Stephanshart to Saint Pantaleon, 33Km
Landgasthof Winklehner, 42 euros plus breakfast
Last night’s inn in Stephanshart was another good one. The owner woke from his nap and prepared me a fine dinner of meat from the forest with antlers, dumplings, vegetables and red cabbage. Apart from myself, the place was empty.
Today started with a typical Austrian breakfast (see photo) but no cereal, at 7am. Trying to digest cheese and ham at that time of day certainly wakes you up and I was soon following the Austrian Camino over the fields and hills.
The main offering today was a ‘U’ shaped walk to Zeillern and then Wallsee before my planned stop in Strengberg. By the time I reached Wallsee I had walked 15Km instead of a more direct 10Km along the top of the ‘U’. I sat down at the inn and the owner brought me a cappuccino and a decent slice of her own chocolate cake which rivalled anything in Vienna.
I knew something was wrong and I got to the bottom of it while eating that cake. The Austrian Camino was designed by a committee in 1997. A proper Camino such as the Camino Frances in Spain follows the most direct route to its destination. Towns and services develop alongside it. Pilgrims are not interested in the scenic route. I can imagine what happened in Austria. Someone said we must avoid tarmac at all costs and so the first draft of the plan has a path which wriggles all over the place to avoid a short stretch of road. And then the local councils are approached for funding for the signs etc.. Now the route must be changed to bring it through their communities to boost tourism revenues. By the time the poor pilgrims arrive, they are led on a wild goose chase all over the country before they are allowed to leave.
I therefore headed back to the Danube and had a delightful walk all the way to St Pantaleon, which would have been tomorrow’s destination if I’d followed the Camino. I’m in another superb inn with more meat from the forest for dinner. The couple who own the place were thrilled that I was walking and they told me that they do get walkers every few days but I’m the first ever British walker. “What is wrong with Mr Johnson?”, they wanted to know.