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Live Updates - Via Regia/Ecumenical Pilgrims Way (Germany)

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#1
Pilgrim Greeting from Germany ;-)

After an uneventful 2,5h drive my kind and long-suffering husband deposited me in the center of Görlitz and drove back home to Prague. After checking into the Pilgerherberge (Pilger=pilgrim, Herberge=hostel, you are getting a bit of a “Pilgrim German” course with my posts) I decided to make the most of the sunshine and explore the town.

Unlike me, you will be most likely arrive by bus or train at the Bahnhof (railway station). Here the way into town from there and some extra tips.

In the Bahnhof itself you can already pick up a town map, either in the DB Reisezentrum (travel center) or in the bookshop opposite of it. The ones in the travel center are free and the ones in the bookshop come in all sizes and prices.

If you have time and interest I suggest that you visit St. Jakobus Cathedral now as it is close to the railway station, but a bit away from the other monuments and attractions of the town. For this go out of the railway station and turn right, after a few hundred meter you come to a street that passes under the railway lines and you can see the cathedral from here. The cathedral is normally open and has a 15th century statue of St.James that came from Erfurt (which you will pass later on the way).

To continue into Old Town walk back direction railway station, pass again under the railway lines and continue straight ahead down Jakobstrasse. You pass a little park on your right where you can find the “Schlemmerpilz”, an outdoor snack bar with lovely home cooked food for very reasonable prices. Continue down the same street, passed the big post office and just before you reach the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady, well worth a visit) there is a small shopping mall on your right. The electronic shop in the first floor sells SIM cards and is generally very helpful in setting you up with it. You will need a passport and an address “somewhere” in Germany to do this, but any address is fine, really. I used the one of the Pilgerherberge I stayed in.

Continue now on the same street (now called Steinstrasse) towards a big tower and, keeping left of it, walk to a square called Obermarkt (Upper Market). The tourist info, where English is spoken and that can help you with finding pilgrim accommodation, is by the fountain in the right half of the square opposite the church (don't miss to go inside!).

Tourist Info: There are, occasionally, guided tours in English (and Dutch) during main season plus a good range of info material in English. They are very friendly and helpful and can show you the way to the nearest Pilgerherberge that has free beds, but I really recommend to reserve your bed beforehand as most of the Pilgerherbergen are in not always staffed. I stayed at the

Pilgerherberge Peregrinus, Langenstrasse 37, 02826 Görlitz, directly in the Old Town, a YMCA guesthouse that can accommodate up to 41 pilgrims and other guests.

Bunk beds in small dormitories, shared but gender separated showers and toilets, small kitchen with basic equipment. Beds have linen but no pillows, if you need one – just ask and give a couple of Euro extra. There is a common room/areas and a small backyard with a washing line. Price: 10 Euro including a big breakfast. I paid 28 Euro for two nights and a pillow, so I guess it is a bit more expensive if you stay more than one night.

What I like about this Pilgerherberge: If you are a single pilgrim you get normally a whole dormitory for yourself (space permitting, but they will not put two strangers of opposite genders in one dorm), on request you can stay a second night, all is very clean and friendly and they encourage you to make sandwiches from the generous breakfast spread and even give you bags to wrap them in. It is a lovely old building with a long history and a lot of atmosphere.

Important!: You need to reserve beforehand as the house is only staffed when they expect somebody.

As two major monuments of the Via Regia are directly on your way out of town, I suggest to walk the first bit, as described here, after you have found a bed and put your backpack down to be able to visit them. They might be still closed when you start your pilgrimage.

Way out of town:

The way out of town starts at the Freundschaftsbrücke (Friendship Bridge) that connects the German and Polish halves of Görlitz/Zgorzelec which have been until 1945 one town. On the Polish side, just by the bridge and overlooking the river and Old Town is the pub “Piwnica Staromiejska” which serves drinks and food for reasonable prices and cheaper than its equivalent on the German side.

If you walk further towards the street and look right you will see a big billboard showing and explaining the different ways in Poland and how they continue into Germany.

Cross the bridge back into Germany, cross the street and head right and uphill towards St. Peter and Paul Church. You can get a stamp for your Pilgerpass (pilgrims passport) here and admire the Sonnenorgel (sun organ) where the organ pipes are arranged in circular shapes.

Way Marking

There is NOT an overabundance of yellow arrows on the Via Regia like there is in Spain instead the way is marked with the sign of a yellow scallop shell with crossed pilgrims staffs on blue ground. In towns it can be difficult to spot them, but you will soon develop a “scallop radar” as a friend of mine calls it.

From St. Peter and Paul church continue straight ahead and turn after Jesus Bäckerei (Jesus' Bakery) left into the Heilig-Grab-Strasse (Holy Sepulchre Church). Before I get to that one, just before and opposite of it is a big Aldi Super Market, if you are self-catering this is the cheapest place to buy your food.

Holy Sepulchre Church

Perhaps the main attraction in this town, a replica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem from the 15th century in a park that shows also the surroundings of that site in jerusalem, like the Kidron Valley. The whole complex is a master piece of medieval architecture and landscaping. The way from St.Peter and Paul is also the old, and now revived, Way of the Cross which processions use during Easter Week.

OK, tomorrow I will start walking, so I leave the rest of the way out of town for then. Buen Camino, SY
 
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Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. 2019? Who knows! ;-)
#2
Wow, very detailed, thank you. Will -enviously - be following your progress.
Btw I'm very pleased you mentioned 'sunshine', I had heard there were floods in Germany as well :(
Take care and buen camino, Pilgerin :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
2013, 2017 Camino Frances SJPP-Santiago
2015 St. Olav's Way Oslo-Trondheim
2017 VdlP Seville-Merida
#3
@SYates , I love your post. It is a very good guide and by the end of your journey I strongly suspect that I will be making arrangements to follow in your footsteps.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#4
Wonderful to think of you out there again, SY!! I hope the good weather holds for you and that you have a wonderful walk.
The beginning sounds pretty darn good. :)
Long may that continue--a very Buen Camino to you! (...Or??...I need a German lesson:oops:)
 

Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-18
#5
@SYates: You are doing us a wonderful service with your daily reports! I hope there are adventures and discoveries awaiting you. Gute Reise!
 

