Pfalzer Weinsteig Day 3: Fun times at the Wurst Markt!

Walked 17 km – town, fair and dancing

Up and into town to the Vodafone store! It’s the only telecom provider in town. The guy says: I’m out of sim cards.

Waaaaa? Is that even possible. He says maybe a delivery later today. Come back after 3.

We tour the fair, have a glass of sekt (local champagne), we climb a hill to see a chapel and a view of the fair. We have to go slow to go the distance.

I have amazing deep fried potato pancakes with garlic sauce, Rand has a hot roast ham sandwich.

Food here was such a bargain. Less than 10 euros for both.

We head for the now-crowded wine huts for the most popular drink: half litre wine spritzers called schorle.

Sometimes 50 -50 but in our hut they were pouring 90% wine and 10% mineral water. Yikes.

Now its 3:30, so back to Vodafone. The note on the door says back at 4. So we wait, along with another guy. At 4:30, we walk away in disgust. A while later our waiting friend drives by and says ” He’s back. He’s drunk!”

We head back to the store where he confirms he still has no sim cards for sale. Weird and frankly suspect.

Back to the fair for a wonderful ginger cookie called Mogensbrot translation ‘stomach bread’. Germans make excellent food but suck at naming stuff.

Then, to slow things down, a visit to the rather sad beer tent. This is about wine!

So back to the wine we went.
Roving drummer. His cart includes glass holders for all the band members (just above water bottles, front left.)
Feeling happy.

Back to the wine huts and getting chummy with the locals. Dance bands are advertised to start at 6:30 in the three major tents so we stake out spots early, and bring in some food to pass the time: currywurst and fries and a wonderful pork and onion stir fry we have tried to identify every since.

Lekker!

The band started closer to 7, and they were ok, but the next tent was really bumping, so we moved over there and before you knew it we were jumping around and fist pumping while standing on wobbly benches. I had a few dances with some particularly drunk and especially good looking fellows.

Fist pumping fun

By about 10 we were exhausted from our day, and wise enough to know it was time to go home. But not without some chocolate covered popcorn for me and a chocolate crepe for Rand. Two kms back to our shabby airbnb and we needed all the fresh air that afforded.

The Wurst Markt is a big local festival. It’s great value as the clientele is all from surrounding areas and they know their prices. No gouging tolerated!

Recommended!

Pfalzer Weinsteig Day 2: Neuleiningen to Bad Durkheim

Distance: 17.5 km

Climbed: 437m

Another beautiful day (eventually reached 28°!) started with another big breakfast spread. We nicked a few Kaiser rolls, granola bars and fruit against the possibilty of another day without services. Felt ok about this when we inquired, on our way out the door, about a shop or bakery in the town and were told there was neither. Alrighty then.

Back on the trail.

We went down, down to the valley and walked along the perfect road we had seen from our window. Then up to the town of Battenburg, down again and then up, up, up into the hills, where the landscape changed from deciduous to dry pine forest very reminiscent of the Okanagan.

We found a lovely hiking hut along the way, where beer, wine and tasty Wurst and burgers were procured. This area was equally popular with hikers and motorcyclists, who used the forestry access roads to ride-and-lunch. A very civilized way to break up a long distance hike, in my view.

An oasis of tasty treats for weary hikers and bikers appeared in the forest.

Nearby we found our first Bismark tower, one of a series of monuments dedicated to the first Chancellor of the German Empire and scattered in various states of dis/repair throughout Germany.

Our Airbnb was just outside of Bad Durkheim, and Maps.me showed we could switch trails to get there more directly. So we did.

The Airbnb itself was disappointing. An unfinished Reno project, done with inexpert hands. Furnished with cast off items. A bit dank. Not so much as a bar of handsoap provided. When we asked about a coffee maker and filters on display, the host brought us coffee supplies and on further request, bathroom tissue. Always, some are better than others, and my expectations are reasonably high, but this was not a great room.

Dismal Airbnb.

We showered quickly and headed into Bad Durkheim, arriving just before 5, by design, because we wanted to buy sim cards at Vodafone – the first and only phone store we had come across since our arrival. We knew, from careful research, it was open until 6. But alas, we arrived to find a note on the door, closed early today at 5.

The night before the Wurst Markt, all is in preparedness…
But the wine is already being served up to keeners like us. And lots of others.

O well, there is always tomorrow, right! We had a good look around the town, an Aperol spritz, a quick visit to the Wurst Markt which would be in full swing the following day, and then sat down to some Chinese food. Surprisingly, considering the biggest local festival of the year was taking place, many local establishments had signs indicating they were closed for a week or two of holidays. We had ice cream and hoofed it back to our slightly dank and poorly finished rooms. Still fighting jet lag.

