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As I was leaving Espalion yesterday my eye was drawn to a character sitting drinking coffee with a dog by his side. Anja had talked about an Austrian pilgrim she had walked with for 10 days and who had a dog. It turns out it was the same guy, Valey:
We spoke for a while, swapped stories, and then I headed off on the path to the next town: Estaing.
The walk takes you through (mostly flat) beautiful countryside and the day was with blue sky and sun:
The way passes through a beautiful little village (the first one out of Espalion – I can’t remember the name now) and here there is a wonderful little Romanesque church with a tower you are invited to climb which leads to an upper altar chamber:
I reached Estaing at around 5-ish in the afternoon:
Yesterday I felt semi-intense hunger for the first time on my Camino and it felt good, resulting in my walking over 50km yesterday. When I reached Estaing I asked around at a few restaurants for some bread, but it was a no-go. Hungry, but full of energy, I pilgrimed on with my legs working on autopilot and walked right into the late evening to the little village of Golinhac. Be warned that the walk from Estaing is tough, with its steep and long ups and downs. As I approached Golinhac I was really damn hungry and I even tried eating grass to stave off the hunger pains, which of course didn’t work and only left a bitter taste in my mouth. I got to the church at Golinhac and decided to ask at the nearby restaurant if I could get some bread or something and popping my head into the kitchen window I asked the chef if I could have such a thing. One thing led to another and I was within 15 minutes being seated down in the restaurant with a knife and fork in front of me on the table. The wine list was brought to me and this raised alarm bells that I hadn’t explained clearly that I had no money, so I explained very clearly that I had no money. A little miracle happened and I was re-sat at a table by the kitchen and within a few minutes a delicious plate of food was brought out to me:
I tried to eat it slowly, but I couldn’t help myself woofing the whole thing down in a few minutes. Half way through the meal the chef brought over a half bottle of wine, left by another table, and gave it to me with a warm smile:
The translation of the name of the wine is the Way of the Pilgrims.
I also took a photo of the back of the bottle of wine which had filled my glass and which was going down smoothly into a stomach and soul which had resigned itself to a hungry night’s sleep:
I was then about to leave and give my eternal Thank You’s when the chef asked me to hold on and he then brought me out a plate of cheese, then followed by dessert:
When I left I asked to take a photo and was invited for a group photo. A very tired looking pilgrim with a group of wonderful people at Auberge La Bastide d’Olt in the village of Golinhac:
I then slept deeply and peacefully in my sleeping bag, under cover in the village:
This morning I woke up, ate the 3 pieces of bread which I took with me from the cheese plate in the evening and began the (power) walk to Conques:
I walked fast and strong.
Hunger gives you room for this strength; when you are hungry and you don’t know when your next food will appear your legs propel you forward towards that unknown next food goal.
A French woman on the way who I passed shouted out to me: “Saint Jacques Le Mans!” 🙂
I zoomed into the absolutely stunning village of Conques a few hours ago, and went to the monastery where I wangled a free night’s stay and where I was also given a picnic which I devoured on the steps of the church. I will head there shortly to go to my room, wash my clothes and rest.
My next update will be on my stay in Conques.