Day70 Berceta to Pontremoli – A steep decent into Tuscany

Morning Update

First we promised not to have a long day today…and failed. Today was 29.6km (more than 31 after you add in the grocery shopping excursion). Tomorrow is 31….but then we are done with it….I promise.

The day started with a nice leisurely morning. We slept in until 7:30. Luxury. After a quick grocery store stop we were off to finish up the Appenine crossing at the Cisa Pass (which I kept calling Cibo pass for some reason in the videos).

It was steep but for some reason, despite yesterday’s efforts I was flying up the hills. Allison normally leaves me in the dust on uphill climbs but today I led the way.

Can anyone identify this track. It’s about 3”dia

Soon we were at the Cisa pass and peered back to see from whence we’d come. Goodbye Parmigiano-Reggiano, hello Tuscany.

The view from where we’d come
Fun on a bridge
Roxanne and Juliet

At the top we met two Belgian ladies who were on and appenine backpacking/camping adventure. They were on Day1 and were surprised to see us coming all the way from London by foot.

A cool entrance to Tuscany

The rest of the day was beautiful but technically challenging. It didn’t help that we’d been told that the day was only 26km. That’s not a small distance by any means, especially on difficult terrain, but when it turned out to be 30 we were hurting. Those last 4 are killers.

Along the way there were several stone bridges. This region held out a long time against the Romans. The entire population was deported to another region as a result. Having a high strategic value guarding the pass to Po Valley, the Middle Ages the region was “owned” by Genoa, Pisa, and others


We made it to the Convento Frati Cappuccini and we’re kindly explained the rules of entry and shown to our room. Normally we’d immediately shower and do our laundry but due to the late hour we thought it wise to stock up with food for tomorrow first.

We ended our night with an overly long walk to the nearest grocery and then finally we were able to sit down for a nice dinner at Trattoria Da Nori. Two pastas and a shared meat dish (pork in a sauce with peas) was just perfect.

By the way, meet JeanYves with whom we e walked on and off for weeks.

Good night all.

Day64 Pavia to Miradolo Terme – Pain

It was a tough start to a tough day this morning. Last night the sound of traffic well past 4am made sleeping difficult. It didn’t help that I had a really bad headache (likely due to dehydration).

We taped our morning update from the Ponte Coperta (covered bridge) which had been constructed in post war period. The original medieval bridge had been bombed by the allies during WWII.

Remains of the medieval bridge

I was disappointed to have missed touring some of Pavia’s sights (this happens too often due to fatigue and a busy schedule). But today was to be a long day and we didn’t have a place to stay for the evening yet.

Morning Update

Much to our disappointment when we called at 9am, we received the news that our intended place was closed. This left only one viable option – going 20+miles yet again in the hot sun.

Fall is a comin’

Mid day update

As I mentioned, I wasn’t feeling great anyway and this really hurt. My headache continued through the day and the glare and heat made the miles drag on. To make matters worse my back began to ache and for the last 8miles was actually spasming occasionally.

What’s wrong with this picture
Interesting weeds

Our only different wildlife sightings were all dead things. Except a very colorful caterpillar. FYI, these are the crawdad guys that I mentioned yesterday.

We stopped to rest at Belgioioso and had a pizza and coke. We ended up only eating half a had the rest for dinner. It was labeled a cheese and wurst pizza. Turns out it was hotdog. So I had my first hotdog pizza. It wasn’t bad at all.

We stumbled into our original destination of Santa Christina (still an hour and and a half short of our final destination) and had a sit for a bit. We had a sports drink and an ice cream and enjoyed listening to all the local men sitting outside playing cards.

An amazing house near Torre del Negri. The color didn’t help my headache- haha

The last 1-1/2hrs seemed to take 3. I was very uncomfortable; but there was nothing to do but plow on. We made it to Miraldo Terme and did our best to do our chores before crashing and attempting a nap. As it happens, Jean Yves and a Belgian pilgrim Steven ended up at the same place, so there was no rest to be had.

About 30min from our final destination. Despite all the issues of the day we still had some fun.

But getting out of the sun and just lying around did wonders. All seems to be better now and I think with a nights sleep we will be ready to go again. Tomorrow is a short day !! Yay. The first we’ve had in a while. However it is predicted to be quite rainy. It’s amazing to think we’ve only had one real full day of rain this entire trip. Time to unpack the rain gear.

Day47 Lausanne to Montreux- Grapes

We woke again early this morning and had a good breakfast at the Lausanne hostel. We both had cereal with milk – something I rarely have at home but had been desiring for a while. The coffee was bottomless – bonus.

