Wald am Arlberg to Bludenz, 22Km
Hotel Einhorn, 66 euros
It’s a wet day. The rain started soon after I did. It was mostly a light soaking drizzle and it stopped long enough for me to remove the waterproofs and pack them away before resuming.
The Jakobsweg took me high up the valley sides and through soaking grass and left me wondering what happened to all those cycle ways. I was tempted to walk along the road in the valley but it’s impossible. The roads have just two lanes and nowhere to walk. Austrian drivers are so polite. In town, you only have to glance at a pedestrian crossing and they’ll stop for you. But once you’re on the open road, it’s their territory only.
After some kilometres of dripping woodland we plunged down to visit a place called Innertube which must be the compost/muck centre for Austria. It smelt. Not surprisingly, there was no cafe, just a little Spar store but they had nothing of interest. I bought a Cornetto in desperation and ate it in the drizzle as Jakobsweg returned me into the clouds.
My destination was a large town called Bludenz and I decided to test the theory that I could get a better rate by turning up without using Booking.com. Almost every hotel tells you this. Anyway, Booking.com only had a couple of hotels; one was super expensive and the other just expensive (109 euros). I thought I’d find a nice guest house once I arrived. But after walking all over town, there was no accommodation to be found. I went to the expensive place but they’d just sold the last room. They referred me to a sister hotel on the edge of town, just 66 euros but it’s in the middle of nowhere and a long wet walk for dinner.
One advantage of walking now is the large number of wild flowers in the meadows. It got me humming to the first record I bought, the psychedelic Flowers in the Rain by The Move, the immensely talented Roy Wood’s band. It was a big hit in 1967. The record was promoted with a postcard depicting Prime Minister Harold Wilson in bed with his secretary, Marcia Williams. Wilson sued and the High Court ordered all royalties to be paid to a charity of Wilson’s choice. The legal arrangement remains in force today. Harold Wilson is long dead but Roy Wood lives on, counting the lost millions that has found its way to, among others, the Oxford Operatic Society, Bolton Lads Club and the Jewish National Fund for Israel. Go on, stream it to add to his gloom.