It’s been several days since I posted and a lot has been going on — all of it good. After leaving Perugia I stayed almost a week in Vienna, visiting pilgrim friends. Among the group from my 2011 camino were Sebastian (a German pilgrim and fireman), Jacqueline, (a German speaker from Austria who was our helpful host), Martin (an Englishman who speaks fluent German), Annina (another Austrian who speaks German) and Monique (a Swiss woman whose primary language is German). Yes, that’s a lot of German, and they were nice enough to speak in English for the one non-German speaker in the crowd. We had a fabulous time, full of memories and friendship and warmth. Our “camino family” meets for a reunion twice a year, but this is the first time I’ve been able to join them. Kudos to Jacqueline for her great job organizing our schedules and flights to get us in the same (beautiful) place for a great time.
After a quick trip to explore Salzburg, I headed to the airport and flew to Florence to begin my month of walking and writing as I make my way to Assisi and on to Rome. After I arrived I spent a relaxed time in preparation, and the next day (Friday, June 27) I headed out to retrace the walk Jacqueline and I took a few weeks ago to Sant’Ellero, the first stage out of Florence. This time I wanted to get a good GPS track of it and also catch up on some photos. The walk went well and I have good text, photos, a map and other materials to send as a sample to my editor. I took the train back to Florence to spend the night there and immediately headed to the Basilica of Santa Croce, which is the starting point of this walk, to see if I could get in, but I missed it by just a few minutes. This is the third time I’ve missed entry to Santa Croce, and sadly it was my last time in Florence. My photos from the exterior will have to do.
The next morning (Saturday, June 28), I toyed with the idea of waiting until 9:30 so I could get into Santa Croce, but instead jumped back on the train at about 8:30, got off at Sant’Ellero and walked from there to the little village of Consuma, near the top of the Passo del Consuma over the mountain ridge from Florence. On this stage I met other pilgrims! A German trio of women is walking as far as Sansepolcro, about a week from here. One of them (Christine) has pretty decent English and she apparently has been designated to speak English with me. We played leapfrog (figuratively) on the way up the mighty climb to Consuma. They stayed last night at the same hotel as me — the Hotel Miramonti, but had dinner on their own. I suggested we get together for dinner the next night (tonight) when we’re all staying at Stia.
I got up early this morning (June 29) and headed out of the hotel at about 7:15 so I’d have more time to rest and write at my next goal, the village of Stia. The 16km day was tiring, mostly because I’m not quite in “pilgrim shape” yet and my leg muscles were tired from the day before. When I arrived in Stia the waitress/front desk person greeted me and told me my passport was on the way. “Passport?” I said. “I have it right here.” It was then that I realized the front desk at the Hotel Miramonti hadn’t returned my passport to me — and I hadn’t asked for it. I’d walked all day without it. “I know more than you,” the kind woman said with a smile. “There are some German pilgrims who are bringing it for you.” As I was finishing lunch Christine arrived with my passport in hand. I didn’t really miss it, but it’s nice to have it back. I know I would’ve missed it later.
So . . . .I’m sitting here in my hotel room on Stia’s main street, procrastinating and blogging instead of writing in my book. I’ll have dinner later with my three new friends. It’s been a lovely day that ended well, thanks to some German pilgrims. (P.S. I’d take a photo of my passport, but in the European style the front desk at the hotel has it).