Camino de Santiago turned bicycle fundraiser for KWF

Louis de Bruijn & Pia Holbeck | Sept. 29, 2022 | #camino #santiago #KWF #bicycle #sabbatical #1735 km

September 9th, we cycle from Amsterdam to Santiago de Compostela to raise money for cancer research. This is our contribution.
Will you help us?

Raised: €3016

Goal: €5000

Letztes Wochenende feierten wir den 30. Hochzeitstag von Mama und Papa. Bei einem guten Wein kamen wir auch auf dich zu sprechen und wie schön es doch wäre dich dabei zuhaben.

Meine ersten Berührungspunkte mit dem Thema Krebs machte ich in einem sehr jungen Alter, weshalb ich mich nicht mehr an all zu viele Dinge erinnere. Was jedoch nach einem Verlust bleibt, ist die Schwere der Trauer, die von all jenen die dich liebten getragen wird. Das zweite mal direkten Kontakt zu Krebs hatte ich, als Mama mir erzählte, dass sie Brustkrebs hat. Diesmal nahm ich es sehr viel bewusster wahr. Nach einem Dreiviertel Jahr wurde sie von den Ärzten als geheilt erklärt. Was noch geblieben ist, sind die jährlichen Untersuchungen, das ängstliche abwarten der Ergebnisse danach und ein Moment das Leben zu zelebrieren.

Bald beginnt die langersehnte Reise, diesmal nicht als Digital Nomad sondern als waschechter Nomad mit 15 Kilo Gepäck aufgeteilt auf 4 Taschen und 5 Wochen. In Amsterdam trete ich die Pilgerreise zusammen mit Pia an. In Spanien werden uns Papa und Aag noch für eine Weile begleiten.

Inspiriert durch Papa und Max, die Anfang Juni die Alpe d'Huzes mit ihren Fahrrädern bestiegen um Geld für KWF zu sammeln, starten wir nun unsere eigene Kampagne. Am 9. September 2022 fahren wir mit dem Fahrrad von Amsterdam bis Santiago de Compostela. Wir pilgern den Jakobsweg um Geld für die Krebsforschung zu sammeln. Hilfst du uns dabei?

Map
Route
Stops along our trip 1735 km
# Start location End location Date Mode Duration Distance
1 Gerard Doustraat, Amsterdam, Netherlands Braamweg, 3768 Soest, Netherlands Sept. 8, 2022 bicycling 2 hours 25 mins 45.2 km
2 Braamweg, 3768 Soest, Netherlands 4849 Dorst, Netherlands Sept. 9, 2022 bicycling 4 hours 55 mins 90.1 km
3 4849 Dorst, Netherlands Mechelen, Belgium Sept. 10, 2022 bicycling 4 hours 17 mins 83.4 km
4 Mechelen, Belgium 9500 Geraardsbergen, Belgium Sept. 11, 2022 bicycling 3 hours 18 mins 63.2 km
5 9500 Geraardsbergen, Belgium 59230 Rosult, France Sept. 12, 2022 bicycling 3 hours 14 mins 63.5 km
6 59230 Rosult, France 02100 Saint-Quentin, France Sept. 13, 2022 bicycling 4 hours 29 mins 81.9 km
7 02100 Saint-Quentin, France 60200 Compiègne, France Sept. 14, 2022 bicycling 4 hours 15 mins 79.1 km
8 60200 Compiègne, France 95640 Bréançon, France Sept. 15, 2022 bicycling 4 hours 30 mins 82.2 km
9 95640 Bréançon, France 28130 Maintenon, France Sept. 16, 2022 bicycling 4 hours 36 mins 79.4 km
10 28130 Maintenon, France 28000 Chartres, France Sept. 17, 2022 transit 1 hour 2 mins 19.1 km
11 28000 Chartres, France 28200 Châteaudun, France Sept. 18, 2022 bicycling 2 hours 20 mins 45.3 km
12 28200 Châteaudun, France Tours, France Sept. 18, 2022 transit 4 hours 50 mins 95.1 km
13 Tours, France 17100 Saintes, France Sept. 19, 2022 transit 12 hours 27 mins 237 km
14 17100 Saintes, France Soulac-sur-Mer, France Sept. 20, 2022 bicycling 2 hours 54 mins 55.1 km
15 Soulac-sur-Mer, France 33680 Lacanau, France Sept. 21, 2022 bicycling 3 hours 45 mins 74.1 km
16 33680 Lacanau, France 33770 Salles, France Sept. 22, 2022 bicycling 3 hours 13 mins 61.9 km
17 33770 Salles, France 40110 Onesse-Laharie, France Sept. 23, 2022 bicycling 3 hours 8 mins 61.9 km
18 40110 Onesse-Laharie, France 40100 Dax, France Sept. 24, 2022 bicycling 2 hours 13 mins 43.2 km
19 40100 Dax, France 64120 Saint-Palais, France Sept. 25, 2022 bicycling 2 hours 52 mins 52.9 km
20 64120 Saint-Palais, France 64220 Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France Sept. 26, 2022 bicycling 1 hour 54 mins 30.4 km
21 64220 Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France 31650 Roncesvalles, Navarre, Spain Sept. 27, 2022 bicycling 2 hours 34 mins 27.4 km
22 31650 Roncesvalles, Navarre, Spain Pamplona, Navarre, Spain Sept. 28, 2022 bicycling 2 hours 31 mins 47.5 km
A Pamplona, Navarre, Spain 31200 Estella, Navarre, Spain Sept. 29, 2022 bicycling 2 hours 53 mins 45.3 km
B 31200 Estella, Navarre, Spain Logroño, La Rioja, Spain Sept. 30, 2022 bicycling 2 hours 58 mins 49.2 km
C Logroño, La Rioja, Spain 26213 Leiva, La Rioja, La Rioja, Spain Oct. 1, 2022 bicycling 3 hours 26 mins 60.4 km
D 26213 Leiva, La Rioja, La Rioja, Spain Burgos, Spain Oct. 2, 2022 bicycling 3 hours 27 mins 62.5 km
Journey

Follow us our daily adventures along the trip.

Soest to Dorst: Crossing rivers

Today we started our trip towards Santiago. We woke up around 630AM and I checked this website to see if everything looked okay, because I didn’t want to bring my laptop on the journey. I found a bug and at 7AM you could see me behind my laptop fixing it.

The plan was to leave around 8AM, which obviously did not happen. Pap and mam had come a day earlier from their holiday to have dinner with us on Thursday and Anet had planned to wave us goodbye in the morning. Around 830AM we were having breakfast at the dining table in Soest. Max had also come home late at night and I had heard him make a sandwich in the midst of the night after having drinks in Delft that evening. We woke him up to also say our goodbyes.

At 9AM, we sat on our bicycle and after a great fotoshoot of Anet we were on our way to our first stop in Dorst. I had messaged my cousin Eline to ask whether she knew somebody around her hometown Breda that could host us for the first nights. Gracefully so, her father Koen and Saskia could host us in Dorst, a town slightly north of Breda. Perfect for our first day! It would be around 85km (or so we thought), which would be a stretch for the first day, but the anticipation of a familiar face and a comfortable setting could exceed that by far.

The start of the day was filled with rain and clouds. Today would be mark a day of water, both from the sky and from the land. After crossing the Lek it started raining, and we switched from our shorts and sweaters into our rain gear and technical pants. It was all good fun, until also the wind joined in. After about a 2 hour ride I noticed that my left cheek had to endure much more pain than my right one, and after about an half hour of continuing we decided that my seat was slighty pointed to the right, an issue that I would attribute to the bikeshop that did the checkup the day before. After changing it, it gradually became easier, or better said my asscheeks were starting to hurt equally.

During the morning we made a pit-stop at what seemed to be a kringloopwinkel along the way. The man opening the door told us about the Vrienden op de Fiets initiative, which is a collection of addresses where bikers can stay overnight for a small fee.