Morning Update Day47

Disappointingly the mountains across the lake were shrouded by cloud so we missed the magic hours for photography, but throughout the day the clouds lifted and we drew closer with every step to the steep peaks of the Alps.

But after walking for a few hours out of the sprawling Lausanne suburbs (the rich Riviera side of town this time), the landscape changed from suburban to vineyards. For the remainder of the day until the last couple of hours we were surrounded by Swiss vineyards.

What? You’ve never had a Swiss wine? Well that’s because they don’t export the stuff. As they say “it’s just too good to send away”.

Anyway the vines were loaded with fruit – the harvest must be coming soon. The vineyards grew ever steeper with the vines being terraced to capture every last ray of sunlight. Vineyards of ripe black Pinot Noir mixed with a golden yellow grape variety known as Chasselas spread for miles and miles.

Now today’s journey was around lake Leman so you’d expect it to be quite gentle and flat, right? Well I did. Actually I did know that the path went up and down just a bit into a village or two. But boy did I underestimate it. Today was both long and tough. The ups and the downs were so steep that my knees were aching before lunchtime.

We did stumble onto a wine tasting tent around noon. The gentleman there gave us a tasting of two of the wines for free. He gave it to us as a gift toward our journey which was very nice. We also asked where the nearest grocery was and he told us it was about 45 minutes away. I forgot to factor in that travel time was by car. Mark kept pointing out all the restaurants we passed. I was sure we were almost to the grocery store. Well, by 2:30 pm we finallly had our lunch supplies.


We ate sitting by the lake and enjoyed people watching. It was a beautiful day after all so there was a buzz of activity. Kids and families were out playing in the sun and water sports of all flavors thrived. The area is known as the Swiss Riviera after all. You can tell by the video though that we (I) was getting pretty tired.

We stumbled into our final destination of Montreux still without a place to sleep. In “desperation” we stopped by a hotel and begged for a cheap room. Well….we for a room. It was at the discount price of 170SF ($187/night). Sadly this was actually a decent price. To make up for it we had ramen for dinner ($35 from the supermarket). Folks…I kid you not, this place is crazy expensive.

We did get treated to some awesome sunset views.

Tomorrow we leave the “Swiss Riviera” and enter the gorge valley. The adventure continues.

Day39 Bucey les Gy to Besancon – Hills

“No man is brave that has never walked a hundred miles. If you want to know the truth of who you are, walk until not a person knows your name. Travel is the great leveler, the great teacher, bitter as medicine, crueler than mirror glass. A long stretch of road will teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of quiet introspection.”

Patrick Rothfuss A Wise Man’s Fear

I love the quote above sent to me by a follower. It is so very true. Today was a difficult one physically and a great joy emotionally and spiritually.

Morning update Day39

Leaving another ville

First off, due to some shopping detours and general sidetracks we clocked in 22mi. Additionally the hills really kicked in today (1330ft elevation). That’s not a ton of climbing but with the distance combined and the fact that we’ve only recently had any consistent daily elevation gains, we are sore and achey.

The gite we stayed in last night was amazing. The actually lodging was perfect and clean and had everything we wanted. But the family included us in predinner drinks and a home cooked meal. The conversation flowed in French and English. Our hosts daughter in law speaks fluent English and she was so helpful. The entire family made us feel at home.

This morning Mark cooked breakfast in our accommodation and we were able to begin walking early. Of course our walking began with a climb which was to repeated just a few times over the course of our day. We both love and dread mountains. The love comes when the scenery is always changing and the views are inspirational. The dread comes from the fact we have not had to climb mountains, and all of a sudden we must develop our cardio and mountain climbing muscles.

Why did the Chicken climb the ladder?

Several of the villages we walked through today had village fountains and old public laundry buildings in the town center. Before washing machines in every home, these served as public laundry areas. I can imagine them as a center of activity only two generations ago. They are always decorated with flowers and are charming. Many of these are feed by natural springs.

Once again the VF and the Camino part ways.
Concrete whimsy.

We ate lunch at a beautiful spot along the trail near a little lake. It was ideal. There was a new picnic table. While eating our assortments of salads, we watched ducks teaching their young how to fly, frogs pretending to be plants in order to catch flies, and just enjoying the sun and cool temperatures.

While we were packing up, three other hikers walked up. It turns out that they are also waking the VF to Rome. The first pilgrims we have encountered!!! We are so excited.

