Tag Archives: pilgrimage

Via Francigena Day 7/29: From Châlons-en-Champagne to Brienne-le-Château

"Teaching is only demonstrating that it is possible. Learning is making it possible to ourself.", Paulo Coelho, The Pilgrimage.

In this post…

  1. Introduction
  2. The statistics and metrics of this day
  3. The most memorable occurrences, moments and thoughts
  4. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 24, from Châlons-en-Champagne to La-Chaussée-sur-Marne
  5. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 25, from La-Chaussée-sur-Marne to Vitry-le-François
  6. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 26, from Vitry-le-François to Saint-Remy-en-Bouzemont.
  7. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 27, from Saint-Remy-en-Bouzemont to Lentilles.
  8. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 28, from Lentilles to Brienne-le-Château.
  9. Video tour of the Municipal Pilgrims’ hostel of Brienne-le-Château.
  10. Pictures of the day.

Introduction

Blog post about the 6th and 7th day published during the journey on the 23rd August 2016
Blog post about the 6th and 7th day published during the journey on the 23rd August 2016

This post complements the post I published on the 23rd of August 2016 in which I described the experiences I had on the 5th of August 2016 while riding between Châlons-en-Champagne and Brienne-le-Château, in France. I am not going to repeat the content of that post in this one again, but I will try to add a few highlights for each one of the stages below. I encourage you to read the previous post before continuing on this one.

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Statistics and metrics of the day

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Most memorable occurrences, moments and thoughts:


P1010559This was a long day in the Via Francigena. I covered several stages of the Lightfoot guide and rode almost 90 Km. It wouldn’t be productive to write again about something I have already written in this blog post, therefore if you didn’t have a chance to read the previous post click on this link, read the post and jump back here as that post does not include any of the videos for this day.


I will however mentioned P1010560again that if you are cycling this route using Google Maps for navigation, it is possible that the cycling route Google Maps will propose is the same one it did for me, in other words, along side the railway tracks after the tiny village of Arrembécourt (see video of stage 27). If you are travelling light and on a mountain bike, then that should be no problem, but if that isn’t the case and like mine your bike weights 50 Kg and is a hybrid or touring bike with touring tyres, then I would recommend that you continue the journey on the D6 towards Chavanges and take the D2 to Lentilles (the same one I took after the train track adventure). It’s a longer route, but stone free.P1010578As you arrive in Lentilles be sure to factor in some time to visit the 16th Century church built of wood and clay; the Church of St Jacques et St Philippe. Personally that small church had a bigger impact on me than many of the ostentatious cathedrals I have seen along the Via Francigena.

Another thing I want to mention before I finalize this text is the municipal pilgrims’ hostel in Brienne-le-Château and also how nice the lady in the tourism information office was to me. First of all, to stay in the pilgrims’ hostel you need to arrive in town at a time that the tourist information office is open, as you have to pay the fee and collect the hostel’s keys from there (although the hostel itself is about 2 Km away in the perimeter of town). Second, before going on the P1010589pilgrimage, like most people I did a lot of research about the route and the places to stay. I read in some blogs that some pilgrims thought the house to be haunted. I must confess, being the only pilgrim sleeping there that night made me apprehensive. The house is indeed a little spooky, but if there were other spiritual entities sharing the house with me that night they did not bother me. The house is old and used to be a hunters’ cabin so my guess is that, if there were to be any ghosts there, they would have been those of the animals that were killed (incl. the two deers whose heads are at the front wall of the house, assuming they are real)

If you want to see more pictures from this day, please take a look at my picture gallery (down below) from Flickr.

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 24, from Châlons-en-Champagne to La-Chaussée-sur-Marne

Video Length: 5 min

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 25, from La-Chaussée-sur-Marne to Vitry-le-François.

Video Length: 4 min 21 sec

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 26, from Vitry-le-François to Saint-Remy-en-Bouzemont

Video Length: 3 min 43 sec

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 27, from Saint-Remy-en-Bouzemont to Lentilles

Video Length: 5 min 7 sec

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 28, from Lentilles to Brienne-le-Château

Video Length: 4 min 19 sec

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Video tour of the Municipal Pilgrims’ hostel of Brienne-le-Château

Video Length: 7 min 30 sec

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Pictures of the day.

Click on any picture for full detail

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If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to comment or send me a message through the contact form.
Please subscribe to my Blog and/or to my YouTube channel if you don’t want to miss the next one and help me spread the word by liking and sharing my Facebook Page and Tweeter feed also.
Thank you for your time!


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07/29. Via Francigena, Châlons-en-Champagne to Brienne-le-Château [GPX File]

This GPS file represents the route I took between these two locations during my Via Francigena pilgrimage by bike from Canterbury, in the UK, to Rome, in Italy.

The route contains mistakes and tracks I may not recommend you to take, so it is important to read the respective posts for more context.

Use of this resource at your own risk.

 

Look for details here:

Faith's Way (Caminho da Fé), Day 03: From Santa Rosa de Viterbo to Casa Branca

In this post…

    1. Introduction
    2. Measures and expenses for this day (Garmin Telemetry)
    3. Stage 05: From  Santa Rosa de Viterbo to Tambaú + Video
    4. Stage 06: From Tambaú to Casa Branca + Video
    5. Pictures taken on this day.

