A walk in the Austrian Tirol with Br'er Joel in May 2017 on the

I have an old Jansport travel pack that served me well for several walks, but which was superannuated when I got my Granite Gear Nimbus Ozone - a dream of a pack to carry. Since the old pack was not needed regularly, I relegated it to car travels and the like, and decided to decorate it with flags of all the countries I have visited. It wasn't until I looked at it closely that I realized all the flags on the main face were countries I had walked in. Except Austria. That exception kept niggling at me, and eventually I decided to plan a walk there for completeness' sake. My experience in Switzerland had demonstrated to me that my knees were no longer up to steep terrain, so I planned this walk in the valleys of the Tyrol (or Tirol) - along lazy (read, flat) rivers, but with the Austrian alps on either side. Granted, the best vistas are from the tops of the mountains, but I was willing to forego the view to forego the pain.

The next issue was who might accompany me. I don't mind walking alone, but having someone to share this journey with seemed more attractive to me. None of my prior companions was available and willing, so without much hope of finding 'new blood' I bruited the idea to people around me. I let the idea cook until it was time to commit, then polled a couple of people who had evinced some interest. Joel Jones, a friend from south Florida, allowed as how he was interested, but had never been to Europe, nor on a long walk, and was a bit unsure. He has, however, walked in the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, and been canoeing in the Boundary Waters, so I was confident of his ability to adapt and enjoy the walk, a confidence that in the event was fully justified.

Neither one of us had had sufficient time to give to exercise in preparation, so I planned the walk with a bit shorter days than in prior trips - usually not more than 20km (12mi) each day. The route: from Innsbruck to Salzburg, along the Inn river, through the Ramsau in the southeast corner of Germany, and back into Austria, with a total length of about 200km over 9 or 10 days. As it turns out, the Austrian association for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago (the St. James Way - Jakobsweg in German) have a website that has a suggested route towards Spain, and we largely just followed their maps going the wrong way (west to east). More of this later...

We sort of started with a lurch: Joel was pretty occupied at work, and we had our son and his family living with us, so it was a bit difficult for either of us to focus. Airfares were anything but predictable day by day, except that they seemed to be climbing. I found a good deal for Joel flying from Miami, but he missed it, and it was a stroke of lucky timing that I found a return ticket on Air Berlin a few days later for just $600 from Miami to Munich - some $900 less than my direct flight from Houston, and enough less that it was worth my time and money to fly to and from Miami, with the side benefit that we would fly into Europe together. We jumped on the offer, of course. It worked out well: I flew to Florida a day early, and spent the night with Joel and Kim, simplifying connections substantially.

Joel started packing about 9pm the day before we flew out, but based on a suggested list I had sent him some weeks before. He claims that JIT is a tried and proven process model, and I guess I can't argue with that.

Air Berlin is a so-called 'budget airline', and I had mental images of duct tape and baling wire holding together diminuative seats, and a bag of peanuts for a transatlantic flight. I am pleased to say that I could not be more wrong. We flew to Berlin in a fairly new Airbus A330, comfortable seating (2-4-2), individual media stations in the seatbacks, and food that compares favorably to anything I've ever had on an airplane. It was still tourist class, of course.

The transition in Berlin to a smaller plane was easy and quick, but we were both starting to sag, and dozed on the hour-long flight to Munich. It was only on arrival that the drama began. My pack has a bright sunburst yellow ripstop overbag to protect it during flight, and it came out wonderfully visible and fairly quickly. Joel's did not. Not visibly. Not quickly. Not slowly. Not ever. We waited a bit, then turned in a claim before catching the S-Bahn to the Hauptbahnhof. Having learned my lesson after my bag's being misrouted in France, I always plan a down day at the front end of one of these walks to allow for a lost bag to catch up, and because of the touring we had planned before the start of this walk, we actually had two down days. Good thing.

