Distance: 15 km (from Schwabach S-Bahn station)
Net elev: +90 m
Before catching the light rail to skip over the industrial flatlands and rejoin the Jakobsweg where I left off last year, I picked up two sandwiches at the train station in Nürnberg – my PT says I have to plan anti-bonk nutrition.
It had rained overnight, which was not much of a surprise, as the sprinkles had begun as I was walking back from dinner. But there must have been some periods of real rain (not that drizzly Seattle stuff) because the streams were full, the puddles showed ambitions to become ponds, the ponds aspired to municipal reservoirs – you get the picture. The light rain when I left Nürnberg had become blowing, real rain by the time I came out of the light rail station in Schwabach. So I broke out the new raincoat, made friends with my gaiters (they usually fight me), and set off.
After two hours I came upon a wayside shelter (purpose-built for pilgrims, complete with an explanatory Jakobsweg placard) for a sandwich break. I had already passed several benches in strategic locations, so I knew the regional pilgrim association was active.
This place is massively built; each one of those wooden slats is actually a natural solid wood beam (not a glue-lam!) measuring 16 inches across and 8 inches thick. Timber like that these days just boggles the mind – I had no idea it was still obtainable. This chapel is so new, the grass is just starting to fill in and there is no weathering on the wood. I am astounded; this is a major effort by the local pilgrim association.
There is an air gap of about 2 inches between each of the wood slabs, and a nice breeze was blowing through. There is a stone pillar carved with the cross of St James on the front, and a scallop shell basin carved on top. It could be used as a font if someone hadn’t installed a thick piece of glass on top of it. Behind the pillar (I guess it really is an altar but by far the skinniest one I’ve ever seen) the wall curves to form an apse, and there is beautiful stained glass installed. You can see the long benches down either side giving choir seating for over 20 pilgrims.
After several more kilometers and another forested ridge, I arrived at Abenberg.
Dining. I confess to researching regional specialty dishes before I go on any trip. (what? You thought all those cookbooks on my shelves were just for cooking?) So when trout (Forelle) popped up on tonight’s menu, I went for it. Germany is famous for its freshwater fish. And what a treat! An entire trout! Perfectly seasoned and cooked to the exact second. Amazing. An for dessert, what I would call an apple fritter (sliced fresh apple ring, battered and fried) and the locals call Apfelkuchen. A terrific meal!
Lodging. The Landhaus Kaiser is on the Jakobsweg, and fortunately around the side of the hill rather than the top (there’s a castle with lodging up there if you really feel compelled). I was able to book ahead by email, and Frau was a younger woman, very friendly and welcoming, with fluent English. Very nice, recent construction room; highly recommended!