Compared to my other hikes, Chemin St Jacques, Nepal, Vietnam, etc., this one has been desolate when it comes to other hikers. Not a soul. Up until now . . .
It had been a really hot day of hiking on asphalt when I made it into Spa, Belgium. Spa was one of those towns where you see the welcome sign, get excited that the day is over and then walk for another half hour to really get into the town. Once at the center, I start looking for a hotel. That is my ritual. Nail down a place to sleep, shower and then a beer. There is nothing that can’t be fixed with a shower and a beer. Throw in Belgian beer and now you’re cooking with gas.
Anyway was having a hard time because on a Sunday afternoon, hotel clerks in Spa have better things to do than hanging around the front or reception desk. Finally find a place. They have rooms but none are ready then. No problem, I’ll have a beer next door. My system is not inflexible. I can swap shower and beer.
As I’m looking for a table I see a couple with backpacks doing the same. In my feeble French I ask if they are hikers. Not only are they hikers but are Americans. I’m on them like white on rice. We get a drink. It was great to have a conversation in English. We met up later that night for dinner and had a great time. They are hiking all the way thru also but ending in Menton rather than Nice. They live permanently in Paris and have done so for the last 25 years. We exchange contact info. He maintains a blog – Le Randonneur. Check it out. I’m sure I’ll see see them again.