We walked around the huge arcade underneath the Hauptbahnhof before popping up to street level for döner kebab. They were okay, but not up to the standard of the ones I usually get in Leipzig. We then took the train to Füssen through some beautiful scenery, arriving about 4pm, and easily found our hostel. Our room was small, but adequate for the purpose, with beds stacked not-quite-bunkbed style, the lower one about three feet off the floor (so luggage can be stored underneath - the room was too small for it to fit anywhere else!). Our innkeeper was an amiable Romanian named Cristian, with whom we had good conversation.

Our airfare being so much less than we had budgeted, we decided we had wiggle room for nicer evening meals, so we went out to a typical Tyrolean restaurant before walking around until dark in the very scenic Altstadt of Füssen. By the way, Joel was kind enough to allow me to use images he made to illustrate this journal, so some of the pictures are mine, others are his. I've tried to pick the more interesting. Most will show an enlargement if you click on them, many with a wider view than these thumbnails.

Joel went on to bed, while I stayed up a while talking to a bunch of Argentine young folks for a while (I spoke German most of the time I walked the Camino in Spain, so it didn't seem too odd to be speaking Spanish in Germany!).

I always have trouble sleeping the first couple of nights, even after having been awake for 30+ hours, and tonight was no exception. Neither of us slept through the night, and the sleep we did get was fitful.

No word of Joel's bag yet.

Monday 8-May

We shared breakfast with a Japanese man whose English was poor (albeit better than our Japanese!). We ended up having good conversation with him by using the talking dictionaries on our phones. There still being no news of Joel's backpack, we went to the Woolworth's (yes, they still exist in Europe) for him to get a poncho and a vest before we caught the bus to the ticket center in Hohenschwangau and the further bus to Neuschwanstein castle.

The Marienbrücke above the castle has been rebuilt since we were there in 1977, when it had a sign saying 'Max 20 people', and everyone approaching could be seen counting heads. It is apprently more robust now, since about 50 people were crowded onto it, enough that our tour guide in the castle said they were considering installing a turnstile to control the crowding. Even so, we were able to get a photo of the two of us without a bunch of other people in it. As you can see, the day was rainy and cool, so the vest and poncho were a good choice.

While we were waiting, we had an engaging conversation with a recently-retired couple from Boston, both civil engineers with good travel stories.

I was a bit surprised how much I remembered from 1977 in the castle, and how little it has changed. The kitchen has a lot more pots and pans than I saw then, but most of the other rooms are very much the same, and probably have been since Bavaria took over the property as a museum.

After the tour, we rode the bus back to Hohenschwangau while Joel tried again - in vain - to locate his backpack. On the bus back to Füssen, we sat across from a young woman from Telluride, and we enjoyed talking with her for a while at the station. Joel and I agreed that one advantage of being graybeards is the ability to strike up a conversation with a young woman without being suspected of making a move on her.

I fetched my bag from Cristian's, and we walked the couple of kilometers to the Flixbus stop. Germany has several budget point-to-point bus lines, including Megabus, which we use in Texas between Houston and Dallas (typically $10 or so, with no stops, new buses, free wireless). The Flixbus in Germany is about the same: Kelia and I rode from Leipzig to Berlin last year for €7 each, about what Joel and I paid this time. While waiting for the bus, Joel checked again with the airline about his bag. It had been located in Berlin, and was on its way to Munich, with a promise of its delivery to our hotel in Innsbruck. The bus ride there was about two hours long, and unremarkable. The rain continued as it had the entire time we were in Germany, and we were tired, so it was a subdued ride (and the bus had only seven passengers, most of them dozing). Actually, I liked the rain, but was looking forward to a realization of the weather forecast, which indicated an end to precipitation overnight.

From Innsbruck, we rode a local bus up to the hamlet of Sistrans, which turned out to be a wonderful place to overnight - very quiet, in farming country so you could smell the hay - with very spacious and comfortable rooms. I was still awake when I heard Joel's bag being delivered to his room at 10:45pm. JIT indeed!