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SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#6
Görlitz – Melaune ~22km (I am giving the distances here from Pilgerherberge to Pilgerherberge, not the distance I actually walked to do my recherche ;-)

As I had done the bit to the Heiliges Grab (Holy Sepulchre) yesterday already, I “shortcutted” through Old Town down to the Heilig Grab Strasse and continued from there. The way follows this street (the way markings are mostly on the left side of a road/street to encourage you to walk facing the traffic) out of town. Beware when the street bends firmly right, the Via Regia still continues straight ahead. You will pass the big hospital (on your left) which is the last possibility for a “proper toilet” for many kilometers to come. Just go in the Haupteingang (main entrance) and look/ask for signs “Besuchertoilette” (visitors toilet). After that important task out of the way ;-) you continue the same street always straight ahead until you reach the border of the town. Just after you have passed over the bridge that goes over the railway lines you have to turn right, cross the road and continue on a smallish tarmac road and cycle paths towards Ebersbach. On the beginning of the village you see the building of the Voluntary Fire Brigade with a mural of St.Florian. Voluntary Fire Brigades are an important part of German village life and often the first to arrive at a fire/emergency as the professionals are normally stationed in the bigger towns. And when there are no fires/emergencies they are always present at village fairs ;-)

Ebersbach – The church, dedicated to St. Barbara, is often open and worthwhile visiting because of its interesting middle pillar that is set off slightly to one side and its interior with its many balconies and connecting stair cases. A stamp and guest book are also available. If the church is closed, try the parish house in the same grounds. There is no Pilgerherberge here but a Pension (Bed and Breakfast) that is happy to rent out rooms, also for one night only, to pilgrims. I am on a limited internet connection most of the time, but if you google “Pension Schmidt Am Schloss Ebersbach” you will find their website with prices and contact info. There is no pub or shop in the village but the cheerful BnB owner assured me that no person has ever starved to death in his house in the evenings and much less a pilgrim.

The way continues then over the fields to Liebstein (no services), passes the Limasberg where an settlement as early as the 5th century is documented (now only trees remain) and then continues to what is officially the smallest mountain range in Germany. The Via Regia is really a way of superlatives ;-) from the most easterly town in Germany (Görlitz) across the smallest mountain range in Germany, all in one day ;-) The max. altitude is nothing to be afraid of – 406m and this is the highest altitude a pilgrim has to cross for many days until close to the end of the Via Regia.

2 km after Liebstein the way enters the Königshainer Forst (Forest) and after the second picnic spot/hut at your right there is a critical point where apparently a scallop shell way marking is missing. You see a way bearing off to the left, but the Via Regia continues straight ahead, the only way marking being a yellow dot on a white square, the next scallop shell takes ~1km to appear. Try not to get nervous ;-)

The way continues over forest paths with a last short, but moderate, climb towards the Hochsteinbaude. The Hochsteinbaude (High/Top Stone Mountain Hut) is a pub-restaurant with beer garden and therefore a well loved stop by German pilgrims ;-) They offer tasty meals (one, a hearty pasta and meat soup, at a reduced price for pilgrims, show your Pilgerpass) and also vegetarian and even vegan options. They do have their own pilgrims stamp and are happy to refill your water bottle.

Important! There used to accommodation here, but this is not anymore the case.

Equally Important! Tuesday is Ruhetag (rest day) meaning they are closed on Tuesdays!

And Important for bicigrinos! The next 500m downhill are difficult, with rocky underground and tree roots, but after that the way is ok to bike again. There is a road option to get from the Hochsteinbaude to the next Pilgerherberge in Arnsdorf, if the weather is nasty and/or you prefer to avoid the difficult bit.

Finally Arnsdorf, sorry for rambling on ;-) There isn't much to see in the village, apart from the open church, and there are no services, but the Pilgerherberge does provide everything a pilgrim needs and could wish for.

Pilgerherberge Arnsdorf

As a lot of the other Pilgerherbergen on the Via Regia, this is a multi-purpose building. You find it if you turn just passed the church left, following the sign of a stylized yellow house on blue ground and turn right into the courtyard of the rectory/manse/parish house. You are also welcome to just rest here, there is a drink water tap and a wooden shelter. If you need the toilet or want to stay here, just ring the door bell at the “big house” or, if nobody answers, call any of the numbers displayed on the poster beside the door.

The Pilgerherberge occupies several spaces in the converted barns, but there is also the Landkino (country cinema) and the social center of the village here. As Fr. Fünfstück, one of the Herbergsmütter (lit. Mother of Hostel (pl)) told me, there is theoretically space for an unlimited amount of pilgrims, but beds, mattresses and toilet/shower facilities are limited. There are 3+2 beds in a, heated in winter, separate pilgrims room, 8 more beds in 2 unheated rooms as well as some mattresses and plenty of floor space for those that bring their own sleeping pads. There is linen on the beds, pillows and blankets are available, but obviously you need to bring your own sleeping bag. The later you need in all Pilgerherbergen!

Price: 7,50 Euro in summer, 8,50 in winter (because of heating costs)

Important for all Pilgerherbergen! Groups over 5 have to reserve/call well in advance (min. 3 days) to avoid accommodation problems and really big groups should carry their own sleeping pads.

The Pilgerherberge has in total 3 toilets and 1 shower, a kitchen with plenty of food and drink that you can buy at retail prices (look out for the price list for pilgrims, not the one for social events, whose prices are higher) and a gorgeous courtyard to chill out in. Pilgrims are welcome to join into any event in church and every Friday from June – August (roughly) there is a cinema night with barbecue. Like in many other Pilgerherbergen, bigger youth groups might also stay there for retreat weekends or similar, especially during weekends and school holidays. This is on one hand a great way to learn to know Germans closer, on the other hand it can be a bit confusing for pilgrims expecting solitude.

Extra Tip: If you stay here at Fridays, you will be offered the delivery of fresh bread rolls on Saturday mornings as the minister jumps every Saturday morning on his bike to buy “frische Brötchen” (freshly baked bread rolls) from a bakery in the next village.

To continue the way: Again no problems, just follow the signs down to the main road, cross it and then turn left and right into a small country road. The way passes through Heideberg (no services), Döbschütz (no services, but a gorgeous castle with a moat which you can only admire from the outside as it is private property) and then over a shady, tree-lined way over an old dam to Melaune.

