04 July 21

It is becoming incrementally difficult to keep up with the blog. We have been walking on average 30 k a day. Thursday, we hit the 500 k mark, a bit behind schedule, but we should reach Stra in time if we maintain this rhythm.

We finally met other walkers, a nice England based Hungarian lady and two Italian guys Alessio and Massimo. We chatted for a few minutes with the lady, we took a picture together, and we haven’t seen her again; unfortunately, neither Carlos and I can remember her name. On the other hand, we keep meeting Alessio and Massimo. They are two great guys with huge rucksacks. I admire them for their stamina; I couldn’t carry that weight on my shoulders. They walk for a charity, and they raise money for cystic fibrosis, which Alessio is suffering from.

Alessio and Massimo

Yesterday we reached Reims; We entered the French region of Champagne Ardenne, leaving behind Picardie, not far from the halfway point of the French stretch of the journey.

From now on, the undulation of the landscape should become more pronounced, hopefully not too hard. Thursday afternoon, for example, we entered Laon. A beautiful town with a rich history, particularly for its strategic position. It stands proud at the top of a few hundred meters hill, watching around the overall flat plains of the Picardie region. It took us more than 30 minutes to walk the last steep 500 meters, after a walk of 34 k taking us to the town centre.

Laon is very pretty; its cathedral, similar to Notre Dame, is a testimony of the city past importance. Loan welcomed us with colourful balloons-canopies covering the streets, a nice atmosphere and a beautiful place to relax.

On Friday, after Laon, I recorded some of my thoughts while walking, and I share them with you in the following audio file.

The little town I mentioned on the audio, which I was approaching when I stopped the recording, is Martigny-Courpierre. A town with 130 inhabitants but with a very imposing Art-Deco church.

We couldn’t resist, and we decided to stop for lunch on the grass.

We carried on walking until we reached a mesmerising lake, where the water was so calm that it mirrored the world.

Yesterday, on the other hand, was a very stressful day. We decided to combine two stages of the Via Francigena for a total of 40 kilometres. Instead of following the official route, we opted to take the road that reaches Reims in a straight line, cutting down the walking distance to 27 kilometres. Oh boy, what a mistake. We coped for 15k, and we had to abandon the road. The road had a speed limit of 90kph, cars, trucks, and motorbikes were constantly whizzing by. When we took the road, it felt like a good idea; it was Saturday, virtually empty, with one car here and there. Unfortunately, not long after, we realised our mistake.

After leaving the road we found and followed a riverbank, which nearly took us into Reims.

In Reims, we decided to take a day off. We needed a new pair of shoes each. We were hoping to get further with ours, but sadly, after accompanying us for many walks before, it was time to say goodbye.

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