Tuesday 9-May

Having stayed so far up the mountain, we planned to bus back to Innsbruck. There was only one bus per hour, and when ours came, we were on the wrong side of the street (my bad!), and so missed it and had to wait another hour. Joel had voiced his lack of enthusiasm about walking through a city, so considering also the lost hour, we opted to start in Hall in Tirol instead, just a few kilometers east of Innsbruck. Hall has a gorgeous Altstadt, but we were late enough getting off that we just kept walking, stopping just long enough for a beginning-of-trip selfie. Our way out of town was a continual gradual rise north to a nature park that the Jakobsweg passes through.

The Jakobsweg here is in the forest along the contour lines, very pleasant, especially with the sunny weather. In the afternoon, the way turned downhill, and it was an unrelenting, if not terribly steep, downhill. In the event, we did not come down where we thought we did, due to misreading the map. As a result, we wasted an hour or more before backtracking. By the time we got to Fritzens - delayed several hours from plan, and still hours from our destination - we were both pretty hot and tired. To make things worse, our hotel had overbooked and sent us to a hotel (admittedly nicer) several kilometers up the side of the mountain on the other side of the river, in Kolsassberg. I had gotten the notice via wireless just as we left the hotel that morning, but with no phone, I had no way to negotiate an alternative.

In any case, I proposed, and Joel, with no hesitation, and, as I learned later, with gratitude, agreed to our taking a taxi the rest of the way, transit by bus being difficult to arrange. Looking out the taxi window at the ever-upward road to our substitute hotel confirmed the wisdom of our action.

So, lessons learned today:
1. Trust the maps. If what you are seeing doesn't match what you think the map says, keep looking until you can reconcile reality and the map.
2. It's a walk in the woods, not a death march. If you need to stop or take transportation, that's okay.

That second lesson is important to me. After my painful experience in Switzerland, I was doubting whether I would do another long walk. Giving myself permission to shortcut or even ride part of the way, rather than 'needing' to walk every meter, opens up new possibilities for me. I guess I fear falling back on the easy way too often, but I'll just have to be wise.

Wednesday 10-May

Being on the Jakobsweg, we saw the scallop signs every now and then, and as long as they were pointing to where we had come from, we knew we were on the right path. The trail association has done a good job of identifying a path that avoids as much as possible vehicular traffic and which often leads through forests, meadows, and small villages. We deviated when we saw reason to, but largely followed the general direction, and actually even met several pilgrims. They were all section-hiking the Camino - after all, we were still 1600km (1000mi) from Santiago de Compostela.

Checking out of our 5-star hotel with the marvelous view across the valley, for which we paid the 3-star rate of the hotel from which we had been diverted(!), we took a taxi back down the mountain and across the river to Terfens, where there was a grocery store to buy lunch. With warm, sunny weather, the walk was quite pleasant (and not as steep as yesterday). We stopped for coffee in Flecht, and I began to see how refined these walks could be with a little flexibility.

It was somewhere about here that Joel remarked that our stopping regularly for coffee was already becoming a significant feature of this particular walk, and that we weren't so much walking the St. James Way backwards as walking a trail of coffee shops in our direction of travel. And so was born the Camino de Cappuccino - the Coffee Way. No matter that it wasn't official; it was as good as official to us, and we purposed to be true pilgrims and stop whenever it was reasonable. I'm proud to say that we honored that commitment.

This is a panoramic image of the Inntal - the valley of the Inn river, which runs east/west parallel to the border with Germany. There are towns and villages strung all along the river and up the sides of the Alps on either side. Our walk was sometimes right on the banks of the Inn, at other times skirting the beginning upslope of the mountains. The sunny weather made for great walking and very satisfying sights, and the mornings particularly were pleasant.