Our first Co-Pilgrims – more later

The rest of the day was spent climbing and descending ever steeper hills. The 19mi day was lengthened by about a mile due to a couple mis-turns. These happen occasionally but having GPS made it easy to get back on track.

Finally we approached the suburbs of Besancon, our destination for tonight and the site of our final rest day in France.

One of many lavoir

Besancon is quite the large city. It seemed to take us forever to walk into the town center. We have become used to small villages and this is not a small village. An hour after entering the city we finally made it to our hotel. But to be perfectly accurate we did stop by the North Face store to check out shoes. Because, yes it is time to replace a pair of my shoes. Shockingly I will be replacing my La Sportiva trail runners. The Hokas are doing just fine! Tomorrow we will hit another outdoor store. We have worn out two stoppers on our hiking poles. Those also need to be replaced.

….direction Rome

To end our night we went out for dinner. Mark had an odd craving for Chinese food but I corrected this serious flaw in judgement and we went French. Seriously, Chinese???


Day33 Cirfontain to Leffonds – A road in the clouds.

There were some concerns as we started off this morning. Firstly, we didn’t get enough sleep because we stayed up chatting too long. Secondly, we had a long day ahead 20+ miles and to shorten it we needed to walk along a lot of road and not the more pleasant woodland. Thirdly and almost concerning was the result of a small incident the day before.

Day 33 Morning Update

As we approached the village of Cirfontain yesterday Allison tweaked her ankle. We didn’t think that much of it because…these things happen…and it was a small twinge feeling. Normally a good nights sleep cures these small issues.

However, this morning, Allison’s ankle was more sore. Those of you that know the issues Allison had on the 2014 Camino, are aware that a similar issue became much worse by the time we’d reached Burgos. They got so bad that we almost had to go home. So we are a little concerned. Having a long day today wasn’t going to help.

So slow and steady was called for, and that’s how we started. This meant our 20mi day would drag on….and so it did. Motrin seemed to ease any issues and we made it to our destination – later than we’d like – but we made it. Most of the day was cool (high 40’s low 50’s) and it was spent with heavy mist since we were waking shrouded in cloud.

There is little else to write today. There was a cool community pool or community spa or laundry in one town (see video).

It isn’t like there weren’t things to see. We came across someone’s collection of birds which was fun to see.

But other than these and a fox sighting it was a day of walking along roads through French towns with nothing to offer pilgrims I.e. no open stores or cafes for food or supplies. Just statues.

Our destination for the night is a Gite. It is a fun one – we are sleeping in a gypsy caravan! Our hosts, Dominic and Dani. Our dinner was a pilgrim special with some apologies for the lack of fresh items from the garden. This year in France has been horrible for gardens. We’ve seen a terrible grape crop, and our hosts told us that they only got a few tomatoes and plums where normally they’d have an abundance. This is due to the nonstop rain this summer.

Our hosts.

We ended our dinner with a course of cheese including: Gruyère suisse caprice des dieux. Langres. Brie de meaux. Brillât savarin. Followed by a homemade dessert.

Je adore fromage.

Two final notes. French is getting easier and easier. We, by no means, understand everything, but we can follow a conversation with a little help and with the help of hosts that are able to slow down a little.

And just for the record books I’ve only lost 4.4lbs. That means I’m doing a good job of keeping up the calorie count. Must be all that good cheese! 🙂

Day28 St Martin sur la Pre – Coole – Working on that tan!

Well that was a hard day.

We walked a full 20mi today, most of it without shade on a day that ironically we had our first cloud-free day since arriving in France. We were blessed however with only moderately hot temps 84F.

Those roads!

Still, the sun exposure and the weight of the backpacks made the day tough for both of us. 

The scenery was unchanging, great expanses of wheat, sugar beet, onions, and one sunflower patch stretched from horizon to horizon.  The lack of trees allowed a slight breeze during the day but our water soon got warm.  There’s nothing quite like drinking warm water when you are thirsty. 

Lunch in the shade!

This should have been a 19mi day, but head down and steadily moving forward I missed a turn, one of only three that we had to make during the day.  The rest of the day was on ancient Roman roads which are straight as an arrow and relentless. 

Endless Roman Road!

Maybe I’m building it up too much.  It wasn’t nearly as exciting as I’ve described so far. 

Find the bunny

By the end of the day we were weaving from one side of the road to the other like drunken sailors as we instinctively sought even the tiniest piece of shade.