Melaune Pilgerherberge

Melaune belongs to the same parish group as Arnsdorf (and Buchholz further on the way). As the priest lives in Arnsdorf, the house and grounds are mainly used by youth groups, pilgrims and one family living there. The Pilgerherberge is on the third floor up some pretty steep staircases (yikes!) and is a complete pilgrims apartment/flat with kitchen (with basic food supplies), shower/toilet and 11 beds in 3 rooms. If there are more pilgrims they can be accommodated, partly on mattresses, in other rooms and another house on the grounds. There are linen, pillows and blankets.

You get the key at house nr.40 in the same street, but on the right hand side. For the rare case the whole complex is occupied by youth groups you will be warned of that in Görlitz and Arnsdorf, but this happens max. 2-3 times/year. There are only 2 keys to the house and the pilgrims accommodation, so you will need to share them if there are more than two pilgrims. Doesn't happen to often ;-)

There is a shop in town (open until 18:00 on weekdays, shorter on Saturdays and closed on Sundays). To find it continue the Via Regia until you reach the big road and see the church, turns right, cross road and go in the next small road and you see it.

The Pilgerherberge operates on a donations only system (including the food/drink you use from the pilgrims kitchen). You find the donation box on the shelf in the hallway in form of a small ceramic boot together with the pilgrims register and the stamp.

Spenden (Donations) in Pilgerherbergen

There are still a lot of Pilgerherbergen on the Via Regia that operate on a donations only system, so here some thoughts about this:

Costs of living are higher in Germany than in Spain, what might be an ok donation in Spain will most likely not cover the costs caused by your stay. Think water, electricity, cleaning material, costs of washing bed linen and blankets, minor and major repairs/replacement etc. Nearly all Pilgerherbergen are run by unpaid volunteers that do this in their spare time beside having a job and family and be otherwise engaged in the parish.

So how much to give as a donation?

A fellow German pilgrim taught me the “rule of 5”. This means for everything of the following he gives at least 5 Euro: a place to sleep, a shower (yes, there are Pilgerherbergen that have only a wash basin), dinner, breakfast. And if you can afford give more, please do so, sometimes a whole roof needs to replaced!

I think this rule is a good rule of thumb to go by, don't you?

So, that is it, soon more. Buen Camino or, better said, Guten Weg! SY
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#7
A fellow German pilgrim taught me the “rule of 5”. This means for everything of the following he gives at least 5 Euro: a place to sleep, a shower (yes, there are Pilgerherbergen that have only a wash basin), dinner, breakfast. And if you can afford give more, please do so, sometimes a whole roof needs to replaced!

I think this rule is a good rule of thumb to go by, don't you?
Yes!
I doubt that I'll ever walk this way, but I'm enjoying your detailed notes very much anyway. Thank you and Guten Weg, SY!!
 

jirit

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2007,
Via Francigena Italy, 2008,
Jakobsweg Austria 2010,
Camino Frances 2011,
Le Puy to Lourdes 2012,
Via de la Plata 2013,
Future:
Ökumenischer (Via Regia), Germany,
Lycian Way, Turkey
#11
Are you walking or swimming ( in other words, are the rains and flooding easing up now) ?
 
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SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#12
Are you walking or swimming ( in other words, are the rains and flooding easing up now) ?
Actually I am pretty much baking in the heat. I walked a short stage today, now in Kamenz, so there should be more updates later today / evening my time. Buen Camino, SY
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#13
Melaune – Gröditz ~12km (I know, a real monster stage ;-)

Way: Mostly flat, until the descend into and climb out of the Skala gorge, nothing to be afraid of but still short and steep. Here some observations: In Tetta, ~1.5km before Buchholz is a pub which limited opening times (mostly evenings and weekends) but it has at the moment “Betriebsferien” (closed for annual staff holidays). So, perhaps more interesting for those of you who walk later in the year ;-) To find it, the Via Regia doesn't enter the village, just go over the meadow direction church, the pub is right hand side.

When you come to Buchholz (Pilgerherberge and little else) there are two ways through the village, one is marked “Jakobsweg” (St. James Way) and the other “Pilgerherberge” (you know that one already ;-). Funnily enough both ways rejoin just before the Pilgerherberge and both are more or less the same length, only difference is that the “Jakobsweg” one is prettier, going through a little park with ponds whilst the other one just follows a village street.

Pilgerherberge Bucholz

You find the Pilgerherberge when you go straight ahead, direction church, when the Via Regia turns left at the end of the village. The first building on the left is the Pfarrhof (courtyard of the old rectory) where pilgrims are welcome to rest in the shade on benches and use the toilet. Look for the sign “WC” on one of the doors of the converted barn which is now a youth and cultural center.

The first building on the right side of the same street is the new school and the next building is the old school aka the parish hall with the Pilgerherberge in the first floor and attic. It is normally open and, if not, there is a poster at the door with telephone numbers to call to be let in. I had a quick look around and counted 4 beds in two rooms and 5 mattresses in the attic, all with bed linen, pillows and blankets. There is a toilet with wash basin and a common area on the first floor and a kitchen on the ground floor. Perhaps a shower was hiding in another part of the building also? It was far too early on a Saturday morning to raise the Herbergseltern (hospitaleros) so I walked on. Those Herbergseltern I don't “catch” on the way, I will contact later by phone and email btw.

The way continues then, again through open fields and meadows, towards Weissenberg (Sorbian Wóspork), the first town of the Sorbian region. The Sorbs are a recognized Slavic minority (~60,000) in Germany with their own slavic language and their own distinctive culture. The Via Regia passes now for a few days through this interesting region which is easily recognisable at their bilingual town names and street signs.

Weissenberg is a reasonably sized town where you find everything you need, including an ATM (Important, the next ATM is in Bautzen), a pharmacy and shops but no Pilgerherberge. There used to be one, but it has closed as the family moved away, but hopefully next year a new one will open.

Eating – The restaurants at the town square always strike me a bit hit and miss with their opening times/days, but the Hotel am Bahnhof (Hotel at the, now defunct, railway station), seems to be always open when I pass by. You find it directly at the town exit, on the right hand side. Try their Soljanka, a tasty soup speciality of this region with different kinds of meat, sausages and pickled gherkins in a tomato flavored broth. Tasty and reasonably priced.

Important for Bicigrinos and Vertigo sufferers! - From here until Groeditz you do need to take the road (sign posted from the end of the town) and can't follow the walker's way option, at least not if you have any big luggage on your bike or if your vertigo is severe.