We arrived around 1 for our lunch in Gorinchem and by then were quite cold and wet. We couldn’t find a place inside as alll restaurants in the main square were booked for lunch. Who would had thought that you have to reserve your lunch in Gorinchem?

Our lunch break turned into a lunch sabbatical, as we sat for nearly 2hours having fries, tosti’s, latte machiato’s and the like. I guess neither of us were ready to get back on the bike again. When we finally did at 3PM, I was feeling grumpy that we had missed a chunk of the day as we still had ~40km to go.

The bikemap that we used showed us a way via a ferry from Gorinchem to Sleeuwijk over the Boven Merwede waterway, saving us the time (and energy) to go up the Merwede bridge with the A27 and down again. Already slacking on the first day.. During the afternoon we would find ourselves also crossing the Bergsche Maas waterway, which showed us the quite literally the ups and downs of the Netherlands.

Fast-forward to arriving in Dorst around 1715PM. Finally we made it! We had a good shower and prepared ourselves for dinner. I went down to the shop with Pia to buy a toothbrush and lunch for tomorrow. I was adamant our first lunch should be boursin, cucumber and the bread we would buy at the bakery in the morning, a reminiscence from the long-distance bicycle trip to Paris I did with Anet in my teens.

Koen was very knowledge-able on bicycles and gave us a helpful hand in practices and checking our two-wheelers. My bidon holder had broken down somewhere during the day and he found a way to fix it again, many thanks for that.

We had a very nice vegetarian dinner with Koen and Saskia and a great night of sleep. On to more adventures tomorrow!

Dorst to Mechelen: Riddled with mistakes

This morning Koen and I went to bakkery to get bread for breakfast and for lunch, which turned out to be the first of many mistakes today, more on that later. We had breakfast with Koen and Saskia around 815AM and got ourselves ready to leave around 915AM.

Before leaving, Pia had adjusted the height and the angle of the seat, our second mistake that day. Koen had tipped us the evening before that Pia’s seat might be too high and had already moved it down 1cm. We didn’t know this yet. On top of that, when moving the seat it went to out and there was no way to trace back where it had been before we started fiddling with it.

We rode for about 15 minutes when I noticed a ticking sound coming from my bicycle and after some stopping and going, we could not figure out where it came from. When riding through Ulvenhout we passed a bikeshop and I went in to have my bike checked out. My right pedal was making the ticking sound and I had then replaced. I did keep the old ones, because I am stingy, so I will now carry four pedals to Santiago de Compostela.

During the morning I signed up for the Vrienden van de Fiets, which we had learned about yesterday and started calling addresses in Mechelen for our stay this evening. After about 3 phone calls we got lucky and found a stay with a couple that had hosted pilgrims and bikers for over 18 years. It was not long after when we passed our first border into Belgium! It made me realize that the Netherlands is just a tiny speck in the route, and already we have so many cultural differencee over a stretch of land of only around 200km.

We went on our merry way on to Mechelen, a ride of around 77km, or so we though. For the first two days we had started riding on our bikemap, showing us a route that was not entirely along fast moving ways, but pretty much. As we passed Rijkevorsel and had ridden along a roadside bikepath on an N-way where cars can go 80km p/h, we had had enough of this road and though there should be a better way.

Finally we caved for the Clemens routes to Santiago, purchasing them in an app for €4. The app is outdated and the route is sub-optimal to use for navigation compared to our previous bikemap, but at least it was showing us a more peaceful and beautiful road along the countryside instead of highways. Here we also saw our first Camino de Santiago signs, indicating that we were indeed onthe right path.

This did however mean more kilometers along the route, about 10km more. Adding 10km to a 70km trip, is quite a lot and turned out to be on the verge of our limits.

We had lunch and I wipped out the bread I had freshly bought in the morning and two sauasage breads, a local Brabantse delicassy. Pia was more than dissapointed with the quality of the bread, which led to a fruitful discussion of lunch with shitty bread, boursin cream cheese and cucumber in the rain.

After lunch Pia’s knee started hurting more, and we still had another 40km to go. At least it stopped raining a bit and the road was nicer to travel on that we had seen in the morning and the day before.

As Pia’s knee became more and more agitated, she also started slowing down more, and by doing so getting on my nerves. We needed to keep going if we were to make it before dinner.

The last 10km we die about 12km an hour, but we did make it. We arrived at our guest house and unloaded our stuff, took a shower and went into the city for food. In the evening we were so knackered from the ride, that everything felt like a foggy memory. We had dinner at a vegan restaurant, walked through the city for a bit and went to sleep. Breakfast would be at 9AM today to give some moretine for resting our bodies.

Mechelen to Geraadsbergen: Chasing the sun

The trend of the morning departures has been to leave every day a bit later than the last. This morning we left at 1015AM after having our breakfast at the host family. For the last two days we had been meaning to get a stamp in our pilgrimage booklets and as Mechelen is the host of the Belgian pilgrimage, it would be a great start to get one at the cathedral in the city. However, when we arrived around 1030AM, Sunday mass had started and we had missed our opportunity.

Pia’s knee was still hurting, but this morning we had managed to set her bicycle seat in the correct way with some guidance from Jos, who hosted us this night. The weather forecast for the day looked promising and also our bike route looked promising. There was an opportunity for Pia to get on the train and with a distance of 66km, it was much less than the previous days.

After a dissapointing start of the morning we set of to Geraadsbergen, where we had booked an overnight in the city centre before breakfast. We had bought lunch at three different bakeries, as none of them had fully replenished our taste for good bread after yesterday’s disaster.

Today was a very comfortable day with very good bicycle paths, sunny overcast weather and a ride alongside the Dender river forthe last 30km of the day. We even had an icecream along the road. It seems like we have left the clouds and rain in the Netherlands and are moving towards brighter skies in France!

We arrived at the earliest hour so far, around 1615PM in Geraadsbergen and took the opportunity to visit the tourist center for our first stamp. After a hot shower we took some time to relax and catch up on writing the last day’s blogs and finding, evaluating and making a reservation for dinner and tomorrow’s stay.

As this would probably be our last day in Belgium, I wanted to have dinner at a Frituur, where I ordered the double-fried standard French fries with beef stew and Pia had a pizza. We would keep the leftover pizza for lunch tomorrow. In Geraardsbergen we also got to see the original Manneke Pis.

Geraadsbergen to Rosult: Two down, two to go

This morning we woke up at 645AM and were ready to leave our pitoresque room in the centre of Geraadsbergen by 8AM, a first! We made a stop at the local market and a bakery to get our smosjes for lunch. Today we decided to start biking early and do our breakfast on the road.

We followed the river down in the direction of Tournai in hopes of getting our second stamp of the trip. As we had awoken early, we were riding along countryside that had just awoken in mist and morning dawn. We took some amazing pictures.

Pia’s knee remained a topic of the day, but she perceivered through and it felt just as good/bad as on yesterday’s ride, which felt promising. Soon we turned away from the river to get our first taste of Belgium’s hills, as our bike guide was smart enough to make us avoid the infamous Ardennen. In total we would climb 345m today, which made us realise that we were leaving the flatlands of the Netherlands and Flanders far behind.

Soon enough the first passers-by would greet us with bonjour instead of hallo. The landscape changed from green, water-filled pastures to golden-covered fields on on sides of the hills around us. At the end of the morning we had silently crossed to border into France. Two countries down, another two to take forward.

Just before lunch we approached Tournai and we made a quick stop to fill Pia’s rear tire up with air and put a little oil on her chain. As we rode into the city centre, we noticed there was a market and the city was filled with street vendors and a crowd passing through the streets.

Unfortunately the tourism office was closed due to the local market and we couldn’t find the priest at home in the enormeous cathedral in the city. We rode to a bench just outside of the city centre to have our lunch.