By this afternoon, though, warm had turned to hot, and we found ourselves walking nowhere the speed for us to finish before dark (and admittedly the coffee stops slowed us down, too). At 2pm, as we walked into Stans, we decided to cut out the warmest part of the day's walking by catching the S-Bahn through Jensbach to Strass in Zillertal. We did that, and by 4pm were walking again in marginally cooler weather. We made reasonable time on roads, on forest tracks, and through neighborhoods, reaching our hotel in Rattenberg about 7pm. Rattenberg is a center for lead crystal, and walking through the town center, we saw many shop windows with pretty colored glass objects of all sorts. Following the walker's rule, we declined buying anything that would add weight to our packs.

More photos from Wednesday's walk...

We came up on the back side of our hotel to see all the lights in the restaurant out and a sign posted prominently at the corner: GASTBETRIEB GESCHLOSSEN. Guest services closed. Well, that didn't sound very promising, but we walked all around the property and eventually found the front door, which bore the same sign. Sigh. After searching a bit more, though, we found a small sign saying that if we had a room reserved to ring next door. We did so, and were greeted by a very friendly Frau Rangger. She and her husband Max are otherwise retired, and still operate the B&B, having closed the restaurant some years ago. It being somewhat later in the evening, we walked the few hundred meters back into the town center for supper, then back to the hotel well after dark and to bed.

Thursday 11-May

I slept poorly again - too hot under the duvet, and too cold out from under - and didn't wake up until after 7:30, breakfast time. Joel was already downstairs, so I was in catch-up mode for a while. I had a short but pleasant visit with the Ranggers when I was checking us out, but would have liked to spend more time visiting with them.

Their hotel being directly on the way, so were we by 9am, crossing the Inn at the bridge by the hotel, and walking along the river, again through some forest bits, and also along the edge of some beautiful meadows. Joel just kept saying, "this is awesome!" with a satisfied grin. Around noon we stopped at another station on the Camino de Cappuccino at Breitenbach. Afterwards, not far out of town, we had to make a choice between walking on a busy Landesstrasse with maybe no sidewalks, or go over the mountain at Berg (18% grade). We chose the latter, and started trudging up the narrow paved road. Joel chose this time to remind me (huffing and puffing) of how I had sold the walk to him: "Along the river, nice and level, he said. No mountain climbing, he said. An easy stroll, he said." It didn't bother me, though; I was huffing and puffing too loudly to hear much of it. We kept stopping so that Joel could take pictures back over the Inntal, often exclaiming, "this is awesome!" always with a satisfied grin.

At the top of the hill Berg sits on, we met an Austrian couple at a tree with a box on it containing a stamp and a log book, something like a geocache. We stamped our books, took pictures, signed the book, and proceeded down the back side of the hill, still on the Jakobsweg. By this (2:30pm), it became increasingly clear to me that we were progressing much slower than planned. Joel was also wanting to catch up his diary, so when we saw a bus stop (and they are all over the valley, some in places I would not have expected - you can barely see one on the road in the middle of the right-hand image), we made the joint decision to break off walking and catch the bus to Itter, with the side effect of avoiding the walk through the city of Wörgl.

We got into Itter about 5pm. It is a tiny hamlet several kilometers away (and up!) from the river valley, with very little to offer in the way of restaurant or shops. Our host showed us to our rooms, spacious and clean, the only unsatisfying aspect of them the reek of cigarette smoke from the owners which pervaded the house. Our accomodation was actually a suite, with two bedrooms, two baths, and a kitchenette. The image is of my bedroom with everything from my backpack spread out for airing, and shows how roomy and airy this apartment was. I had a bath en suite, but Joel had the use of the main bath, with its ultra-modern shower with ultra-modern controls (which between the two of us we figured out).

Anyway, we got cleaned up, walked into town, and bought breakfast and lunch just before closing time at the tiny grocery tacked onto the bar/cafe before eating a supper of pizza (Hobson's choice at the pub). We spent a little time walking through the parish cemetery, then turned in. The night was very quiet, and we each opened our windows to the cool evening air and for the first time for either of us, slept through the night.