As I wrote earlier, the way turns shortly after the Hotel right and follows first a small tarmac road and then a cycle path on an old railway dam. Just before the railway bridge the way goes left down a staircase and turns again left, away from the bridge, up a hill and then right down into the Skala. The Skala is a nature reserve in and alongside the river gorge. Bird and insect life is plenty-full (bring insect repellent!) and the walk is actually very, very pretty. Until you come to the “bridge”.

First you see a sign stating “enter at your own risk”, then you see why. The “bridge” is a massive, half trunk of a tree 30-50cm wide with some wooden railing on both sides. It is suspended 1,50m high over the river and its length is perhaps 8m. Fixing my eyes firmly on the other side, humming 'la la la, there is no abysm, la la la, the birds are singing and there is no abysm' does the trick for me but if your vertigo is more severe than mine … Also a fully loaded bike will not fit between the railing. The way meanders then alongside the river and between trees, some times there is barely enough space between the trees for one pilgrim and her backpack. Also the way is narrow in places with a steep hill on your left, 30cm of path and the river (small at it is, it is still wet!) on your left. Did I mention that the way is not feasible for bikes? At the end of the gorge you have two possibilities, the longer, more gradual climb to the beginning of the village of Gröditz and the short, steep climb up the stairs ending up directly before the Pilgerherberge door. Did I mention that …

Pilgerherberge Gröditz

Fancy sleeping in a German castle? Or at least in one of its outbuildings? Then this is your Pilgerherberge. Lets get the practicalities first out of the way before I tell you a bit about its history.

6 beds with pillows, linen and blankets in one dorm + 4 emergency camp beds/cots in another room that serves during the day as a Cafe. If there are more pilgrims, the Herbergsmutter Bea distributes them in the village and if you are really, really lucky you get to sleep even in the castle proper. One shower and toilet, washing machine on request, outside sitting area in the grounds of the castle which actually looks more like a grand manor house btw.

Kitchen (well equipped) also for use of pilgrims (Important! There is no shop in the village, so you have to shop in Weissenberg beforehand and carry all up the staircase!) but a Pilgercafe (Pilgrims Cafe) is in operation and diner and breakfast are prepared by the Herbergsmutter Bea on request.

Prices: 15 Euro/bed, 10 Euro/cot, 5 Euro each for dinner/breakfast. Drinks are also available for higher than retail/lower than pub prices.

The Pilgerherberge is open all year round except November when it is closed because the Herbergsmutter needs also a holiday from time to time ;-) In winter a huge fireplace is the only heating.

Short history of the place: There is a manor documented at the same side as far back as the 13th century from which some remains, like the Gothic House, remain. Castle Gröditz itself was build in the early 18th century and expropriated from the then owner in 1945. Remember, we are speaking ex-Soviet occupation zone and GDR here. After that it was used for refugees, as a tuberculosis clinic and psychiatric clinic. Since 2006 the great-nephew of the last owner bought the castle back and, together with a non-profit organization based in the village, has restored the house and park, converted one outbuilding into the Pilgerherberge, is active in protecting the Skala as a nature reserve and so on. Gröditz had a population of ~2,000 before the German Reunification, now just 220 are left. Depopulation for economic reasons is severe in this part of Germany.

Whilst this isn't the cheapest Pilgerherberge on the Via Regia, the money the pilgrims bring in helps, in a small way, to revive a whole village.

I would love to post photos, but as mentioned earlier, I am on a limited connection and this has to wait until I encounter fast internet. Buen Camino, SY
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#14
Gröditz – Schmochtitz ~26km

Way: Mostly flat until Bautzen, then a moderate but tedious climb out of Bautzen, sadly mostly tarmac the whole way.

Observations: Between Gröditz and Kubschütz, shortly before Bautzen, there are no services whatsoever in any of the villages, so take enough food and water for a day. The way is well marked, but in parts a bit overgrown at the moment (obviously the part that is not on tarmac ;-) There is only one place where you could lose the way if not being attentive. 3Km after Drehsa you turn left onto a country road, follow it shortly and then you have to leave it again to the right now following the railway line. Do not walk straight ahead here, if you have crossed the railway line, you have gone wrong/too far.

Kubschütz: There is a pub with nice homemade food at end of the village.

And for those of you that are tempted to shorten the entry into the big city of Bautzen by bus - bad luck. Public transport in the German countryside is mostly geared toward school runs on weekdays and limited/nonexistent on weekends and not much use to pilgrims. Also something to bear in mind if you plan to walk the Via Regia in stages!

Just as you reach the outskirts of Bautzen you have to cross the road, bear first a bit left, cross by the traffic lights and then choose the cycle path to the right that goes parallel to the road. If you don't do that you get caught out, like I did, walking on a busy road for several hundred meters– no fun.

The waymarking through Bautzen is excellent, but the Via Regia doesn't pass through the old town, so if you don't know Bautzen already, I strongly suggest that you plan in at least half a day here. Or, you could, for example, walk to Bautzen one day, stay over night, explore the city the next day (leaving your backpack in the Pilgerherberge) and walk on to the next Pilgerherberge (Bischof Benno Haus, see below) in 8km in the afternoon.

Way Highlights: Wurschen – Castle with water moat, you pass directly through its park.

Drehsa – Manor house with a tower you can climb (donation of 0,50 Euro suggested), those that have less vertigo then I, do tell me that you have a gorgeous view over the countryside. The nice people of Drehsa have also put some armchairs in the ground floor of the tower, for tired pilgrims to rest on. There is some information in English about the manor and surroundings displayed outside.

Kubschütz – There is a lovely resting spot in the middle of the village with beautifully carved wooden benches, don't miss it. There used to be also info material about the village/region in a wooden box behind it, but sadly it was empty as I passed this time.

Bautzen – As I have stayed already two times in Bautzen I decided to walk on, but if you don't know it I would strongly suggest to give it at least half a day, or better a full day. Bautzen is the “capital” of the Sorbian people, so the museum dedicated to their history and culture is a good place to visit if you are interested in this. Their English website can be found here: http://sorbisches-museum.de/?lang=en

Bautzen is also home to a “simultaneous church”. In the Dom (~basilica, co-cathedral) protestants and roman-catholics worship together in the same building since the reformation. The last time I visited the Dom, it was closed for renovation, but it is now open again and well worth a visit. The Dom was the first and is still the largest example of a “Simultaneous Church” in Germany, another Via Regia superlative. Also pay attention to its roof, if you look at it from the outside, it has a bend in it which, most likely, originated when the church was enlarged in the 15th century and needed to fit into the space left by the surrounding buildings.