Introduction

If this is the first post you read on this series, I recommend you take a look at the introduction post published on the 28th of February 2018. That post explains what the Faith’s Way is, my reasons for doing it and provides information that might be useful to you, if you decide you want to do it too.

In this post I will cover the 3rd day of this 12 day / 600 Km journey between the town of Santa Rosa de Viterbo and the town of Casa Branca via the town of Tambaú, all in the federal state of São Paulo.

As explained in the introduction post, I broke the entire journey into 21 stages, as per the official map of the Caminho. There will be 1 video for each stage of the journey, so the blog post for this day contains two videos. One covering the journey between Santa Rosa de Viterbo and Tambaú and the other covering the journey between Tambaú and Casa Branca.

You can download the official map of the Caminho from the website of the Friends of the Caminho Association. From there you can also download a list of credentialed accommodations for your journey. Most places in that list are simple family owned pilgrims’ hostels. Some in very rural locations (farms) others in more urban areas. Some establishments are hotels. Family owned Pilgrims’ hostels along the way have usually a set value that includes the meals as well, typically dinner and breakfast, but all hotels listed there will also offer a reduced pilgrim’s rate provided you present them your pilgrim’s credentials.

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Measures and expenses for this day (Garmin Telemetry)

  • Distance traveled from Santa Rosa de Viterbo to Casa Branca: 60.19 Km
  • Total duration of this journey: 6 h 15 min
  • Total moving time: 4h 14m
  • Overnight location at the end of the journey:
  • Total expenses on this day: R$ 70.00
    • Food: R$ 20.00 (dinner – delivery)
    • Accommodation: R$ 50.00 (Breakfast incl)
    • PS. Normally the care takers of the hostel offer dinner and breakfast together with the accommodation for R$ 70.00, but the day I was there was normal a normal day for them. Read the post below to understand why.
  • Total Elevation Gain on this track: 620m
  • Average Speed: 9.6 Km/h
  • Max Speed achieved: 57.8 Km/h
  • Average Heart Rate: 128 bpm
  • Max. Heart Rate: 163 bpm
  • Calories burned: 2,347 CAL
  • Click here to see the Garmin Connect page for this activity
Garmin Telemetry, Santa Rosa de Viterbo - Casa Branca
Elevation, Speed and Heart Rate between Santa Rosa de Viterbo and Casa Branca

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Stage 05: From  Santa Rosa de Viterbo to Tambaú + Video.

The night at the Malim Hotel was good. There was no TV in my room, but these days, who needs a TV when you have WiFi? Breakfast was good and plentiful too and I took my time enjoying it. Even spent almost 30 minutes that morning talking to the receptionist of the hotel, trying to understand if the town had any relation to the town of Viterbo in Italy, which is also along another pilgrimage route known as Via Francigena, that I completed in 2016 (it does, btw, but that was explained in the previous post).

The official map of the Caminho indicated that the distance between Santa Rosa de Viterbo and Tambaú was of 36 Km which is one of the longest stretches of the Caminho. To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to the same long stretches of fine sand and dust from the day before, but I decided to leave the hotel and follow the yellow arrows to see how the way was and decide later if I was going to stick on the original path or try to find an alternative route, if one was available.

Regional SP-332 Highway between Santa Rosa de Viterbo and Tambaú
Regional SP-332 Highway between Santa Rosa de Viterbo and Tambaú

So, I rode on the Caminho path for about 5.0 Km, following the yellow arrows on the dirt road. The terrain, however, was as sandy and difficult as those in the day before, and I was a tired and bored with the poor performance of the previous 2 days, so I decided to look for an alternative in Google Maps. I knew, from talking to the hotel staff in the morning, there was a paved road to Tambaú that followed in parallel to the Caminho path. At the little village of Nhumirim, 5 Km from Santa Rosa de Viterbo, instead of turning left at the yellow arrow indicating the Caminho path (see in the video), I followed on for another 2 Km to take the SP-332, a regional highway, to Tambaú. Therefore I obviously cannot show you the original caminho path from Nhumirim to Tambaú and I’ll leave it up to you to decide what to do if you find yourself in that position, but I can tell you that I do not regret having done the remaining 23 Km on the highway. I felt safe on that road due to the wide hard-shoulders and the fact that most of the drivers respected the 1.5 m distance. That route also did cut 6 Km of the distance between Santa Rosa de Viterbo and Tambaú and allowed me to cover these 23 remaining Km in 1h and 20 min, an average of 17 Km/h which was almost double the average of the day before. If you are on a bike I would recommend this route to you, but if you are walking, even though I don’t how the way is, it would be probably safer to stick to the Caminho path.

Tambaú Town Hall. It used to be Tambaú's old railway station.
Tambaú Town Hall. It used to be Tambaú’s old railway station.

Another downside of not following the original path is that you don’t have the yellow arrows to guide you anymore, so you will have to find your own method of navigation. I decided to ride the the town hall of Tambaú as typically this is one of the places you can get information about the path and also stamp your credential, but that was not the case. As I got to the town hall the staff told me that Caminho pilgrims are usually served at the town’s tourism information office / dept which was, however, not far from that location. Tambaú is not a village, but it is not a big town either, so everything is relatively close.

Tambaú's Tourism Department is where you can get your pilgrim's credential stamped.
Tambaú’s Tourism Department is where you can get your pilgrim’s credential stamped.