Friday 12-May

By now I was coming to grips with the disparity between my plan and the reality of our capabilities. So, facing one of our longest days, we decided to ride the bus part way, back to the Jakobsweg proper. We got off at Hauning, and began a pleasant morning's walk. The weather forecast showed 100% chance of rain, and we were quite pleased that it never even threatened rain - the sun was out, and the weather beautiful. The weathermen in this part of the world are apparently no more accurate than ours. Part of the way was on a bike path, part through forest, and we were hitting a groove in our pace.

Then we came to a turnstile in the forest - not quite the lamppost in the forest in Narnia, but almost as surprising, and arguably no more useful. I remarked on the strange placement, but Joel, having better insight or a premonition, immediately labelled it 'the turnstile of doom'. At first we passed by it, but the trail onwards petered out under a ski lift pylon, and it became clear the way forward was through the turnstile. It directed our path down a steep and narrow, slightly dangerous forest trail, and down to the base station of the lift. We took lunch at a cafe there.

After lunch, we proceeded on to Ellmau, the next station on the C de C. Joel opted for a piece of Apfelstrudel, and declared it some of the best trail food he had ever eaten. The way on to the town of Going was flat and easy and surprisingly populated, with lots of walkers and bikers on the promenade that paralleled the busy road. There were lots of restaurants and lots of outfitters for skiing (mostly closed now, of course), and I'm guessing that this town is hopping in the winter even more than we saw in May. The view across the valley to the alps opposite was quite striking, and made for a beautiful panorama.

At Going, we caught the bus to St. Johann and walked through the town in a light drizzle to the Explorer Hotel, the 'trendiges Basislager für sportliche Alpen-Entdecker' - 'trendy base camp for sporty Alpine explorers', or so the advertising brochure had it. It had just opened a few months before, and the landscaping was incomplete and even the tiles for the parking lot were still being laid. No matter, the room was adequate. There were a couple of curious issues, though. For a trendy base camp, the wireless LAN was virtually non-existent in the rooms or the balconies or the halls. Normally, that wouldn't bother me at all, but I had a bit of business to handle via telephone, and having only Skype, I was mightily hampered. All the lighting was LED, and all power was turned off when you took your card with you out of the room, very trendy and eco-friendly. But the bathrooms had no drinking glasses or cups. I wonder if they thought everyone would bring bottled water, or what. I also ponder the purpose of putting a photo of a snowboarder coming straight down on you right above the bed.

There was no food service in the hotel, so we walked back 600 meters into town in a light rain to an Italian restaurant and had a most excellent meal. On the way back to the hotel afterwards, the rain picked up and strengthened considerably through the night.

Saturday 13-May

Whatever quibbles I might have with the Explorer Hotel, breakfast would not be one of them. They had several cooking stations for you to make your own eggs or omelettes, as well as all the stuff you would expect at a breakfast buffet. They even had a Jacuzzi/fondue for boiling eggs for individual cooking times, something I've never seen or heard of before. Very trendy indeed!

After several days of meat and cheese and rolls for breakfast, the omelettes were a welcome change, and we got off, well-fortified, about 9am. Our first stop was at a grocery store in St. Johann for lunch and communion supplies for tomorrow. Walking through the busy town was not very satisfying - we had already gotten quite used to the still and calm we experienced on the trail, and the sidewalks filled with people were a bit - well, not distressing or unnerving, exactly, but a bit grating on our sensitivities.

The good news is that it is a small town, and it wasn't long before we were out in the country again. The rain had let up, but the clouds remained, and the cooler air was welcome. We had an easy walk all morning, mostly flat and along water.

I recognize that not everybody feels the same attraction nor the same satisfaction as I do about these walks, so I had had some concern that the walk was meeting Joel's expectations, and that I had sold him a bill of goods. Questioning him, I was very gratified when he answered that he was enjoying the walk immensely.

We stopped for coffee, but otherwise just walked. I can't even remember ever stopping for lunch. For this trip, with no cellular access, I had downloaded an app called Galileo, which can display Open Street Maps offline. I had also downloaded the OSM maps for Austria and Bavaria, and they turned out to be quite excellent. The level of detail was better than I expected, and the quality of the data was mostly spot on, there being only a couple of times when the OSM map no longer represented reality (like when we were hailed by a truck driver who told us that we were walking into a quarry and needed to turn around, necessitating a bit longer walk).