After lunch we had done about 55km, which was a great headstart into our day. We needed a little over 20km more to our destination, a small cottage in the middle of nowhere in the Parc naturel régional Scarpe-Escaut. We chose this location instead of the closest, somehwat larger town, Saint-Amand-les-Eaux, because we found it to be too far off our route. The name of the B&B is named La Vache Rousse, and we can highly recommend it!

When we arrived around 3PM, we had plenty of time to pick up a stamp at the local townhall. We installed ourselves in our room and took a shower. Unknown to us the entire province closed down its restaurants on Monday, and we were forced to visit Saint-Amand-les-Eaux nonetheless. Getting on the bicycle again after an almost 80km day, proved to be a hurdle. Unfortunately we could not find any food delivery services around, and the prospect of eating muesli bars for dinner did not seem to appealing. Off we were to add another 12km to our day.

By the time we were here, the tourism office had closed it doors and as it turns out, also in the locallly largest town many business close their doors on Monday.

Luckily there’s a big fast food chain starting with Burger and rhyming with Ting around 1,5km away. As you can notice, by now we’re counting our kilometers by the meter, avoiding doing too much at any costs.

Let’s see what dinner brings and what local delicacies we can acquire for lunch tomorrow.

Rosult to Saint-Quentin: Downhill races

Today we have quite a trip ahead of us of around 90km to Saint-Quentin, so we decided to sleep early and wake up early. Breakfast at 730AM. We went to the bakery around the corner and bought some bread and sweet pastries for lunch.

The breakfast at La Vache Rousse was amazing and the host was very accomodating to our vegetarian diet. He served homemade yoghurt and homemade fig marmelade, which was delicious. We set out around 815AM on the road, in the rain.

The day was filled with rain and clouds. I had some issues arranging my mirror in the correct place, which led to us stopping in the rain about 5 times before lunch, pleasing Pia the upmost. Not nearly as bad as the mistake with the bread I must say though.

Our first real stop was Cambrai at 40km, where I had new air pumped into my tires and we visited the Decathlon to shop around. Pia got a taste of the infamous French language-barrier, when she approached a storage clerk in English, who could only respond by throwing her hands in the air and walking away.

The day was filled with sights of cemeteries of victims of the 1st and 2nd World War, among those also Canadian. There were several new sightings of Santiago de Compostela signs with the well-known St. Jacques shell. We also saw multiple French baguette vending machines outside of bakeries or even in seemingly random crossroads of suburbian areas.

Today was another day of hills, about double what we got to yesterday. Pia’s knee is improving, but by the end of the morning it came back up. Especially during our uphill battles, the aching feeling returns. By the beginning of lunch the rain had stopped.

On the flip-side of uphill battles are the downhill races. Two times were particularily long downhill stretches, and I clocked in a whopping 58.5km p/h (yes with a helmet, mum).

While Pia was very joyful in the morning and I was much more moody, that had changed by the end of lunch. The hilly landscape did not seem to go away, and neither was the ache. Pia pushed through and kicked back a few gears, to absolve her knees from impact and let the quadriceps do the work. Thanks to Pia for knowing what and where a quadricep is.

It was a great day for our pilgrim passes as I had really gotten the hang of it and collected three stamps along the mayor’s houses of villages we passed. Because we had awoken early, we were also able to pick one up in St. Quentin at the end of our trip, which beared the St. Jacques shell.

Rosult to Compiègne: Silence

After breakfast we set out on our trip of around 75km. As Pia’s knee was a little worse yesterday than the day before, I took a bit more luggage from her into my bags. At 815AM we were on the bike and away, in the rain.

Riding through the otherwise sunkissed fields of golden-coloured mais, was now a dark and cloudy wet mess. We both have pretty good rain-gear, but forgot to coat Pia’s rainjacket with anti-rain spray before the trip and would easily let through drips of rain.

To pass the time we did our check-in, which was unfortunately cut short abruptly in a fall-out. It would be a quiet day for both of us. I counted the words and came to a mere total of 32 by the time we arrived in Compiègne. Pia rode through the fields with her music and I was listening to the songs through her re-enactement of each syllable in the verses.

Since we barely had breakfast this morning, only the left-over madelins and lemon meringue tartes from last nights desserts, by 1030AM (40km) I was quite hungry and decided to go for an early brunch. It had stopped raining for a bit and I used this window of opportunity to stock up on energy.

After a quick brunch it started raining again and we continued on our merry way. Around 1230PM we had done 55km and Pia was getting hungry, time for lunch. I noticed the extra weight in my bags every hill we did and it was starting to get to my knees. Time for a break indeed.

We had lunch in a busstop to shelter from the rain. Several dishes were served. One course was my personal favourite: the classic cucumber, boursin, baguette. Another would be the left-over Indian from yesterday’s dinner and a third was sweet pastries. A side of fruits: some pears we plucked along the way and an overdue apple.

After lunch the sun came out and as it was getting warm quick, I removed everything but the biker shorts and a t-shirt. Sunscreen on my milk-white thighs and we were ready to go. I followed Koen’s tip of kicking back one gear, to release some pressure on the knees to avoid getting hurt.,It would be another 30km of hills before we would get to our destination, but with an average of 17km an hour, we arrived just before 2PM. A premier!

We checked into the smallest room of our budget hotel that we could afford on our budget. It’s equally large as my room in Amsterdam, so nothing too bad. Also it’s the first shower we’ve had that actually works well.

After a quick shower we decided to do a wash, the next 20 words of the day, and I hopped into the lavarette washing service a few streets down. I honestly think this is the first time I’ve done this. I waited for 40min as the wash was done and we hung it all over our room. Hopefully it will be dry by tomorrow.

Pia had mentioned during the trip (8 words) that whenever she switches gears, it takes a while for the gear to kick-in. As we did not want to take any risks, we brought it to a réparateur de vélos to have it checked out. In my best French I was explaining that there’s something with the chain and the casette to change gears.

The verdict was simple. Both were worn out and needed to be replaced. With a little disbelief, but also tiredness of the day, we contemplated. Pia had her bicycle checked out just before the trip, it could not be the case that they had missed that, right? We asked for other options, but there seemed to be no alternative.

He asked us whether the bike is ridden like this or with bags. Without hesitation I blurted “without bags”, considering most of the weight of Pia’s luggage was in mine. Something to laugh about later.

We asked how long it would take to repair it, and there was a shift in the demeanour of the clerk. One week he said. A little bit defeated we left the store. By now the other bike shops in town had closed their doors, and we weren’t sure what to do next.

I started Google translating a storyline and with my best French called the next bike repair shop on our route. After some back and forth, they said they had a chain and casette in store and we could come by tomorrow to have it checked out. Let’s see if there are more turns in this tale..

Compiègne to Bréançon: The one-legged pirate

Today was an eventful day. We woke up around 7AM, checked that our washed clothes were dry enough and made ourselves ready for the trip. After a stop at the bakery we got pastries for breakfast and I got a sandwich for lunch. As we were getting further into France, the vegetarian options seemed more and more limited, so Pia opted for a cheese quiche instead.

A little after 8AM we were on our bicycles and off to our first stop, the bike repair shop I had called yesterday to check if they could fix Pia’s bicycle. It was a peaceful morning and the around 1030AM we arrived. The owner was very kind and remarkably spoke a few words English and could understand and explain well. He rode on the bicycle for a bit, as did Pia while I ate my sandwich.

He said we would only need to replace the chain, and charged Pia a mere €13 for it. Much less than the €85 we had been quoted at the bike shop in Compiègne. I think he liked the fact that we were crazy enough to bike the chemin du st. Jacques. All in all, the whole ordeal took less than 30 minutes and back on our bikes we were.

The weather was great and just before lunch we got to experience some of France’s hilly landscape. It was by far the toughest hills we’d had seen, and it makes me wonder whether we should revise the blog of a few days ago. Now things seemed to get really serious.

By lunchtime around 1330PM we were in Méru and had already done 68km, which was a great stretch of the >85km day we had planned. We took our in the sun, picked up a stamp for our pilgrim’s pass and by 1430PM we were on our way. There were still some hills to come and also around 2hours of biking on the clock.