The “Gelbe Elend” (Yellow Misery). The “Gedenkstätte Bautzen” (memorial site Bautzen) remembers today the suffering of political prisoners of the Nazi, Soviet occupation and GDR times. It shows that no matter the political coloring, totalitarian regimes are all the same when it comes to treating the ones that oppose them. English website: https://en.stsg.de/cms/node/977

Apart of these three main sights there are also the narrow streets of the Old Town and the fortresses and houses on the city wall which are a great place to just wander around in the evening.

Pilgerherberge – Youth Hostel. The Pilgerpass (pilgrims passport) serves also as a Youth Hostel Card on the Via Regia. Unfortunately Youth Hostels in Germany have become very expensive, you might be better off to ask at the Tourist Office for help to find a cheap BnB or put you in contact with the other Pilgerherbergen in town. Tourist offices are your best bet to find an English speaker and here on the Via Regia there are well aware, and willing, to help pilgrims.

Eating – If you plan to splurge out on only one meal on the Via Regia, I suggest the Kulinarium in the Old Town of Bautzen. A meal for two with a bottle of wine sets you back around 60 Euro, cheap considering the quality and presentation of the food. Reservation recommended, especially if you want to sit outside on their terrace. Website: http://www.culinarium-bautzen.de

There are also plenty of cheaper restaurants around and shops to buy food for DIY catering, Bautzen is a big town.

Way out of Bautzen – The way is well marked, but if you want to stay at the Bischof Benno Haus http://www.benno-haus.de/index.php?lang=en in Schmochtitz, you need to turn right in the village of Niederuhna towards Schmochtitz, the Bischof Benno Haus is 1km distance from it, at the entrance of the village of Schmochtitz. For the way back to the Via Regia see next post ;-)

Pilgerherberge Bischof Benno Haus

It is the huge complex on your left, just as you enter the village. A Roman-Catholic retreat center that has set aside room for pilgrims. I stayed in a double room (all by myself) with shower/toilet across the hallway. The accommodation is donation, diner and breakfast (both buffet style, generous and tasty) are 6 Euro each. If you are after a bit more of luxury, you can also rent an ensuite with proper duvet etc for 26 Euro (without breakfast). There are also vending machines on the ground floor (yes, including beer, we are in Germany after all ;-) and the restaurant where diner/breakfast is served has a wide variety of drinks available to purchase via a “trust till”. Take drink, look at price list and put money into the wicker basket.

There is an open church, regular services and 4 priests living on side, but not sure how much English they might speak. Oh, and there is free wifi also ;-)

The whole complex is an old park and they really take Umweltschutz (protection of the environment) seriously here, there are solar panels, bio mass converters and earth warmth (not sure about the correct English term, but you get the idea) heating.

And, no worries, if there are more than 2 pilgrims, they find a space for them. For further information google “Bischof Benno Haus Schmochtitz”, they do have a website.

I enjoyed my stay here very much, as it was so peaceful and quiet and as I limbed through the grounds in the evening I heard a wee little voice telling me “langsam laufen”. Walk slowly. Which I plan to do from now on. When I was leaving Bautzen, a thunderstorm threatened and I pretty much raced the last 6km at a very lively step. From now on I plan to walk “langsam”, I have enough time and if I only walk a few km one day – so what? It is far more important to smell the roses, chat with the people that live alongside the way or to have an in depth conversation with a cat that suns itself on a window sill than to walk the customary pilgrim average of 20-25km a day …

Buen Camino, SY (the Pilgerschildkröte = pilgrim tortoise)

PS I walked the whole Via Regia for the first time in spring 2015, but in August the same year I dragged my husband along the way, from Görlitz to Kamenz, you can read his, a Brits, impressions here http://rickyyates.com/gorlitz/ and the two following posts - And yes, there are pictures!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-en-Velay - Saint Jean Pied-de-Port April-May 2002
Saint Jean Pied-de-Port - Santiago October-November 2003
Pau - Puente la Reina October 2006
Swiss Jakobsweg: Merligen - Geneva August 2014
Via Regia/Ecumenical Pilgrims Way: Görlitz - Kamenz August 2015
#15
I wasn't dragged at all - I thoroughly enjoyed our short pilgrimage. :) But I am grateful for the link :D
 
Last edited:

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#16
Lol, so my husband made it finally on a forum - if I remember right, that is a first ;-) Buen Camino, SY
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#17
As it is Sunday, I decided to take a rest day and catch up with my updates, here the first one:


Schmochtitz to Marienstern ~14km

Way: Coming from the Bischof Benno Haus you turn right and follow that country road for ~2km until the Cyril and Methodius Monument where you meet the Via Regia again. Cyril and Methodius were send by the Greek bishop to evangelize this area, and the areas to the east, in the 9th century. More about them in this Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saints_Cyril_and_Methodius The monument, erected in 2000, was a collaboration between Polish artist and Sorbian and German christians.

From here the way goes, first via country lanes and then on the road, towards Dreikretscham (one pub with limited opening times in the evenings and on weekends) towards Storcha. At the beginning of the village is a bakery-cafe on your right hand side, the church is usually open and the parish house, left of the church, has an accessible toilet in its entrance. The way now continues on country roads and finally a foot path towards Crostwitz (no services, but a very special Pilgerherberge).

Crostwitz Pilgeroase & Pilgerherberge

Monika, the Herbergsmutter, is an experienced pilgrim herself and has created a very special place for her fellow pilgrims, just follow the usual way marking and yellow arrows (!) to find it in the center of Crostwitz. There is a sitting area in the garden where you can sit and strengthen yourself with cake, fruit, juice, coffee etc. The house door opposite is always open and here you find a toilet, and even a shower!, more drinks and food plus a place to rest in bad/cold weather.

If you want to stay there over night (recommended!) you go around the house and ring the bell, if nobody answers there are addresses and telephone numbers of neighbors displayed that have the key and will let you in. The Pilgerherberge is in a separate flat in the house, you can be as independent as you wish. ~5 beds in two rooms, fully equipped kitchen with food supply, bathroom with tub and toilet. If Monika is at home, there is often a communal diner and breakfast. The whole Pilgerherberge & Pilgeroase works on a donation base. Monika is a true Via Regia veteran and can tell you a lot about its history (she speaks English) and the history and culture of the Sorbian people (she is Sorbian herself).