After having my pilgrim’s credential stamped at the tourism information office and, as I had gotten to Tambaú much quicker than I expected (had I followed the original Caminho path), I could afford a longer rest time there. The office has a cold water fountain available for the pilgrim’s at the lower level and I had a little snack I had brought with me. Even had time to do a quick chat with my children back in the UK. I had the feeling that Tambaú would have been a nice place to spend the night, but it was too early for me, so after 30 min or so, I resumed the journey following the yellow arrows towards Casa Branca, the next destination in the path. For those willing to stay in Tambaú the Eliana Hotel is right in front of the Tourism Information Office and is a credentialed hotel with special rates for pilgrims (requires the pilgrims’ credentials).

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Stage 06: From Tambaú to Casa Branca + Video

The 30 min rest I had in Tambaú helped a lot in terms of motivation for the next stage of the path. I left with the decision that I would return to the original caminho path and follow the yellow arrows all the way to Casa Branca, regardless of how bad it was. I also don’t regret that decision, but I could, again, have saved 3.87 Km of the journey and, perhaps, prevented one of the 3 tumbles I had during the pilgrimage, had I taken the paved road between Tambaú and Casa Branca. One of my goals was to be able to show the Caminho da Fé to others as it is. I did, however, highlight that point in the video where you can take the decision of staying on the shorter paved road or taking the longer dirt tracks to Casa Branca,

P1090306
Interior of the church in Tambaú

As I was making my way out of Tambaú I rode by the town’s main church, the so called Sanctuary of our Lady Aparecida (not to be confused with the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Aparecida do Norte) a church built by father Donizetti Tavares de Lima who was noted for his extensive work in the region and famed for his reported miracles and other wonders.

As I mentioned above, it was in this part of the journey which I took the 2nd of the 3 tumbles I had throughout my journey to Aparecida. Some of the dirt roads and tracks of the original caminho are farm tracks with a lot of fine sand and the sand banks are sometimes difficult to spot in the distance. All it takes is a moment of distraction for you to kiss the ground. In my case I was going down a little hill, picked up some speed and when the front wheel hit a sand bank it skidded to the right. Thankfully there were no injures or damage on this little accident. I also highlighted this incident in the video.

P1090319
Pilgrims on foot, about 10 Km before Casa Branca

About 10 Km before Casa Branca I met 3 female pilgrims on foot who started their journey in Tambaú earlier that day. They wanted to walk all the way to Aparecida, but were considering of doing it over several different moments i.e. walking a portion of the pilgrimage, going home, then coming back a few days later to the point they stopped, walking another portion and repeating this until they got to Aparecida. This is also a valid pilgrimage option for those who don’t have the time to do it all in one go. I met one of these 3 ladies as I arrived at the pilgrims’ hostel later that evening as she wasn’t feeling well and took the rural bus to town. Her 2 friends decided to walk the rest of the caminho to Casa Branca and only arrived late that night.

Right after arriving in Casa Branca the gimbal’s batteries died, so a small portion of the video at the end was recorded with the camera mounted on the handlebar, hence the increased shakiness of the image.

P1090326
Catholic Church of our lady of the exile in Casa Branca

As I arrived at the Catholic Church of our lady of the exile in Casa Branca, where the pilgrim’s hostel is,  I was told to go talk to Mr José or Mrs Maria, his wife. They are the care takers of the pilgrims’ hostel and for a flat rate of R$ 70.00 they usually offer dinner and breakfast to the pilgrims, in addition to the accommodation. This night in particular, Mr José told me that his wife would not be able to cook dinner as their son had been kidnapped by criminals that day, who stole his motorcycle and spanked beat him causing him to be admitted into the local hospital. Mrs Maria was understandably very nervous and stressed about that all situation. Their son later appeared and despite the beating he was OK. Because of the lack of dinner Mr José charged us with only R$ 50.00 for the accommodation and breakfast the next day.

P1090334
Night view of the Catholic Church of our lady of the exile in Casa Branca

After getting settled and having a shower, Mr José show me to the laundry area and I placed all my dirty clothes in the simple washing machine available there. Soap was also provided as well as indoor hanging lines.

The 3 pilgrim ladies and I ordered food to be delivered from a supplier recommended by Mr José, which cost exactly the R$ 20.00 we would have to paid him for dinner. Food arrived quickly, was plentiful, warm and delicious. A big plastic cup of delicious freshly squeezed orange juice came with it, as per my order. Although the room I was in had 3 beds I was the only pilgrim to sleep in it that night, The other 3 pilgrim ladies shared another room and I believe we were the only pilgrims in the hostel that night. My room had a private bathroom/toilet (suite) as well as a small separate living area with a table and a TV and although reception was not excellent it allowed me to watch the evening news while I was having dinner.

The weather that night was excellent. Not very warm, but not cold either, perfect for a little walk around the church grounds and for some night pictures.

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Pictures taken on this day.

Click on any picture for full detail

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If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to comment or send me a message through the contact form. Please subscribe to my Blog and/or to my YouTube channel if you don’t want to miss the next one and help me spread the word by liking and sharing my Facebook Page and Tweeter feed also. Thank you all for your time and “Bom Caminho!”.