But then we reached a breaking point. Although Pia’s knees had been doing great yesterday and today conquering the hills we had behind us, after lunch it snapped. We had crossed the boundaries this time and it wasn’t looking good.

We were stranded around 4km from Méru and 12km from our destination. Pia did not seem comfortable riding any further, leaving us at a crossroad of options. Walking back would take a little over an hour, and then a train could take her to Paris, to meet me tomorrow at the next stop in Maintenon. Or maybe even a day after that in Château-Renault. We could continue walking further, which would take ~3hours.

We stood there for a bit reviewing our options. We had decided to continue forward, changing bikes as my bike was lighter than Pia’s. We moved all the bags to Pia’s bike. Fortunately for us, the road was mainly downhill, and Pia could sit on the saddle riding down.

For the parts of the road that we had to bike, she would use her left leg for the peddling and the right foot only moving down. As you can imagine, this option was sub-optimal. After about an hour-ish of continuing we made it to our destination. The host would only arrive by 1815PM from work, so we were even an hour early.

Luckily there was a bath and Pia (and me) took a long bath to soothe the muscles. As there are no restaurants around our sleeping place, I bought pasta and a jar of pesto to make our dinner. Tomorrow we would part ways. Pia would make her way to the trainstation and take a train via Paris Gare du Nord to Maintenon, the destination. I will make the 80km trip by bicycle.

For our next night we booked a superior room in a nice hotel. In the first place because this hotel has a swimming pool, sauna and hammam, that our muscles and mind can definitely benefit from. Second, to avoid awkward situations such as cooking pasta-pesto in a kitchen while the host family cooks for themselves and then eats in said kitchen while you eat in the living room, but you can still look at each other through the open-plan style kitchen-living room. Yikes.

Bréançon to Maintenon: Two for the price of one

Today Pia and I parted ways, so you can read both of our accounts.

Today would be another hill-filled day for me, and as it seemed the first with some mean ones. We said our goodbyes in the morning as Pia had to hurry to catch the early train to Paris Gare du Nord. By 8AM we were both on the bike, going our separate ways. On a breakfast of two croissants and a pain au chocolat I prepared myself for two very tough hills a little after my muscles had warmed up. The weater was cloudy, it was bit cold and raining, the perfect condition to tackle some hills.

The hills were tough and a few times I had to kick down to the lowest gear. My bike computer stops if you go slower than 5km an hour, as if you were to have a break, which occured multiple times. I’ll have to turn that feature of for the Pyrenees. In the morning I also crossed two bridges, over la Seine.

By around 11AM I had done 40km and by lunch at 1230PM, I had 55km done. I was quite tired by lunch and had some rest on a bench. After the energy from lunch kicked I was ready to finish this day. After lunch I passed through Adainville and saw an open red door of a cathedral with the St. Jacques sign of the Clemens bicycle route starting Harlem. Inside was a big book with traveller’s tales how they ended up here and where they were heading to. The last record with date was from August 22nd. I notted down a thing or two and went on my way.

Just after 2PM I had finished the 86km way to Maintenon. Since it’s our 8th day of biking, we decided it would be great to book a nice hotel, with spa and comfortable rooms. I arrived, could drop my bicycle of in the lugagge room and had a wonder around town.

Maintenon is surprisingly chique and looks great. There’s flags hanging for some festivities, a big castle and some french-style quite restaurants. You can notice that this region Ile-de-France is rich, probably because it is close to Paris. There were many very well restored houses, almost castles along the way.

The sun’s come out for a bit as I’m sitting on the terrace of a café in the city centre. I look forward to the sauna and swimming pool, the last two days have been straining for my legs.

———
Pia continues.

Since we went our separate ways today, I (Pia) take over the blog.

When we said goodbye I cycled the 7km quickly to the train station to get the earlier train to Paris. On the train I picked a vegan bakery for a relaxed breakfast. A cappuccino and pain au chocolat were it today for me.
After that I hopped back on the bike to buy some things. Toothpaste, something to clean the bicycle chain and a very special hair gel on Louis’ request.

The first two things were done quickly - but the hair gel was a little more difficult ...
After I was in 2 Carrefours and 3 Monoprix (even the biggest Monoprix in the whole of Paris, and with that probably the entirity of France) I had to find out "Nivea Care&holdstyling gel for men" is not available. But this is the only one Louis uses. So no hairgel for him.

Afterwards I cycled along the Seine to meet Audrey in a veggie restaurant. A reunion from the Portugal vacation in August. Then back to the other side of Paris to get on the train to Maintenon.

I was very pleased by all this tasty veggy food today and surprised how cheap the trains were (20€ for all rides including bike)

All in all I did 25km of cycling today - which I still feel a bit in my knee. Well now first enjoy the spa - tomorrow is a new day.

Maintenon to Chartres: And on the 8th day they rested

Today is our well-deserved restday! We took the train from Maintenon to Chartres in the morning.The train took exactly 11 minutes for 20km which would take us 1 1/2hours biking - that seemed so fast to me, after all that biking.

After we arrived, we checked in and walked a little tour through the city. By checking out the city we saw some Santiago signs on the ground. Always a nice hint that we’re on the right track.

For lunch we had some very delicious Thai dishes. We did some stretching against the sore muscles. This is our first restday and it seems like our muscles are hurting more in absence of the riding. Louis went and cleaned his bicycle chain, which was a bit more work than expected, and I went back into town and got stamps in our pilgrim passes.

Spontaneously, I went to an EcoCoiffeur and got a new haircut. I now sport a cool fringe. Back at the hotel, Louis was still busy with his bike chain, so I did one hour of yoga.

Totally relaxed we sit now at dinner - which except for the view, unfortunately, was not a great choice. The food was mediocre, but as we’re sitting right across from the cathedral, the prices were not. The mediocre food left Louis feeling down and grumpy, a trait of the family or so I’ve heard.

Louis has many quirks, one of which is that whenever Louis did not enjoy the food, he asks if I can pay for it. He does end up paying for half of it, because Dutch as he is, we have a WieBetaaltWat. I guess it’s more of a mental thing.

———
Louis continues.

Even though today was a restday, I noticed that the day is still filled with planning the next days. I’m not sure what is worse; the biking or the mental load of having to plan the next day’s breakfast, lunch, washing, destination, hotel, etc. I had a chat with Anet to share my burdenous feelings and wondered in awe how she managed to do the pilgrimage alone.

We spent the rest of the evening planning our next days. Tomorrow Pia will take the train to Tours in the morning and I will bike part of it to Châteaudun and hop on the afternoon train for the remainder of the way.

The day after we’ll take a train to Saintes. From there we will bike to the coastline and cross with a ferry. We will bike the remainder of the route to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, where Aag and pap will join us on the 27st to start the leg over the Pyrenees into Spain.

Chartres to Châteaudun & Tours: Sun stroke

This morning I laid the last hand on my bicycle chain by oiling it and prepped myself for Sunday’s mass with Gregorian singing, in the cathedral in Chartres. We had breakfast together and Pia would take the early train to Tours, so we’d unfortunately would have a separate day again.

The mass took ages, but it was nice to experience it. By the middle of it, someone noticed I was not singing along and handed me a lyric’s booklet, with a handf of instructions. I graceully accepted, but didn’t understand a word he was saying, nor could I identify through any of the singing where we were.

It was a solitaire experience, being in such a huge cathedral, with only about thirty people attending the mass. I guess the Church’s attendance decline has also set in in Chartres.

Little did I know, I was not alone. About twelve benches behind me was sitting Pia. Apparantly the morning train to Tours does not go, and as there are only two a day, she was forced to take the afternoon train as well. Only after the mass had ended, did I spot her standing next to me.

We scoured Chartres for a nice place to have brunch, but with little success. We ended up at the Thai place again, which was so very succesfull the day before.

