No Hills Today!

Saint Palais
Tuesday 28 October

Despite the fact that I’d had a very restful sleep, I awoke tired, and in need of a rest day. It was only about 30km to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (without wrong turns that is), the final destination for my bike ride, but today I couldn’t face a hill… and wanted to prolong my time in France with my bike. My host was going away this evening, so another night staying with her was not possible. I’m glad I made the effort to get to Saint Palais yesterday, otherwise I would have missed out on our meeting. She called the local Pilgrims’ Hostel for me to arrange a bed, but said they were not open until 2pm. This was fine, as I could easily amuse myself until then riding around the small town.

My peddles had developed a squeak, so stopped at a store that sold farm machinery, where they oiled them for me, and sent me on my way. I stopped at a cafe for a coffee, and as it had just turned midday, they asked if I would like lunch. I said after coffee, perhaps, as I had not read the menu, and was unsure if they had anything for me. The menu had a salad with some sort of meat, or Quiche Lorraine for entree. I tried to translate the meat, but each handwritten board had a different spelling, all of which Google translate didn’t recognise. I then tried the regular internet, with ‘did you mean… ‘ spelling option, and it translated as gizzards, possibly duck, but possibly something else. It was duck. So I ordered the duck gizzard salad and mussels for main. Both were good. Sitting in the sun, enjoying the rest, the hour soon ticked on to three… so I moved my lazy a***, and went to find the Pilgrim’s hostel.

It was a lovely old building surrounding a courtyard garden. I took the option of a single room for 12€, including breakfast, rather than the possibility of snorers in the dorm. I spent the next couple of hours trying to come up with a plan to sell my bike in the next few days, and then went for a wander around the small town.

I had asked in the tourist information to recommend some restaurants, but when I read their menus, realised I wasn’t really hungry after my big lunch, so headed to the boulangerie where I had seen a queue earlier. They had run out of baguettes, hence, the queue – but they did have some other bread, so I bought that. I had also asked at the tourist information what the local cheese was, and they had said it was a sheep cheese (well, she actually said ‘sheet’ cheese, and then ‘baa’ to make sure I understood), Osau Inaty – so I went to the supermarket to get some. I also bought a bunch of radishes, then returned to the hostel. I looked in the kitchen, and the table as set for a large gathering (there had been an option of dinner). The lady said nine pilgrims were joining. As I was feeling a little antisocial, I retired to my room to eat in solitude.

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