Awestruck in South Georgia

We were soon to land on South Georgia Island…
I hoped it would be something like the photos we had seen in travel brochures—it surpassed my expectations!

But back to where we left off in the previous post—at sea. After spending Christmas Day at sea, everyone was happy to see any land again. Shag Rocks, out in the middle of seemingly nowhere, had to do. Birders were happy, the rest of us could hardly wait to get to our first two stops in South Georgia—which we reached on December 27, 2020.Read More

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West Point Island and Stanley, Falkland Islands

Windswept and gorgeous West Point Island, Falklands

West Point Island
After our rewarding morning watching Rockhopper Penguins on New Island in the Falklands, we were eager to see more. The captain and activity leader continued to follow the weather reports and decided to keep us on the north side of the island group to find more sheltered conditions for taking out the zodiacs and for our landings.Read More

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French tourism and pilgrim walks

French tourism and pilgrim walks

It was a strange feeling to be at a press luncheon in San Francisco—an event hosted by tourist offices of the region of Aquitaine and the city of Bordeaux, France. I felt like a fish out of water. Ralph and I have been to France many times, but don’t fly premier class or 5-star hotels. We generally stay in small hotels, gites (B & B’s), gîtes d’étapes (hostels), pensions, and spare bedrooms in private homes.

Lock for lovers on Paris bridge

We carry backpacks rather than matched pieces of luggage, and we buy only a few souvenirs rather than go on extensive shopping sprees. The biggest difference between our vacations in France and that of most tourists, however, is that we spend the majority of our time hiking—usually a couple of hundred miles—along one of the French Grande Randonnée (GR) routes. 

Eyes glazing over

As I talked to the hosts at the San Francisco event, I watched as their eyes glazed over as I tried to explain my mode of travel. I’m not a good enough salesperson to sell most people on the notion of long-distance hiking, but I am pretty good at describing where they might enjoy hiking if they are already of the mindset to go. In this case, the vendors of tours for oenophiles (wine connoisseurs) and of accommodations on the beaches of Biarritz were probably more interested in talking to well-heeled tourists than to one who often wears trail runners or boots. 

Not that anyone was rude (they weren’t) and don’t think for a moment that I think that the French are the only people who look at long-distance hikers askance. I often feel like “a stranger in a strange land” here. When I am around “regular” people here at home, I often sense that they don’t “get it.” Why would anyone deliberately walk rather than ride? Couch surf rather than stay in a hotel? and so forth. Even my mother always thought that what I do is a strange obsession (but is probably happy that it keeps me out of trouble.) Luckily, we have many friends and acquaintances that hike and can lend support for our mutual addiction. 

Love French cuisine

At this particular lunch, we enjoyed good wines, a fine and creamy mushroom soup, a delightful filet mignon, and Crème caramel for dessert. Even though I wasn’t representative of who French tourism most likely wants to reach, I was happy to spend my early afternoon studying the maps of Aquitaine looking up the towns that we have visited on a couple of our French hikes. I was also delighted to be treated to wine and food that reminded me of the dozens of delectable meals that I have had while on the French pilgrimage trails.

Vive la France!

As always, French tourism, thank you for your hospitality here and abroad!

Note: Our Camino routes completed in France: LePuy route starting back in Geneva, SW (GR65), Arles, and soon—the last 130 miles of the Vezelay.