Hitch-hiking day two, Paris

I woke up at 0700, from this (actually cozy) place:

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Looking like this:

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I started trying to hitch-hike by asking people, and then standing by the road. The aim was Paris, to meet Aoife. After half an hour I decided to buy more breakfast, and then return to the road, so I could eat while hiking. On my way out of the station, holding my sign, a man waved to me, actually looking pretty tired and grumpy. He told me that I could go with him if I did not sleep in the car, and that he was going all the way to Paris. No problem for me! The clock was 0840, and the journey started.
He was actually taking the flight home, but as there were an strike at the airport, he booked a new flight from Paris and a rental car to get there. He was a teacher in economics, and a really interesting person. More than just a ride, I am sure he gave me insight and new thoughts, which is harder to get. As we had many hours to talk, we talked about mostly everything.

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He was going to stop at a bath house for some swimming, as he has been driving pretty far. Apparently, the big pool was closed, though, so we continued driving.
We stopped for some small breaks, and also lunch (which he even treated me), but it went pretty fast anyway, and at 1545 I was dropped off in Paris, not far from Port d’Itali. On the metro I met an Iranian guy who was an exchange student, and I asked some questions about the country from his point of view! I went to met Aoife at a friend of her’s place, for dinner and some movies. We had an orchestra on our glasses!

Afterwards, we went to Aoife’s kind of hostel place to sleep!

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Hitch-hiking home for a small break

I had already planned to go he for a small break, but maybe for just five days, and not two weeks. When I got the idea to hitch-hike, I wanted to go earlier, as I really wanted my days at home.
Therefore, this day, I went out at 0730, and continued walking. The bad thing was that I was at the wrong side of the city. On my way to the north side, I therefore changed my plan from Irun to Barcelona, and went out on the same road I entered the city by.
It took some time to walk out, but when I was down on the big road, it did not take many minutes before a trucker picked me up! The clock was 0930, so it was still pretty early.
The trucker was from Slovenia, and we tried to speak at English, before I actually started falling asleep, which he did not seem to mind.

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He was not going the whole way to Barcelona, but 180 kilometres, before dropping me off after two hours.
This time, it felt harder finding someone, but I continued asking around, holding out my sign, until 1350 when a Spanish man living in Madrid told me I could go with him. He was going to do some work, and dropped me off at a good petrol station along the highway at 1445.
There, I met another hitch-hiker in the 40’s. The guy were going home to Germany. It was a good spot though, because he found a trucker half an hour later, and at 1525 a Polish trucker looking like Daniel Craig picked me up! Same thing here, it was hard communicating, but we had a really fun time. While listening on the radio with bad reception I connected my iPhone instead, and we listened on my usual mix of Swedish metal, trance and Eurovision.

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We went pretty far, another 250 kilometres, before he was not allowed to drive more, and let me off 1850 at a petrol station before he continued to the parking lot he was going to stay at over night. He sees a little sad when the good music disappeared though!
Now in Paris, I bought a baguette which I ate with my Nutella. I then continued asking around and trying to get picked up, and after 50 minutes already a guy told me he was going north, so I got another 100 kilometres, and got dropped off at another petrol station at 2100. At 2140 I got picked up by a nice pair who were going to a reggae festival, and I would have loved to join if I did not really feel like coming to Paris the next day. I got another 50 kilometres at least, but it was getting too late, as the time was 2200 when I got dropped of.
I continued asking around, but as it was Saturday, most truckers had to rest the day after. I did meet two nice truckers I had met earlier during the day, though, so I spoke with them in English and German. As I did not have a tent or anything with me, they offered me a place in the trailer, and I gotta say, I slept really well in there! Too bad I had forgot my socks, but I wrapped my feet in my scout shirt, and kept warm. Cool day!

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Should have brought a harness…

…because today I have been climbing!
I woke up a little after seven, and actually felt well, so I went up, started packing and made breakfast. I took it really easy, mentally preparing, and also waiting for a little more warmth in the valley, as it was pretty cold outside.
A little after ten, I started climbing.
For some time, I went with two guys going on road bikes.