We walked into Waidring about 3:30pm. Joel was feeling a bit tired, so I left my pack with him and walked on through town to the only grocery store in the vicinity. It being Saturday afternoon, things were starting to shut down, and I was glad to find the store still open. I picked up breakfast and lunch for tomorrow and headed back into town. We found our apartment about 5pm, and when we rang the doorbell, Rupert and Nadja, the owners, invited us into what I thought was their home, until they explained that this was the apartment we had rented. It was phenomenal, and both Joel and I were taken aback by their friendliness and hospitality, to say nothing of the lodging. Had we wanted, there was a swimming pool and a sauna. They had a 50+ inch television, which had a personal welcome when we turned it on. I could go on, but Joel captured it when he told me, "when we walked in, they treated us like royalty".

We settled in quickly, then cleaned up and walked back into Waidring for supper. Joel had goulash for the first time - a bit of a step-out for a not overly adventuresome eater! Before going back to the apartment, we sat in for a few minutes on a mass in the parish church building, then walked around the cemetery for a while. It seemed like every grave had a metal cross, each of a different design, and the collection taken as a whole I found quite attractive. Going back, we had this view of the mountain, still with snow in mid-May. I guess if you have this out your kitchen window, you get where you don't even notice it. We noticed it!

Sunday 14-May

We got up in leisure on Sunday morning. Joel had set out breakfast, and after eating it, we spent a while in communion. Then it was time to set out, after a short visit with Rupert and Nadja, with everyone agreeing that it was too bad our plans didn't allow for spending more days with them.

We had a very pleasant walk, with overcast skies but no real threat of rain, and made it to Lofer in about three hours without stopping. It being Sunday, the town was shut down, but looked like it would be an entertaining place to visit during the week. We found a cafe open, so assumed it was intended to be a stop on the C de C, and ordered lattes. We drank them while consuming these wonderful homemade gooey-Nutella-center chocolate cupcakes that R & N had sent us off with, each personalized for us. Like Joel said, they treated us like royalty.

The afternoon was as pleasant as the morning, and we walked straight on to Unken. Most of the walk was along a river, on which we saw a bunch of kayakers whom Joel opined were somewhat skilled based on how they were handling the rapids.

We walked into (and up(!) through) Unken to our hotel, a very typical Landhotel, very comfortable. By this time, Joel was pretty close to being tapped out, and my knee was aching a bit, so we were really happy to get to our rooms. One trick I learned many trips ago is to not lie down on arrival, no matter how tired you think you are, but rather to get to the showers as quickly as possible. For whatever reason, a shower is almost always a great restorative. We were glad that this hotel had its own restaurant, too - we had done sufficient walking for the day. For dinner I had Knusprige Schnitzel - a cutlet like Wienerschnitzel or Cordon Bleu, but really crunchy on the outside, and really toothsome.

We racked out pretty early - I was out by 8:30pm.

More images from Sunday's walk...

Monday 15-May

This was to be our most challenging day. That's what my expectation was a priori, based on the maps, and that's what it turned out to be. This was the day we transited from Austria into the Ramsau in Germany, at its southeast corner. Our way took us off the Jakobsweg and through some territory I couldn't exactly work out in advance. I knew there were roads, but wasn't sure of walkways or footpaths. It was also the longest day.

It was about 9am and drizzling when we left Unken. Knowing that we had a long day, and seeing no coffee stations to detract us from walking, we made good time straight to Schneitzlreuth, about 9 km in 2 hours. The crossing into Germany on our walking path was pretty underwhelming, there being just a little sign saying "Notice: National border" off the side of the trail.

