150909-Nothing lasts forever

1,000 calories for breakfast gets the day off to a quick start. Of the food on hand, the loaf of chocolate cake won the pool of what would be breakfast.

While packing up I asked the French cyclist from yesterday where he planned to go today; he indicated Mont St. Michel on his map. I gestured I headed there too, after visiting the local chateaux in Fougeres. When I started to head out, he gestured for me to wait, and loaded a day-trip worth of things onto his bike with the obvious intent to cycle with me. I pulled out Google Translate to ensure I made my intent clear, and we headed out. When he chose a path that didn’t lead to the chateaux, I stopped and called to him, and reconfirmed I headed to the local chateaux, and he intimated this path would take us there. When we arrived at the turn for the chateaux, he gestured at the sign, and I agreed. Then he made a different turn and headed off. I called to him, but he didn’t hear me. Wonder how that will work out; I headed to the chateaux.

Words fail me to describe the morning. Fantastique? Incroyable? My favorite castle this trip (with a potential recency effect). Built in the 11th century, and rebuilt in the 12th century, the castle fell to ruin in the 15th century, after playing an integral role in the history of Brittany and the 100 Years War. Today the castle serves as a tourist attraction, but little effort has been put into modernizing or tearing things down, so the castle stands as it did 500 years ago. I crawled over every inch of the castle I could get to. Four water wheels still run inside the castle; one generates the power for the Tourist Information office.

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Finally heading out of Fougeres, I stopped at a supermarket, and ate lunch in the parking lot. While eating I managed to break the dental repair from yesterday. At this point the tooth doesn’t bother me much, so I’m going to adopt a wait-and-see approach. As my backup plan, Ireland sells the temporary filling material I used before.  

A 50 km run brought me to Mont St. Michel. On my way there, I ran across my French compatriot from this morning, on his way back to the campground. We briefly discussed the path to Mont St. Michel (why I’m not sure), and went our separate ways … again.

I could see Mont St. Michael from over a kilometer away, standing well above the horizon. I had unfounded fears about needing to visit during the correct tidal period – they built a bridge in the late 1800s. Pretty on the outside, the inside of Mont St. Michel looks like every tourist trap, the streets lined with stores selling tourist junk.

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I headed up to the abbey, missing the English tour by about 30 minutes (Fougeres worth the loss), and took the audio tour. Classic tourist setup, leading you from one room to another in a maze of twisty passages giving no real feel for the interior. At least they hadn’t arranged various displays throughout.

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Leaving Mont St. Michel at 5:00 pm, I decided to head to the hostel 30 km away, with a campground across the street and another down the road. The campground last night closes for the season Sept. 20; I’m using that as my assurance campgrounds should be open when I need them.

The weather has turned back to lovely moderate fall weather, and I thought about camping, but decided to splurge on the luxury of a hostel, which means I have somewhere inside to hang all the laundry to dry that I need to get around to washing.  Note: most hostels and campground have a washing machine/dryer, I just normally don’t use a machine for one change of clothes.

The hostel sits in the middle of nowhere special, and I asked the host why people visit this hostel. He told me that normally guests work in Mont St. Michel in the summer; this hostel closes the end of September. This late in the season most people have left, with only a few hikers as guests. I’m back to having a room to myself. In this case the host let me keep the bike in the room with me – a lot more secure and convenient. I sometimes envy backpackers when struggling through a hostel lugging my gear.

No real plan tomorrow but continue the trek north to Cherbourg and Ireland. Tomorrow will be three months on the road. Crossing over to Ireland means I reach my goal of cycling from Istanbul to Ireland. At the same time, entering Ireland signals the last country and final stage of my trip.

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