Pfalzer Weinsteig Day 8: Burrweiler to Dernbach

Walked 15.2 km

Climbed 756 m

We ended a good 5 km past Burrweiler last night, at a really nice hotel, Wirsthaus Berghof, with stunning views over the Pfalzer wald. Since we had a short distance to go today – only about 8 or 9 km by the most direct route on the Weinsteig – we did some extending detours around the Orensfel – a magnificent rock out cropping on Orenberg mountain.

The Orensfell lookout

This was also the day that we found our favourite castle of the whole walk. Its called Burgruine Neuscharfeneck. We spent quite a bit of time clambering over it and took lots of pictures.

The ruins of Neu Scharfeneck castle
A ruin where you are free to injury yourself if you wish it.

We also enjoyed a more leisurely lunch at a very nice hutte run by the local mountaineering club. We shared a flammenkuchen and two fresh pretzels, we each had a large schorle (wine spritzer), then we shared a cake and coffee (cake for me, and coffee for Rand, though he always trespasses on my cake.) Total for this lunch was 18 euro. I mention this because we are often asked if we don’t find travelling in Europe expensive? We find many great values there, like this mountain hut lunch.

o Happiness! A mountain hut, and its open!
Flammenkuchen for lunch

After lunch and more climbing up and down some hills, we made a detour to the town of Ramburg, before walking up the valley to our oddly Christmas-themed B&B in Dernbach.

A rare site. A grocery store. I bought a beer and met a girl from Montreal inside.
A nice room, with wrapped presents on the range hood and on top of the cabinets

Cafe culture is really not a thing in this particular area. Hard to find a good place for a cocktail, or an inviting morning coffee or even a small corner store, though we did finally find one in Ramburg today, and bought one large pils to share.

We didn’t much like the look of our B&B restaurant so we walked back to a weinstube at the beginning of town, Weinstube Hahn. Here we received a warm welcome and enjoyed a shared appetizer, very good home-made style schnitzel (pan fried) with deluxe german style salad plates, plus three drinks, plus strudel. All for 38 euro. This is the sort of excellent value that we frequently encounter off the beaten tourist path in Germany, and which keeps us coming back.

After dinner we played two hands of Monopoly Deal in the weinstube, before ambling back to our room. This place did have a lovely, very sheddy dog who played frisbee with me.

Unlike Sankt Martin, Neustadt and Annweiler, we would not suggest Dernbach as a place to visit, stay, explore. Eat and sleep if you must, but tarry not.

Via Francigena Day 3 – Ponte Cappiano to San Miniato

We had to set off in the pouring rain, as the forecast offered little hope for improvement. We returned to Ponte Cappiano, crossed the Medici bridge and then followed along a series of dykes that could have really used a mowing. Feet could not have been wetter.

These people travelled a long way to walk through “Pitt Meadows” in the rain.

Two hours after settling out, soaked to the bone, we rolled into a small town, found a cafe, and after dropping all our wet gear in a convenient corner near the door, we treated ourselves to coffee (for warmth), pastries (for energy) and red wine (courage.)

Then we put all our wet gear back on and trudged onward and upward. We arrived S. Miniato around 2, got our credencials stamped at the tourist office and were about to head off to see about staying in a convent nearby, when the tourist office suggested we get lunch first, since all the restos in town would soon close up until 7 pm.

The warmth, energy and courage had worn off so we plunked ourselves down, in wet clothes, at Bar Cantini opposite the tourist office and had the best damned meal!

First, pasta with cream and bacon, flambed with alcohol inside a GIANT round of Grana Padano cheese. Then, caramel pannacotta – a truly generous serving. And the view! Maybe I was just overwhelmed with happiness because I was out of the weather, but it is my standout meal.

Pasta with cream and bacon, cooked inside a giant cheese along with flaming alcohol to ensure lots of melty goodness

Pannacotta

The convent offered a double room, ensuite, plus communal dinner and continental breakfast for 35 Euro each. We couldn’t get heat or hot water in our room, and another couple reported the same situation so we thought this austerity might be part of the experience? We just crawled into bed to try to warm up.

When that didn’t work, we rallied ourselves and went to meet fellow walker Kees, from the Netherlands, for drinks. That helped a bit.

At dinner time, a bell was rung, and we asked a fellow walker who spoke Italian to enquire about heat. It turned out they hadn’t turned it on to a few rooms.  Soon righted.

Dinner was cheerful but lean: vegetable soup, stale bread, salad, chicken coldcuts, and whole fruit for dessert. There was some wine too. If I hadn’t eaten all that cheesy, bacony pasta, etc just 4 hours prior, I would have been disappointed and hungry! More of an experience than a meal, and we were glad to have participated.

Afterwards, one of the lay community operating the building since the last of the religious community departed 3 years ago did a tour of the whole convent, church and associated chapels. All in Italian, but very beautiful to see. Then we slept, surprisingly well, in our now toasty room, filled with the aroma of our drying clothes and shoes….

Distance: 25 km

Aperol Spritz: one only

Wine breaks: 3

Second thoughts: just a few