Monthly Archives: May 2013

31 May: Meckenbeuren

Distance: 15.5 km by trail
Elev: -45m net

The weather report is saying winds 20-30 mph today with 90% rain, total half inch. Tonight winds 10-20 mph with 1-2 inches. Tomorrow 5-10 mph with 1-2 more inches. I think I don’t need to be brave/foolish. Looks like a washout for these two days. (Not bad for a month o walking, actually.) Fortunately there are good transit connections, even if they are not intuitively obvious, and require some asking about.

It might be a nice walk in decent weather; I could see the gentle ridge line running north of us on the train.

Immediately opposite the train station (on the west) is a small collection of stores: supermarket, drugstore, etc. The center of town is a block east, and a bakery. The hotel is further along, maybe a km easterly from the train station, on the edge of town, across from the athletic fields. So, while it is not conveniently located, it may be the only choice here.

Dining. The hotel restaurant calls itself the “Schnitzel House” for good reason. For a small place, mostly a neighborhood pub, it’s perfectly adequate.

Lodging. I’m in the Hotel Wiesenthal, where the hosts were very accommodating of my pre-noon arrival in the pouring rain. The room is modern and spare, but has all I need.

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30 May: Rest Day in Ravensburg

I rested! I slept late, had a leisurely breakfast, and marveled at the industrial-strength pod-type coffee maker on the breakfast buffet. Then I watched a bit of the Corpus Christi festival procession from my window, read some more, and I went out foraging for lunch as the hotel restaurant was closed.

A note on geography, as some of you have sent me notes about Regensburg; alas, I think it is a
case of “right church, wrong pew”. Regensburg is in southeast Germany, in Bavaria, near Passau, on the Danube. Lovely place, I’ve been there, their cathedral boys choir is world famous (Regensburger Domspaten). But it’s not where I am. Ravensburg is in southwest Germany, in Baden-Wurtemburg, very near Lake Constance.

It’s the Germans’ fault, really – they recycle many city names. I’ve actually been through “Heidenheim” twice on this trip, less than 30 miles apart. Then there are the two Frankfurts: F on the Main and F on the Oder. I almost bought a train ticket to Biberach for 66€ last week, when all I wanted was a short hop to a town of the same name, on a different river, 3€ in the end. When we were employing a researcher to delve into missing great-uncles, I was all excited, thinking we found the right guy and place; alas, one of a dozen towns with the same name. Puzzling!!!

Regensburg was lovely! Ravensburg is smaller but also very nice.

Dining. Lunch was down the block at a sister establishment, the Gasthof Zum Engel. Very nice place with gemütlichkeit, that coziness much beloved here.
There’s a standard method to achieving this: the seating along the outside walls is a continuous bench seat, backing up against those hot water radiators. Add lots of real wood (furniture, floors, ceiling) – who wouldn’t feel cozy?

The daily special was “green noodles” with mushroom sauce, and a side salad. Highly recommended!

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29 May: Ravensburg

Distance: 6 km by trail (3 km by road)
Elev: 115m up, 130m down, -15m net

The predicted rain has come overnight and has not yet moved through. So I decided some quiet time in the Basilica might be in order. Turns out, this is a very famous place, a site of pilgrimage in its own right. The altar is a reliquary containing the Relic of the Holy Blood.

There is a screen formerly between the nave and the choir, now relocated to the altar for “liturgical reasons”. Look closely – you can enlarge the image by clicking on it – it’s done in a perspectivist style. Even though the screen itself is flat, the images give the appearance of depth.

The side chapel is equally beautiful.

My timing is exquisite; two weeks ago on Ascension, they held a procession with the relic – 20,000 people and 3,000 horses. It would have been splendid to see, but impossible to find a hotel room.

It’s still raining, but the cafes are serving lunch, which seems a good strategy for waiting out the weather. After wandering through the weekly market, I find myself a
at the museum cafe for the Kornhaus. That worked nicely, and the rain had stopped when I came out.

I would be tempted to classify the day’s march as a “gratuitous hill”, except that the walk was so pretty, I think I will let the hiking association off the hook. But it was a steep and steady climb up. The forested ridge had seen some logging, but not enough to chew up the roadbed. And I came down through pretty suburban gardens into Ravensburg. A nice two hour walk.

