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Thursday, April 12, 2012


SATURDAY, April 7, 2012, 10:16 AM
It is almost time to leave on for Europe this year.  The plane ticket has been purchased from Phoenix on May 9 to Huston and then on to Heathrow arriving 8:30am on May 10.   After arriving in Salisbury, via Bus around 1 pm, I’ll walk a couple of blocks to the bike shop where my bike is stored.   After adjusting my panniers and picking up a few things at Poundland, and visiting my friends at the Salisbury International Festival office, it will be off to the rail station and a train to Portsmouth arriving around 7 pm.  Once there it will be time to have some dinner at a local Witherspoon pub before heading to the L & D Ferry terminal.  At 11 pm, the ferry will transport me across the English Channel arriving in Le Havre around 8:30 am.  From the ferry terminal, I will rush to the rail station and jump on a train to Paris where meeting up with Lisa at the hotel we booked.  WHEW!

Well that is the plan up to Paris anyway; we will see how the whole thing comes off.   The rest of the plan is to spend three days poking around Paris before heading to St Jean Pied de Port, France.   Upon arriving in St. Jean, we will begin our pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago, or The Way.   Well maybe not immediately as we will spend the night in St. Jean and then begin our trek over the Pyrenees.  Lisa has rented a bike to be delivered to Roncesvalles which is the second stop on the Camino.  This means I’ll be riding and she will be walking from St. Jean to Roncesvalles a distance of 15.6 miles up Pyrenees and then down.  We will be start at 594ft climbing to 4719ft before descending to Roncesvalles at 3036ft; what goes up must come down.

All this planning has taken some getting used to as I do not do a lot of planning before leaving on my travels.   Usually I show up at the “Inn” and if there is no room move on.  This has worked well for the first five years but, when Mark began traveling with me it was difficult for him to deal with at times.  After the first year, in which it was, in my head, Mark coming on MY TRIP, it moved to OUR TRIP.  Which mean doing planning with Mark on what, when, where, and how.  Since we have different expectations of how the trip would progress it caused some tense moments.  Last year we had MY TRIP, HIS TRIP, and OUR TRIP which seemed to work out fairly well.  The exception was that HIS TRIP caused me a great deal of worry.  Over the last few years then I have become somewhat less protective of MY TRIP and more open to OUR TRIP but, not thrilled with HIS TRIP.  So traveling with Mark has put me a bit more at ease with doing some preemptive planning which relives the stress of those who need to know the what, when, where, and how.  Once on my own I’ll return to “by the seat of my pants” touring.  Truth is that having a riding companion for the past three years, despite the times of tension, has been quite fun.  Mark presents will be sorely missed, once Lisa heads home, as he will not be going this year.

Lisa and I are now looking at Hostels in Paris for our three day stay.  There are some, quite pricey, that get great ratings.  Other less expensive Hostels are not so good in the rating department.  I’m still considering camping in one of the two campgrounds right on the outskirts of Paris.  Also in the planning stage are the procuring rail tickets from Paris to St. Jean.  Which will also, somewhat, dictate where we will stay as the train we’ll be taking leaves Paris at 8:25am.  I’ll need to ride to the train station, Gare, while Lisa will use the cab, bus or walk.  The train ride appears to be 6 hours with one change in Bayonne.   The plan is to arrive in St. Jean Pied de Port on May 14thand begin the Camino on the 15th.  We will attempt to reach Santiago de Compostela, by May 30th .  From there Lisa will head back to Madrid, while I head to Bilbao, Spain and then on to a few days riding in France.  My desire is to eventually ending up in Calais and a short channel crossing back to England and the white cliffs of Dover.  Now this plans my change because my friend Gary may meet me somewhere along the Camino or elsewhere.  Gary may be in Germany working which, if it happens, will end just as Lisa will be heading to Madrid.  We’ll see how this works out. 

I have begun to pack my panniers, which serve as a suitcase, with much less then ever taken before.  There is a new Exped micro sleeping pad which takes up much less room and weight.  I’ll be taking fewer clothes then in prior years, in addition to less bike parts.  I have renovated my handle bar bag making it much more stable on the bike as I ride.  There is a new bike trunk which serves as a food holder.  My tent has a vestibule which almost doubles its size, which I will not be taking this year.  Last year my bags weighed in at 47 pounds.  Hopefully this year they will weigh in at 38 pounds.

I look forward to spending time with Lisa on OUR TRIP, as she is a good friend.  As I write this, find myself being sad that my best friend and I will not be traveling together on OUR TRIP this year.

Thursday, April 12, 2012, 12:22 PM

Quick up date as some things have been reconciled.  We have booked a hotel, not hostel, about three blocks from the train station in Paris.  This will leave us free to roam about Paris most of the 11th, all day on the 12th and 13th, then not have to rush across town for our early train, which also has been booked.  Lisa is about to jump out of her skin, no longer wanting to work, but talk about the trip and what we’ll do and see.  So the pilgrimage is taking on a life of it’s own…