We did expect a coffee station at Schneitzlreuth, but it turned out to be much less of a place than I had imagined - some houses and a bus stop. No coffee. Well, okay, we didn't really need any, anyway. So, after resting for a few minutes in the bus stop shelter, it was back across the stream and back onto the path towards Berchtesgaden and the Ramsau. We walked on trails for about another half hour, and then came up against the reality I had been worried about: no footpaths in our direction. In fact, the only way through was along the Schwarzbach, which was rushing towards us (read: uphill for us - 12% grade, actually), and the only way for several kilometers was the B305, the Deutsche Alpenstrasse, a Bundesstrasse (federal road), two lanes, but very busy, and with no shoulders. It was noontime by now, and it was pretty warm.

There was a trailhead a few kilometers down the highway, and since we didn't seem to have any other choice, we just agreed to meet there, each one making his way along the road, always upwards, as best he could. The walk seemed interminable, but it was probably no more than a half hour or so to the trailhead. Amazing how subjectively longer things take when you don't want to be doing them. Or, to quote Albert Einstein, "When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity." There were fewer trucks than I had feared, but lots of cars moving at highway speeds, and I stopped walking and stepped off the curb every time one came by. Tedious.

I actually got to the trailhead before Joel did, much to my surprise. He came up a few minutes later and immediately plopped down. We both rested for a few minutes there, celebrating our having survived the highway. Then we picked up the walking trail - so much more pleasant than the highway, even though it still went ever upwards. The Schwarzbach was in full flow, and we kept stopping (but not for long!) to look at it.

Along here, Joel pointed out a fallacy in my thinking: I had scoped out trails that ran beside water, expecting the walk to be level. On a river, that turned out to be true, but on a swiftly-flowing brook, not so much!

We eventually got to the next coffee station, a Gasthof at Schwarzbachwacht. It didn't look very busy, and I was concerned that it was out of business. In the event, it had Ruhetag - rest day - on Mondays. Many hotels and restaurants in this part of the world, being family affairs, have Ruhetag, when they shut down operations, either to catch up on chores and errands, or because there is little business. Restaurants particularly are usually open on the weekends, then close some days in the week. Needless to say, we were disappointed that this restaurant had chosen Monday. We just sat at their outside table for a while and considered our options. A man came out of the building, and when I asked him about public transportation, indicated that there was a bus stop about 500m down the road where buses for Ramsau stopped. Not knowing if that would work for us, I left my pack with Joel and walked down there to see. Unfortunately, the buses ran only infrequently, and the last one for the day had already come and gone.

I have a note in my journal that somewhere in the middle of this day Joel exclaimed, "You've got to be kidding!". I don't remember exactly what he was referring to, but it could have been most anything that had happened since, and including, Schneitzlreuth.

Well, there was nothing for it but to walk the 9 or 10 kilometers to our hotel. We had already walked 20 kilometers, about 12 miles, and were tired enough, but off we set. The walk itself was not too bad. It started raining, but not enough to be a nuisance. We had an interesting footbridge/ford of a type I've never seen, and that was entertaining for a minute. We also saw free range cattle in the vale being herded with a man on a motorcycle.

By this time, we were neither of us much thinking about taking pictures - we were ready to be done. By the time we had walked the old Alpenstrasse through Ramsau to our hotel, my knee was aching. We ended up walking 28 km this day - more than 17 miles - less than I have done on other walks, but for where my physical condition was just now, plenty. We arrived somewhat after 6pm, ending a long day.

This hotel didn't have a restaurant, either, so before even showering, we walked 300m down the road to a restaurant for dinner. We had a big supper, too, including coffee (our first of the day since breakfast).

That finished the walking part of this trip. We actually did more touring than I normally do, but in this place, it made sense. More to come:

Tue - Eagles Nest, Königssee - overnight in BGD

Wed - train to Salzburg, tour it - overnight there

Thu - more Salzburg - Flixbus to Munich - overnight there

Fri - tour Dachau - S-Bahn to Hallenbachmoos by the airport

Sat - early taxi to airport and non-eventful flights home through Düsseldorf to Miami

On the last stop of the Camino de Cappuccino