Never ending sunshine
Tempted to stick out my thumb

The last few miles were on a heavily trafficked asphalt road. By heavily trafficked, I’m talking about farm tractors towing huge flatbed trailers loaded with hay. These tractors were driven by teenage boys traveling at warp speeds along the 1-1/2 lane roads. We counted two sets of boys that passed us over 6 times with alternating empty and full loads.

A Welcome sign

We’d been advised in advance by our hosts that they would not be available until 7 pm.   However to beat the heat,  we did start out our regular time.    Once we arrived at our hosts house about 4pm, we propped ourselves up against a fence in the shade across from their house to wait out the clock.  To our relief and surprise the husband and grandson arrived at 4:15pm.  However I don’t think they were expecting us.  Graciously they let us in and we started the shower and laundry routine. 

It feels so good to be clean after the tough day.  I think we will sleep well.  After showering a minor event took place that cemented in my mind that we’ve been on the road a while.  This family graciously allowed us the use of their washing machine.  So as we were gathering our clothes to be washed I started to put on my clean shirt … it reeked.   After a while hand washing clothes in a sink with a bar of soap just doesn’t cut it.   Luckily my last shirt stunk less.

Day24 Pontavert to Reims – What a haul…pop the bubbly!

A crisp morning. 

Waking up in the country after a good night’s sleep is a wonderful thing. We had breakfast on the glassed-in patio overlooking a lovely yard and a huge vegetable garden. Our hostess, Nadine, even sat and had her morning coffee with us after her husband poured Mark and I the largest cup of coffee we have ever had. I think Jean-Paul read our blog post about where I missed my morning coffee. No such complaints this morning. I am caffeinated and ready to roll.

We walked along the road in the crisp morning air. The road had quite a bit of traffic, so we opted to venture off-road/off-the-VF and take a “short cut” which actually was a true short cut! We did cross a few countrified “keep out” signs. We joked that if this was West Virginia there would be several stills with their guard armed with his trusty shotgun. Luckily we saw no one, no one armed that is.

Back on the Via Francigena, we went through an area that had recently experienced a strong storm. The path was completely blocked, and we struggled to make our way through the downed trees.

Our path is straight ahead. 
A difficult path

While eating lunch in the village of Merfy, we saw two other backpackers coming toward us. Of course we looked super cool sitting on a street bench with our socks and shoes off and me with my feet propped up on my pack. Of course I mean the “opposite” of cool, but my feet felt great! Anyway, the young couple was polite enough to stop and chat with us. Agnes and Yannick were on a short adventure together and were spending the night in a local monastery. Wow did they seem like us a few decades ago! I even spied them walking together hand-in-hand as they left….I thought WE were the only ones to still do that! 🙂

Our lunch spot was at the northern edge of Champagne. 

After lunch we checked the time and distance to Mark’s dental appointment. Fortunately, or ironically, the appointment was 1hr55min away and google’s shortest route matched it exactly. We needed to get moving.

An impression of Wine Country

Unfortunately the google shortest walking route takes no account for safety or practicality (it is a computer after all).  We found ourselves walking at top sustained speed of 3.7mph.  That is so fast we were both breathing heavy and sweating buckets as we were throw into the ditch repeatedly by high speed oncoming traffic.

Clearly in the Champagne region now. 

We would have been terrified, but there was no time for that.  We just soldiered on and dared the cars/trucks to hit us.  I pictured the two of us diving into a ditch at the last minute to avoid an incident.  Honestly, the drivers were mostly polite and tried to pull over when they could.

Anyway, after trudging through what seemed like and endlessly long suburb, we made it to the dental appointment with 2min to spare!

While Mark had fun getting his tooth super-glued back in temporarily, I just waited in the waiting room wondering when someone would kick me out due to Covid rules or the stink factor. Mark already mention that we had worked up a little sweat as we walked into town. My conclusion…the French are beyond patient and kind.

After leaving the dentist office with only a 39euro dental bill, we headed in the direction of our lodging but got side tracked by a wine bar. Seriously, I think we deserve a glass of wine and some tapas after today’s 22.5 mile adventure. I mean, look at Mark’s smile. That smile says it all!

We hit up a grocery store moments before it closed and then finished our walk to the hotel. The hotel was near the train station and was an ExtendedStay type of place. Most of the clientele seemed to live there more permanently than two pilgrims and we felt a little out of place. Still, the room was clean and we were so tired we didn’t really mind.

Tomorrow is a rest day! This will be our first since Dover two weeks ago and although we don’t feel too bad I think some time to chill for a little while will be welcome. There is so much to see here. More about Reims tomorrow.

