Exiting Reims, my route stretches out over the Riverlands of the Somme, littered with ancient and abandoned buildings, watermills and, heavy industry. After two days of walking, I reach Chalons with its magnificent Cathedral. Continuing down the canal, the scenery reminds me of the Netherlands as I walk over the dikes past pastures and small forests. In one of these small, picturesque villages I encountered a shop; hilariously providing every single need of the average French farmer: it sold petrol from two small machines, beer and wine at a small two-table-terrace, lotto tickets, croissants and coffee, and every Wednesday they use their oven to bake pizzas.

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From Calais, the Via Francigena first makes a detour to the village of Wissant by the coast, approximately 30 kilometers south-west. The second part of this trail features some of the most gorgeous scenery I have encountered in Europe, as the path traverses the steep cliffs by the sea. England is indeed visible from this point of France; it seemed as if I could make out the cliffs of Dover themselves.

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In Canterbury, England, I commenced my journey to Rome. I am hiking the Via Francigena, an ancient route originally traversed by Pilgrims seeking to visit the Holy Land, visiting Rome before continuing to the south, as most ports were located in Apulia, the heel of Italy.

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Karel L. Kubat

science, programming and some rantings

Netherlands