By around 1PM I had hopped on the bike to atart the journey to Châteaudun to see Pia again in the 6PM train. My trip was off to a rough start, as I made around three stops to change clothes, checking some sounds at the rear-end of the bike thinking it could be my chain, etc.

Around 20km in, I had to use the loo for a number two. There was absolutely nothing in the vicinity, I don’t carry a porta potty with me, and the pressure was building. I was dreading the option of choosing the field or having to knock on someone’s door. There’s a famous saying by Artistocratle: a healthy man wants a million things, but a man that has to pooh, only wants one thing. I knocked on the door of a house I passed and found a couple opening.

So far, we’ve knocked on many people’s houses, mostly to ask for a refill of our water bottles, so this was a first. It worked out great!

Around 40km in I made a stop in Bonneval at a cafe that was open. As I entered the door of the cafe, the barman lifted his head, quickly said hello and continued working. I stood there waiting for him to prepare his plateau with coffees for the guests on the terrace. An older woman came through the door and unpatiently said that she would like to order. The man looked up at her and said, “Madame, I know. It’s Sunday.” and continued working.

I thought to myself, that woman could totally be me, but couldn’t contain my smirk as she left out the door. He noticed and rumbled on about the woman’s remark. As he looked up he saw my outfit and the two empty bottles in my hands. He said it wasn’t such a good day for a bicycle ride, referring to the somewhat cloudy weather. It actually was a beautiful day for biking, and the sun had come out for the majority of my ride. I acknowledged, but said I couldn’t choose the weather as I was en chemin du st. Jacques. He laughed and I asked him if I could fill up the bottles. As I left the café, he wished me good luck and we both said to have a good Sunday. A funny exchange of pleasantries.

By around 430PM I had arrived in Châteaudun to take the train that Pia would also take. I bought my ticket and a snack and sat outside the train station in the sun. Next destination Tours. We took the train together and Pia had met a lovely French woman, with whom she had shared the ride.

After arriving at our overnight, we went and had lovely Lebanees food at a restaurant in Tours. I was very tired, much more than normally, but did not think too much of it. We did discuss the option of having a sunstroke, as it was the first day with continuous sun and I had also gotten a little sunburned on my upper arms.

Tours to Saintes: To be prepared is half the victory

This morning I woke up with a headache, and I do think I got a little bit of a sun stroke. Pia went and got us breakfast: some cereals, fruits and yoghurt. A change from the pain au chocolat and croissants we had had all week.

I looked some things up online and decided it would be good to get some iron and magnesium supplements. Iron for the small cuts in my mouth and magnesium for my muscles.

We went to the pharmacy to buy some, to the tourist information to get our stamps and then to the train station to arrive 20 minutes to our trians departure time. Or so we thought, because although Tours is not a superbig city, it is apparantly big enough to have two train stations. As we were looking up at the departure times of the trains, we could not find the 1016AM train.

When looking again at our tickets, the TGV was departing from St-Pierre-des-Corps trainstation, and not Tours. I quickly looked up the route on Google maps, 12 minutes to the correct train station. We hopped on the bike and made our way to the correct location. About 10 minutes into the ride, I understood that I had typed in the neighbourhood instead of the train station, and our navigation was leading us to the middle of the (obviously) same-named neighbourhood as the station. Another 4 minutes were added to our journey.

In the end, we made it, roughly 5 minutes before departure, sweating and stressed. By sheer luck did we make this train, and with that our next layover and our overnight in Saintes, etc. We had booked tickets two nights ago, but could not book them together, so I had a seat (and bikespot) reserved in coach 11 and Pia in coach 1. Everything went fine and soon enough we would be in our layover station, La Rochelle.

Our train was 5 minutes delayed, but our layover only had a 10 minute window, it would be tight to make it. There are two trains from La Rochelle to Saintes, a early afternoon and late afternoon one, so we were eager to catch the early one instead of waiting four more hours. There were no escalators, so you had to carry the bike down the stairs, under the railways and up onto the platform again. By the time I arrived at a door for bicycles, Pia was nowhere to be found. I placed my bike by the door and rushed back to where I thought the other coaches where. No Pia. Rushing back to the train to Saintes, because it was really leaving now. I called Pia on the way and she said she was already waiting at my bike. I had confused the direction of the train, and she had taken another underground passage to the correct plaftform.

We got in and had made our transfer. Around 14PM we were in Saintes, got to our overnight stay and went into town to grab some lunch. In France, especially the south of France, restaurants close from 1430/1500PM to about 1900PM. We knew we were in for a pickle as we were riding into the city centre.

On our way we crossed a walking bridge over the Charentre into the city centre. On the bridge, a young woman passed us with a St. Jacques shell on her backpack and a walking stick. Our first Pilgrim encounter. She was walking about 20km a day, started in Tours and was using a French pilgrim hardcopy, that included addresses for overnight stays.

We said we should also get a St. Jacques shell omfor our backpacks, to show off that we were pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela. After we had visited a few restaurants to no avail, we found success at the Burger Palace. Suprisingly they had a vegetarian burger option so we were settled.

After lunch we went shopping. Pia had been looking for a pullover for the cold evenings for a while now. I saw there was a hypermarche that we could give a try. We went in for some clothes and ended up with a full bag of snacks. We had decided to make vegetarian (read: cheese) sandwiches for lunch, because they were not offered at any of the bakeries around. I found some nice cookies I wanted to try and before we knew it we had enough cookies for the next week.

After our shopping we collected our stamp, went back to our overnight address and I wailed in bed until time for dinner came. I had been wearing my SPF 50 bucket hat all day, but the headache did not die down. Pia had looked for a nice French restaurant, per my suggestion, and found one that actually included vegetarian dishes in the menu!

We made ourselves ready and arrived at Clos des Cours restaurant, just in the city centre of Saintes. The restaurant is run by a couple, and we think he is in the kitchen and she is the hostess. She spoke perfect English, which helps in making a connection.

I saw that St. Jacques muscles were on the menu as an entree and asked whether they had the shells also. I explained we were on our route and that we had seen a pilgrim with the shell. They did have them and we were able to get two for our bags!

The hostess was very intruiged by our journey and we had many short conversations in between waiting tables about it. She was very kind and the dinner was very good. Hands down the best we’ve had this trip. Around 9PM we crashed. We quickly asked for the bill and headed home. A turbulent but very accomplished day.

Saintes to Soulac-sur-Mer: Ferry important

Today I woke up and my headache was gone. Very good news, because today is the first day we’re biking again. Just as Pia was about to take a shower, the lights in our appartment went off, the generator had stopped working. No lights, no warm water. For me, this was a sign from above to stay in bed another half hour.

We woke up early, but took our time in the morning. I went to the bakery to get some baguette for lunch and Pia made our breakfast with yoghurt and oats. By 930AM we left and we were on our way to Royan to cross the sea by ferry into Point de Grave. We had decided to skip the part from Tours to Saintes by train and pick up the bicycles again for the coastline trail to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. As Pia’s knees have not fully recovered, the three days without biking could help and we had done quite some kilometers by train, giving us space to take it more easy per day.

By around 12PM we arrived in Royan. Just in time to get a stamp and take the 1230PM ferry over the sea. At 1PM we had arrived across the sea and we wanted to make a stop at a nice restaurant on the boulevard. I told Pia the village Soulac-sur-Mer and the view reminded me of Duinbergen, but to my surprise she had not been there yet. For our next holiday a sure visit.

The restaurant had a lunchmenu, including entree, main and dessert, but unfortunately not for vegetarians. They had a vegetarian burger that Pia chose. It turned out to be nothing more but a saggy bun with some cooked-through vegetables and a slab of cheese on top. My crevettes and moules were also a little bit dissapointing, although I found that hard to admit, as I had chosen the restaurant and wanted to enjoy the seafood.

After lunch we made our way to our overnight near the beach. Along the way we saw another figure with a backpack and walking sticks and asked whether he was also en route to Santiago de Compostela. He was, and with that the second pilgrim we met! We really were getting closer to our destination.