Dining. The Kornhaus museum cafe is mostly for drinks, but has a small lunch menu as well as a small dinner menu. I had the Gorgonzola-filled pasta with a side salad, which was very nice. The peppermint tea came in a double-walled Lexan cup (I want one of these!). When I asked for more hot water, I was told with a frown that what I wanted was another tea. At 2€70 for a cup, I think that is a bit steep.

Dinner at my hotel was light: a Wurst-salat (julienned cold curs with thinly sliced red onion, pickles, and peppers, dressed with oil and vinegar) with a side of Bratkartoffeln (chunky home fries). Good stuff!

Lodging. I am at the Hotel Storchen in Ravensburg, which is directly on the Jakobsweg route and very near the old part of town. The room is not large, but very comfortable. Wifi is free.

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28 May: Weingarten

Distance: 13.5 km (incl deviation from Bergatreute)
Elev: 90m up, 205m down, -115m net

Well, that was an interesting morning. “Interesting” in the way my Mother used the word. An hour’s march from Bergatreute along a country byway brought me back to the Jakobsweg route. These are some tiny farm hamlets, not particularly well-heeled. But in almost every town, regardless of size, for the entire trip this year, there has been evidence of construction: either obviously new construction, or major renovation of an older building, or replastering the church, or something. Then we went into the woods, which proceeded idyllically for an hour.

I had been seeing signs of timbering activity much of the morning, and finally I caught up with the loggers. It’s not that I mind the logging so much; in Germany they work in small sections, and harvest individual trees rather than mowing down great swathes as we do in the US. Rather the problem is those infernal tractors, and the unholy mess they make of the trails, churning them to a squishy bog.

There’s brush down, and mud a foot (or boot) deep. And it is a royal pain to pick one’s way through all this mess.

Finally I work my way through that section, and cross the highway … To find … Beehives! With occupants! So lunch had to wait awhile.

More boggy forest path, and finally we emerged from the woods to find a beautiful valley view.

Weingarten has a very large Baroque basilica – the largest Baroque church in Germany. Half the length and half the width of St Peter’s in Rome, it is most impressive.

Dining. After the small dinner last night, I am ready for a solid meal from the hotel dining room, and the solidity does not disappoint. First a hearty soup, ground meat in a rich broth. Next a mixed salad plate with a familiar assortment. The main course was a pork steak (double-wide chop) pan-fried, topped with something involving mustard, and a “Bearnaise” sauce that was originally the pan gravy, I do believe. Accompanying were some potatoes au gratin, sturdy enough for building material. I wasn’t going to leave that table hungry!

Lodging. I am at the Hotel-Gasthof Bären, a family-run place a block further along the route from the Basilica. Friendly staff, rooms modern and comfortable. Wifi is free but uses some sort of SMS authentication that I cannot get to work. (So I’m afraid my readers must wait a day ; I generally get a wifi connection at least every other day.)

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27 May: Bergatreute

Distance: 14.5 km (12 to Gwigg plus 2.5 deviation to Bergatreute)
Elev: 15m up, 15m down, 0 net

So many times I have mentioned breakfast, but I haven’t actually shown you. Here is this morning’s breakfast, which is fairly typical. There is always an assortment of bread, an assortment of cold sliced meats, an assortment of cold cheeses. There may be yogurt, muesli or other cereal, fresh fruit (whole or compote). Butter and jam (apricot and sour cherry are my favorites). About half the time there is a soft boiled egg available.

I was a little slow out of the starting blocks today, waiting for the last of the cold front to pass on through. This is a significant improvement! The sun is shining, the breeze is gentle but cooling, there is no rain, and the afternoon should see the high 50’s F.

Bad Waldsee is only an hour’s walk through forest, along a golf course, and by pretty suburban gardens (lots of rhodies, Japanese maples, and hedges made from a small-leafed photinia that almost looks like a red-leafed boxwood). People are taking advantage of the lovely morning to run errands, walk the dog, and ask me where I’m going. One lady had been to Santiago. A retired nurse enjoys hiking the nearby area, but the dog and the cats keep her from walking the Jakobsweg.