As I was early and have stayed already two times there, I decided to walk on over the fields towards Kloster (monastery) St. Marienstern in Panschwitz-Kuckau. Shortly before the monastery there are two way options, one goes to the left and enters the Cistercians monastery complex through the gardens and the other goes first straight ahead and then right alongside the monastery walls and through a gate. It is recommended to call ahead for accommodatiom, contact details and opening times of the monastery can be found here, at the bottom of this page: https://www.marienstern.de/ You need to pick up the key at the monastery gate and put it in its letter box the next morning. Pilgrims and guests are invited to all services in the church (info/time table also in Pilgerherberge). For those that want to stay longer or look for a bit more comfort, there is also a guesthouse, see https://www.marienstern.de/images/sampledata/ZuGast/Preisliste_2015.pdf

Pilgerherberge St. Marienstern

5 Euro for accommodation, there is an additional donation box f.e. for the food that you find in the kitchen. 4 beds and 1 cot, shower, toilet, small kitchen corner with tea, coffee and basic food supply. All very lovingly decorated with many nice touches, including chocolate and cookies. Nice bench before the house to enjoy a quiet evening.

Panschwitz-Kuckau

There is a bank with ATM, just after the little bridge on the left hand side. The supermarket Netto you find when you walk the same street uphill on the right hand side. There are also two restaurants in immediate vicinity of the monastery, one actually in its walls, and a pharmacy in the village itself.

Things to see

The monastery has a lot of things to see! The open church, the gardens, especially their herbal garden, a shop with monastery products like liquors, a bakery and the treasury with houses, amongst other things, a St.James relic. The treasury is closed on Mondays and from mid-October to mid-March.

So, that was the next update, more to follow shortly.

Buen Camino, SY
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#18
And the next one ;-)

St.Marienstern to Kamenz ~11km +1,5km to Pilgerherberge

After having returned the key, you leave the monastery complex through the main gate and turn left and follow the main road for a few hundred meters. The Via Regia goes right, a bit downhill, just after the little bridge and continues then on a small road and a gravel path through open fields towards Dürrwicknitz (Pilgerherberge, see http://www.alte-herberge-wetenca.de/pilgerherberge.php no other services). This small village lies a few hundred meters off the Via Regia, if you stay there over night, you don't need to back trek your steps, just continue down the main village street and turn right at the country road (sign posted from there). The next village is Nebelschütz (Pilgerherberge, see http://nebelschuetz.de/index.php?id=447&L=0) and a small shop near the exit of the village on the right hand side. Limited opening times, but the kind shop owner holds the keys to the toilets on the nearby sports field ;-) Don't miss the storks nesting on the other side of the road.

You will also notice here and on the way signposts with a black raven with its wings folded before his body, this is Krabat. The stories of Krabat are old Sorbian legends that tell the adventures of a wizard called Krabat that could change himself into other forms, most famously in a raven. Interestingly the Ecumenical Pilgrims Way and the Krabat Way are the same from here to Kamenz, @Tincatinker will love that ;-).

Kamenz and what to see

Birthplace of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gotthold_Ephraim_Lessing , one of the most prominent figures of the German Enlightenment. The tourist office, English spoken, (http://kamenz.de/tourist-information.html) should be your first place of call to get information about the town and important, they also give out the keys to the Pilgerherberge (see below).

When you approach Kamenz, there is a supermarket at your right hand side, if you plan to self-cater in the Pilgerherberge, here would be the cheapest place to shop.

As you walk up the hill, there is a monument on your left hand side that remembers the 125 victims from many different nations that were killed here by the Nazis in a work camp/KZ.

If you turn right when you see the Red Tower, nearly on top of the hill, you pass by the place where the house stood where Lessing was born and by the Marienkirche (St.Mary's Church), the only hall church build of granite north of the Alps.

St.Annen, a former monastery church, houses now a collection of retablos and entry is free for pilgrims. The tourist office is directly attached to this church.

Pilgerherberge Kamenz

7 Euro, the Pilgerherberge is ~1,5km outside of Kamenz itself, directly on the Via Regia and on the ~300m high Hutberg. The only service close by is the Hutberg Pub and Beer garden, http://www.hutberggaststaette-kamenz.de , good food and the prices are normal for such a location. Again, if you prefer to self-cater, make sure to shop first in Kamenz before climbing up the hill.

This Pilgerherberge is one of my many favorites on the Via Regia, despite its rather simple equipment. There are 4 beds and 2 mattresses in two rooms, a small meditation room, a small kitchen with one electric cooking plate, a water kettle and basic cutlery/crockery. The toilets have to be flushed with baskets of water and there is only a wash basin to refresh yourself after the walk but no shower.

The house was the home of the guardian of the attached tower, which can be climbed (you need one Euro in coins to do so) and the peace and quietness in the evening makes up for the simple Pilgerherberge, or rather, at least in my opinion, the simpleness adds to the peace and quietness.


So, one more done, off now to a walk around Strehla where I am at the moment and then hopefully more. Buen Camino, SY
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#19
And because I have a lot of time today, a bit more ;-)


Kamenz – Königsbrück ~15km

Way: Mainly flat after a short descend from the Hutberg, nearly the whole stage is on shady forest path with very little tarmac – Yippeh!

Places and highlights:

Schwosdorf, a Pilgerherberge, but no shop or pub, but they do have a resident GP in the village, handy in case you feel suddenly ill. Even if you are not staying there, you are welcome to rest in the garden and sooner or later one of the neighbors shows up and tells you where the key is hidden and that you are welcome to make yourself a coffee. The house is on the end of the village, on the right hand side and has ~6beds in two rooms and mattresses for ~10 in the attic. There is a kitchen, shower / toilet and a small mini-shop where you can buy the essentials. You are allowed to camp in the large garden (not that you need a tent on the Via Regia!) and they even provide a meadow for a horse or donkey. Even dogs are tentatively allowed (a rarity on the Via Regia!).

Reichenau: Also here you have a Pilgerherberge, but I didn't had the chance to look inside. You find it roughly in the middle of the village, just after you have crossed the little stream, on the left side. It is an old Almshouse that now serves as cultural center for the village. There is no shop here and the farm that offered last year drink and snacks to pilgrims seems to have stopped this – for how long, I do not know. I suggest that, if you would like to stay here, that you shop beforehand in Kamenz or in the mini-shop in the Pilgerherberge in Schwosdorf.