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The first 14 kilometres were easy, and I made one pause, and one really quick stop on the way, taking 623 height metres. It started getting steeper, so I lost the two guys (who had 7-kg bikes and a small backpack each), taking a break every second kilometre. I took both three-minute-pauses and 15-minute-pauses, as I got really tired in the muscles.
While I was only climbing, my emotions were going in a roller coaster. In just seconds, I could change from being happy, to almost crying, to laughing by myself, to thinking of trying to hitch hike. Mainly, the moral were good, but sometimes, it really sucked.
On the way up, a man riding a racer bike reached out with his hand to make a high five. Also, in Pas de la Casa, a hitch-hiker standing by the side starter applauding, and I have him a high five too. That, and many cars honking and cheering, really helped me get up that hill!
With five kilometres, and 320 height metres, the rise were 6.4%. It continued like that, with the highest rise average being 6.8%.

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After a total of 26.32 kilometres, and 1320 height metres, I was finally at the top.

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I did not really care for the view at the moment, but instead went into the restaurant (that were not that expensive with the place to accordance; 9 euros for a pizza, and 2,5 for desert. I really felt dead.

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After eating one pizza and two deserts, I was preparing for going down. Then, two guys I met at the camping yesterday, appeared, as one of them recognised my bike outside. I decided to wait for them and follow them to the camping in Andorra la Valle, instead of riding alone.

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And now, while I wasn’t half dead, I could take pictures (and get help by those guys). The view were nice the whole way down!

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I got some nice pictures on the way down, and also, for the first time I got pictures of me in action!

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I present to you: The way down!

We shopped in Andorra la Valle before going to the camping in the town. While looking for food I also found a new towel, this one red!
We made rice with some vegetables and cheese and stuff. It was nice, and really much!

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But I did not manage to eat it all.

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It was already pretty late when we went to sleep, but now I had people to test to ride with, which will be interesting!

It has its ups and downs

I started with waking up on this place. Awesome view!

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After that, I ate a really good breakfast, with some ingredients from the garden, and home made yoghurt!

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I started pretty late as I did some writing, but at twelve I was biking again. It started with three kilometres downhill, with speeds above 50. I felt that it went pretty slow in the small slopes though, so I borrowed an air pump down in a village, and I had list much air in the rear wheel. Soon I get to change the tire, and I guess I’ll change the tube also.
I made another small stop to configure my brakes, and met some old people telling me about a beautiful bridge. I went down there, and it was beautiful, and also my lowest point for the day (426 metres).

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I then started climbing, climbing, climbing with a few small slopes down.
I took my lunch at 666 metres height, and continued to get to a village my hosts told me about, where you can walk to some hot springs. I found the village and at 1087 metres I left my bike to walk on the trail. I packed my most important things in the back pack, and took out the heavy things, the food for example. I walked the trail up to 1264 metres where I found the hot springs. They were really nice and relaxing, and I stayed in them for about an hour!

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I went back down to the bike, and on my way down I saw this small contraption that were spinning in the stream!

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I got down to the bike, and went down to the village to find a camping. Lucky enough it seemed to be a camping municipal in this village (I had passed some four-star campings on the way, and that is expensive. This one was 7 euro). I checked in, pitched my tent and made a big pasta-mozzarella-peanuts-oil-dinner and also ate some bread with cheese to start preparing for tomorrow.

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I slept at approximately 1088 metres height. That is 662 metres more than my lowest point, but I have probably taken at least 800 metres during the day. Tomorrow will be harder!

Husqvarna all over again

I continued south, and now I am really closing to Andorra!
It started with some ups and downs, but after 30 kilometres, it was suddenly flat again (small inclination only).
On my way I took the time to film this. Three fingers=30 km/h, four=40, fist=50 and one finger=56.8 km/h.

I ate ravioli for lunch after 70 kilometres, luckily while it was raining, as the rain almost stopped before I continued.
I then continued to Foix, riding along the way through the valley.

