Distance: 15.5 km by route
Elev: -35m net
The heavy drizzle was lightening as the train pulled out of the Meckenbeuren station, and I was beginning to think I should have walked. Then we started passing the flooded orchards and fields: water at a depth of 1-2 feet. Knowing how much of the route goes through fields just like this, I was rather glad to be making a transit hop today.
I find this is a frequent topic of discussion in the pilgrim forums: how much pain, suffering, and inconvenience must be included for the journey to be a “real” pilgrimage? Some eschew any transit, ever; but they do fly to and from their starting and ending points. Some send bags ahead by taxi every day (in France and Spain, as this is not possible east of Le Puy). I enjoy the walking, and have managed to balance the pack weight and daily distance. There were a few days with short transit hops while I worked that out. But this is quite unseasonable weather; even the Germans were not expecting such heavy rain and flooding, this time of year. So I think it prudent to be cautious. When you walk this route, you may make your own decisions, and “your mileage may vary”. I’m finding every day is an adventure, with friends to be made and lessons to be learned.
The train routing involved a layover at Friedrichshafen, so I got to see a bit of that town and its views of Lake Constance (Bodensee). An Australian couple were also changing trains – we had a nice chat.
Markdorf is a fair-sized place. My Gasthof had a “closed until 5pm” signs hung out, so I walked up towards the center of town in search of lunch, or at least a dry place to sit and eat my sandwich. There was a lot of traffic backed up – not something I’m used to seeing. Turns out, this weekend is an annual city birthday festival. The Marktplaz was full of huts and booths, very much like a Christmas market without the shopping.
These things work a bit like the Rotary fried chicken or the Kiwanis hot dog stands – a local group uses them as a fundraiser. This local group was the Swabischer Albverein, the hiking club whose route markings I had been seeing for weeks (they set up the regional routes). One the ladies staffing the beer table came over and we chatted, so she could practice her English.
Then I asked her to choose a cake for me from the “coffee and cake” table – the Swabischer Albverein has covered all the bases! She chose a very light cake: the bottom layer was a chocolate hazelnut cake (ground nuts instead of flour), then spread with sour cherry preserves and topped with whipped cream. All the cakes were made by the hiking ladies – I saw several of them being delivered – and they all looked very professional (not to mention delicious). I must try to learn how to make these ground-nut cakes!
It was time for the Gasthof and my usual afternoon laundry.
Dining. The Gasthof dining room is a contemporary design (only the second one I have seen in three weeks), and the food has a similar contemporary presentation. Even with the professional skill, the price is similar to my other meals. I had the curried chicken cutlets, and I wish I knew how he kept a skinless chicken breast so moist and tasty!
Lodging. I’m at Restaurant-Hotel Bürgerstuben, which is located directly on the Jakobsweg route as it passes the train station before leaving town. This is an excellent location. The room is clean and modern with working heat. Very highly recommended.
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