Do you like these posts? Why, then, don’t you pay me a coffee to help with the blog hosting cost and as a caffeine incentive to keep me going through the long hours of the night? (Suggested amount: £2.00 or USD $3.00 or 2.50€ or whatever you want to give). You may donate through my Patreon Page or through PayPal directly. Become a Patron





Faith's Way (Caminho da Fé), Day 01: From Sertãozinho to Cravinhos

In this post…

    1. Introduction
    2. Measures and expenses for this day (Garmin Telemetry)
    3. From  Sertãozinho to Dumont + Video
    4. From Dumont to Cravinhos + Video
    5. Pictures taken on this day.

Introduction

If this is the first post you read on this series, I recommend you take a look at the introduction post published on the 28th of February 2018. That post explains what the Faith’s Way is, my reasons for doing it and provides information that might be useful to you, if you decide you want to do it too.

In this post I will cover the 1st day of this 12 day, 600 Km, journey between the town of Sertãozinho, were I started my pilgrimage, and the town of Cravinhos, both in the federal state of São Paulo.

As explained in the introduction post, I broke the entire journey into 21 stages, as per the official map of the Caminho. There will be 1 video for each stage of the journey, so the blog post for this day contains two videos. Once covering the journey between Sertãozinho and Dumont and another between Dumont and Cravinhos.

You can download the official map of the Caminho from the website of the Friends of the Caminho Association. From there you can also download a list of credentialed accommodations for your journey. Most places in that list are simple family owned pilgrims’ hostels. Some in very rural locations (farms) others in more urban areas. Some establishments are hotels. Family owned Pilgrims’ hostels along the way have usually a set value that includes the meals as well, typically dinner and breakfast, but all hotels listed there will also offer a reduced pilgrim’s rate provided you present them your pilgrim’s credentials.

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Measures and expenses for this day (Garmin Telemetry)

  • Distance traveled from Sertãozinho to Cravinhos71.54 Km
    • Please read item number 4 in this post, as this includes navigation errors on my part.
  • Total duration of this journey: 8h 25m
  • Overnight location at the end of the journey:
  • Total expenses on this day: R$ 120.90
    • Food: R$ 58.90 (pizza delivered to hotel, managed to eat only 1/2)
    • Accommodation: R$ 62.00 (Breakfast incl)
  • Total Elevation Gain on this track: 1,178m
  • Average Speed: 8.5 Km/h
  • Max Speed achieved: 46.5 Km/h
  • Average Heart Rate: 146 bpm
  • Max. Heart Rate: 180 bpm
  • Calories burned: 4,286 CAL
  • Click here to see the Garmin Connect page for this activity
First day on the Faith's Way
First day on the Faith’s Way

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From  Sertãozinho to Dumont + Video.


Being interviewed by Glogo TV Network at the hotel's parking lot.As planned the night before I woke up early and went downstairs to have breakfast with the TV crew of Globo TV. They took a lot of shoots of the crew having breakfast and helped me with some pictures. Before leaving we shoot the interview outside at the hotel’s car park, which, for several reasons, such as external noise and mistakes, required many takes. For example, during the interview I mentioned that the recordings were going to be done in Time-lapse format with a GoPRO 4, and the mere mentioned of the brand invalidated the take (advertising).

From everything that was recorded during the interview in that morning, only a tiny portion was actually aired. In my 3 seconds of fame in national television I appear saying the Caminho was mostly done on dirt tracks, hence the reason it was going to be difficult. At first this sounds kind of obvious, but what was missing there was the fact that we were speaking about my previous pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela and Rome (Via Francigena) and how most of them were on paved roads, so, since the Faith’s Way is mostly on dirt tracks, I considered this pilgrimage would be a lot harder than the previous ones, even though the distance was shorter. That’s OK though. Glad to have had the exposure I did.


P1090200After the interview the drone operator followed me in their car and did some aerial shoots of me as well as instructed me to do certain things, which otherwise wouldn’t be in my nature to do, such as to raise my arms at the statue of our lady by the town’s gate. Due to these activities I actually left Sertãozinho quite late, at around 10:30am. About 1 Km after the small statue of our lady were the last aerial shot was taken by the drone operator (you’ll see it in the video), I crossed underneath the motorway and took a small road out of town which soon turned into a dirt road.

A guy on a motorbike rode parallel to me for a few meters and the biker asked me questions such as were I was going and if I was alone. I was honestly very reluctant to talk to him as many robbers use this method to steal. Thankfully that wasn’t the case and my ride to the small town of Dumont was uneventful, despite the very thin sand and dust on the roads as it hadn’t rained for over 2 months there.

Almost the entire path is done among sugar cane plantations, so the views aren’t that great, but there are places worth a few pictures along this way.

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From Dumont to Cravinhos + Video

Coffee Plantation on the left and the small town of Dumont in the background
Coffee Plantation on the left and the small town of Dumont in the background

As I arrived in Dumont I stopped for some pictures and to determine were to stamp my pilgrim’s credential. I figured out that the pilgrims’ hostel in the list of accommodations was actually outside of town and moved on.