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After doing a little shopping I started my last climb to get to the host for the night, 200 height metres in four kilometres. It was like my third day, in Jönköping, bit this time I was stronger! I took one pause, at which I took of my jacket. My body was smoking! Other than that it went really good.
I met my nice hosts, who are building a house out of an old stone barn. We ate soup, bread and cheese for dinner, and talked for a long time about mostly everything related to life and living.
I was supposed to sleep in a caravan, but their friend was going to stay another day, so I got a really cool sleeping place instead. You will get a picture of it tomorrow!

Fungus

I started the day with some pancakes. (I have now counted, and that is 2000kilocalories of glorious pancakes. Nice.)

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I proceeded by watching a movie, The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
I discovered I had fungus between my toes, so after the movie I went out to the city as I had planned to get a new USB-charger, but now also a cream for the toes.
I left my phone at home as I wanted to test go without GPS. I used my watch as compass, and found the store Fnac without needing help. I could not find a charger I wanted though, so outside, I went to the pharmacy and fixed a cream for the toes. I then asked some random dude for help (actually, I tried to ask many people if they spoke English (I asked in french) but most were rude and just walked by), and he told me about Darty a kilometre away, so I went there. I found a charger with dual USB ports, so now I can charge all three things at once (battery, phone and speaker). Earlier at least I had two wall plugs, but one died after the yoghurt accident the day I left Paris.
I then went by a supermarket and bought some yoghurt and bread for an easy lunch and went home. I ate and watched Captain America: Winter soldier. Then, most people were home, and me, Gabriel and Raphaëlle ate together (some random sausage/tomato/rice/omelette thing, at least it was good!). We then played a game, Jungle Speed I think the name was. They had to do some phone talking after that, so I watched another movie, Need for Speed, and then it was time to sleep!

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Raphaëlle and Mikkal, Gabriel was sadly not on this glorious picture.

Toulouse or not to lose

I got a confirmed yes from my host in Toulouse, so now I was not far away from an indoor bed again. As she was coming home at 1730 and it was only 65 kilometres flat, I started pretty late.
I began with another 1500 kcal breakfast while surfing the web, talking with friends, fixing more music on spotify and writing for the blog. At one, I started biking, with another aqueduct bridge as my first goal, a couple of hundred metres away!

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Mainly two things happened along the canal today. I went by some sort of machinery used instead of a lock in the canal. This was in Montech, but sadly, they are not using it anymore.

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The other happening was that I passed a kayak guy, and I recognised him, as I passed him the day before. I stop for a quick chat, and he was going from west to east along the canal. Cool guy!

I came to Toulouse a bit early, even though I started late, due to maintaining high speeds. I went to Lidl and bought some chocolate, Pringles and snickers. I was just going to buy Snickers but did not have cash and you have to buy for at least 5 euros to use the card.
Outside, a beggar asked for something, so I have here two snickers (I had bought a six pack). Then, I went to my hosts place, who came there just a few minutes after me arriving.
I took a shower and put on some ordinary clothes, started a washing machine and then we went shopping. I learnt from yesterday, and bought two pizzas this time. I love how much I can eat while biking!
We helped Mikkal, one of Raphaëlle’s flatmates, to get his car going. We tried to push it, but I thought it would be easier to use jumper cables, and after stopping some cars a nice guy helped us.

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I had asked to stay for an extra day, so tomorrow would be a resting day!
After eating dinner and chatting for a while, I went to bed, watched a movie and then slept.

Slow ride, take it easy

I woke up and went to eat breakfast with the Dutch woman. I had bought cereal and milk the day before, so I ate half a package cereal and half a litre of milk. Apparently, that is 1500 kilocalories, so I was reeeeally full and went back to bed for another hour as I was going to take it easy this day (I knew there were a camping in 50 kilometres if I wanted to take it really easy).
I was looking through the info about the canal, and apparently Agen has an aqueduct bridge so the boats can go over the river Garonne. I felt that I wanted to see that, So I decided to return to Agen before continuing.
At one, I was leaving. I but the milk in wet socks to keep it cool (it works) and started with biking the 13 kilometres, and it was worth it! I stopped by a Lidl and bought some yoghurt thing to eat as snack so I took a brake at the lock in the canal.
Pictures from the aqueduct:

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After that, I just continued biking. On the way I saw a french woman that seemed to have a problem, and it was that the rear rim brake was too tight so it was always on. I do of course have tools with me, so I helped her adjusting it and went on. (I also adjusted my own disc brakes during the day actually!)
This day I was actually going pretty fast, and my bike computer usually showed 26-28 km/h (I had a little bit of tailwind and knew there would be no hills). Someone with a mountain bike without any panniers or other bags tried to hold my speed, but I even managed to accelerate and lose him. It was nice to feel fast and good, and I am sure I have improved a lot since the beginning!
After a visit of the tourist office in Mossaic, I went to a camping that was 9 euros per night. It was actually quite good with a pool and all, but I did not have any bathing clothes and I did not really feel like swimming/having time either. I went into the city and bought a pizza and a desert thing for dinner.

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When going to bed I actually felt a little bit hungry, so note to self: buy more next time!
I showered, and it was really nice with warm water. Even if it was not perfect (many people using warm water at the same time) it was a big improvement!
Also, per request, here is my tan so far!

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After dinner and bed, I sent out some requests to Warmshowers, and I got an answer! After that I went to sleep, and tomorrow, Toulouse!

Trying to rest, but failing

As there were still no one there, and I did not really feel obliged to pay as I did not use the electricity or dumping my toilet (well, I do not have one), I went from the camping without paying. Eight euros saved, I guess!
I went into the city to find some internet and rest some more as my body felt pretty dead after the two hilly 100 kilometre days. I bought a bag of pain au chocolates in a nearby shop and talked with friends and family. I also gathered information about the canal, as I was going to bike without using the GPS.
At eleven-something, I started. The canal were really flat and offered a better view than car-filled big roads.

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It really is a touring cyclist high way though, I have never seen as many touring cyclists, so it was fun to see all the difference in gear choices, age and how far they seemed like they were going (how much they were packing)!
There were some random art along the canal, for example a car and a X-wing:

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Other than that, I biked pretty slow a as I did not feel good. At half past one I tried to find a shop, but the one nearby opened again at three. The shop in the next city was closed this Monday, so I had to go to Agen, and in the end I did not get to eat lunch before 1600. At that time I had already done nearly 60 kilometres, even though I wanted to take it really slowly. I chilled out and just relaxed, and after more than en hour I decided to move.

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I went to the tourist office and asked about campings, but most of them were in the wrong direction, closed or expensive. I went out to take a look at the internet and found a map over camping van parkings, so I decided to stay at that again!
I went south nine kilometres to Layrac, and found the place. There were no toilet but water. I did not really care, and pitched my tent and was going to make dinner. I met a lovely lady there, Yvonne, who were travelling with her two dogs, from Holland. We had a nice chat, and I got a small micro-fibre cloth to use as towel if needed. I forgot my towel and shorts at the last hosts place on the dry line, so the Finnish guys took it with them, but how I will get the stuff is a later problem.
As I was going to my tent, I saw some people at the entrance of the gymnastics hall. I went there and asked if I could borrow the shower, which was no problem, so it was really good I just got a towel! The water did not want to get warm, though, but hopefully I did get a little bit clean!

More hills, still pushing

I was pretty tired since the day before, and went up by nine. I still managed to start biking at 1040, after planning a telephone meeting with my mum at 1800.
I continued pretty fast, with speeds around 25-26 before lunch. There were even more hills today, so after a long hill into a village, I decided to take my lunch break. I found a place with a toilet, water, bench and shadow and made my lunch camp.

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It started getting even more hilly close to my planned sleep-location (100 kilometres) so I stopped at 95 in a small gathering of six houses and managed to find wifi. After trying to help my mom find some things in my room (where it is a mess – all stuff from 60 square metres cramped into 16) I continued at 1930.
I came to Marmande, found another “camping” (for camper vans actually) and put up my tent there. I felt like I wanted to take a shower, but as there were no shower, I used the ice-cold tap with drinking water instead. It really was cold!
Also, the public toilet nearby were really disgusting , and at the camping there was a sign saying “8 euros per night”. There were no one there, and a pair of people I asked said you pay in the morning. Oh well, at least I had a place to sleep at!