Distance: 17.5 km
Net elev: +115m
It was a Gasthof-Metzgerei that stayed at last night, not just a Gasthof. A Metzgerei is a sausage-maker; actually all sorts of cured meats, including hams. Typically if they make it they also sell it; so there is a deli counter for cold cuts. And the cold cut platter at breakfast is especially diverse and robust. This morning’s assortment included smoked ham sliced paper-thin, as well as something reminiscent of pimento loaf but with pistachios.
Rain was predicted all day, so it was already raining lightly when I got underway at 8. On the weekends breakfast is not served until 8, so I couldn’t get away until 9. Today being Monday, I can get an earlier start. Myself, my raincoat, my gaiters – we merry band – set off.
A bridge over the Altmühl River led past a boggy meadow signed as “stork habitat – keep dogs on leash”. Then it was through a crazy quilt of farm roads, along fields and through woods, for several hours. Finding the way on this section of the Jakobsweg (Nürnberg to Konstanz) is not exactly straightforward; many times I was grateful to have the GPS track. I would be even more grateful if I consulted it more often.
This is an exceptionally well-marked turning point. In this stretch the marking philosophy is to mark only the turning points. They are usually not marked with an arrow (as you see here). Instead, past the turn, there is a mark a short distance in the proper direction. Most often this mark, rather than positioned to face you, is positioned on the side, leaving you only half a mark visible as you scan around looking for marks. Additionally, there are regional (the Main-Donau Weg for example) and local tracks – all with their unique marks – that occasionally overlap and occasionally diverge from the Jakobsweg. So, it’s not simple, and I’ve had to backtrack a bit twice so far this morning.
The damp, breezy and chilly (50 deg F/11 deg C) weather continued and was becoming stronger mid-day, so I took my noon halt in the shelter of Saint Michael in Spielburg, which is 60m higher than Heidenheim.
Dining: A lovely liver dumpling soup. Maybe I need to explain dumplings. There are two types in the US: one resembling soggy piecrust, and the other resembling a ball of stuffing that has been poached. It is the latter category that is beloved here in Bavaria. These tonight were small, fine-grained, fluffy and delicately seasoned; poached in a clear broth. And I polished off the bowl before I even thought to take a picture! The main course was a roast pork shoulder, served with potato dumplings and kraut. Since I missed the roast pork in Nürnberg, this was a special treat.
Lodging: Herr Erich Habermeyer has had this Gasthof in his family since his father bought the old post office in 1906 and renovated it. This is a big place , with two floors of rooms and good sized restaurant. Very nicely fitted room, with nice view of town and the twin church spires from the skylight. Highly recommended.