This hostel is maintained by the Veronezi family in their property outside of town. As I arrived at the Veronezi farm, I turned left and went to the meat shop (Casa Veronezi) were the lose stones at the car park caused me to fall off my bike for the 1st time. It was a really stupid fall due to the fact the front wheel skidded on the lose stones on the ground and my right foot got stuck in the pedal straps. Unfortunately I ended up tearing my Castelli leg warmer in the process, a little piece of cycling wear I was very fond of 🙁

Met with Alvaro at the meat house who directed me to the hostel were I met his mother Ms Helena Veronezi. Alvaro runs the meat house while Mrs Helena takes care of the pilgrims and runs the hostel. Very nice people. Ms Helena stamped my credentials and offered me water and fruit. As I left the Veronezi’s I was told there would be a locked gate by their fish pond, but that I should just ask their daughter to open the gate for me at the bar near the lake, so I did.

Zé Goleiro Bar
Zé Goleiro Bar

Continuing on dirt tracks among the sugar cane plantations I got to Zé Goleiro bar (José, the Goalkeeper’s bar), an establishment that has been there in the middle of nowhere since 1937 which is now run by Zé Goleiro´s son as Zé Goleiro died in 2009. Very interesting place with a lot of stuff hanging from the ceiling.

The map of the Caminho indicates the distance between Dumont and Cravinhos is of 37 Km, but the map doesn’t indicate the point in Cravinhos where those 37 Km end. The two establishments listed in the accommodation guide for Cravinhos are somewhat on the outskirts of the town, especially the one I decided to spend the night in, the Cravinhos Park Hotel, which out of the two appeared to be the better one and did accept credits cards also (although not highlighted in the guide).

As I got to Cravinhos, I made the mistake of assuming the yellow arrows would lead me to these establishments. Unless I’ve missed an arrow somewhere, they didn’t seem to. I honestly only saw yellow arrows pointing in the direction I went.

Red line is the path I took. Blue line is the path I should have taken.
Red line is the path I took. Blue line is the path I should have taken.

Unfortunately, as stubborn as I am, I continued blindly following the arrows out of town, only stopping at a petrol station some 7 to 8 Km out of town to ask for directions. To be honest, there wasn’t anyone available to ask for directions outside of town anyway, but I should have turned back earlier.

Once the staff at the petrol station told me how far back I would have to ride to get to the hotel I was faced with the decision of going back or moving forward. I decided to go back because it was already getting dark and according to the map the nearest town was 31 Km away, perhaps a little nearer since I had already done about 7 Km out of town, so I decided to go back. This led me to ride an additional 18.69 Km, in other words, I rode 55.69 Km in total between Dumont and Cravinhos that day. So take notice of that, if you plan to start your pilgrimage from Sertãozinho as I did.

I have arrived at the hotel in the dark of night, which wasn’t cool, but it all belongs to the adventure. In a pilgrimage you should always expect the unexpected.

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Pictures taken on this day.

Click on any picture for full detail

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If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to comment or send me a message through the contact form. Please subscribe to my Blog and/or to my YouTube channel if you don’t want to miss the next one and help me spread the word by liking and sharing my Facebook Page and Tweeter feed also.

Thank you all for your time and “Bom Caminho!”.


Do you like these posts? Why, then, don’t you pay me a coffee to help with the blog hosting cost and as a caffeine incentive to keep me going through the long hours of the night? (Suggested amount: £2.00 or USD $3.00 or 2.50€ or whatever you want to give).
You may donate through my Patreon Page or through PayPal directly.

Become a Patron

Via Francigena, Day 6/29: From Reims to Châlons-en-Champagne


"I like to walk at my ease, and stop when I like. A wandering life is what I want. To walk through a beautiful country in fine weather, without being obliged to hurry, with a pleasant prospect at the end, is of all kinds of life, the one best suited to my taste.", Rousseau.

In this post…

  1. Introduction
  2. The statistics and metrics of the day
  3. The most memorable occurrences, moments and thoughts
  4. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 21, from Reims to Verzenay
  5. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 22, from Verzenay to Condé-sur-Marne
  6. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 23, from Condé-sur-Marne to Châlons-en-Champagne.
  7. Pictures of the day.

Introduction

Blog post about the 6th and 7th day published during the journey on the 23rd August 2016
Blog post about the 6th and 7th day published during the journey on the 23rd August 2016

This post complements the post I published on the 23rd of August 2016 in which I described the experiences I had on the 4th of August 2016 while riding between Reims and Châlons-en-Champagne in France. I am not going to repeat the content of that post in this one again, but I will try to add a few highlights for each one of the stages below. I encourage you to read the previous post before continuing on this one.

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Statistics and metrics of the day

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Most memorable occurrences, moments and thoughts:

Champagne cork seats in Reims' Tourist Information Office
Champagne cork seats in Reims’ Tourist Information Office

As I mentioned on the earlier post, I left Reims quite late because I walked to a nearby MacDonalds to have breakfast and to the Tourism Information Office to get my pilgrim’s credential stamped. On the way back I decided to go have a chat with a couple that was sitting with their bikes on a café and, confirming my suspicions they were also Francigena Pilgrims who started in Canterbury and were heading to Rome by bike.

Giovanni and wife were also cycling from Canterbury to Rome
Giovanni and wife were also cycling from Canterbury to Rome

The gentleman’s name was Giovanni. Unfortunately  I forgot to write their names down and don’t remember the name of his wife anymore.  I believe she was German, but I could be mistaken. They were, at that time, the first cycling pilgrims I had seen on the journey, so I was very happy to meet them, even though I thought it was going to be the last time I see them as they were following a different route. They were riding Mountain Bikes and decided for a rougher track. I was, however, wrong. As I arrived in Châlons-en-Champagne at the end of the day, guess who I met at the Tourism Information Office? Exactly! Small world. We then got our pilgrims’ credentials stamped and the address of the local youth hostel and decided to spend the night there.

