May 1st 2012
Pulled back the curtains and the rain had stopped when we got up this morning. What a great start to May and most things were dry – good omen for the day ahead.
As we walked through Nogaro on our way to the boulangerie and then out, we passed lots of stalls selling little posies of lily of the Valley, a traditional activity on May 1st. This is one of the things I love about walking in different countries, finding out about and experiencing local cultures.
About 4 kms into today’s walk we stopped at a lovely little church called L’Eglise de Lanne- Soubrian. There was a large sheltered porch so a great stop to stretch and to have water and a snack. As we sat there a couple of local man arrived and we got into conversation wit them, one even went off to his car and brought us biscuits, so sweet.
although there was a fair amount of road walking today it was great to come across some drier areas on the path although the mud hadn’t disappeared.
Lunch today seemed to be a long time coming and the kms were taking a while to be put in but when we did stop, we did so by a church where there were toilets, shaded picnic tables and over looking tennis courts, so civilised. We were the only ones there so plenty of room to spread out and really relax as we feasted on the wonderful sandwiches we’d had made that morning. Again, food ate in the outdoors is always so delicious.
Leaving the church, our path took us downhill but then fairly soon after we were climbing again and walking through the vineyards of St Mont with it’s very distinctive sign. In fact we were to see that sign quite often as the day went on. As well as the vineyards, we were taken through a long road bit, luckily with very little traffic but at this point the weather had clearly changed and it was very hot and there was little shade. We saw a glider being towed and then released and for ages after watched the journey of the glider as it rode the currents in the clear blue skies above.
Further along the road and we turned off, this time on a path along the railway line where thankfully there was a little more shade and here we came across an oasis of a bench, shade, water and the opportunity to add another passport stamp – three this section and never before.
Today was seeming like a long walk so 2.5 miles further on we were delighted to move away from the railway and to spot one of our beloved distance signs telling us that it was now only 5km to Aire sur Adour and 3 to Barcelonne-du-Gers. The path was another very straight one, mainly grassy but that also meant mud and water and as you can see, at one point, we had no choice but to wade through – wet feet yet again!
Now we were into Barcelonne-du-Gers and houses and shops and beer was beckoning, to slow us down I realised that I’d dropped my hat and I am actually rather fond of it so I left my day pack with Teresa and walked back delighted to find it laying on the pavement. Not long now and then earlier than we thought we came across our hotel. Rather strange people in charge but our room was fine so after dumping all our belongings and getting rid of the wet shoes and socks, we headed out to explore and to find that beer.
One thing we wanted to do was just check out train times for our return journey so we asked at reception about the station (we’d seen the sign for it), only to be told that it had been closed for about two years. So why then does the World Walks site tell you can get a train from the station and why also does the SCNF website give you train times. The lady at the hotel said we could get a bus from there so we went to check and a good thing too because none of the buses, and they were few from there, went where we needed them to go!!. The tourist office…..so that was the next planned stop. Thankfully the info from there was clearer so we managed to find out times and also the location from where the bus left. Progress……at last we could go for a beer and we found a sunny spot where we could relax and people watch. Two women appeared and sat close by looking very well turned out even though it was fairly clear that they were on the Camino, definitely French.
Tonight dinner was not at the hotel but at a restaurant in town which was actually across from where we had enjoyed our beer and we decided at this point just to go for dinner as we were. All the pilgrims were in there – the Dutch couple who ended up being brother and sister, the English guy, a few others we recognised and the two French ladies who came to say ‘hi’. They were just starting from here so I guess we won’t see them again as they will always be ahead of us.
Dinner was great – Vermicelli soup, beef casserole and lemon meringue pie washed down with a bottle of St Mont wine, a medal winner in 2011 and very appropriate as we walked through these vineyards. As they went to leave the Dutch couple came to speak to us and we talked about the session we’d just walked. There’s always something quite sad about the farewell.
Once back at the hotel we sorted our bags, had a bath and stretched our legs out up against the wall and lights out after 11.00.