New Faces

Day 37 – Thursday, September 5 – Donnas to Ivrea – 25 km

I woke up at 5 something in a fair bit of pain. I took some meds, and I *almost* fell back asleep.  I think this is the third night in a row this has happened.

Today was shorter than the previous days, so I wasn’t in a huge rush to get out the door. Breakfast was amazing. I don’t see how she can afford to offer such a breakfast. Cereals, yogurts (and not the cheap ones), meats, real cheeses, focaccias, stuffed pastures, cookies, bread, preserves, juices, fruit, etc. There’s no way I could have tried everything and she certainly didn’t make much money off me. The price was 15 E. I asked if that was enough, and she said, “It’s the pilgrim price.” So very generous.

So last night I saw that Gavin had posted that they went up the cars to the Fort di Bard, and it was free! It never even occurred to me to try. I’m only a few k away, so I actually thought about going back this morning, but when I checked it said they didn’t open till 10. I’m glad it made the decision for me, because.. I didn’t really want to go back. And I’m glad I didn’t.

I started off about 8:20. It was a straight shot down the road for a couple of k to Pont St. Martin. Very cool! I took a few extra minutes to walk up on the bridge for extra pics. Totally worth it.

Then it was back on the via. I saw a couple a fair ways in front of me, but I didn’t know if I would catch them or not. I do think I met them later.

It followed main roads out of town, but then it started going up along side the mountain. It was some crazy stone steps. Natural rock steps going up along the vineyard terraces, so they weren’t even at all and pretty crazy. It kept going up from terrace to terrace, until at the top there was a little church, then down the other side. This side was a little more straightforward with the steps, but they weren’t exactly even, either.

After I stopped for a potty break, I was caught up by a couple walking together who had seen me a few times but we had never met. I don’t think I’d seen them. They said they saw me the first time leaving Aosta. Petra is from Holland, and Andrew is Canadian, originally from New Zealand? I think? But I also think he said something about being Scottish. I’m not really sure. I walked with them for a bit, and we lost track of the way we were supposed to be going. We weren’t too far off, though, so it was easy to get back on. We laughed about how that always happens. They were soon ready for a break, so I left them behind. 

It was more of the same. One village/town to the next, and then more crazy stone steps.

At the bottom of these steps I ran into Gavin and Jill again, and we had a nice little reunion. I walked with them for a bit until they passed a place they had been recommended to stop for lunch. I continued.

I think at this point we were out of the mountains. I could see the ends of the mountains coming up. Soon they will be completely behind us. It’s kind of sad.

Andrew, also, had mentioned how horrible the Po River Valley is and how everyone skips it. I really wonder if it’s really that bad. Do people think it’s bad because other people say that, then they repeat it? People said the same thing about the Meseta, but I loved the Meseta. I’m guessing this really is flatter than that. Still, it’s all part of the experience.

My day was starting to feel longer than anticipated, and my feet were really getting tired. I was starting to think about taking a small sit down break. There really wasn’t anywhere good. I did find a spot under a tree at a cross roads a bit outside of a town.

I was caught up by a couple, Rick and Frankie, from Spokane. We talked for a bit, then were caught by another couple, English, Alan and Beryl. They moved on, and I was ready to start walking by then. I walked with Rick and Frankie for an hour or so. 

We were remarking about how easy it was to follow the signs and how well everything was marked. After a while, Frankie looked at the app and exclaimed we were way off course. I checked mine, and sure enough, we were heading north east instead of south east. We were following the signs! So apparently the signs take you around a lake, and the app skips it. We decided to turn around and skip the lake. 

As we found our way back to the route on the app, we ran into Terri. At this point we were only a little over 2k away from Ivrea, but it was 2:30 and rain was expected around 3 ish. We could see the clouds coming. Terri and I were staying at the same hotel. She wanted to try to cut some distance by going a different route, and I decided to go marked way.

Terri got there right before I did.

I was looking at the weather and trying to figure out what to do. My feet hurt enough today that I decided I didn’t want to combine the days, and I would walk the 19k and 17k by the book. But even 19k in the rain is a lot. My app was saying 80-90% chance of rain from 11 pm tonight to 4 pm tomorrow. It could always be wrong, but if it’s not, that’s kind of a miserable day.

So I decided there was a reason I was too tired yesterday to make reservations. I checked at the desk to make sure staying an extra day was ok. So I will take a rain day tomorrow and then walk the 36k the next day as originally planned, so I won’t actually use a rest day. I’m not thrilled about walking 36k in one day (and it will probably be a few more since it’s never entirely accurate), but I would rather walk 36k dry than 19k wet. And right now my biggest concern is just getting over this chest cold. I’m still coughing and I don’t want to make anything worse. On my first Camino I got a chest cold that needed antibiotics after walking for several days in the rain. And the dr. Used the word “pneumonia” but I don’t know if that’s what they use for all chest infections, or if it was actually pneumonia. 

I had a bit of a language barrier with the owner of the hotel. He’s originally Chinese. I was trying to use google translate, since he knows no English, but it wasn’t working. I asked how early I can check out of the hotel, and he said 11. I asked when check out starts, and he said 11. He called his daughter who speaks English so she could translate. I told her I want to leave before breakfast. I think if I get an early start on the day I’ll feel better about things.

Gavin had asked earlier if I wanted to meet up for dinner. We arranged (with Terri and Marita also) to meet a pizza place Gavin’s hotel had recommended, at 6:45. It was closed. Apparently there had been a holiday and everything was still closed. We met at a cafe nearby and they all got drinks. We started to walk to another pizzeria nearby at 7:15, but it was also closed. We started walking to another one, but we were seriously in doubt of finding something open. It seemed like everything was closed.

It was open! But it was 8 before we were ordering. If I was walking tomorrow I would have been super stressed, but I decided to let it go since I was taking a rain day.

I got a pizza with Gorgonzola on it, but it honestly didn’t taste like much. I also got a side salad. It was fun to get together again. It might be the last time, but you never know.

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