He told me a few stories in French, which I somewhat understood and ended the conversation by asking if I would beat him to Santiago, to say a prayer for him. I agreed and we made our way to our overnight beach house. We quickly changed into our swimwear and made our way to the beach. The water was cold, but it was very sunny today, so it was nice and refreshing. Afterwards we had pizza at home. Tomorrow another day of biking

Soulac-sur-Mer to Lacanau Océan: Overnight troubles

Today we woke up in our chambre near the ocean, had some nice breakfast with oats and yoghurt and made ourselves ready. By 10AM we were on the bike. The weather was sunny and at 10 it was already getting warm. After about 20 minutes we passed the pilgrim that we had seen yesterday, Pia had a sharp eye and noticed him inmediately, while I biked passed hin unnoticing.

The road was the best we had seen so far. We rode bike paths along the atlantic ocean and through a national park for the majority of the day. We did not see a single car. The bikepath was in good condition and in contrary to our prior beliefs, we weren’t bothered by the wind.

We met another pilgrim walking from Paris to Santiago on our way. She had been underway for 28 days already. It showed us just how much faster you can be by bicycle, given that we had also caught a train for a stretch.

We passed a few boulangeries, but by now I had a flair for picking out good boulangeries and none of them were meeting my standards. We also encountered some age-old French arrogance when placing our bicycles a little to close to the terrace, immediately driving us back on the bikes and on our route.

We had lunch inside the national park, but without bread, because we had missed that chance before. A couple that we had previously seen on the ferry, passed us on their electric bicycles.

Around 4PM we arrived in Lacanou Océan and entered our aparment by the beachside. It was dissapointing to say the least. It was covered in sand, old sheets left inside a wet shower and it simply seemed as though there had been no cleaning in between us and the previous guests. There was a horrible smell and dirty kitchen, left over items in the fridge. Total disaster.

I was done and had to take a shower and decided to do so, drying my body in the air as there were no clean towels and I didn’t care to use my own.

I had to leave quickly to visit the bikeshop in town. I had been having trouble moving from my second in my third gear and had been to a bike shop in Chartre, but they said it looked fine. The issue persevered and I was keen on getting the bicycle looked at again. At the bikeshop the handyman was extremely helpful. As it turns out, the gears were not screwed in properly and were loose in my wheel, which lead to this issue. He removed the wheel, tightened the bolt and it worked out great!

In the bikeshop I had met a lovely woman, who had biked from Bordeaux to Sweden in a 5.5 month tour, biking 6000km on a city bike. What a trip! We talked a bit, she gave me some nice tips for bike paths and websites for overnight stays in Europe, such as “warm shower”. She said she stayed in the Netherlands for two weeks and really enjoyed it. As Bordeaux was too bith too busy for her now, she had come here to wind down. Her bike casette, chain and tires needed to be replaced completely after having down the trip. She only had two flats and one time to repair her outside tire.

Meanwhile Pia was dealing with the Airbnb mess. The host had given us a refund, but Airbnb was the one arranging another overnight stay. In the end they only send you listings for you to book again. It would take some time for us to catch on and book another night in a different apartment, having to pay extra for late booking.

We had a nachos and guacomolecat the beach for dinner and around 830PM went to our new apartment. Upon arrival there, it looked almost equally as bad as the previous listing. The kitchen had broken tiles, there was black mold in the shower featuring a broken toilet seat. It was looking a bit worse than my student house in Groningen.

I guess we had ran out of our luck in Lacanau. What was supposed to be a nice stay by the beach, with an evening swim and good seafood, turned south. We were super-tired and went to sleep. Tomorrow’s a new day.

Lacanau Océan to Salles: A Dutch home away from home

This morning we woke up early. Although the apartment was the worst we had seen (except for the previous apartment), the bed was the best I had slept in. We had breakfast, walked on the beach a bit and around 1045AM we were on the bike. Today was another beautiful road through the national park Médoc.

We arrived around 1315PM in Arès, where we were just in time to get some vegetarian panini’s and sweets for lunch. We got our stamp, had a coffee and by 1500PM, we were on the bike again.

Since our stop in Saintes, where we had received our st. Jacques shells, we had carried them around, but not for display. We had been wanting to drill a little hole in the shell to thread a wire through to hang it on our bicycles, but nothing had come on our way yet.

When biking we passed a contractor’s van, cutting wood for a fence he was building. This was our moment to ask him whether he could drill a small hole in our shells. He did and we both attached ours to our front-bag. Finally, after 14 days we were biking around with our shells for the world to see that we were en route to Santiago.

At around 17PM we arrived in our hotel Domaine du Pont de l'Eyre in Salles. We went to check-in and I started in French. The man behind the counter asked in Dutch for my name, but i did not catch on and continued in French. The man’s son said “I think they are Dutch” and then I caught on as well.

Unknowingly, I had booked a night in a hotel owned by a Dutch couple. They had both worked in the Krasnapolsky on the Dam in Amsterdam and 18 summers ago rented this hotel in the town where the man’s parents lived. They hadn’t left since.

Pia went for a swim in the river by the hotel’s garden and I went to look for our next overnight’s stay. After our showers, we went to town to look for a nice restaurant. I had had my eye on the restaurant’s dinner option, but Pia was keen on checking out the small town. We went to several places, walked about, but in the end I was able to lure us back to the hotel. There we had an amazing three-course dinner. I had a bavette and Pia had a vegetarian platter, which were both realy good. We fell asleep feeling very accomplished. The road through the park was amazing, and the weather was really good.

Salles to Onesse-Laharie: Not everybody can be perfect

We woke up in the Dutch hotel, made ourselves and by 9AM were on the road, lunch packed. We biked for about 1hour and made a stop at the hypermarché to buy water and bananas.

Today we also rode through a national park, Landes de Gascogne. The park is filled with long pine trees, or so it should be. The park had to face many wildfires this year, and the results show. An almost apocalyptic scene for us, as we were biking for half an hour straight through black-burned trees at best, but mostly empty fields with only a few tree stubs left. Everything around us had been burned to the ground. In some places you could still smell the burn. I’m not sure how recent it was, but it could not have been long ago.

After we had left the national park, we passed a house with many Santiago de Compostela signs. We saw the owner in the yard and decided to ask him a few questions. Upon arrival, I introduced myself as a pilgrim from the Netherlands and Pia from Germany. He acknowledged, looked at Pia and jokingly said “not everybody can be perfect”. He let us in his garden and took us back to a small wooden cabin with two single beds and a bathroom. He explained that many pilgrims had asked them to stay overnight, and they had build this cabin. He showed a French pilgrim book that featured their location and a registry for Landoc’s pilgrim hostels and overnight stays. We took a picture for our future stays towards the border. He had a robot lawn mower that he had named Macron “because it cuts (budgets) so well”. He was a funny guy.

Today was supposed to be an easy 65km day as we had calculated yesterday, but Clemens’ route had fooled us. By the time we arrived at 4PM, we had done almost 80km and today was a day of tough winds. The host had left the key for us to get in and take a shower, as she would only get home by 8PM.

We took a shower and I took some time to prepare for Max’ 21-diner this weekend. We went and looked for some food around, but as this town is very small, there was only one pizza foodtruck. When we arrived, they asked us whether we had made a reservation and told us that unfortunately all the pizzas until 10PM were reserved.

The closest town with restaurants was 10km away. It would have been a 100km day if we had biked it. We decided to hitchike and at 730PM we were in the back of a car to closest crossroad leading into Mézos, where we would have dinner. A second car saw us get out of the first and offered to take us the last part.

In Mézos we tried our luck at the first restaurant after thd host told us she was also vegetarian. It was a great decision. Just two minutes after we had ordered, we got a message from the host, asking us where we are as we had the only set of keys of the house.