Day8 Canterbury To Dover … the Via Francigena begins.

Allison resting at lunch in Shepherdswell

Well, today is our first day on the Via Francigena.

Because all the lodging at the midway point of Shepherdswell (Siebertswold) were either full or no longer in operation, we had to convert the first two short legs into one long leg of 21.3mi. So…we are sore and tired this evening as I write this entry from the port city of Dover England.

But first is the account of our day…

We woke to thunder and rain in the forecast. The forecast, however, varied dramatically depending on which service you trusted. One said cloudy but decreasing chances of rain; the other said thunder and even hail from 70-90% chance.

So we had our hotel breakfast and then packed everything into waterproof bags and stuffed them in our backpacks*.

Heavy Continental

Next we donned our full rain gear (rain pants, rain jacket, waterproof socks etc). We said our goodbyes to Madeline and stepped out into a drizzle and under rumbling skies.

Ready for rain

It was fun to be walking in full rain regalia for the first time, but it quickly got too warm. The rain tapered off after the first mile or two and we packed up the rain jackets.

The trail between Canterbury and Dover is clearly less travelled than earlier sections. It is marked well enough I suppose, but we never would have made it without GPS or a good map. At points we even reverted to dead reckoning when the proposed path took us diagonally across a newly plowed field. The tractor, I suppose, had obliterated any signs of the footpath. Folks, I’m not talking about a 2acre field here but an enormous one that took us about 15min to cross. (See video). Other times we were in chest-high hay, the path all but obscured in a sea of waving sheaves.

They got much bigger than this!

It was odd to be walking without Madeline. She’d quickly become a part of our routine. But the length of the day and the terrain would have made it very hard for her damaged toes.

We passed the cute church at Womenswold but it was closed and we couldn’t find the keys that were described as available. As a result we didn’t get a pilgrim stamp there.

We made it to the mid way point that is typically the end of the first stage, Shepherdswell, and stopped there on a shaded bench on the village green.

Shepherdswell is the perfect tiny village. The village green sits right in the center of town with the church across the street, the pub and inn across the green from the church, and a few small businesses. But what made it perfect was listening to a wedding service taking place while we ate lunch. Mark really wanted to be able to get a pilgrim’s stamp there but we could not crash the wedding ceremony. So far, no stamps for the day.

Near Ethorne we left a brightly lit field and entered into some gloomy woods. As our eyes adjusted do the dark we found and odd site. In the overgrow grass was a tall tombstone. It stopped us in our tracks because it was such a surprise to see. A few steps farther through the tall grass we found others and then many others. Clearly we were in a graveyard but the darkness of the wood and the unkept grass made it eerie. Soon enough an old parish church came into view.

We had been thinking that it was a shame to have allowed the gravesite to be become so unkept. But then we saw a sign on the parish church board said that the gravesites were being intentionally left overgrown for a season to establish some environmental purpose and would be tended at the end of the summer.

Still the setting was apocalyptic. We took a moment to look at a few of the stones. One near the church entrance was particularly interesting for two reasons. The first was the inscription on the grave marker below. The second was the angle of the tree just above the grave i.e. horizontal trunk hovering inches above the headstone as if to keep it from rising!

A sad story.

Along the way we love to stop and chat with people we encounter. And today we were blessed to meet Nigel and Diane who are farmers. They enjoyed telling us that many years ago the Archbishop of Canterbury came to walk the Via Francigena trail. In preparation, the town had to spruced the trail up. Diane said it has never looked as good since. And Nigel jokingly added that even the grass was mowed because no one wanted the bishops’s cloak to get wet or dirty while he was walking. We had to say goodbye as we still had several miles to go or at least 4 miles.

Diane and Nigel

Finally, after cresting a little hill we could see Dover Castle. Dover is a steep city and after a long day it was a painful a downhill entry. To make life more interesting we had a little trouble finding our place of lodging at East Cliffs Road, Dover. We had to knock on a door to ask for assistance. The woman who came outside to help was not completely in touch with reality and wanted to know if we were reporters. My honest streak took hold and I said “no”. But I wonder what her reaction would have been if I said “oh yes”. She did point us in the correct direction. Another local couple helped us out by explaining that there were actually two East Cliffs Drives – an inner and an outer – who knew. Anyway, just around the corner the road continued and our place of lodging was just 3 buildings down.

