On foot to the Mediterranean

Before it went out again from the idyll on the narrow, winding car road, we allowed ourselves an ice-cold soft drink at the bar to walk a little cooler on the hot road. After about a kilometer we arrived in Istres, a town that donated pedestrian walkways to the highway and thus made our (over)life easier.

Today was the day, today we would reach the Mediterranean Sea, today is our last running day together. Because Johanna had chosen the Mediterranean Sea as her maximum destination. After yesterday’s emotional disaster, we both took great pains not to be overcome by the approaching feelings of farewell, and strode forward with dignity. The road also wanted to show itself again from all its facets and so we went through beautiful towns, ugly industrial areas, beautiful nature, even saw flamingos in a lake, in the middle of an industrial area.

We paused on a ridge, a spot from which we could see a lake on each of the two sides of the mountain. There was also an archaeological site there including an “oh-look-at-an-ancient-stone” cottage. We continued walking, and a few meters later, I realized we were on a wrong path, so back again. But where is the right way? The right path ran through the middle of the very widely cordoned off archaeological site. When I finally realized that there was no way forward here, I planned the way around the mountain instead of over it, while loudly ranting at the arrogant, life-denying archaeologists. Then as we walked the trail, which was strenuous but had no other surprises, I realized that was a great parting gift of the trail. Because that way we had added 2 more hours of running together.

It went only uphill and became steeper and steeper until the landscape formed a knoll and from now on it was only downhill. Suddenly it was there, for the first time we saw it. Romantic between huge oil tanks, smoking chimneys and industrial plants, it lay before us with all its beauty, dignity and grace – the Mediterranean Sea!

We didn’t stop to enjoy the view, we moved on quickly, with our scales helping to push us along vigorously. It became steeper and steeper, the town of Port de Bouc gradually appeared, and now and then we caught a glimpse of the Mediterranean Sea. What went through Johanna’s mind at this sight, I don’t know. For me it was great cinema, highly emotional. To reproduce these thoughts here would be impossible, because each one tells a complex story. In short, I thought, “I wonder what my parents would say.” My parents unfortunately passed away much too early, they lived in the GDR and never had the chance to see the Mediterranean, although they were also curious and eager to travel. There was then also quite Pippi in the eyes.

The path quickly demanded full attention again, huge curbs, cars, keeping the right direction and at some point we actually ran towards the sea and even right up to the sea.

We couldn’t believe it, kisses, selfies, photos, videos and on we went to the campsite. This one was right by the sea and it was high season, hopefully we would get a free spot there for the night. We were standing in front of a large green, closed metal gate with a numerical code and no bell. A camera was watching us and there were still people at the front desk, so we thought when these people were done, they would let us in. But a little girl, a guest, forestalled this scenario and opened the gate for us. Three things made the campground the absolute top prize for us: 1. all french, 2. municipal, that is, urban and 3. directly on the Mediterranean Sea

We were allowed to choose our own sleeping place and so we chose one, close to the sanitary rooms. Everything happened like in a movie, we couldn’t realize what was going on. We have been on the road continuously for 3 months and a week, walked about 1,100 km and now we were at the Mediterranean Sea.

We set up our night quarters and I desperately needed to shower, but before I did, I dove into the Mediterranean. I didn’t care what dramatic clouds hung in the sky, that it thundered, I didn’t want this refreshment from a camping shower.

After showering we wanted to celebrate our success, the downside of municipal is there are no bars or stores. But right across from the campground was a restaurant, which looked more like a snack bar from the outside, but it said restaurant. We were the first guests of the evening, as we waited in front of it until it opened at 19:00. A very friendly woman greeted us and assigned us a table. Somehow, which almost never happened otherwise, there was a conversation between Johanna and the waitress, it turned out that the waitress is from Poland and has been living in France for 7 years. My wife has lived in Germany for about 30 years and is from Poland, so we were able to have the menu explained to us for the first time in a restaurant and so on. It turned out to be a great restaurant visit. In France, never be fooled or put off by appearances when it comes to food.

Back in our cloth castle, the bear was dancing in the square next to us. Disco was the order of the day and the DJ gave it his all “EIJEIJEIJEIII, ARRIBA, ARRIBA” was his battle cry, which he yelled after almost every song and it got even better, because some songs he even sang himself. Mainly Spanish and Latin sounds were heard, now and then something French, and at the end, in the middle of the night, the disco visitors themselves sang to the music. It was a worthy last night together in the tent.

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