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Time For a Walk in Toulouse

After spending a few days in Toulouse getting over jet lag, I’m quickly rushing through this to provide a small update before we head out tomorrow morning to hike the Camino Del Norte, mainly because the sooner I finish the sooner we can pack up this netbook for safekeeping (also known as exposing it to the whims of the Spanish postal system). Since any belongings we want access to over the next 5 weeks will have to be carried on our backs for anywhere from 18 to 32 kilometres per day, well, let’s just say the bar has been raised significantly with regard to what comes and what gets to spend the next month or so in a box in the dusty backroom of the Santiago de Compostela post office. Sure, technically I can post blogs from my phone, but the typing is obviously painful, and in the interest of maintaining a working relationship with my phone it is imperative to keep the number of times it autocorrects me when I try to use Spanish words to a minimum. Anyway, there will of course be Facebook and Instagram updates. We’re not barbarians, after all.

Moving on to how we spent our first week back in Europe:

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Flew into Toulouse, a city in Southern France known as “The Pink City”. I suppose, I mean, it seems sort of pinkish in places, I guess. Regardless of colour, however, it is a pretty great place, full of old buildings, cool canals, great river views, vibrant crowds of university students, outdoor cafés and dozens of Lebanese guys offering you drugs. Actually, that last part was mostly restricted to the area directly around our AirBnB, and they were always quite polite. Maybe because they felt a connection to me, what with us all wearing matching sweatpants/tight fleece top ensembles. Plus, there were kebab shops everywhere.

Our plan was to spend a few very leisurely days working our way through jet-lag before heading off for our hike, a plan which went pretty well, mainly thanks to the magic of sleeping pills. Mind you, waking up from those first few afternoon naps was a bit like dragging our dying corpse up from the depths of a coal mine with nothing but a pair of toothpicks to keep our eyes open. In other words, awesome.

Then we took a bus to San Sebastian, normally the second night’s stop on the Camino Del Norte. We screwed around a bit with convention, however, spending three nights there, breaking the first day’s hike – a tough 25 km up and over two large hills – up into a pair of warm-up day hikes. And, wouldn’t you know it, the rain that had been going for days suddenly stopped just as we crested the first panoramic ridge, like it was meant to be. By which I mean, like the forecast predicted. But still. Incredible views that bode well for the rest of the hike. The following day was even better, with clear blue skies that sound as rare in these parts as middle-aged men who don’t smoke on the street.

San Sebastian itself is a pretty amazing city, we can easily see why so many people rave about it. A massive pedestrian old town, good day hikes, impressive lookouts, a river runs through it, and two, count ‘em, two, incredible beaches, separated only by the old town and the really crappy Lidl that provided us with affordably generic groceries throughout our stay. The type that wouldn’t seem out of place in Hawaii or Thailand, let alone in a European city. Surfing, sunbathing, dogs, they really have it all.

Anyway, I can’t tell you anything more that can’t be better explained in photos, so that’s about that. Our friend, Leigh, should be rolling into town any minute (he is currently working his way through day one all at once, such a stickler for the rules, that one), and so we need to be on our way to the post office to offload all items deemed unnecessary for the next 5 weeks (i.e. beard trimmer, belt, a 3rd pair of underwear), then we will all convene to discuss strategy. Which will probably amount to: get up tomorrow, walk all day, complain all night, repeat. Maybe throw a in a beer here or there. Time will tell. Buen Camino!

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