BUSKING TO SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
Sunday 30 May 1999
Beautiful walk along the Marne-Rhine canal - herons and buzzards everywhere. On the horizon, the Vosges. Stay with a French woodcutter, his German wife and their five birds, three rabbits and a ferret. She's an animal- rights activist. Spends the evening vilifying the French, Germans, Arabs, and blacks. I bite my tongue.
Into the hills. Steep climb to a ridge. Eat lunch. Deer trots out of pines. I freeze. After five minutes, she bolts. Late in the afternoon, conquer the 1,008m (3,306ft) le Donon. Here I join the path to the Alps. Looking west, the canal glints in the sun. Feel I've come a long way. One thing jars: I'm on a mountain, but it's not raining.
Busking in Schirmeck. Remarkably generous audience: make FFr200, DM8, US$1, and a large bag of prawns. Luckily a local puts me up for the night and we share them, so am spared a reeking rucksack.
A frustrating morning. Map and waymarks consistently disagree. Sweat and swear my way up to Struthof, concentration camp and museum. One other visitor: a punctured German cyclist. We fix the tyre, then go round the camp. Joined by a German school party, as sobered by it all as I am. "Crazy. Never again," they say.
Busking in Barr, a lovely wine town on the edge of the Rhine valley. Great reception: invited to play at town hall all afternoon. More Alsatian generosity: a woman gives me bread, sausages and the local hooch. "Pilgrimages are food for the soul, this is for your body."
Through the vineyards and into the hills. Nostrils assailed by stench. Yes, they're garlic sausages! Look south towards mountains. Get feeling this is where the real legwork starts.
Look beyond the usual shows for the best festive telly
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
The battle for control of Stieg Larsson's £30m legacy
- 1 Tim Sherwood challenges Daniel Levy to set out vision for Tottenham Hotspur’s future
- 2 French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 #Teamnigella: It’s the only side to be on
- 5 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
David Cameron takes his biggest gamble yet as he gets tough on Europe over immigration
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
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