A lighter pack makes for faster and more enjoyable walking


After getting my Pilgrim Passport stamp for Ulm yesterday at the semi-helpful Tourist Information office, I headed to McDonalds to update and work online and then went to a local Netto supermarket where for under 5 Euro I bought enough lunch to create a maxi-sandwich for my afternoon siesta:

Netto supermarket in Ulm

At the Tourist Information office I picked up a semi-helpful map of the Camino path route to Konstanz and on one side was a photo of the main Camino routes in Europe. At Ulm the Camino from Regensberg meets up with the Camino path from Nurnberg btw. It was at this point (i.e. after seeing the route on paper from Prague to Santiago) when I realised how far I had to go and how relatively little I had already covered:

Camino de Europa

I have been averaging 35km per day and its basically because my rucksack has been too heavy. Every evening my legs have been killing me and I have been absolutely exhausted. In the summer when I walked the 900km from St. Jean Pied de Port to Finisterre I was averaging 50km per day. I had to make a drastic, but necessary decision and act: I had to lose some weight. The following items I considered highly important, but not completely essential:

Throwing things away on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela

The last item to throw away was my book on meditation which I picked up in Thailand. Was I really going to read it? No. Well, eventually maybe, but I guessed that the book’s fate might wound up similar to the yoga mat which I bought last year in Thailand; the one I didn’t use until I decided to take it with me to Thailand for the trip I had this January, only to forget it on the aeroplane and meaning that I then bought another yoga mat which I also brought back home with me and which is gathering dust almost (but fortunately not as intensively) as the forgotten mat which Emirates Airlines had the pleasure of inheriting after a long flight east. Just as I was going to also chuck the book into the bin a young chap with dreadlocks comes sauntering along the river path and a few minutes later the book was in the possession of someone who I hope will use it to its max and hopefully not at this moment using the front cover as roach material:

Step by step meditation

I immediately felt the difference in weight and what had been a few weeks of hard trekking suddenly transformed into a much more enjoyable walking experience. As a result of losing the approx 3kg weight I walked a total of 50-something kilometres yesterday and already today I have walked about 30. Ok, I did wake up at 3:30 and then begin walking at 4:30 – early start due to the noise emanating from the church in the post picture which I slept near to last night – but the weight difference now means I can improve my distance per day and also enjoy my general mood while walking.

Ulm industrial estate

From Ulm you get to walk through this wonderful industrial estate for about half an hour. I have seen so many beautiful places in Germany on this trip but the Ulm industrial estate unfortunately isn’t one of them.

Risstissen Jakobsweg

The signage is pretty sketchy on this part of the camino. From Ulm there were the occasional signs, with more showing up once I walked past the village of Risstissen (where I slept last night under the stars – which is metaphorical because it was cloudy).

Schmerhofen in Germany

The first thing I need when I wake up in the morning is a strong coffee and since I don’t have my gas cooker anymore I couldn’t make one this morning. I have kept my coffee and a cup which I picked up on the way and when first light reared this morning I rang someone’s doorbell with coffee and cup in hand and politely asked if they wouldn’t mind filling it up with boiling water. Using my newly acquired pigeon German I was able to explain what I needed and the couple kindly assisted and then came out and offered me a small breakfast with a cup of coffee/milk and a cup of milk from their cows. Wonderful.

Biberach-an-der-Riss

It is now around 11am and I’m in the town of Biberach an der Riss. There is a metal sculpture of a donkey in the town square which symbolises (apparently) in some way a parody of German life. Biberach is an underrated town and from the hour I have been here I can see why and I look forward to heading onwards. It feels as though I am zooming towards the Swiss border and the next stops coming up of notable interest on the way to Konstanz are Bad Waldsee and Weingarten. The weather has changed to cloudy and darkish grey, but my spirits are up and I’m looking forward to the afternoon walk.

One additional note is that in Germany I have noticed that people in general are at first very wary of a pilgrim with stick, but that after I very quickly announce “Jakobsweg!” they tend to immediately warm up and feel comfortable to talk; secure in the knowledge that they hadn’t in fact come up upon a wandering vagrant with no fixed plans I imagine. It is also very sweet how, when they hear where I began my walk from and where I’m walking to, some of the older people exclaim in a low and gruff voice: “Respect!” 🙂

Categories: Walking into Spring and Summer [My 3,109km walk from Prague to Finisterre | 2014]Tags: , , ,

4 comments

  1. Hi Nev,

    Very interesting journey you are undertaking and thank you for posting your tracks!
    Can you tell how much weight approximately you are carrying?
    Buen camino!

    Marc

  2. Thanks for taking the time to write. I look forward to reading it every day.

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