SafeStay, 14 euros
I’m sitting on a pavement cafe in the Old Town of Bratislava, sipping a Sencha tea. The weather is fine, 20 degrees, and all is well, so far. My plan is to walk across Europe, following the Austrian Camino towards Liechtenstein and Switzerland before turning towards Le Puy-en-Velay in France where I started my pilgrimage in 2017. That will complete my route all the way to Santiago de Compostela.
Unfortunately I don’t have enough days left on my Schengen visa to comfortably reach Le Puy so I’ll stop somewhere and continue in Season 2. You can find the map on my website but even with the GPS it will take a major feat of navigation to find secretive Liechtenstein, 25Km by 10Km, nestled in the mountains between Austria and Switzerland.
Last night wasn’t so good. I booked and paid £32 for a room in the Easy Hotel in Luton, a special place where negative Ley lines converge and draw the life blood from your soul. I arrived on the last train at 00.40 and after some effort I roused the attendant who informed me that in line with airline policy the hotel was overbooked and I was bumped into the night with the promise of a refund. A taxi took me on a tour of Luton hotels for an hour or so until we found a Hilton in the surrounding countryside which gave me a room at their rack rate. Easy didn’t refund the £32 so I had a quick chat with Booking.com who promised to pay the whole bill.
One of the big hotels we visited was no longer a hotel. It’s now a refugee centre and that brought me down to earth. A reminder of the war in Ukraine and the change now rippling through Europe.
When I walked the Camino in 2016, my intention was to do that one pilgrimage and then return to the normal life. But here I am contemplating my 7th walk starting tomorrow. It’s amazing how much the world has changed in that time. Just think of five major changes since 2016. It’s not difficult, is it?