Important! The main street of the village is under reconstruction at the moment and some markings are missing/hidden by machines etc. When you reach the village, turn right and follow the main street, fighting your way through the building/construction site. Near the end of the village the Via Regia turns left towards fields and forest.

Shortly before Königsbrück: If you are attentive, you will notice a big concrete slap embedded in the way with a scallop shell with cross and the words “Willkommen in Königsbrück” (Welcome to Königsbrück) shortly after that you find the first of many nice surprises this town offers to pilgrims. The kind neighbors have build a well thought out rest stop alongside the way which offers shade, a place to sit, a board to help you to put on your backpack, a place to leave your bike and even a first aid kit! If you pass there, please leave a message in their guestbook, as this is the only thing they want to have in return.

Btw. the little grave behind the rest stop doesn't remember a deceased pilgrim dwarf, but the beloved guinea pig of the family ;-)

Königsbrück – Before I come to the Pilgerherbergen, here a few things to see and do and an extra tip.

Nearly 200 years old camellia – In the grounds of the castle, sadly only in spring, when they blossom, you can admire three ~180 years old camellia. The rest of the year the grounds are closed to the public and yes, nearly every village in this part of Germany has its own castle or at least a manor house.

Via Regia Miniatures – A bit further on from the castle is an exhibition (follow sign posts) of miniature replicas of important buildings of the Via Regia, normally open from ~10:00~16:00 and if you are lucky you can even watch the artists work.

Extra Tip: Sadly most of the pubs/restaurants in town are closed between ~14:00 and ~17:00 (main arrival time for hungry pilgrims), the only one open is the Chinese at the main square which is actually quite nice, but there is a better solution: After having checked into one of the Pilgerherbergen, grab your swimming suit and continue a few hundred meters down (Pilgerherberge I) or walk back a few hundred meters (Pilgerherberge II) to the local open air swimming pool (Stadtbad). Entry for pilgrims is free and they have a decent snack bar where you can strengthen yourself with German fast food specialities like Currywurst (a fried, sliced sausage smothered in ketchupy sauce and dusted with curry powder).

Eating Tip: The “Weisse Ross” in the Hoyerswerda Strasse serves tasty food, including vegetarian options, and has a lovely beer garden. Btw, that is where I first drafted this post ;-) Say hello to Tiger the pub cat from me ;-) To find the place just walk back towards the square, keep on its left side, go straight ahead that road until the first big road crosses it, turn left into it and you find it on your left hand side.

Shopping: There is a big Aldi supermarket, to find it follow the way description in the paragraph above but instead turning left, just go straight ahead a bit further and where the street makes a left bend, there you see the supermarket, on the way you also find several bakers and at least one butcher plus all kind of other shops.

Pilgerherbergen

Your main port of call should be the parish house, just before the church, where all the accommodation options with their respective telephone numbers are displayed beside the door and they happily help you to find the right place.

Pilgerherberge I – Where I am stayed this year.

Just opposite the church and parish house, it has 2 beds and 4 mattresses in a dorm with a table and a tea point, a toilet and shower are over the hallway. You can use the kitchen in the church hall opposite if you want to cook and the little park around the church for relaxing (weather permitting). Price: Donation (see my previous post regarding that please). You get the keys for both buildings and in the morning you either hand it back in the parish office or through it into its mail box at the door.

Pilgerherberge II (Armenhaus Stenz = Alms House) – Where I stayed last year.

A house frozen in the year 1850. It is in truth the old Alms House of the village of Stenz, now a suburb of Königsbrück, a museum of rural life and a Pilgerherberge. If you just walk by, there is a stamp in the window behind the wooden board.

To sleep there call either the number or walk up to the address displayed (street that goes off roughly left/opposite the Pilgerherberge, the house you want is the carpentry.

There is no shower, the Herbergsvater brings you warm water to wash yourself in a big milk tin (remember the free entry in the swimming pool with its showers!). There is no heating, or better said the house is heated by a wooden stove. There is no kitchen as such but enough cutlery/crockery/plates to make a salad or similar, but in the morning the Herbergsvater brings you a first class breakfast on his bike. The “dormitory” is the attic with three straw mattresses/beds and the toilet is behind the house and of the dry-compost variety to put it delicately.

In the evening the Herbergsvater turns up with a jug of wine and explains you everything about house, town, history and the Via Regia. Even, or especially, if you are now doubt that you can cope with so much simplicity you should stay here at least one time as the place has its own kind of magic!

Everything, including the breakfast, is for donation, you need to ask where to leave your Spende (donation) as the tin isn't marked and often changes place.

Before I come to the next stage here some general remarks:

Open churches – Most of the churches on the Via Regia are open and the few that aren't, have normally a phone number/address displayed where you can ask for the Schlüssel (key) for the Kirche (church) – Kirchschlüssel.

Some of the more famous churches require you to pay for a Fotoerlaubnis (photo permit, ~1,50 Euro) but also their entrance is usually free.

Pilgrim numbers – Since Görlitz I have met less than a dozen other pilgrims and the most we were in one Pilgerherberge was three. The Via Regia doesn't suffer from overcrowding ;-)

Königsbrück – Schönfeld ~17km

Way: Turn just before the Armenhaus Stenz (Pilgerherberge II) left into the street and follow it to the end where it enters a forest. When you reach the meadow, the right way goes left and then again on lovely forest paths and through fields towards Tauscha (km 8). Before that village, ~4km after Stenz, is a lovingly maintained and decorated wooden hut where you can rest. ~1km after that you pass a small stone bench that is dedicate to the woman, Esther Heisse, that singlehanded rediscovered and restored the Via Regia as a pilgrims way and rightly was awarded for her work with the highest civilian medal Germany can award (Bundesverdienstkreuz).

Tauscha – The way through the village isn't well marked but easy to find ;-) Just follow the Pilgerstrasse (Pilgrims Street) as they have renamed their former Dorfstrasse (Village Street). Just before it turns right there is a bakery, opposite is a pub with limited opening hours (mainly evenings) and just after the church and the village pond there is a mini shop on the left. At the end of the village is a nice Pilgerherberge on a farm with horses, cats etc. website www.pension-im-heidebogen.de

There are 2 rooms with each 3 beds and further mattresses (max.10), a kitchen pilgrims can use and/or the possibility to get diner/breakfast prepared. Price: 15-22 Euro, including breakfast and depending if you sleep in a bed with linen or on a mattress without. Shower and toilet.

