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Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Final Stretch!!!!

Margriet, Frank, Marianne, Kees - the last day!
Wednesday, the last day on the trail, only 12 kms left of the 425 I was going to do this hike.
Not only Margriet joined me for this last hurray, but the friend we were staying with as well as a good friend who drove more than 2 hours from his home early in the morning to join us for the last stretch.
Again beautiful scenery along narrow roads, old limestone farm houses, wineries, fields with cows. We love the history and to see dates like "1678" or "1711" on the facades of farm houses is thrilling. We also walked along the caves of southern Limburg, dug to mine stone for buildings.
Soon we walked into Maastricht, the capital of Limburg. A nice old city along the Maas river with century old city walls, churches and a famous market place: het Vrijthof. Just south of the city was the final destination: the Pietersberg. A bit of a climb and by noon we managed to get to the top of the ‘berg’ (hill). Of course we had to take some pictures, and stopped for pannekoek lunch a km back down the trail. There I also received an official certificate testifying that I had walked the whole trail.
 It had been threatening to rain much of the morning and as soon as we got on the bus back to town it poured but we stayed dry inside the bus. If I had the time I would not mind walking the same trail all the way back to Groningen where I started.  It has been a terrific experience.

All together I have been very lucky with the weather, only on 3 days it rained and not even all day on those days, perfect hiking weather all along. No blisters, no problems with the feet, sure, once and a while I was hurting, but that is part of such an undertaking from time to time. But to be able to do this at 65 years of age I am very thankful.

From the end of the Pieterpad it is possible to keep walking till you get to Rome or Santiago de Compastella in Spain. Only about 2,000 kms separate you from southern France.

Some day I hope to do that too and connect with the beginning of the Camino de Santiago where I started my pilgrimage 12 years ago. 

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