I am amazed at how quickly one transitions from being in town to being in the woods; no extended suburbs here in Markt Wendelstein. Somehow they managed to save quite a lot of forestland around the south side of Nürnberg, so that is where the route takes us. One just keeps going, putting one foot in front of the other. It starts to rain a bit. Out comes the rain gear, and I trudge onward. All of a sudden, I pop out of the woods, cross the street at the pedestrian crosswalk, and I arrive at the Nürmberg-Reichelsdorf S-Bahn (regional surface light rail line) station. I’m done.
Done. After a month. It takes a while to sink in.
Nürmberg does have extensive, industrial suburbs, and it is recommended to not walk them. So this S-Bahn station is the place to use, whether you are inbound to Nürmberg from the east, as I am, or whether you are outbound westerly through Rothenburg. However, if you are outbound southwesterly towards Ulm (my next trip), then you should take the S-Bahn down to Schwabach instead. For die hard purists there is a completely walking route along the King Ludwig Canal.
So I take the S-Bahn into town, and the tourism office finds me a small family-run pension in the old part of town. And I do what pilgrims have done for centuries: I wander around in shock and disbelief. Where did all these people come from? What is this stuff in the shop windows? What is this odd language they’re speaking? How can I decide where and what to eat? There are just too many choices! It’s overwhelming.
This is the third year I have walked the Way of St James, but this part at the end of the walk does not change. I always have the same reaction. I suppose this has been true for the pilgrim experience from the beginning. The intermediate stops were themselves places of pilgrimage, so they drew the associated crowds and commercialism. Just goes to prove the Way itself is the objective, not the town at the end.
I do find my way over the St Jacob’s Church, which is a Lutheran parish these days. They have a stamp! Yay! And a lovely painted wood altar panel. And for other pilgrims passing through, there is an Anglican community that holds worship in English here in Nürmberg, on the 2nd Sunday of the month. See http://www.saint-James-the-Less.de for details and locations (they circulate among several host churches).
I return to my awe-struck wandering about town, thinking of the next walk. It is about four weeks walking to Konstanz, on the Bodensee (Lake Constance).