Distance: 21 km (9.5 km to Fleinheim, then bus to Heidenheim and train to Giengen)
Elev: up 100m, down 125m, net -25m (Kloster Neresheim to Fleinheim)
It is a sunny morning – hopefully a good day for a long walk. Turned out to be cooler than the forecast, so it was very pleasant. Coming down from the Kloster and across the valley up to the next ridge, there were some lovely views all the way into Auernheim. After that things went a bit sideways.
Perhaps some background explanation would help. The waymarkings on the Jakobsweg, ever since Schwabach, have been considerably less than reassuring and often downright absent. Daily, I find myself having a conversation with the lady who does the waymarking. There actually is one – the Gasthof host in Heidenheim had her picture, her email, her schedule (she passed through a few weeks ahead of me).
Me: I think I should turn here.
Her: Why? Did I tell you to turn?
Me: Well, no.
Her: So why do you think you should turn?
Sometimes I end up turning anyhow and then having to backtrack. Other times I make the turn and it proves to be the right move. (I should note that I also have the GPS track and the published guide; but the guide is 4 years old, the GPS track is two years old, and the lady waymarker passed through before the shrubbery leafed out.)
It’s said the Eskimos have thirteen words for snow, and I’m positive the Germans have at least that many for hiking trails. There’s the grass way (grassweg), field way (feldweg), forest way (Waldweg), sand way, gravel trail, blacktop trail, and concrete trail not to mention sidewalks as well as others.
This morning, coming out of Auernheim, there were no marks. I ended up bushwhacking through woods and down a shallow gully; there was definitely an old track visible in spots, and also some really old carved marker stones. Then along a trodden track through an apple orchard until I linked up with a regional trail headed for the next town. Only at the edge of Fleinheim did I meet up with the Jakobsweg marks again. Looking at the map, there is another long stretch of woods coming up, and I have lost confidence in the markings for this sector. So I’m going with Plan B, which had been carefully researched by the helpful front desk lady at the Kloster. From Fleinheim I took the 2:30 bus (last one – it’s Saturday afternoon) to the train station in Heidenheim (a different town with the same name), then the local train to Giengen. Giengen, the town the bear built: this is the home of the Steif teddy bears.
I’m out of Bavaria now, and into Baden-Wurtemburg. These two states are like Texas and Massachusetts. The young people on the bus and train were sporting much more … exotic? … haircuts and fashions. Red hair in its several different tints is very popular with the women, along with the black hose+ hot pants combination and black skimmer shoes. The guys were favoring mullets and colored chukka boots. I’ve also seen tattoo shops and massage joints.
Dining. There was a limited dinner menu due to a large wedding party, but it met my needs. Tasty cream of vegetable soup. Typical German salad bar. Excellent pommes frites and a well-executed pork schnitzel. Ice cream to finish.
Lodging. I’m at Hotel-Restaurant Lamm, which has a good location on the market square and on the Jakobsweg route. It also has a current telephone number in the Jakobsweg guide. Desk staff speaks English. Room has all the modcons, but the carpet could use a steam cleaning. Has wifi, which is in German WLAN (“vee-lahn”).
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