Myself in Yellow, David at my side. On the other side of the table, Fabio in blue and Giovanni and wife.
Myself in Yellow, David at my side. On the other side of the table, Fabio in blue and Giovanni and wife.

The Youth Hostel in Châlons-en-Champagne is very good. Typical hostel with rooms containing several bunk beds, but every thing was clean and tidy. There we meet other pilgrims and travelers, like David from Belgium, who wanted to walk all the way to Santiago de Compostela, and Fabio who was just cycling from Holland, were he lived with family, to his home town  of Brindisi in Italy. Fabio had already bought some food on the local market and invited us all for dinner. A delicious pasta, that he cooked in the Youth Hostel’s guest kitchen.

After dinner we all went out for a walk around town and for some beers. It was a great evening in the company of some really nice people.

The journey from Reims to Châlons-en-Champagne was really beautiful, despite the rain and the risk of falling due to the slippery tyre grooves on the ground of the canal towpath.

Champagne Vineyards on the way to Verzenay.
Champagne Vineyards on the way to Verzenay.

On the way to Verzenay I rode among the vineyards of champagne produces like Moet et Chandon, one of the most recognisable (and expensive) brands of Champagne. If was like being in the middle of a sea of grapes. I was tempted to eat a few off the trees, but they appeared to be too green. As in Verzenay, everything in Condé-sur-Marne was closed, so I couldn’t find any place to stamp my pilgrim’s credentials.

Those tyre grooves where my bike is standing were at times quite deep and with the rain quite muddy and slippery. Really beautiful ride though.
Those tyre grooves where my bike is standing were at times quite deep and with the rain quite muddy and slippery. Really beautiful ride though.
Felt almost like I was riding on a "Cycling Autobahn". Very smooth surface.
Felt almost like I was riding on a “Cycling Autobahn”. Very smooth surface.

From Condé-sur-Marne to Châlons-en-Champagne was entirely done on canal towpaths as my bike was also heavy in the front (I had 2x 10 Kg panniers in the front) it wasn’t easy to steer quickly at times and the grooves were wet and narrow and had quite a bit of mud in them. The townpath eventually became a concrete paved cycle lane and I felt like I was riding on a “Cycling Autobahn”. It was one of the best cycle lanes I rode in life, completely smooth.

Although I covered less than 54 Km this day and despite the rain I had a great time cycling this track and would recommend it to everyone, pilgrim or not.

Please take a look at my picture album (down below) for this day in Flickr.

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 21, from Reims to Verzenay

Video Length: 4 min and 19 sec

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 22, From Verzenay to Condé-sur-Marne.

Video Length: 4 min 36 sec

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 23, From Condé-sur-Marne to Châlons-en-Champagne

Video Length: 5 min 10 sec

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Pictures of the day.

Click on any picture for full detail

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06/29. Via Francigena, Reims to Châlons-en-Champagne [GPX File]

This GPS file represents the route I took between these two locations during my Via Francigena pilgrimage by bike from Canterbury, in the UK, to Rome, in Italy.

The route contains mistakes and tracks I may not recommend you to take, so it is important to read the respective posts for more context.

Use of this resource at your own risk.

 

Look for details here: https://wp.me/p60ak1-1jb

Faith's Way (Caminho da Fé): Introduction and Day Zero

Introduction to the Faith’s Way (Path of Faith) and day Zero of my pilgrimage

In this post…

    1. Introduction
    2. Video Interview with Mr Almiro Grings, the creator of the Faith’s Way
    3. Statistics, Expenses and my daily log for the Faith’s Way (Download of Excel file)
    4. Day ZERO: My trip by bus from Jataí to Sertãozinho
    5. Pictures of day ZERO.

Introduction

I speak most of this introduction on the video below, so if reading is not your thing, feel free to watch the video and skip the words.

In September 2017 I completed by bicycle the 571 Km (357 miles) of the Faith’s Way, or Caminho da Fé in Portuguese, which for me turned out to be about 600 Km due to my choices and mistakes. The Caminho da Fe is sometimes also known as the Path of Faith.

My route along the Faith's Way from Sertãozinho to Aparecida do Norte.
My route along the Faith’s Way from Sertãozinho to Aparecida do Norte.

The Faith’s Way is a pilgrimage route in which the pilgrims may choose to start from different locations, depending on the distance they want to cover. I decided for the longest route starting in the small town of Sertãozinho in the State of São Paulo.

Regardless where pilgrims start, like in the pilgrimage of the Santiago de Compostela, the destination is always the same: In this case, the Catholic Basilica of the Sanctuary of our Lady in the town of Aparecida do Norte, also in the state of São Paulo.

I am posting this introduction mainly for those who have never heard of this pilgrimage route, but also for those who may already have heard of it, but have not attempted to do it yet.

The English version of this post will be rather different than the Portuguese one. Reason being is that there is already a great amount of information available in the web about the Faith’s Way, but mostly in Brazilian Portuguese.

So, while for Portuguese speakers I can just point them in the right direction and provide them with the web links, in English I think I need to provide a little more contextual information to improve understanding and be worth your time. If you can, however, read in Portuguese, a good point to start is the web site of the Friends of the Caminho Association on www.caminhodafe.com.br.  I’ve been told that the English version of their page is in the works though.

