Couvent de Malet* (120€ dp for two nights)
From our tower window the weather looks bleak, with no sun in sight as yet. Yuk! Lovely breakfast. The host calls to reserve Wednesday and Thursday ahead. We have heard that Friday and Saturday are full again everywhere, but will ask our next host to see what he can do. Two calls seem to be the limit. So… On a ve! (Let’s go!). Up and out of town at 9 AM. It is Monday and the town’s sandwich place has no bread, so no lunch on the road. Not to worry, it’s a diet opportunity. Up, Up, Up, then Down, Down, Down… Spring and green all around… wending our way through tall-tree forests with a rusty carpet – last season’s leaves – beneath their stately trunks. The trail is semi-dry for a while, then running with water and mud. No guessing what’s ahead. We suddenly round a corner and are welcomed by the sound of laughter and the smell of strong coffee emanating from a small, rustic stone refuge. Inside, there’s a stand set up for pilgrims… 1€ per person for hot, delicious coffee, a biscuit and lots of good conversation, some even in English. What a great break with stories swapped by all. The Dutch, Swiss and German seem to all speak some English, a gift to us. So onward, going downhill now, towards rushing rivers carrying snowmelt and recent rain, and gushing through gorges. New flowers and always the patient cows and birdsong. We hear a cuckoo in the distance. We elect to take an easier route to the next town (by a paved road and out of muddy ditches) and arrive about 3 PM, passing beautifully-tended gardens blooming furiously. New vegies sprouting as well. We are in a valley surrounded by high rolling hills with ancient towns on the ridges. At the edge of St. Come-d’Olt, we find our convent, newly renovated and magnificent. A personable volunteer from Geneva shows us to our simple room (all ours) and we are pleased… sheets, towels, radiator for laundry, soap, clean… perfect! We head to town and land in a little bar for cheese, bread and wine. Then a short hike back to our room and a nap. Dinner is served at 7, cafeteria-style… and for the first time… really bad food… but fortunately there’s wine which makes up for the food. Off to bed at 8:30. We have walked 153 kilometers and, fingers crossed, our feet, backs and general disposition are OK.