This is a lovely town; sometime I’ll return and spend several days here. The waymarking avoids the city center in favor of quiet backstreets, as usual, but this is not helpful today. Since my evening’s lodgings are room-only (the dreaded rest day/Ruhetage
for the restaurant) I wanted a nice hot lunch. This turned out to be pizza, just before leaving town, which hit the spot.

The afternoon was a mellow route through meadows and a few woods, with a road march on asphalt for the final hour, as I deviated off the Jakobsweg for lodging at an appropriate distance. Some of the dairy cows are getting to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. And I got my first look at the Alps.

Dining. Pizza at an Italian place just around the corner from the Esso station, right on the Jakobsweg headed out of Bad Waldsee. Tasty food, speedy service, friendly family-run atmosphere.

Lodging. Gasthaus Adler in Bergatreute is a big barn of a place, a long block south of the center of town. The room is spacious and has everything I need, including functioning heat. Since they opened up just to make a room available, I really can’t complain. Free wifi.
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26 May: Matthausen

Distance: 18.5 km
Elev: 100m up, 75m down, +25m net (585m actual at end)

The convivial crew from dinner made an equally convivial crew at breakfast, although folks were a bit down that Bayern won the world cup, while their local club Dortmund lost (both German teams – a first!).

Today is a moderately long haul; yesterday was a short day because the next town, the preferred destination, was full (and I’m very glad how that worked out). The preferred destination today would be Bad Waldsee, but with the extra distance from yesterday’s stage that would make it 23.5 km today, which would be too much even in good weather.

The route came through Steinhausen, with the German Baroque church of the day.

Then crossing several forested hillsides and passing graves of French soldiers who fell here during the Napoleonic wars, as the sky darkened and the wind rose. Gregor overtook me mid-morning and we walked along together until after lunch, when he needed to pick up his pace to make Bad Waldsee by evening.

The wind had become annoying; I was “rigged for rain” over the fleece, just because temps in the low 40’s F and winds in the mid-20’s mph make for an uncomfortable day otherwise. But, the majority of the time, the forest was a windbreak.

About the last hour, the occasional drizzle became a driving rain. I stayed on the highway at the last junction, not wanting to be on a ridge top in that wind. Fortunately a bike path was soon paralleling the busy road; it did nothing to improve the weather, but it certainly improved my safety. And my lodgings for the night were on that road, a grim half hour later. Ah, to be so grateful for warm and dry! (Also this gave a good test of the Trekker raincoat in the wind; I continue to be very happy with it.)

Dining. The hotel restaurant serves spaetzle with every single entree. At least with the Roulade/i>, it was on the side. And the soup, a rich and buttery cream of (some) vegetable, was tasty and warming.

Lodging. Hotel-Landgasthof Kreuz is directly on the Jakobsweg and directly on a main road, so it is very accessible. Restaurant is open throughout the afternoon as well as the evening. Wifi costs 3€ for 6 hours of connection time.

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25 May: Muttensweiler

Distance: 10.5 km
Elev: 65m up, 25m down, +40m net

Biberach is a busy place of a Saturday morning. The church has a wonderfully colorful Baroque interior.

And today is market day here. In addition to the fat white asparagus, the fresh strawberries and rhubarb are in. Also I see potted plants and spring vegetable seedlings.

The route leads along quiet back streets and then we are quickly in the countryside. Everyone was enjoying the stream.

Others are enjoying the fresh air on a Saturday morning with me: several different walking couples, some cyclists, even one group of children with a pony.

Reute has a nice Gasthof for lunch, and after a wooded hill and some small-town gardens I am in Muttensweiler mid-afternoon.

Dining. In Reute, Gasthof Hirsch is directly on the route and offers hospitable shelter from the weather. I enjoyed their Gemüse Rösti (Rösti is a Swiss dish, like hash browns), which included other vegetables along with the potatoes, very tasty!

At dinner, where I was expecting another meal alone in a tiny town, I am surprised to see other walkers! My friend Gregor from the other night, and Barbara from Stuttgart, and another fellow. Then four bicyclists rolled in -Germans working in North America – and a local couple came in later. We had a lively and very convivial evening.

Lodging. Gasthof Löwen in Muttensweiler is a small, family-run place. The accommodations are clean, modern and spacious. Free wifi in the restaurant. Highly recommended.