1. The Prague to Nuremberg route is interesting, very different from France, and well worth the walking. The forests and panoramas in CZ are especially noteworthy. I’m glad I made this trip.
2. The planning resources, both in print (Der Jakobsweg: Prag nach Tillyschantz and Jakobsweg: Eslarn nach Bodensee) and digital media (gps track on peterrobbins site) are very helpful and reasonably accurate. All the lodging establishments were still open and their contact information was current. There were minor variations in the designated route from the gps track, but nothing that was not immediately apparent. The stage length (from lodging to lodging) is reasonable – I averaged about 16 km. Of course the German authors of the guidebooks consider this a half day distance, but it was plenty for me.
3. Route marking on the ground is not as frequent as in France on the Le Puy route. This is especially true in CZ. Having access to the gps track saved many (but not all) needless backtracks. This was also especially true in towns (where I always have trouble regardless).
4. Bus service is often available in the small towns, which is useful in adjusting stage length to suit the walker’s capacity. There is no taxi or baggage-transport service available. Bus service is affected by Sunday, holiday, and weekend schedule reductions.
5. In CZ, the small towns do not have pharmacy, bank, or even market services available; just residences and a bus stop, with the occasional pension. Large towns (those with a rail connection) will have these services. In Germany all these services are available in the small towns.
6. Once outside Prague, it is rare to find an English-speaker in CZ, and rarer yet to find a German-speaker. English is taught in the high schools, so teenagers have the best chance for English. There are no tourism offices outside Prague, and only in the cities in Germany. Czech is a really strange language, difficult for me to learn at all. I relied on my audio dictionary quite a bit. My phrasebook German worked in the small towns in Germany, and English in the cities. I used Livemocha.com to learn a bit of Czech and to brush up my German. The app Michel Thomas produced very good results for pronunciation in German, and basic verb constructions. I was frequently complimented on my German (more than I deserved – my listening comprehension is still not good).
7. Everyone was very helpful even if there was a language barrier. Pilgrims are rare and people will look out for you.
8. The weather (from mid-May to mid-June) was quite good for walking. I did not encounter consecutive rainy days until the last week of my walk.
9. Path conditions were generally quite good, giving much better walking than in France. There were no Stretches of eroded stones. There was minimal asphalt or pavement walking. There were a few boggy spots (with the accompanying swarms of oversized mosquitos) but these were isolated. There were some very steep spots (even on the marked route) especially in CZ. The short stretches that were steep in Germany seemed to rely on the network of tree roots for their integrity. Every stream crossing had either a bridge or stepping stones.
10. Cell phone coverage was universal. Hotels in the cities offered wifi; and very occasionally I was able to find a wifi connection in the small towns. Eventually I made a data package buy from my US service provider and used that for my email and blogging. Cell phone companies in Germany are different from CZ even if they have the same name.
11. Since there are so few walkers (or other travelers) at this time of years, there is no need to call ahead for reservations. If there are two lodgings in town, and one takes vacation, the other will be open.
12. The holiday schedule in Germany differs from France. In Bavaria (both routes from Prague run through Bavaria), not only is there the Pfingsten (Pentecost/Whitsunday) a long holiday weekend, but Corpus Christi is also (Thursday after Trinity Sunday, about ten days after Pentecost). Both these are moveable feasts, being counted from the date of Easter. These holidays impact bus service and local festivals can fill lodgings. So check the calendar.
13. Pricing level. In Germany, an average of 35 Euros would get me a private single room (clean sheets, duvet, and towels) with private shower, and an enormous breakfast with enough left over for lunch. Dinner ran 10-15 euros depending on taste and beer consumption.
13. Electronics and apps.
– iPhone 4GS. Often had coverage when other phones did not, I assume because of the multi-band capability.
– Collins German dictionary
– Collins Czech dictionary
– Collins Czech audio phrasebook
– GPS Track
– Camera Plus. Supports photo editing.
– Kindle. Essential for entertaining oneself in the evenings.
– Unlocked cell phone. I did not need or use.
– Pack. Osprey Exos 46. This is my third walk and my third pack. I am very happy with this pack. It is lighter weight than either predecessor (Osprey Kestrel 45 and Kestrel 35), and much cooler as it stands well off the back. It was quite sturdy, receiving only a 1 inch tear when I took that fall down the ravine. For some reason this pack has about as much usable volume as the Kestrel 35.
– Water bladder. Platypus 2 liter was adequate, the days were not hot.
– Boots. Vasque Bitterroot boots with a prescription orthotic insert produced zero foot problems of any sort. If there were more asphalt walking I would really need some additional insole cushioning. Goretex liners were very helpful in the boggy bits.
– Poles. I have used Pacer Poles for all three walks, and they probably saved my life this trip. I was able to lean very heavily on them while working my way down the ravine and descending the waterfall. They bent but never broke.
– Sleeping bag. Yeti Passion One. In Germany a silk sleep sack would have been sufficient, but a sleeping bag is essential in spring in CZ, as the places are not heated and nights are cold.
– Long underwear. Likewise the silk long johns were not necessary except in CZ. This was my first experience with the Smartwool Icebreaker merino wool undershirt; it is definitely a keeper, ver comfortable both day and night.
15. There are not other walkers, to be encountered either during the day or in the evenings, either in CZ or in Germany. The exception was near German cities on weekend mornings, when local people are making outings. Your social contact will be with your lodging hosts (if you speak the language). I would be strongly inclined to bring a walking companion with me, if possible. This is especially true in CZ, where assistance resources are so limited.
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