She forgot to mention that part! We sent a message that we were in Mézos and had just ordered and that we could leave in a bit. By 830PM it was pitch-dark and were walking on the road back with a cardboard sign to Onesse-Laharie. Just as the road left the village of Mézos and the street lights stopped, a taxi pulled over and said we could join him on his way home from bringing a customer. I had a chat with the kind driver and he told us about the region and his company. He dropped us off at our home and refused to take our money.

What a great story. As we’ve learned on this route, some things happen in the exact moment that they are meant to happen and there’s no need to rush it beforehand. We saw it with the restaurant that gavd us the st. Jacques shells, the handyman with the drill we saw three days later and now with a car to pick us up in the spot of the last street light for the next 8km to our overnight.

Fulfilled we lay in bed, looking forward to our next move.

Onesse-Laharie to Dax: Cats and dogs

After last night’s hithchiking success, we woke up with a cup of tea. Today was predicted to be a cloudy day, but we had not expected what we saw when we looked outside. It was pouring rain.

At 830AM we were ready to defy the weather and get on our bikes. We made a quick stop at the bakery, passed another pilgrim and had a short chat under a shelter, and were on our way. It hadn’t rained this hard since we’ve started. There was so much rain, we could hardly use our navigation. Pitstops were pushed forward for when it would be more dry and for the first hour and a half it did not stop.

It made us think whether it would ever stop. Between 1030 and 1130 it did, and we were able to enjoy the ride a bit. We were well on our way to Dax at around 40km of the 55km in by 11AM. The last 7km it started pouring again. When we arrived in Dax, we did a quick scan of the hotels and found one we would stop by.

By this time it was noon, and we were wet and cold. We arrived at the hotel, but they had no rooms for us, so we moved to a second one. When we arrived it was 1240 and the reception closed at 1230. Thinking we had missed our shot, we stood by the door and had a ponder. The door suddenly opened and a kind woman peeked out. We explained our situation and she said she had a room available.

We removed our wet clothes and hung them all over the room. We took a long warm shower and went to the city centre to have some food. It was again after 2PM, so most restaurants had closed. We found a nice place, walked around the city a bit, now it was cloudy but dry.

We picked up a stamp and did some shopping at the Carrefour. I picked up a long paints, as it was cold and I only had one long pants that was currently drying in the room.

Tomorrow will be a longer day and most of the journey will be up- and downhill again.

Dax to Saint-Palais: Apéritif

After yesterday’s horrible weather, today was looking really good. Yesterday we had hung all of our wet clothing on every possible shelf, and towel rack, which smelled horribly, but not in vain, because today it was all dry.

At 9AM we were on the bike. We had yoghurt with muesli for breakfast and made sandwiches with cheese and marmelade for lunch. There were 65km planned out for us today. The ride was comfortable up until 1030AM when we met our first real hill of the day. Its the hilly apéritif before the hills entrée tomorrow and the mountains main course from St Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles the day after. By11AM we made a short stop for coffee and had already 45km. We typed in the address of our stay and it was only another 13km away.

We had done the day in a very good pace and before lunch we arrived in our first pilgrimage inn! It was a lovely old house right in the centre of Saint-Palais, which Pia had picked from a registry of pilgrimage taverns. I called the day before to book it and made sure to ask for a double bed, instead of two single beds, which is what we had seen earlier in such a tavern.

We took a shower and made ourselves ready for lunch by the waterside in the sun. We asked our host if we could do a wash and walked around the village. We sat on a terrace and had a drink in the sun, what a difference from yesterday’s rainy misery! We would spent a part of the afternoon cleaning and oiling our bicycles, as the weather would allow that perfectly today!

We had dinner at our hosts with seven other pilgrims, it was a true pilgrim hotel. The hosts told us many stories over dinner and the majority of the group was French. A lot of it went over our heads. We were supertired halfway through the stories so made our way upstairs.

We had some beers on the terrace, some wine over dinner and some German schnaps from yesterday’s pilgrims that they presented as a gift. I was a little bit drunk. I hit my head three times on the same beam in our room in the attic of the building. Tomorrow we will make our first real climbs in preparation for the Pyrenees.

Saint-Palais to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port: Reunited

This morning, breakfast was at 730AM. I was a tat bit hungover and both of us were a little late. Everyone else, mostly walking had showered and were ready to hit the road by 8AM. We were not. We stayed in bed until 9AM, when the hosts kicked us out. By 930AM we were on our bicycles.

Today was 33km, most of it uphill and one or two very uphill battles. Yesterday we discussed why the pilgrims at the table went to Santiago. We heard many reasons and explained our own. For both of us it’s a challenge more than anything else. Both physically and mentally, but also a challenge we are doing together. During our last uphill battle, just before our destination, it made me think of this.

By around 12AM we had arrived in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port! Finally, after 18 days we were on the verge of leaving France behind us. We were excited to be here.

We looked throughout town for a restaurant with vegetarian options, but couldn’t really succeed. We encountered some French hospitality after sitting down in a four-seat table instead of a two-seat table. Pia wasn’t feeling it, so we left. The food looked shitty anyway. I was getting hungry and the only other option was crepes, which are not my favourite. We had our lunch seperately.

After lunch we reunited and we bought a French guide for Spain, as we had realised along the route that we missed out on many taverns and pilgrim hostels. Since I’m going to be on my own for the majority of Spain, it would be a wise investment.

We made a reservation for four at a restaurant at 8PM, because Pap and Aag are joining us! Exciting times. Can’t wait to hear about Max’ 21 dinner party. We’re waiting for their bicycles to arrive so that we can make our way together to Roncesvalles tomorrowmorning. Can

