Day 3 – Oloron St Marie 

Today began having breakfast with a priest who spoke no English and Irishman Patrick who spoke plenty.  It rained heavily overnight so I discovered the clothes which I’d washed by hand the night before, and had hung out to dry, were soaked. I thought they were protected under the eves. So my pack today is heavier than I had hoped. I had actually decided to lighten the load by leaving behind a hardback book I was planning to read along the way, I’ll get the Kindle version.
In any case I’m very grateful for the beautiful weather the first two days. It made it much easier for me to acclimate to backpack life, navigating the trail makers of my route on the GR 78 or Voie de Piemont.

So it was on with full rain gear to begin the day and a long slog down busy roads trying to find where the path began. I was once again guided on my way as I just happened to look up and discover a clam shell marking what could not possibly be the right way! Of course it was correct. I was happy to get off the busy roads especially being covered head to toe in my green rain-gear I was looking like a runaway shrubbery.

Given the heavy rains overnight and the continued drizzle the paths were a bit muddy. Fortunately, today’s walk had no steep terrain to negotiate. The only Pilgrim I met on the path was, Adrian, the Brit from dinner last night. I came upon him as he was struggling to remove his mud covered raingear. He was loading his pack etc into a car which was a confusing sight. He told me that the path further ahead was impassable. He tried but it was a swamp from the rain. Some people had happened by and offered him a lift. They suggested an alternate route which I gladly took. (No idea why they neglected to offer me a ride too!).

After 5 miles of secondary roads I arrived at 3:00. Bad timing in this town. Almost all restaurants here close on Mondays. The few that are open are closed between 2-4. Others don’t open till 7:30. No lunch today!

I checked in to the refuge/hostel which is very clean and well run but not one person spoke English. I’ll be sharing a four bed room with 2 men and one woman, all French. I was able to communicate with the staff that I needed to do laundry. Last nights load was added to and re-washed, thankfully dried, and much lighter.

I wandered to the historic district and finally found a little place open to serve me a meal. Not the best but it was early. They closed when I finished eating. Later I went out later in search of gelato and the whole town seemed closed. So I sat in the town center park to take advantage of the free wifi offered there.

This town is known to have been the center of the French resistance in WWII. They are quite proud of that and those I’ve spoken with along they way have said they are grateful to the Americans. They also claim originating the beret…. sounds a bit like Frank Pepe’s pizza at home originating pizza.

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