Day 15 – Walking the Via Francigena – from Crécy-sur-Serre To Laon, France
Last night I woke up at 4AM, feeling anxious over the loss of our passports, drivers’ licenses, my social security card and of course the money.
I had nightmares of identity theft and had a hard time falling back asleep.
I hugged Jules looking for comfort, but he was sleeping deeply next to me.
He was tired from the long walk we had completed that day.
Finally I fell asleep and dreamt that I should cancel my New Zealand bankcard as well.
Even though the thief does not have any of my pin codes, with all of my identifications he or she can attempt more purchases.
The first thing in the morning, after I woke up, I called New Zealand and canceled my card.
Then we got dressed, ate breakfast in the hotel and started walking.
It was a very cool morning, but we felt grateful that it did not rain.
We wore our winter coats, scarves and gloves.
Because we walked for five hours without stopping once, we did not feel very cold.
There really was nowhere to stop, even if we had wanted to.
It was a relatively short day of walking, only twenty-one kilometers.
We walked along the side of a road without sidewalks, and most cars gave us a wide berth as they passed us by.
Laon is a medieval town, built upon a large steep hill.
It towers over the flat agricultural fields around it.
At this season I saw barley and sugar beets planted.
Laon’s famous cathedral, with its amazing gothic towers, was visible miles before we approached town.
The approach to town was through a residential suburb with lots of businesses that are out of business.
Even after we started climbing the long road up to the center of town, we still saw many, many empty shops and stores for rent.
The center of Laon is charming, with cobblestone streets and old stone houses.
We looked for a cafe, but there is no coffee shop in town, only bars, restaurants and brasseries.
We stopped into a very busy brasserie and had a good lunch of a green salad with Dijon mustard sauce, roasted potatoes and goat cheese on toast.
Then we went to visit the Cathedral.
Right next to the cathedral is an information center.
The sweet woman brought us three pilgrimage stamps, and asked us to choose which we wanted.
Then she stamped our pilgrims’ passports and told us that inside the cathedral’s treasury, sits a woman who can stamp our passports with another special stamp.
We walked around the cathedral, and got the lovely stamp at the treasury.
It was a design of a divine Mother, towering over the cathedral in Laon, blessing the area.
The cathedral was built between the years 1135-1270 AD.
It is ornately decorated on the exterior with carved stone sculptures, most of them in good shape, despite having been weathered by the sun and the snow.
On the exterior of the cathedral, up in the tall gothic towers, you can see a few cows, oxen and bulls.
The reason the oxen are commemorated in this way, is in celebration of their hard work in carrying all the stones up the steep hill to build this cathedral.
An ancient story tells us that the oxen were tired form carrying stones up the Laon hill to this high location.
But one day a mythical bull arrived, and energized all the others who found untold powers, to continue carrying on the work.
After we left the cathedral, we walked the streets of the town and found a Moroccan restaurant to eat dinner.
Then I gave an elderly homeless man some money.
It felt good to be charitable, even though my own money was stolen and I am walking with the kind of coin purse that you would see a kid carrying.
Then we went to a coin laundromat and did our laundry.
They had speedy machines and we were done very quickly.
Our Bed and Breakfast for the night is a lovely place.
It is located in a grand old house with very high ceilings and a spacious parlor bedroom.
I took a long bath in the claw foot bathtub, and washed every nook of my body, babying every toe.
Then I put on the nice bathrobe and contemplated not going our for dinner.
It is a very cold night.
In fact, there is a cold spell coming our way.
The temperature range forecast for tomorrow is 36 to 42 degrees Fahrenheit.
(2 to 7 degree Celsius.)
We have another long day of walking tomorrow.
I hope it will be dry.
I really do not feel cold while we walk, even on windy or frosty mornings, as long as I am wearing my winter coat, scarf and gloves.
It is one plus of being a skier and living in the high Colorado mountains.
Your idea of what feels cold changes.
But mostly it is because we are walking without stopping all day long.
To be honest, this is the first tine in our lives that we are doing a pilgrimage of walking for eight hours a day, without a stop.
The “rule” is to stop for an average of ten minutes for every hour of walking.
We have not done that on this pilgrimage, but my feet feel perfectly fine.
Still not even one blister…. I am grateful!
From Laon, I send you blessings and light,
5 hours of walking
Active walking time – 5 hours
Daily Steps – 28,269
Daily Kilometers – 21
Total Kilometers walked from Canterbury – 325.5
Maximum Altitude today: 196 meters
Total Elevation climbed today: 1460 meters
Total Descent today: 1341 meters
From Crécy-sur-Serre To Laon, France
Le 15 – Maison de Prestige à Laon, France
A grand old B&B house with high ceilings and a spacious parlor bedroom, a claw foot bathtub and antique furniture.