. 
Another long day in front of my tomorrow......let's hope my legs don't fall off!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Day 27 - Langres

Located at the southern gates of Champagne and northern gates of Burgundy, Langres is a real fortress with 12 towers and 7 gates. Though it grew through centuries it somehow adapted and managed to keep all of it's fortification giving it the biggest fortified complete surrounding wall in Europe!
This city is also the birthplace of Denis Diderot (French Philosopher) and Jeanne Mance (one of the founders of Montréal). Though walking in to the city is a tough uphill climb, I'm glad I broke a sweat and got to experience this gemstone of a town.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my wonderful friend Justin Gerhard Friesen, for his generous support. Your contribution has made this adventure a reality and your friendship has given me more then you can ever imagine. THANK YOU!

Day 26 - Château FOR SALE!

After a long day on route I stopped in the lovely village of Arc-en-Barrois, where to my surprise I found out that you can buy yourself your very own Château!
Since during this pilgrimage my home is my tent this seems quite extravagant, though who knows maybe after I finish I'll find my self a little somethin' somethin' on the amazing website my-French-chateau.com ;-)

Day 25 - Clairvaux Abbey

The Abbey of Clairvaux founded by St. Bernard in 1115 was once a thriving Cisterian monastery. 
During the French revolution it was turned into a high security prison with extremely bad living conditions and no respect for human rights. Stories of cruelty from this particular prison were so famous that they were the cause of inspiration for Vicor Hugo's novel Les Misérables.
Though still a prison today, some parts of the historical monastery can be visited, which is exactly what I did upon arriving, in this now, very sleepy little village.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Christopher Endras for his support. Your generous contribution has made this adventure a reality, THANK YOU!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Day 24 - Rain, rain go away!!!

Today was the first time I actually had to walk in the rain. Which is amazing since it's been 3 weeks since I started my pilgrimage! Thankfully the skies cleared up quite quickly and I could continue on without my raincoat. 
At this time I'd like to send out an abundance of gratitude to the universe that has given me such amazing weather these last weeks, THANK YOU!
Tonight I'm staying in the little village of Soulaines-Dhuys which is to date the most picturesque place I've had the pleasure to walk through.