Welcome Back

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From a French and Spanish summer, I have come right back into German autumn.

It’s been a few weeks since my last visit, but now I’m back in my cozy and noisy cafè in Potsdam again. Barely anything has changed. The cafè music in the background still lets you daydream to another place and time. Today, it’s crowded with people who are looking for a homey place to warm up while others are meeting up with their friends. As for me, it’s the place to get in touch with YOU again! It’s more than exciting to reach back out to the world! I missed it. Way too many times on my travels have I wished I could simply share the priceless moments with you. So lean back; you are in for a crazy adventure and a journey that will hopefully make you smile often (and maybe change your travel plans for next year). 😉

After two days of crazy packing and putting everything in and out of my backpack, I was on my way to Toulouse, France, with my friend Mark. Our plan was simple: Find the Way of St. James and follow it all the way across the Pyrenees to Jaca, Spain. I have always had the mind of a traveler and the heart of an adventurer. I knew on the trail that I would find both. The Way of St. James seemed to promise me a sense of adventure that I couldn’t find possible in the city. It was the perfect get-away from a rushed life and a busy schedule to tranquility, a “don’t worry”-mindset and breathtaking scenery. On the Way, I met a lot of pilgrims with a similar motivation. Some also hiked due to health reasons. But for most, the Way provided a chance to figure out what it was that they really wanted in life and to set it in a new direction. Now, I have to say that the Way, with all its obstacles and high points, has given me so much more than I expected. As for myself, I feel I have been way more clear-minded than I have been in a long time. I suddenly found myself with all my thoughts and feeling behind a now clearing cloud. I discovered that despite my prior beliefs, I am the appreciative and happy girl I always wanted to be. I saw so much beauty in the simple life. I loved to see the sun rising in the morning and to feel the day pass by. Coming back, I could only count my blessings: I have the most wonderful family, the bestest(est) friends and the most loving boyfriend. There is absolutely nothing wrong with my life and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Lastly, I have to mention that the people on the Way are simply the greatest and have the biggest hearts. Meeting others, no matter whether they were pilgrims or locals, added a special spark to the trip.

Once in Toulouse, Mark and I realized how blind we started into our adventure. Therefore, finding the Way of St. James provided more of a challenge than we expected. Like two lost players of a scavenger hunt, we went from place to place to collect one clue after another. Eventually, we ended up at the Basilica of St. Sernin. At this magnificent and impressive cathedral, we found our first stop point for pilgrims. An older French man welcomed us into his office with the warmest smile and before we took a seat, he offered us a drink and cookies. The first shock: The French ONLY speak French. Well, and on a scale of 0 to 10 his level of French was obviously up at 10 while mine was somewhere far below 0. And trust me, with the knowledge of the two words “Baguette” and “Merci” you don’t get too far when you try to make yourself clear.  Luckily, I had Mark by my side, who after a few minutes, found his long forgotten French vocabulary again. So with broken French, cartoon drawings and poor acting skills, we had our first conversation with a local and got our next clue. After he stamped our Pilgrim ID (Have I mentioned that we were OFFICIAL PILGRIMS? 😉 ), we were off on our way again. Not THE WAY, but definitely a way. XD A few hours before the sun was going to set, we finally arrived in the small town Pibrac. And again, we had no idea where to go. The day was coming to an end and we needed to find a place to sleep. Second shock: The only hotel in town had closed years ago and was completely run down. We asked our way through bars and cafès, but no one seemed to know a place nearby. To be honest, I could already see myself sleeping on the side of the road in my sleeping bag. To my surprise, I was neither devastated nor sad about the day turning out this way. To me, this was all part of the adventure. Yet, as pilgrims, Mark and I had one more card up our sleeves. We walked up the hill to the church and knocked at the door. The opening hours had been long over, but luck was on our side and an old man opened. Half an hour later, a German (!) rolled down the street in his big car and drove us all the way to a camping place a little further out of Pibrac. We were beyond thankful for this gentleman who appeared to be our hero at this late hour. The tent he left us, shaped a safe capsule around us and in the middle of nowhere, we seemed to have the coziest place. As we cuddled into our sleeping bags that night, we realized for the first time how much of an adventure we were in for! One thing was certain: We would come back with more than one unbelievable story!

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Basilica of St. Sernin, Toulouse, France

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The Way of St. James

I hope you have a fantastic weekend, everybody! Take a few hours for yourself and enjoy the autumn vibes!

Thank you all for tuning in. No matter if you are a friend, a family member or someone who just stumbled upon my page just now or a while ago. I am so glad to have you here. I am already looking forward to continue my journey with you next time.

Love,

Jana

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