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.

Pfalzer Weinsteig Day 7: Sankt Martin to Burrweiler (but actually, Albersweiler)

walked: 23.17 km

climbed 825 m

We had to walk 1.5 of the official stages today, as we had been unable to book accomodation in either Burrweiler or the two following villages.

To accomplish this feat, we began our day on the lower “Wander Weg” trail, which follows a shorter easier route along the wine road of about 90 km total distance vs 170 on the Weinsteig. The marker for this trail is a bunch of green grapes. It was nice to be back in the vineyards and move quickly over flatter terrain for a bit.

The Wander Weg is a relaxed walk covering the same area as the Weinsteig, but on gentler, more direct trails totaling about 90 km.
This is a big part of the scenery on the wander weg. A pleasant change from the pine and chestnut forests higher up.

We followed this trail as far as Ludwigs Hohe – an italianate villa. From there we rejoined the Weinsteig to Burrweiler.

Along the way we passed a grotto of flowers dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and walked a section of trail with dozens of carved figures and dioramas.

The Marian Grotte
The beginning of a trail section full of carvings and other artwork

Since we had such a long walk, and would be passing through a handful of towns, we planned to enjoy a nice sit down lunch somewhere. Most likely Burrweiler, which the map showed to be a reasonably sized town.

What we found, however, is that all but one restaurant in the town was “geschlossen”. And that one could only seat those with a reservation. They suggested a bakery in the next town, Gleisweiler, might offer some food for hungry walkers. So on we went, only to find the bakery, too, geschlossen!

It looked like this might be our only lunch.

So we kept on to the next town, Frankweiler, where we found wine bar Muller.

Amazing place! Great wine, nice terrace, where we enjoyed a typical local dish: beef and pork meatballs in horseradish cream sauce with boiled potatoes.

From Muller, with nicely rounded bellies, we sauntered a final 2 km to our comfortable accomodation at Hotel Berghof, near Albersweiler.

Our lovely stop in Albersweiler

We napped, drank a bottle of wine from the “honour fridge” out on a sunny terrace, and then, since the Wirsthaus at our hotel was also geschlossen that day, we walked -and I danced a little – two km back to Muller for a second go: curried chicken this time, and salad and pannecotte and drinks, yum.

Plentiful food and wine after a half day of privation, and I was ready to dance.
This wander weg does not suck.

Then homeward again through now dark and, for some, romantic vineyards. It was a very memorable day. Famine and then feast. Times two.

Pfalzer Weinsteig Day 4: Bad Durkheim to Deidesheim

Km walked – Weinsteig: 15 km

Fitbit : 23 km

Climbed 871 m

The sole benefit to our Airbnb’s location was that we could begin this stage with a visit to the very cool Limburger Monastery, right above our town.

Not only was the ruin interesting but low and behold, there was a woman setting up a beer garden. So we had ‘one’ to reward the climb and then we began to walk again in earnest

Limburger Monastery ruin near Bad Durkheim
Early to have a drink, but you learn not to walk past food, beverages and especially biffies!

This stage would end in Deidesheim, a town that had persistently failed to offer up a room for us. Our plan was to jump on a train there for the end of the next day’s stage at Neustadt, and train back in the am to continue the walk to Neustadt. To this end we had booked a two night Airbnb in Neustadt.

It was a very hot hike! About 28C and an arid landscape.

See how shiny and red our faces are!

Around midday we came across a castle and viewpoint which had a restaurant alongside. As it was Saturday, it was packed with people.

We got jostled along in the food line until at the order desk. The menu there had nothing that looked familiar. In a panic, I ordered two Winzer Steaks. Tip: if you dont know what you are ordering, increase your chances of a win by ordering different things!

Winzer steak turns out to be a thick slab of tough ham served with an immense amount of stomach curdling sauerkraut and brown bread.

So lunch, from my perspective, was a bust. A little thinly sliced tender ham and a dob of pickled cabbage, yes.  This, no. The beer was cold!  On we went.

The Weinsteig was increasingly intermingling with more and more hiking trails, offering opportunities, it occurred to us, to tailor our walk somewhat, should any day be too hot or wet or long!

On arrival in Deidesheim, it became clearer why we had been unable to find reasonably priced accomodation. It seemed like the “Whistler” of the wine route. Very upmarket.

As we stepped off the trail at the edge of town onto an apparently empty road, a black BMW rounded a curve and – we both swear it – accelerated towards us,  requiring us to literally jump out of the road. It passed within an inch or two of Rand, who doesn’t leap as far as I do.  No effort to slow or swerve around us. Unbelievable. So much for a big tourist welcome in Deidesheim!

We jumped on a crowded waiting train without tickets and hoped we wouldn’t get busted. We needed showers and cool drinks and a place more friendly. Could not risk the train leaving without us.

Neustadt fit the bill, although the Airbnb was another palaver.

The guy had sent us a code for a key box via email, and I replied to reminded him that he had promised us a non attic room (reviews said the attic apartment was not suitable for persons over 160 cm)

We still have no data for our phones at this point – which I told him! – so that was the end of our conversation from my end. Long story short, he was waiting for us, which we couldn’t know. Then he was mad because he was waiting for us. We were drinking Aperol spritzes near the train station, because why rush at this point? We have been given a code to retrieve a key.

When we arrive, he looks at me and says “you’re not so tall” and takes us to the attic, of course.

Then he gives us wifi information that is handwritten and completely wrong, so we still can’t connect to tell him we have no wifi except by lurking outside a donair shop. The apartment was nicely renoed and perfect for shorter people!

Here is the set of keys the Super Host gave us for our apt. That’s just weird.
And his incorrect wifi info. Why not just post it in the flat?
And here is our attic flat. The bathroom was the real challenge tho!

On the plus side there was an amazing pizza place and to-die- for bakery just (down 4 flights) and across the street!

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!

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.