The spirit is willing, but the flesh is spongy and bruised. Zap aptly describes the state of my soles, and this week I take a break, in Paris and in Reims.

While the discomfort in my joints has decreased and the strength in my legs has started to improve, the skin on my feet has not, and some nasty blisters now decorate my toes. The nights have been quite cold as well, scraping ice off my tent and wearing every single piece of clothing I have with me during the night has taken its toll, and a few nights under a roof without a sac a dos burdening me seems irresistible. I am not on some penitent pilgrimage, but more of a spiritual hike, thus I decided to take a couple of days off. As I browsed Google, I realized that visiting Paris would be twice as cheap as getting a hostel in Reims, and a Dutch choice was made. I booked a hostel and took a blablacar to the outskirts of Paris, walking the final miles to my hostel in Bastille.

By now I had built a routine of hiking, and following it felt like my second nature. On my first day, I decided to take an easy stroll through the botanic gardens, reading my books and resting my feet. After returning, my phone informed me that I had walked for 21 kilometers, and dusk still had to set. I decided I should hang out with some of the other travelers, to ensure I do not go mad, and to keep me from walking; after all, I was in Paris to heal.

I met various travelers, in the common room in the hostel, through CouchSurfing and during tours. I had a lovely day with two American girls, who could not believe I did not smoke. (After all, all Europeans do). As we took a tour of the Notre Dame, I did indulge, however. When in France, do as the French do: café, clope, caca. I hope no one noticed us; there were no ashtrays, but the roof was relatively deserted.

After Paris, I joined Laurens and Wilke, my brother and his girlfriend for champagne and more decadence in Reims. To make up for all this luxury, I vowed to not take a shower for at least a weak.

I had some great discussions with other travelers in Paris, about whom I might write a separate blog later. My blisters are healing well. A thirty-kilometer day now seems like an easy resting day, getting up late and finishing early. (That’s what she said?)