Friday, June 12, 2009

Day Three: Arudy to Oloron Ste Marie

Father Piere asked us if we would like to have a blessing before we left so we met in a little room downstairs and sang from sheets of hymns and prayers. He said a special blessing - used by his parish for hundreds of years - and waved us off as we meandered down the now quiet streets of Arudy. It was cloudy and cool and we walked with Marie and Sebastien through fields, farms and small villages. We like to stop every 2 hours or so for a ´backpack´off and sit down for about 15 minutes but Sebastien suggested we continue on until lunch time. We reluctantly agreed but Val said that she would have loved to have stopped for a coffee at the little village we by-passed. I agreed,¨´We must walk our own camino´I said, Íts no good walking someone else´s camino. So, we decided from then on to stop when we wanted to and surprisingly, Marie and Sebastien agreed, stopping for a sit down when we suggested it.
We told Marie and Sebastien that we would stand them to dinner at a restaurant as a thank you for his cooking and Marie´s delicious churros. By the time we got to Oloron is had just started raining again. The Relais du Bastet is a nice new albergue (not yet in the guide books - - with beds instead of bunks, and we were in a 4-bed room with a pregrina from Argentina who got up at least 5 times during the night, started rattling plastic and zipping zips at about 5am.
I wanted to send an email home and buy a phone card so I walked in the rain about 2.5km to where the internet cafe was but, as it was a Monday (which is often a holiday in France) it was closed. Then I walked to the Tabbac which was in the other direction to the albergue, bought a card for Afrique du Sud and then half way back along the road to the Internet Cafe where the telephone box was only to find that the wretched card didn´t work. Grrrrrrr.....
When I got back to the albergue Sebastien offered to let me use his card to get started and so we walked all the way back to the telelphone where he inserted his card and I then continued using the codes from my card and, hey presto! I could phone home. We walked back to the albergue and Sebastien said that Eric (the hospitalero) had recommended a really nice resaurant. We followed him to a supermecado and had a look at the restaurant and on the way back we stopped at a little shop where we bought him a small clown doll as a gift.
Val will tell you about our wonderful dinner in Oloron.

Val - Minister of Nutrition
Good nights sleep and meet everyone in the kitchen where Pierre is making delicious coffee...really strong which is in a take your mug or bowl, pour some of the coffee into it and top up with hot water and hot milk. We use mugs but Sebastian, Marie and Pierre use bowls. We have bread and preserves - they dip their bread into their coffee. Then they have hot milk and Pierre brings out slabs of chocolate.
There is no charge for the accommodation or indeed the supper or breakfast, just a donation. We give a generous donation because despite the fact that we are not Catholics he has welcomed us with open arms. It doesn´t matter to him why we walk this route.
We have a lovely walk today with Sebastian and Marie, they are great Ambassadors for France, they are so kind and generous and we would definitely have been lost many times without their help...the maps and signs are poor. Sebastian also speaks Spanish and italian and English very well so this has been a great help. We come to a village square and I tread in a huge cow boot sinks in and almost disappears. "Oh" says Marion "that is so lucky", "Not for us, we have to walk with her" says Sebastian..."You are really in the sh...t now" says Syl and so the banter continues until we all retreat into ourselves and continue walking.
On our way to the restaurant, I buy a new stick, a wooden one to replace my special metal one.
We eat at a local hotel restaurant and have the menu of the house...Menu de LAuberge 13 euros and some of us have Menu Du Terroir 18 euros, Menu of the Territory...i.e. local. We all start with a soup, vegetables with a piece of meat, which is actually bone to flavour the soup. Syl has a salad as she is vegetarian. I have local trout, which is very small and white fleshed and to be honest not that much taste. Others have cold meats or salad. Sebastian has steak, Marion duck - a shoulder piece and I have confit of chicken...which was very good. Dessert is a suprisingly very good dark chocolate mousse.

A wonderful evening was had by all of us (last night). First at the fun fair and then the most delicious meal with the Priest. Lots of fun and laughter.
This morning we had breakfast with the Priest watched his cat and kittens playing and then off we were on our way.
Most of our walking today was through farm land, lots of corridors with greenery all around must have seen very shade of green their is. At times very muddy pathways and lots of cow dung, could hear lots of birds in the trees.
Whilst walking I heard a shriek!! Val had stepped into a huge dollop of cow dung - you should have seen her face - NOT A PRETTY PICTURE!!!
We saw a lot of different animals today, a woman feeding all her animals dogs, cats and chickens and a bunny rabit eating together with the chickens. Passed a pig farm and all the pigs came to the gate, ever so cute we all gave them a touch. At one stage we passed a field of work horses they were so beautiful as most of them were brown with beautiful blonde manes. They also came to the fence and Syl fed them bits of grass.

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