Thank you to our sponsors
Pieter Goderis
Pieter Goderis

€ 50.4,-
on Wed 10 Aug 2022

Nicole Und Joey Dinosaurus
Nicole Und Joey Dinosaurus

€ 25.4,-
on Tue 09 Aug 2022

Mária Be?ová
Mária Be?ová

€ 25.4,-
on Wed 14 Sep 2022

Marielle
Marielle

€ 15.4,-
on Mon 12 Sep 2022

Nico  Mourits
Nico Mourits

€ 4.56,-
on Mon 05 Sep 2022

Nienke Van Der Veldt
Nienke Van Der Veldt

€ 15.4,-
on Mon 08 Aug 2022

Jeroen Van  Gurp
Jeroen Van Gurp

€ 50.0,-
on Mon 05 Sep 2022

Milan Drop
Milan Drop

€ 15.4,-
on Tue 30 Aug 2022

Wiebke Peters
Wiebke Peters

€ 25.4,-
on Fri 09 Sep 2022

Anet
Anet

€ 100.4,-
on Sun 07 Aug 2022

Heidi Wegmeyer-Toetzke
Heidi Wegmeyer-Toetzke

€ 75.4,-
on Thu 15 Sep 2022

Eelco van Dijk
Eelco van Dijk

€ 15.4,-
on Mon 19 Sep 2022

Maya Spangenberg
Maya Spangenberg

€ 10.4,-
on Fri 16 Sep 2022

Claudio
Claudio

€ 20.4,-
on Thu 08 Sep 2022

Pia  Holbeck
Pia Holbeck

€ 75.0,-
on Fri 22 Jul 2022

Lex Grannetia
Lex Grannetia

€ 25.4,-
on Fri 23 Sep 2022

Rebecca Van Der Steen
Rebecca Van Der Steen

€ 20.4,-
on Mon 12 Sep 2022

Anoniem
Anoniem

€ 100.4,-
on Thu 08 Sep 2022

Amy Gabay
Amy Gabay

€ 15.0,-
on Mon 08 Aug 2022

Victoria Visser
Victoria Visser

€ 25.4,-
on Tue 13 Sep 2022

Azamat Omuraliev
Azamat Omuraliev

€ 20.4,-
on Fri 26 Aug 2022

Marion
Marion

€ 20.0,-
on Wed 14 Sep 2022

Bart Bloothoofd
Bart Bloothoofd

€ 5.4,-
on Fri 26 Aug 2022

Bas Doelman
Bas Doelman

€ 15.4,-
on Wed 10 Aug 2022

Marianne  jonckheere
Marianne jonckheere

€ 25.4,-
on Fri 26 Aug 2022

Catharina
Catharina

€ 20.4,-
on Mon 05 Sep 2022

André den Hartog
André den Hartog

€ 50.4,-
on Mon 05 Sep 2022

€ 5.4,-
on Mon 08 Aug 2022

Michiel Steegmabs
Michiel Steegmabs

€ 25.4,-
on Sun 04 Sep 2022

Ellen
Ellen

€ 10.0,-
on Tue 13 Sep 2022

Mike Sharman
Mike Sharman

€ 50.4,-
on Thu 29 Sep 2022

Jaap Beck
Jaap Beck

€ 25.4,-
on Sun 04 Sep 2022

Egle Mickaite
Egle Mickaite

€ 15.4,-
on Mon 08 Aug 2022

Joao Moura
Joao Moura

€ 50.0,-
on Tue 06 Sep 2022

QIQI ZHANG
QIQI ZHANG

€ 20.4,-
on Sun 11 Sep 2022

Melanie  Holbeck
Melanie Holbeck

€ 20.0,-
on Fri 19 Aug 2022

Mats
Mats

€ 25.4,-
on Mon 05 Sep 2022

Q&A
Q&A

€ 25.4,-
on Fri 09 Sep 2022

Pilspiraat27
Pilspiraat27

€ 18.55,-
on Mon 05 Sep 2022

G. van Lil
G. van Lil

€ 10.4,-
on Tue 27 Sep 2022

Mascha Loomans
Mascha Loomans

€ 10.4,-
on Fri 26 Aug 2022

Florine Bax
Florine Bax

€ 25.4,-
on Sun 11 Sep 2022

Bart Klein
Bart Klein

€ 15.4,-
on Sun 04 Sep 2022

Trude
Trude

€ 50.4,-
on Thu 01 Sep 2022

Janine Van Van Doesburgh-Ferwerda
Janine Van Van Doesburgh-Ferwerda

€ 50.4,-
on Mon 08 Aug 2022

Bram en Lieve
Bram en Lieve

€ 40.0,-
on Wed 21 Sep 2022

Nicole Schutte
Nicole Schutte

€ 15.4,-
on Mon 08 Aug 2022

Erik
Erik

€ 25.0,-
on Thu 08 Sep 2022

Anoniem
Anoniem

€ 15.4,-
on Tue 13 Sep 2022

Maurits van der Mark
Maurits van der Mark

€ 25.4,-
on Mon 05 Sep 2022

Winny Van den Aker
Winny Van den Aker

€ 25.4,-
on Tue 13 Sep 2022

Marlo
Marlo

€ 15.4,-
on Wed 14 Sep 2022

Rein Veraart
Rein Veraart

€ 15.4,-
on Fri 09 Sep 2022

Dirk-Jan & Tessa
Dirk-Jan & Tessa

€ 25.4,-
on Mon 08 Aug 2022

Erik van Marle
Erik van Marle

€ 27.4,-
on Thu 08 Sep 2022

Koen Walsteijn
Koen Walsteijn

€ 20.0,-
on Mon 05 Sep 2022

Souad Goossen
Souad Goossen

€ 5.4,-
on Mon 08 Aug 2022

Andrea Alfieri
Andrea Alfieri

€ 15.4,-
on Tue 06 Sep 2022

Ahmet Bayraktar
Ahmet Bayraktar

€ 25.4,-
on Wed 07 Sep 2022

Sara Van der Zwan
Sara Van der Zwan

€ 10.4,-
on Mon 12 Sep 2022

Anoniem
Anoniem

€ 25.4,-
on Mon 08 Aug 2022

Frank
Frank

€ 10.4,-
on Thu 15 Sep 2022

Kees Schmalz
Kees Schmalz

€ 50.4,-
on Tue 06 Sep 2022

Sara
Sara

€ 15.4,-
on Wed 07 Sep 2022

Ariane Janssen
Ariane Janssen

€ 20.4,-
on Fri 19 Aug 2022

Paula Zuehlke
Paula Zuehlke

€ 15.4,-
on Thu 15 Sep 2022

Pascal Kersten
Pascal Kersten

€ 50.4,-
on Mon 05 Sep 2022

Corine de Bruijnferwerda
Corine de Bruijnferwerda

€ 100.4,-
on Thu 01 Sep 2022

Bert de Bruijn
Bert de Bruijn

€ 15.4,-
on Mon 12 Sep 2022

Dorothé Oorschot
Dorothé Oorschot

€ 50.4,-
on Sun 18 Sep 2022

Oma Dicky
Oma Dicky

€ 150.0,-
on Tue 09 Aug 2022

Matthew Riddell
Matthew Riddell

€ 25.4,-
on Fri 09 Sep 2022

Mamta
Mamta

€ 20.0,-
on Fri 02 Sep 2022

Stefanie De Boer
Stefanie De Boer

€ 15.0,-
on Tue 06 Sep 2022

Floriana Zefi
Floriana Zefi

€ 100.4,-
on Wed 10 Aug 2022

Joris
Joris

€ 15.4,-
on Wed 07 Sep 2022

Anoniem
Anoniem

€ 15.0,-
on Sun 04 Sep 2022

Anton
Anton

€ 15.4,-
on Tue 13 Sep 2022

Anoniem
Anoniem

€ 10.4,-
on Mon 05 Sep 2022

Koen Salden
Koen Salden

€ 25.4,-
on Sat 10 Sep 2022

Michelle Velvis
Michelle Velvis

€ 15.4,-
on Mon 08 Aug 2022

Lange  Lange
Lange Lange

€ 5.4,-
on Mon 08 Aug 2022

Kaz Barentsen
Kaz Barentsen

€ 27.4,-
on Wed 07 Sep 2022

Niek-Jan Ferwerda
Niek-Jan Ferwerda

€ 100.4,-
on Mon 08 Aug 2022

Christophe Van Cutsem
Christophe Van Cutsem

€ 25.4,-
on Fri 09 Sep 2022

Aag Bruijn
Aag Bruijn

€ 25.4,-
on Sun 07 Aug 2022

Anoniem
Anoniem

€ 75.4,-
on Sun 14 Aug 2022

Russell
Russell

€ 25.4,-
on Tue 06 Sep 2022

Marion Mastenbroek
Marion Mastenbroek

€ 10.4,-
on Tue 27 Sep 2022

Larissa Magdanz
Larissa Magdanz

€ 15.4,-
on Tue 27 Sep 2022

Bram Janssen
Bram Janssen

€ 25.4,-
on Sun 04 Sep 2022

€ 25.4,-
on Fri 26 Aug 2022

Titus Kraanen
Titus Kraanen

€ 5.4,-
on Sun 04 Sep 2022

Mitchell
Mitchell

€ 10.4,-
on Sun 04 Sep 2022

Daniel Delodder
Daniel Delodder

€ 25.4,-
on Mon 05 Sep 2022

Wout Kooijman
Wout Kooijman

€ 15.4,-
on Tue 23 Aug 2022

Eduardo & Madalena
Eduardo & Madalena

€ 30.4,-
on Fri 09 Sep 2022

Dani Snapper
Dani Snapper

€ 10.4,-
on Mon 05 Sep 2022

Markus  Wehr
Markus Wehr

€ 10.4,-
on Mon 29 Aug 2022

Louis  Bruijn
Louis Bruijn

€ 100.0,-
on Wed 13 Jul 2022

Anita Grootaers-Tabak
Anita Grootaers-Tabak

€ 25.0,-
on Mon 08 Aug 2022

Team members

Pia will start in Amsterdam with me and continue well into Spain. Pap en Aag will join us in the Pyrenees and continue to Burgos. The last two weeks I'll travel el Camino alone.