Why did it take two months to complete our tale.
Short answer is LIFE.
As we got closer to Rome our social life picked up, we went out most evenings with other pilgrims and the blog took a back seat.
In Rome we got our Testimoniums from a very nice priest who pulled us out of the tourist line-up and made a bit of a fuss over us, which we had been told NOT to expect. So that was nice.
We also had dinner not once but twice with Kees, but ultimately had to say goodbye. His walk was not over.
After we left Italy I went to Croatia looking for some sun, which continued to evade me, and Rand went to England to walk the Cotswalds Way.
And after we got home to Vancouver we had six weeks of house, garden and pet issues to catch up on, friends to see, bills to pay!
So why now?
We are visiting family in the countryside and the weather (as everywhere we go, apparently) is “variable.” So there is time. And there is a desire for completion. And a tick off the list. There is guilt for having dropped the ball.
Mostly there is a desire to have a complete and accurate record of this adventure. We tried to include things we most wondered about when planning our trip. But our blog posts are for us first, and if it is interesting or useful to someone else that’s wonderful.
And a final reason is that our next walk is looming. In about 6 weeks we will be commencing the Pfalzer Weinsteig – an 11 day, fairly hilly walk in Germany’s Rhineland- Palatinate region. We planned this to coincide with the Wurst Markt (literally Sausage Festival – do not laugh) – held annually in Bad Durkheim.
Notwithstanding the name, this is actually Europe’s biggest wine festival. It’s like Octoberfest but with 2000 different wines.
We like wine. Not quite as much as beer, but we can be flexible. For me it would go Beer, then Wine then Sausage. For Rand it would go…hmm. well sausage would not be last anyway.
So if you like walking, Germany, wine, sausages or whatever, you may wish to follow along.
After our walk we will rent bicycles and ride around the Bodensee. Then we will do something else. It’s a surprise. For all of us.
Last thoughts on the Francigena
When to go
-We went in May and the weather was not what we hoped. Some other folks in blogland did the identical walk one month later. We were sometimes cold and they were sometimes hot. Read their adventures here and you can decide for yourself which is for you.
-The sooner you start walking the sooner you will have your legs in shape for summer back home.
-If you like wildflowers, then May is for you. I have never seen their equal.
-If the possibility of bedbugs wig you out, spring may be better than fall. A lot of people have slept in those hostel beds by September….
-If this is your big or only trip of the year, you may not want to find yourself wishing the summer away in anticipation.
-The tourist fatigue is likely less in the spring. Compared to other places we have travelled in recent years, the Italians did seem a little weary.
And some tips we haven’t seen rounded up elsewhere:
If you purchase a per day overseas extension for your current phone plan you will pay a lot more than necessary. Leave your sim card at home and buy one from Vodaphone on arrival in Italy. Haggle a little. We have had phone store guys offer us student rates when we made as if to shop around. Best deal was 20 Euro for 20 gigs of data for 30 days. About 100 minutes of phone for calling ahead for rooms. All you need. This time we bought Wind. It was less satisfactory when we changed countries.
Know what stinging nettles look like.
-Bring tweezers or a tick scoop and small amount of polysporin. A little goes a long way but you will likely need it. We always do.
-If you need sunscreen shampoo conditioner etc buy these at a grocery store or dollar store. You will pay triple at a pharmacy displaying a green cross in Europe.
Packing cubes are the bomb! Great way to keep your gear organized and easy to pack back up.
-The Italian postal service is quick and efficient. If your pack is too heavy, do a cull and send some stuff ahead for 10 euros or thereabouts.
-The part of this walk that we did was largely what would be considered a road walk. Farm roads, gravel roads and wider trails. Little need for a heavy hiking shoe.
-Baggage service is available but much more costly than in Spain and Portugal: 15 Euro a day for the first bag, less for the second.
-Look up how to drain a blister with a needle and cotton thread – brilliant!
-The Via Francigena is not the Camino. Similar but different so try not to compare if possible.
-See Rands post on Navigation, above
More as they occur to us.
Over and out! Thanks for reading.