Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It's hot, humid and hazy!

I thought Pavia was a town of colours and patterns, until I got to Piacenza!  They were soft colours in Paiva, but as we have headed further south the colours are getting brighter.

The patterns on a gate,

above a doorway

on the skyline,

and on the street crossings!

I have loved the patterns I have seen, the patterns in the doors, the bricks, and the chimneys on the skyline.  Here in Piacenza the patterns have changed.  To me it looks as if there has been a Moorish influence on the buildings, but my history of this area is a bit hazy and I not sure if the Moors got this far. 

One of the buildings that seemed to have a Moorish influence.

Our first day of walking was tough.  It was very hot, with no breeze, and we got lost!  The path was easy to follow at first, but when we were about 3kms from Santa Cristina, our destination for the night, we lost the signs and must have missed a turn, and instead ended up walking about an extra 3kms.  We were on the road for almost 12 hours, which was a VERY long day for the first one on this leg.  However, given that Carol and Elizabeth were on their first day, and I was still recovering from injuries I think we did remarkably well. 

Our accommodation that night was pilgrim accommodation in what was part of the church facilities.  It was basic - a bed, a toilet and a shower, and we were the only ones there.  It cost us the grand total of a €20 donation.  Tea was a pizza and brekky was a pizza! We were really glad of the assistance of the people in the town both here and in Orio Litta where we were the next night.  They did things like escort us to the pilgrim refuge when we asked for directions - really going out of their way to help us. 

We started the next day in the cool of the morning, but it soon heated up and became very humid.  Like the previous day, the path went on some rough cart tracks, on roads, and around fields.  Like the day before - we got lost!  This time we followed the signs very carefully, but they led us to a dead end.  We solved the problem by cutting out to the railway line and walking along it - much to Elizabeth's dismay.  It was a little used line, and of the diesel variety so I was pretty confident that we were OK (Elizabeth was doubtful!). 

I saw a lot of Carol and Elizabeth's backs!

and we passed lots of rice fileds.

Orio Litta was treat.  The refuge had 4 beds in it and was in a beautifully restored Medieval building - or, as the mayor told us a middle aged building!  The village people were really surprised that we were from Australia and that we were walking.  One elderly man's jaw dropped, and my one regret was that I couldn't get a photo of the look of amazement on his face.  It was here that we got our best meal of the trip thus far - 5 courses for €15 each!  Our refuge that night was a €25 donation.

The pilgrim refuge at Orio Litta
and the room that Carol and Elizabeth shared.
Yesterday we had a great boat ride on the River Po.  Danilo collects pilgrims from up stream for a fee of €10 each and then takes them downstream to his house - a distance of about 4 kms.  The Po is a mighty river, very wide and fast flowing, but sadly also with a lot of rubbish in it, plastic bottles and such like.
Waiting for the boat to arrive on the River Po

Danilo the "boatman" with Elizabeth being blown about in the background!
Just for a change yesterday we thought we would try and stay on the path, but 5 kms from Piacenza - we got lost!  We misread the sign, and I know you will find this hard to believe, but we turned  right instead of left!  It was a horribly busy road, which stressed me far more than walking on the railway line.  That was when we got on a bus and  retraced our steps back into the town the easy way. 

Today we are going to bus it to Fidenza to make up for the time we lost on the second day (we are now a day behind).  It rained overnight, which would probably have made the ford we should have crossed impassable - so to my way of thinking there is a reason for everything!

We are holding up well.  I see a lot of Carol and Elizabeth's backs, as they are walking faster than I, but we all get there in the end.  I seem to be in a go slow mode which I am finding very hard to shake.  I don't mind - I am used to my own company when I am walking, and I like to stop and take photos of odd things that I see on the way. 

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