Pfalzer Weinsteig Day 1: Bockenheim an der Weinstrasse to Neuleiningen

Km: 17.2

Climbed: 572m

We made a fine start today. Lovely weather, a good nights rest at Winzerhof Wendel and a tasty breakfast to give us stamina.

At the start of a new adventure.

We started at the official spot, the Haus der Deutschen Weinstrasse. The guy at the info centre there was not interesting or interested. We have quickly confirmed our belief that tourism in this part of Germany is almost entirely composed of Germans. The only downside to this is one should either have some German ability, or a translator app. More on this later.

Trail markings are absolutely excellent.

We set off through endless, glorious vineyards, with about a dozen varieties of grapes: white Burgundy, Portuguieser, Riesling and so much more. We almost immediately met a local who had a brother in Canada. We admired his dog and he told us to help ourselves to grapes along the way, as no one would be troubled by this. He said he had done it for 30 years or more.

Cut to us in jail. Kidding. We have sampled all the grapes along the way. They are amazingly sweet.

The trail is top quality. Sometimes steep, and you have to watch for roots and stones, but it is marvelously well maintained.

Forest trail in the Pfalzer Wald.

The suggested rest stop for this leg was a town midway along the route, Mertesheim. Once there we discovered no shops, no restos, no services whatsoever.

We eventually found public restrooms to refill our water bottles and pressed on to our destination in Neuleiningen (Noy-line-again).

Ravenous and unable to get into our room until 5(!), we found a warm welcome at Zum Engels, a bar and guesthouse where we had our second schnitzel – because it was schnitzel day here – and also copious life-restoring cold drinks – for a rock bottom price. Would stay here another time, the host said contact directly for best rates and single night stays! Better value that our equally-nice guesthouse, tho we had a charming view.

Our room looked out over a wide valley. Very comfortable and run by a nice family.

A glass of wine on the terrace, and dessert capped our day, and we went to sleep hoping to beat our jetlag.

Where we stayed: Hotel zum Bergraf.

Pfalzer Weinsteig: Getting to the Starting line

Started the day by dropping Farley off at his dog sitters. We are both carrying packs of less than 20 lbs, but Far’s gear was closer to 30. He is in great hands with a young local couple and will be going to work each day, which he will love.

Typically long and uncomfortable but direct flight to Frankfurt. At the airport on arrival we mailed a parcel containing cycling and cold weather jackets to a hotel in Konstanz Germany, where we will switch to our second phase of biking.

We also had some yummy pretzels while waiting for our train

In Canada, mailing a 5.5 kg box to another town in BC could easily cost 50$. In Germany it cost less than 10 Euro.

It was 4 short and well connected train rides to the starting point of our walk, Bockenheim an der Weinstrasse.

Four short¹ train rides got us from Frankfurt airport to the Wein strasse in less than 2 hours

When we arrived at our airbnb – Winzerhof Wendal – we were met with a tumbler full of their self produced wine. As it was about 5 am Vancouver time by now, this went down a treat.

Wine comes in tumblers here. Hoorah!

According to our research, all but the most poorly reviewed restaurant in town was closed because it was Tuesday.

Our hostess very kindly offered us dinner of pigs stomach stuffed with potatoes or flammkuchen – a local pizza style dish made with a white sauce and often potatoes. The latter would have been quite tasty I’m sure, but our last three meals had been substantially bread based and we needed salad – and cold beer so we declined.

After a nap we discovered that the worst reviewed restaurant in town was also closed, although their wine shack was open.

Zoom in to check out those prices!

After a walk about we found one open place to eat – and it was popular, perhaps by default. And so we had our beer and schnitzel, with marvelous salad and fries and a glorious dessert as well.

We had our beer, at last. This is how we know we are in Germany. Not official till then.
We are running a schnitzel meter. This one seemed good value – with a lovely salad – for 14 Euro, but today we had better and under 10 Euro.
Chocolate raspberry cake plus mousse, ice cream and a second mousse like confection. Gonna be a good trip.

The sun set, and the air was chilly, so home to bed!

A very comfy room with bow tie plumped pillows.

Here we go again…

Looks like we are joining the Amazing Race, but hopefully it will be a relaxing walk in fine countryside.

Just can’t get enough walking.

Our “camino” this time will be the Pfalzer Weinsteig (translation: Palatinate wine steep track)

The Pfalz is found in the southwest German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, bordered by France, Belgium and Luxembourg. The Pfalz is Germany’s second largest wine region (after Mosel) by acreage and often produces the largest crop.

Aside from an excellent planning website that breaks down this 170 km hike into 11 stages, there isn’t too much information out there – at least not in English – about this walk. We know the daily distances, the size of the climbs we will face each day, and we have had to book all accomodation in advance because of a huge wine festival in the area – which we are definitely going to!

Beyond that, we don’t know too much. So come along, via our blog posts, and we will share with you what we learn.

This is part one of a three part multi-modal journey.

First we walk.