Aulnay to Saintes
Saturday 18 October
I was tired after a long ride the previous day, and another long ride ahead, so had a sleep in and didn’t wake up until 8.30. The other pilgrims were about to leave, and had kindly bought me bread and a cake at the local bakery. A slow morning too… meant I wasn’t on the road until almost 11.
I wanted to see the UNESCO World Heritage Roman church in the village before my journey to Saintes. Another stunning architectural marvel with magnificent carvings, surrounded by a very interesting graveyard.
The road today was no longer flat, but rolling hills. I liked the rolling, but the hills were sometimes a bit much. I was clicking 40 km per hour on the downhill. But sometimes as slow as 5 km per hour on the uphill – it was quicker to get off and push the bike a couple of times. I’m not fond of hills. The weather had also decided to heat up, as it felt about 26°, possibly warmer. I was wearing my all black merino ninja cycle outfit, which had been fine until now, but the heat combined with the hills I was feeling decidedly tired, and had consumed more than 3 liters of water. Six straight days of cycling without a rest day were beginning to take their toll.
I arrived in Saintes, and called my host, but no answer. I sent a message and sat down by the river to wait. It was nice to sit and enjoy the passing parade. I called again, but no answer, so began plan B, checking the internet for nearby hotels.
Soon after my host rang very apologetically, as she had left her phone charging and hadn’t heard my calls. We rode (another cyclist) to her nearby apartment in a wonderful old renovated building by the architect owner. My host was lovely and we got on immediately.
When we arrived at her apartment, she asked did I like oysters? OYSTERS? THEY ARE MY FAVORITE FOOD! Was this a mistranslation? Did she mean something else? I only get to eat oysters when I’m in Australia, which isn’t very often, it’s one of the things I miss from home. No, she pulled out a bag, and began to shuck the oysters, saying it was a tradition in her family that when they have guests they serve oysters, a tradition I heartily endorse. She was very pleased that liked oysters, as she said some of her guests don’t enjoy them. Well, I will happily make up for all those other ungrateful guests. She then cooked a tasty mushroom and cream dish and we had fromage and wine too. She may have sensed my fatigue, as she offered her hospitality for another evening. I readily accepted as I had more hills ahead and really needed a rest day, besides tomorrow was Sunday, the day of rest.