Day 16 – First Pilgrims

Wels to Schwanenstadt, 28Km

Gasthaus Gruber, 44 euros

The highlight of the day was meeting the first pilgrims, Geneviève and Bernard from Alsace, walking along the Jerusalem Way to Jerusalem. Can you imagine that? What joy to see two people walking towards me with backpacks. The feeling was mutual, “Is he a pilgrim, I bet he is”, they had said. We stopped to talk and exchange details and to take selfies.

They are one month into a six month pilgrimage. What a difference it makes to one’s own motivation to meet such people. The only disappointing news was that I was the first pilgrim they’ve met so far but I’m looking forward to following their blog.

Last night in Wels, I noted a baker near the Best Western with tables and chairs and a lovely smell of baking bread. It opened at 6.30 so I declined breakfast at the hotel and checked out. Big mistake! The baker turned out to be a Balkan baker and only sold loaves of bread, some horrendous meaty rolls and coffee from a vending machine. I eventually found a cafe and paid 6 euros for a tiny cappuccino and a formerly frozen croissant.

Onwards to the river to continue along the Austrian Camino and the next disappointment. There were no more yellow arrows, no signs, nothing. Nothing all day. Perhaps they ran out of money or simply gave up. It wasn’t a pleasant walk either; heavily overgrown with soaking vegetation and all manner of wildlife. Those Camino signs make you feel like you’re part of something and when they’ve gone you feel you could be anywhere.

Lambach monastery was a welcome sight after all of that. It’s a Benedictine abbey built in 1040 and I marched in. For a moment I thought I’d got the wrong entrance because it’s also a school. The girls were just returning from the sports field but their teacher gave me a welcoming wave so I entered and collected a brochure which gave me a sense of purpose. The church was impressive in the monasterial way and the boys were chasing each other around the main square.

Former pupil, Adolf Hitler enjoyed his time here. He saw the Christian Hooked Cross carved into the buildings and later used it as a symbol for the Nazi Party.

I had lunch at the abbey and shared a table with a local couple who rode in on the most impressive electric bikes, made in the neighbourhood. They said they lived in Ansfelden and had just wizzed along the cycle path for lunch. Austria is such a great country for cycling. There are so many cycle ways. When I walk along them they’re always busy with bikes, almost all electric. Occasionally you see somebody peddling along and you smile as if he was riding a penny farthing.

Roadside ducks in Wels
I continued my walk along the river Traun
I missed seeing the bikers who didn’t come this way
Lambach Abbey
Inside the Abbey
Back on the cycle way this afternoon.
Oh what fun it looks.
War memorial in Schwanenstadt

6 comments on “Day 16 – First Pilgrims

  1. Roger Clarkson

    Tomorrow will be better, have an Apfelstrudel.

    • That’s good advice. I like apple strudel and it’s easy to see on the menu.

  2. Glad you’ve seen some more pilgrims. A message from Celia… please take some more photos of cakes …. And cats!

    • Hopefully there’ll be many more. You can’t have a pilgrimage without pilgrims. I’m glad to hear that request from Celia and I’ll do my best to catch up with some decent cake photos. After all, there’s time for an Austrian cake calendar for 2023. They’ll probably all be variations on the Sachertorte but that’s ok. I think it was Vienna where we went to the Sacher cafe, wasn’t it?

  3. Hi Tim, I have to say, you must be somewhat fitter than those so called cyclists. Switching on an engine as soon as you approach a hill is not my idea of exercise! Or … perhaps you wish you could press a switch to transport you up any hills you encounter?

    • That would be nice. But it’s the long flat bits which I find dullest.

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