Distance: 21 km (11 km by bus, from Ulm to Einsingen)
Elev: (Einsingen to Oberdischingen ) 35m up, 40m down, net -5m
Around the big cities (Nürnberg, Ulm, etc) there is a ring of quite unscenic and sketchy industrial works and abandoned buildings. I don’t feel compelled to walk through these sections myself; there is no virtue to be gained, and the pavement is hard on these knees. Because these areas are so close to the cities, there are good transit options for hopping over them. (The Deutsche Bahn iPhone app is invaluable for planning this.) As with all my other route choices – if you are a walker reading this to plan your own journey – your decisions and results may vary.
As long as we are talking travel logistics, let me say a word about language. I do speak a little German; the Germans seem to think it is good enough that they can respond at their normal rapid rate. So, while I am grateful for the compliment, I don’t catch much of what is said. Often I get more information from facial expression, tone of voice, and gestures than I do from the words themselves. I find the women’s accents easier to understand; the men all seem to be graduates of some local operatic bass-baritone training.
At any rate, it has unexpectedly turned into a lovely spring morning, if a tad cool. The purple Dutch iris are up and going strong, along with the giant alliums and wisteria and more lilacs and – oh my goodness – peonies! Anyone who invests in peonies gets a gold star in my book; they will keep going 40 years. I always think of Grandma when I see them. No rhododendron in these parts; the tulips and flowering ground covers are still doing nicely though. Knowing dinner would be modest at best, my plan was to have a nice lunch in Erbach before going on. In a cogent demonstration of “gang aft agley”, the first place was not yet open, the second only sold liquor, the third would offer a room but no meals until after 1 June, and so I settled for a Doner Kebap (aka Gyros). Ah well. On my way out of Erbach, as I was admiring more peonies, the gentleman next door comes over to chat. I didn’t catch much of it, but American foreign policy these last 12 years is not to his liking. Fortunately, his wife came out to call him to lunch, and I was able to make my escape.
The afternoon’s walk turned into a race against another squall line. This is an exurban area, with small pockets of towns coming every 3 km amid the sprouting corn. And although I was walking along a ridge between towns, with nice views, I could hear highway noise. So this was not a matter of being way out in the country.
Once I arrived in Oberdischigen (rhymes with Over Michigan) I still had a long wait. While I was waiting for the lodgings host to return from her errands, another pilgrim walks up! A German, Gregor, walking from Fulda to Santiago. So we chat. This time it’s 65 years of American foreign policy. Ah well.
Dining. I probably should have taken up Gregor’s offer to join him for dinner at the Gasthaus. Instead I took the meal that was offered by the lodgings. This was a perfectly adequate home-style meal: tossed salad, chicken cacciatore, bread, and fresh fruit for dessert. What I had not bargained on was the absolute silence that was kept – apart from an instrumental playing on the CD. Someone had to explain in English, as my German certainly isn’t up to this one.
Lodging. I’m at the Cursillo House here, and they keep separate lodgings for Jakobsweg pilgrims. Cursillo is a Catholic-originated program of lay education and renewal; it has since widely expanded among mainline Protestant bodies in the US. At any rate, I had at least heard of them and knew a little bit about them beforehand. The quarters are very basic, but then so is the price. One night is enough.