There are also numerous online groups (Facebook, WhatsApp, etc) where thousands of pilgrims and pilgrims to be can exchange information and provide virtual help and support. Again, I am unaware of the existence of such groups in English Language. Please leave a comment below if you would like me to create one.

The Faith’s Way, or the “Caminho” was the brain child of 3 Brazilian Compostela pilgrims, who, after having completed the pilgrimage in Spain a few times had the idea of creating a similar pilgrimage route in Brazil, linking their home town of Águas da Prata (which translates to Silver Waters in Portuguese) in the State of São Paulo to the Sanctuary in Aparecida.

The Sanctuary in Aparecida had been a pilgrim destination for generations already, but there wasn’t up to that point an organized pilgrims’ path with hostels and support along the route, as there is on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.

By sharing my experiences on the “Caminho” my goal is to help spread the word of this pilgrimage route outside of Brazil and, perhaps, help those who may be interested in walking or cycling the route, by showing them what to expect along the way, at least if they chose to do the same route and in the same weather conditions I did mine.

Please help me achieve my goal by clicking the “Like” or the Thumbs-up button in YouTube, leaving your questions and comments and sharing this post with others who might be interested in these types of adventure or alternative forms of traveling. Together with this post I have also published a short interview with Mr Almiro Grings, the creator of the Caminho. I recorded the interview during my passage at the Friends of the Caminho Association, which also doubles as a pilgrims’ hostel, in the town of Águas da Prata, when I got there during my pilgrimage. The video is in Portuguese with English subtitles.

Well, those that follow this blog will know that the Caminho is not my first long distance cycling pilgrimage. It is in fact the 3rd one.

In 2015 I cycled the 820 Km of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela from the French town of Saint Jean Pied de Port (known as the French way) and in 2016 I cycled 2,048 Km from the English town of Canterbury in Kent to the Vatican City in Italy in a pilgrimage route known as Via Francigena.

It is honestly not that easy to explain in detail why, in the past 3 years, I have been doing this because everyone was different, but the most simple and concise answer would be: I like the Physical and mental challenges and also the opportunities of introspection that such long bike rides allow, which are actually quite similar to those walking the way, but obviously not as time consuming.

I chose to do the Caminho from the town of Sertãozinho mainly for two reasons:

  1. Because there was a certain logistical advantage for me personally to start the pilgrimage from there. There is a direct bus connection between the small town I was living, at that time, in Brazil and the city of Ribeirão Preto in the state of São Paulo. Ribeirão Preto is situated just 20 Km (13 miles) away from Sertãozinho and therefore I would not need to change buses (which I ended up doing anyway, but it was beneficial and not as complicated as I thought it would be). A plus if you are carrying your luggage plus a dismantled bike with you in the bus.
  2. Because the route starting from Sertãozinho was, at the time I did it, the longest path to the sanctuary of Aparecida and I was keen to spend more time on the road.
Official Map of the Faith's Way (Caminho da Fé)
Official Map of the Faith’s Way (Caminho da Fé)

If you look at the map of the Caminho, available for download from the web page of the Friends of the Caminho Association, you’ll see that you may start your pilgrimage in in many of the so called “branches” of the route or in most towns / places along the way.

The key to starting your pilgrimage and officially becoming a pilgrim is the pilgrim’s credential which you’ll find in many (but not all) places along the way.

All branches combine in Águas da Prata, which was where the Caminho was first created and from there the route to Aparecida follows the original path.

I already published all my experiences on the Camino de Santiago in 2015 in the EyeCycled blog and in the YouTube channel, but I am still working on the posts and videos of the 2016 Via Francigena pilgrimage to Rome.

With this post I am starting the pilgrimage posts and videos of the Caminho da Fé which will follow the same basic principles of previous pilgrimage posts. As my goal is to show how my pilgrimage developed, I typically turned the camera on at the start of the day’s journey and turned it off when I reached my destination for that day.

By reading or watching my experiences, future pilgrims can perhaps use them as a guide and decide to follow the same route I did, or not.

As no one in their right mind would watch several hours of cycling videos, I recorded the entire journey using a type of video recording called “Time-Lapse“. In this type of recording the camera takes a high resolution picture (4k) every 0.5 seconds and internally builds a video with them at the end of the recording.

This makes the video look very accelerated in time. In fact, each 10 minutes or so in real life represent about 10 seconds of video footage, so it is possible to watch an entire day in the journey in just a few minutes without missing a single meter of the track.

The disadvantage of these types of recordings are, obviously, the speed in which everything is shown and the vibration of the camera which in an accelerated speed is much more pronounced and notable.

This can be reduced with a device called a Gimbal, whose function I already explained in a previous blog post and videos in the channel. The Caminho was the 1st time I used this device in a consistent manner and for long distances and periods of time.

Although the gimbal helps reduce the effects of the vibration it does not eliminate them completely, due to the potholes, stones, gravel and uneven surfaces of the path, mostly on dirt roads and footpaths.

My intention is to publish posts and videos about the Caminho da Fé every two weeks, but I already know this may be just wishful thinking due to upcoming periods of intense travel and work. If you look at the map of the Caminho again, you’ll see that between Sertãozinho and Aparecida there are 21 major tracks. My intention is to publish a time lapse video for each one. I also want them to be bilingual, so current expectations are that I need to produce at least 42 videos, not counting this introduction video and other, shorter videos I recorded along the way.