Climbing the steeps steps up to our room was pretty much torture to our aching body parts. Our host Narata was very kind. She is from Lesotho and was sweet enough to wash our laundry for us. We will have to hang dry but that is better than smelly clothes. The little blessings are certainly adding up.

I know this is getting to be a long post but the evening just ended with a bang. Narata just knocked on the door brining up our twice spun clothes. She was also carrying tea service including some chocolate cake she had made. She said, “I know what it is like to be a pilgrim. I wanted to do something for you like I always wished for.” – Wow. Mind blown.

Narata’s Gift. I’m almost without words.

* For this pilgrimage neither of us brought pack covers. We’ve found they just don’t work well. If you are interested in what gear we brought with us, check out our Gear Review below:

Day6 Boughton Lee’s to Canterbury – Becket

What a beautiful day. The weather was dryer and just a bit cooler. The fact that we will arrive in Canterbury after a short 12mi walk also makes me feel happy. Better yet, we have a rest day planned there. And to top it all off, we will get to wash our clothes in a proper washing machine. Oh, the simple joys of pilgrim life.

Worn this morning to keep my ever growing coiffure dry.

As we started off from the Flying Horse, we walked through a wheat field of which I couldn’t stop taking pictures. The morning light and the sun played with the field in such a way that I just wanted to soak that moment in. I looked up after a bit and could barely see Allison and Madeline up ahead in the distance. I guess this moment was just for me. It was glorious.

<Allison> The first village we encountered was Chilham. There is even a castle here! Yes, you guessed it , Chilham Castle. The castle is actually privately owned and it’s for sale. Sorry, the price is no where near something that anyone I have ever known could afford. The village however was beautiful and quaint and friendly.

Just reflecting on our trip together -near Chilham

The next village we entered had a beautiful church and and a friendly lady to chat with She kindly showed us around Saint Mary’s church in Charlton. After she heard about our adventure, I think she was almost ready to pack her bags and travel with us. She promised to ask for prayers for us in the church’s newsletter. I thought that was really sweet.

<Mark> The walk toward Canterbury was serene. For the latter half of the day we walked alongside the River Stour. It was crystal clear and flowing along in a very British way; fast, but not overly so, gentle but purposeful.

<Allison> For lunch we found a sweet place by a lake in a grassy shaded field. We ate with the ducks who keep begging for food. It was a perfect spot, and the temperatures at mid day were actually enjoyable for the first time since we started hiking in England. Heat waves seem to follow us.

<Mark> We walked past a drake and a pen and seven signets along the Stour. We also met a nice couple on a bridge in Charlton just before Canterbury.

<Allison> Today’s hike was a short one at about 13 miles. Having a cooler day, plus a short one in mileage, was perfect! We made it into Canterbury!!!

The point we’re the North Downs way splits. One route to Dover and one to Canterbury.

<Mark> As we approached the city, all sorts of signs emerged to indicate this city’s Roman and Pilgrim past. History “popped”, as it were, and we felt the excitement of approaching a milestone.

<Allison> And the first thing we did was get our pilgrim passports stamped. Doing so has the side benefit of free-entry into the Cathedral. Being a pilgrim has side-benefits. So we will come back tomorrow for another official pilgrim blessing and to tour. Our next pitstop was to find a place to get a cold drink.

<Mark> A cold drink was excellent. But more memorable were Martin and his friend. These two gentlemen had already spent some significant time at the bar before we’d arrived. Martin was of particular interest to me. He was an Irishman by birth and had a good soul. He had had a recent tragedies in his family’s lives and seemed quite devastated by it. He seemed truly touched by the gift of a key and promised it would be treasured.

His friend was younger but also had had a tough childhood. Upon receiving his key, he told me no one had ever given him anything. He also seemed genuinely happy to have our simple gift.

Attempting to find our lodging turned out to be more difficult than we anticipated. We were actually following directions via google maps. But as we all know, the Google maps app is not infallible. A local gentleman heard us chatting while on his walk home. He interrupted his walk and led us to the entrance of our hotel. I am thankful for small blessings today.

Well I’m closing this blog entry at nearly 1am and I’ve made the decision to greatly scale back the entries. You’re all probably tired of reading all this content anyway. But for my own sanity and to enable me to function. I have to stop this.

I’ll still post, but it will be less content. The video compilations etc will have to wait for post-pilgrimage editing. I’m glad I did it through Canterbury at least. I’ll post one last compilation below.

<post Via note: Although I did scale back efforts, I also got a bit better at it and learned some tricks to speed up the uploads. As a result I was able to upload better video content later during the pilgrimage.>