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Pilgrimage under one hat - on the way with Sandra

Bavarian Swabian Way of St. James


Stage 2:  Wemding - Harburg 17.3 km

Half-timbered houses in Oettingen

20 km - warm up


Weather forecast: 20 degrees, windy, cloudy with sunny sections

First morning diary entry:


Monday, July 6th, 2020 day 1

I woke up  to the unmistakable sound of a car that is aquaplaning on a wet road. Well bravo.

Look outside, sky gray, but also no more rain. Cool air comes through the window. So pack your sunglasses first. The night was below average. Back and shoulders hurt before I even started walking.

I'm a little worried about how the 20 km of the first stage that lies ahead of me will be more difficult for me, since I am physically rather unfit ...)

A first conversation

I pack up my belongings and go to breakfast. It's only covered for me, I seem to be the only guest. The landlady makes me a big pot of black tea and sits down next to me while I have my breakfast. She is very approachable and we quickly get into conversation. Perhaps she also needed a little neutral company, because she tells me very openly about the changes for herself and her company due to the corona restrictions, but also about her family circumstances  and the worries that plague them. One  nice open encounter, which relativizes the condition of the restaurant for me a bit.

I leave and, as I had hoped, get the first stamp in the tourist information office, which is now open. Even though I haven't done anything yet, I'm still proud. Typical!

I start the path at the pilgrim memorial and leave the town of Oettingen at a roundabout, which I cross and  which lets me walk a little next to the main road.


First pilgrimage steps

Then it goes on side roads through little forest,  a lot of fields and corridors.

I find the markings on this section a bit stingy because I find very little of them. 

Maybe I'm not looking well enough, because every now and then I spot an overgrown arrow.

I am glad that I downloaded the route from the internet onto Komoot beforehand. The app navigates me dispassionately by voice from my right thigh pocket. 

I had planned to record all sections. 

So, despite the lack of markings at the junctions, it is relatively difficult for me to get lost.

First surprise

Yes, the modern pilgrim, one or the other may complain, only relies on technology. Doesn't it sometimes turn out to be the better decision in retrospect? Certainly, but everyone has to solve that for themselves.

It just gives me more security  me alone to face the challenges of the path  and at the same time enables me to focus inward. Vocal guidance does not block my senses, nor does it block my mind or prevent me from meeting.

Originally I had thought that the Spanish Camino, in addition to meeting me, would also be a camino of meeting others.  I was looking forward to it  people  common  To gain experience and learn from others. Even if I found the descriptions of hordes of pilgrims on the last 100 km a bit off-putting. If I felt like it, I wanted to get in contact with people and if I didn't feel like it, I wanted to be alone and be alone.

Instead, the omens had now changed and Corona, with its AHA rules, now stipulated the lower intensity of encounters with people. It probably would for many  It is more difficult to meet masked people in an impartial and trusting manner. And there would be far fewer encounters in the Donau-Ries region than on the final stretch to Compostela.

After leaving Oettingen, I realize that  I  have the first section of Bavarian-Swabian to myself. All alone. It's still cloudy. Not a soul on the way. Not all of the first day. I walk through forests, meadows and a lot along the edge of the forest, follow narrow forest roads and pass individual farms. Where are the people only?

The most beautiful paths for hiking and running are in Swabia and while I was used to sharing the most promising routes with day trippers and tourists in Upper Bavaria, there is nothing here: nothing but nature and vastness.

I didn't understand - where were all the dog owners who romped around with their four-legged friends in the forest? The focused joggers who passed from behind and were only noticeable by the pressure wave of their gust of wind? Or the older Swabians who went for a walk? Weren't there any mothers with strollers here who would take their offspring around in the fresh air?

Maybe it's the wrong time of day. Or the wrong day of the week. Maybe you don't do that here on Mondays. However, I get the feeling that it is always so quiet here and that the few people in this sparsely populated area simply have no time or inclination in the morning  had to walk on their somewhat remote forest and meadow paths.


First findings

Around noon it clears up a bit, which is probably also due to the strong wind.

I feel compelled to take a break and put on my windproof jacket as well, because my back is wet, despite the advertised air-ventilated carrying system and the high-tech fabric of my outerwear that dries in no time at all. 

First arrival

Shortly before I walk through the Amerbach city gate to the pilgrimage site of Wemding, a young woman walks towards me on a bicycle and suddenly stops at me. Fine, I'll be as  Pilgrim recognized! She asks about my plans and in turn reports that she walked this pilgrimage a few years ago, albeit a good bit longer than my plan now.  She gives the greenhorn a few good tips. And one of them relates to the Kneipp facility  in Wemding, which is available to everyone to cool and care for their tired feet.

Terrific. Exactly what my hot, aching colleagues deserved today. I get really big eyes and try to memorize the path that she explains to me. I would definitely do that after my arrival.

So they did exist after all, the carefree, impartial contacts. I imagined it like that. We say goodbye to each other and shortly afterwards I arrive at my accommodation in Wemding.


First explorations

The house looks more promising today. After I checked in there  and have recovered, I slip into my hiking sandals and make my way to the Kneipp facility. It's wonderful to have one more top decision to pack the hiking sandals. They are difficult to carry with you, but a real boon after the hiking boots.  I think my gait is no longer that round, but it doesn't matter. The main thing is to arrive. I am very proud of myself again.

On the way to the Kneipp facility, I notice that there are many old fuchsia plants to admire in the front gardens of the houses. In this context I learn that the botanist Leonart Fuchs comes from Wemding, who inherited the plant's name.

I also read that Wemding has been recognized as a recognized resort since 1972. I also really like the cityscape.  Nevertheless, I am not surprised that I am left alone with Kneipp therapy. What a treat for your feet! Hats off, you didn't inflate a bubble today!  I enjoy the cold water with all my heart.



Diary entry at dinner:

So, day 1 is over. Just like me. From km 12 it became very exhausting. And after 15 km I hardly made any progress. I was astonished that the back wasn't the problem at all, but actually the feet and the lack of strength in the legs. The knees also held up surprisingly well.

I have to reduce the heaving of the backpack up and down on my back, it is very annoying and uncomfortable. Fortunately no bubbles ran out, however  I have a really deep abrasion on the inside of the left upper arm because a backpack strap on the shoulder strap constantly rubs against the bare skin with every stick used.

I don't know yet whether I can fix the problem with the delivery system. First, I'll plaster my arm over a large area.

Funny, why only on one side? Do I wiggle my arms so unevenly?

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