This also added to the fact I will publish 1 blog post for each day of my journey in English and Portuguese as well, containing pictures, tips and highlights, so I am not making promises I won’t be able to keep. It will be done when it’s done, regardless of how long it takes.

One could say, there is a reason it is called this pilgrimage is called “The Faith’s Way”… having faith in yourself in generally a requirement. I have faith I’ll complete this work and count with your support in doing so.

I don’t do this work expecting a financial benefit in return, but I have costs to maintain the blog, such as hosting and domain reservation, and this work demands a lot of my time. In fact, it takes me a lot longer to do this as it did take me to ride the entire way, so if you are feeling generous, please go to me Patreon page through which you can contribute with a small donation to help maintain the blog running with coffee to keep me going late nights.

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Video Interview with Mr Almiro Grings, the creator of the Faith’s Way

The following video interview was recorded at the Friends of the Caminho Association in Águas da Prata in September 2017.

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Statistics, expenses and my daily log on the Faith’s Way

The Excel file below contains the statistics of the journey (as collected by my Garmin Edge 810), such as distances, Elevation, Speeds, Average Heart Beat, etc, as well as the expenses, accommodation and the notes I recorded along the way.

Elevation vs Speed along the route
Elevation vs Speed along the route

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Day ZERO: My trip by bus from Jataí to Sertãozinho

Route from Jataí to Ribeirão PretoI decided to write a little about how I got to the starting point of the pilgrimage, not because it may help you direclty, but because it may get you to understand the logistics of getting to the starting point. As previously mentioned, I had to find a way to get to starting point of the pilgrimage, which I chose to be the town of Sertãozinho in the federal state of São Paulo. I was living in a small town called Jataí, in the state of Góias at the time. If you live outside of Brazil you will probably start your journey from a much bigger city, likely a capital and will have to find your own way to get to the starting point. There are buses from the city of São Paulo directly to Sertãozinho and flights to Ribeirão Preto, which is just 20 Km away from Sertãozinho.

I tried in vain to find somewhere who had a car and wanted to share this adventure with me, but it is hard to find someone with the willingness to do it and, most importantly with the time, which is a significant length of time away from work, family, etc.

Our bus was stopped by the Federal Highway Police at the station near the city of Uberaba in the state of Minas Gerais.
Our bus was stopped by the Federal Highway Police at the station near the city of Uberaba in the state of Minas Gerais.

As I couldn’t find anyone, I started to look at the options of getting to Sertãozinho from Jataí. Jataí is a small town and doesn’t have an airport the offers regular flights. Sertãozinho is also a small town, but quite near from a bigger city called Ribeirão Preto. Ribeirão has a regional airport with flights to/from a number of destinations, including the capital of the state of Goias, Goiânia. The problem is that a trip to Goiânia is 320 Km and would have to be made by bus anyway, so as there was a directly bus connection from Jataí to Ribeirão Preto, I decided on this option. It would be a longer and less comfortable journey, but it would be direct and cheaper also. I spent R$ 135.00 on the bus ticket. The distance between Jatai and Ribeirão Preto was 715 Km, but the journey, which should have taken about 12h, was delayed for more than 2h at the station of the Federal Highway police in Uberaba, state of Minas Gerais, as they stopped and searched to bus due to an apparently anonymous tip-off they received that someone in that bus would be smuggling drugs to Sâo Paulo and the tip-off proved to be right. They found the smuggler together with 10 Kg of Cocaine Paste. Expect the unexpected!

Urban bus from Sertâozinho to Ribeirão Preto in the background
Urban bus from Sertâozinho to Ribeirão Preto in the background

In Ribeirão Preto I had to option of assembling the bike and riding the 20 Km to Sertãozinho, which I was advised against due to some areas of high incidence of crime I had to go through, or take an urban bus from Ribeirão Preto to Sertãozinho. As I arrived at Ribeirão Preto’s bus station, I asked around and found out from which platform the bus to Sertãozinho was departing. I had to take the lift downstairs, turn left, walk a few meters and take another lift upstairs to the platform where the local buses departed. The bus to Sertãozinho was already there and was about 3/4 full.

Me, in the bus from Ribeirão to Sertãozinho, seating in the seat usally reserved for disabled passengers and holding the bike upright.
Me, in the bus from Ribeirão to Sertãozinho, seating in the seat usally reserved for disabled passengers and holding the bike upright.

The problem was that that bus was a urban type and had no boot or facilities to carry bikes, so the driver told me to seat in the seat reserved for disabled people and hold the bike upright.

The journey to Sertãozinho was short, about 30 min. Upon arriving at Sertãozinho’s bus station, I assembled the bike and rode to the hotel (about 1.5 Km away). Did the check-in in the Agapito Hotel, the only hotel in the official list of  accommodation of the Friends of the Caminho Association, and got my pilgrim’s credential. In the evening I met with a TV crew from Globo TV, Brazil’s largest TV network.I knew they were coming as I was told by the hotel receptionist when I called to make my reservation a few days before. We went out for a meal that evening, talked about a lot of things, incl. my previous pilgrimages and agreed on an interview in the morning the next day.

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Pictures of day ZERO.

Click on any picture for full detail