Distance: (11 km taxi) + 13 km
Elev: 200m up, 15m down, +185m net
So, having decided that 24 km was too great an ambition, and consulted with the Tourism Office on the possibility of a bus (multiple connections, one of which was a call-us-when-you-need-us) I asked the hotel to call me a taxi. We crossed the Nördlinger Ries on the way; this is a meteor crater some 25 km across and was the largest in Europe until the more recent strikes in Russia.
The route has returned to some hills and forests, which I much prefer to flat farmland. The weather is cool and gray, promising rain soon -typical Seattle stuff. Starting on foot from Hürnheim, I climbed up to the Niederhaus castle ruin dating to the 12th century. This was an important spot; Hermann passed here on his way to Italy in 1265 (says the monument).
It was also a superb defensive position; although I do believe if they could spend the money to build a lovely level bridge in the entrance, they could also find funds to reengineer a safer exit. I had to climb down this 8 foot drop hand-over-hand.
(Looking at the map in retrospect, it is possible to skip this – just follow the road to the right, towards the lumber works, where you pick up the Jakobsweg again. You’ll still have an imposing view of the castle ruin without risking your neck.)
After a long climb up a forested ridge, I finally broke out into farmland with views only a Northwesterner could love.
The gasthaus in Christgarten did look like a going concern, and had they answered the call from the TO yesterday I would have dispensed with the taxi and stayed there tonight. But such was not the case, so I continued to Kloster Neresheim, just before the town of Neresheim.
Dining. The guesthouse restaurant is open for lunch, and serves coffee and cake during the afternoon; dinner service wraps up at 7:30pm. The food alone would be worth the stay here. I had the Klosterbierbrotsuppe, which enriched the basic recipe with butter and crisp crackling, in addition to other things I couldn’t quite identify.
Then there was the Three-way: Malthausen, cheese spaetzle, and something I didn’t catch the name of. But I should! It is essentially a savory strudel made of roast onions. Malthausen are German raviolis; this one had a meat filling that included a bit of liver. The cheese spaetzle had the taste and consistency of a leaden Mac and cheese. (I’m beginning to miss dumplings.)
Lodging. This cloister (Kloster) is still in diocesan hands and operating as a religious house. So I’m in the guesthouse, which has been nicely renovated but still has an ecclesial feel. The front desk staff were most friendly and vigorous in researching my options for travel tomorrow. Very highly recommended. In fact, I would really like to spend a couple nights here, attending the Daily Office, exploring the historic chapel, making a retreat – some year when I’m no longer doing the long walks.
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