TUESDAY, JUNE 20: DAY SIX - Grand St Bernard to Aosta 28 Kms
Sil: I think I died last night because it seemed like my head had just hit the pillow when they started playing loud music through loudspeakers to wake up all the people in the dorms. Bummer.
Breakfast was at 8am sharp. Bread and jam and coffee or hot chocolate. Rayna decided not to risk her fear of heights on the steep down paths so she and Bernd, the German pilgrim who is on his way to Ivrea, shared some of our heavy gear to take with them in the bus. We bought a couple of souvenirs and then walked past the frozen lake after having our photo taken outside the Gr St Bernard altitude sign - 2473m - WOW! I don’t think I’ve ever been this high.
On the way down our VF sign indicated a path that disappeared into a large glacier with water rushing underneath it - I kid you not! We had no option but to walk on the road - and what a road!! Much steeper than the Swiss side - Sani Pass at a steeper gradient, twisting and hairpinning down to the valley below. We stayed on the road until we were at 700m – 1 800m down in 10 kms. The pilgrims from Brazil also tried the path in places but had to abandon it for the road.
We were supposed to walk 12 kms in 3½ hours but walking on the road added another 9kms to the route. Stopped for coffee in St Rhemy and when we reached Etroubles we had lunch and then decided to get a bus or taxi to Aosta instead of walking on the busy A road. The very friendly Tourism staff ordered a cab for us which dropped us at our hotel. We met up with Rayna at the La Roche B&B and as we have kitchens in our rooms we decided to stay in for dinner. We are still on track kilometer-wise.
Marion: It was a lot easier today going downhill. Wonderful views of the mountains, snow, ice and lots of waterfalls. It was a luxury to get a taxi from Etroubles to Aosta after a superb lunch, instead of walking on the busy roads. This gave us a bit of time when we arrived at our accodomation in Aosta to relax sort out our backpacks do our washing and get ready for tomorrow.
Val: We departed Gr St Bernado without seeing one REAL dog - very disappointing. We were forced onto the road due to the snow and ice so we decided to treat ourselves to lunch at Entroubles. Determined to try something different for my first meal in Italy I chose "Pappardella al sugo di Capriolo" - pasta with Roe Deer Sauce" € 9.30 (plus R100) Belissimo!!
Kathy: Nice to walk on roads for a change - much easier on the legs and body! Dropped altitude all the way! Some cyclists passed us going up Gr St Bernard Pass from Italy (looked like really hard work!) only to have them come zooting down again a little while later! Also, many motorcyclists on smart big bikes with panniers and many motorhomes. Had a number of vintage Citroen cars (all beautifully done up) come past us - almost like a small vintage car breakfast run.