Also available are 8 double rooms in another building with ensuite shower/toilet for 22 Euro/Person including breakfast. Reservation recommended, they also cater to non-pilgrim guests or might be away. Some English spoken. If you don't want to stay there, you can still rest in the courtyard, cuddle the cat and get your water bottle refilled.

From Tauscha until Schönfeld the Via Regia, unfortunately, uses mainly minor roads and only the occasional gravel path.

Pilgerherberge Schönfeld

Your chance to sleep in a haunted castle! After the German reunification, the village got the castle back and is slowly restoring it. You get the key either in the main office (through door with the flyers and then directly left) or, if that is closed, call one of the telephone numbers displayed at the second door beside the Pilgerherberge which is between the gate and the door marked Bibliothek (library).

Again this Pilgerherberge is very simple but with its own charm. One dormitory with 4-5 thick mattresses on the floor and 2 more in the common area with kitchen corner. No shower, just a wash basin and toilet, but a clothes line “under roof”. The kitchen has no stove, just a water kettle and some crockery/cutlery.

To be honest the whole place is a bit unkempt, but in the sense of cob-webby untidy, not in the sense of unhygienic dirty. All this you forget if you sit, alone, or with other pilgrims, in the evening in the courtyard of the castle or in its park. Before I come to the offerings of the village, here something to laugh for you:

When I walked the Via Regia for the first time in 2015 I managed to sleep first in Kamenz (no shower, flush yourself tilet), then in Stenz (no shower, outhouse) and then here in the castle (no shower). Really good organization on my part and as I finally came to the next pilgerherberge with shower, I spend a wee bit of time in it ;-)

Schönfeld – In the entrance of the village is an Imbiss (snack bar), in the center of the village is an ATM and towards the end of the village, following the Via regia, are two bakers, a Getränkemarkt (shop that sells all sorts of drinks) and a butcher with some deli products plus, in season, a stand that sells fresh farm products like strawberries and tomoatoes.

If you can't cope with the simplicity in the castle, there are also two BnB in the village. Oh, and yes, an open church.

Schönfeld – Skassa ~21km

The Via Regia follows the busy main road out of Schönfeld and turns left into another, smaller, road at its end, after crossing another road, you are finally again on a forest path/way near the end of it you find another lovingly decorated picnic table for pilgrims and wanderers. In Quersa (~7km after Schönfeld) there is a baker at the beginning of the village and a rather posh BnB in its middle. Google “Landhaus Opitz Quersa” for prices and contact info.

Important! If you use the (recommended!) maps from the Dr.Barthel Verlag, the way has changed since they were published, it is not anymore turning right and through Folbern, but turns left and goes now through Paulsmühle and pass the historical Reiherhof (Herons Farm) and then alongside a canal towards Grossenhain. When you reach the outskirts of Grossenhain just go straight ahead towards the park and ignore the way marking which makes a right-left detour. At the end of the park, at the parking lot, there is a billboard with a town map, photograph/memorize it as the way into Grossenhain is poorly marked.

Grossenhain – All services and good bus/train connection in case you walk the Via Regia in stages. If you want to stay in Skassa in ~5,5km you can shop here, but first read the description of the Pilgerherberge in Skassa!

To see – Church, don't miss it (sadly closed on Mondays!), the layout resembles the famous Frauenkirche in Dresden, but obviously on a smaller scale. Also toilets in the church ;-)

Pilgerherberge Grossenain – I stayed here last year, just behind the church, in the street that goes around/behind it in a bend. To get the key call the number of the Pilgerhandy (pilgrims mobile) displayed in the window. 5 Euro, 8 beds (yes, bunk beds are rare on the Via Regia!) in two rooms, common area, good kitchen, shower and toilets. It was here that I emptied the water supply last year after staying three days in a row in atmospheric but shower-less Pilgerherbergen!

The way out of town is well-marked and passes through the park and then goes on a cycle path to Skassa (Pilgerherberge, no other services).

The Pilgerherberge Skassa is in the old parish house/rectory by the church. Important! It is necessary to call ahead and make sure that the family is at home! Situated on the ground floor of a big house are the kitchen (with basic food and drink supplies!, so think twice if you need to go shopping in Grossenhain) and a shower and two toilets. On the first floor are two rooms with each two beds that where presented to me to choose from. “Do you want evening sun and frog concert or do you want morning sun and bird concert?” ;-) I choose morning sun ;-) If there are more than 4 pilgrims there is plenty of floor space in some of the other buildings … and a house normally used to house groups. If you want to improve your German, there is a well-sorted library on the first floor and books and table games distributed throughout the house. And a huge garden – with hammocks! Plus a few friendly cats … Again, the whole place, including food and drink, works on a donation-only base, please give generously!


So, I think I stop for the moment, time for a spot of dinner. Either later today or the next day there will be more updates, promised! Buen Camino, SY
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#21
Skassa – Strehla ~22km

Way: Mostly flat with a mix of minor country roads, foot paths with “natural surfaces”and a cute, little ferry over the river Elbe for Variant 2 and mainly cycle path aka tarmac, big cobblestones and another cute little ferry, or a busy bridge, for Variant 1. All well sign posted.

From the Pilgerherberge, the Via Regia goes first left through the village, a small billboard states proudly how many storks have hatched here each year and started successfully their winter journey south, and after ~2km you come to an important bifurcation of the way.

Important - Two Alternatives!!!

Today you will have to cross the river Elbe, so there are two way choices to consider, depending on if the ferry runs or not.

Variant 1 (Winter and extreme high/low water levels)

As the ferry of variant 2 (see below) only runs from April-October and only if the water level is neither extremely high nor low and as there is no bridge nearby on this option you will need to make sure that it is feasible to choose this option. The Pilgerherbergen directly before this stage will have the necessary information and can advice you. Here the option “without” ferry:

At the bifurcation ~2km after Skassa you walk straight ahead where the Via Regia bends off to the right, just follow the cycle path sign posted to Merschwitz for 3km until you reach the river Elbe.

Eating – Food supplies are a bit rare on this stretch, so if you are hungry turn left at the river, after a few hundred meters you'll find a 'bikers stop' that serves food and drink not only to cyclists that cycle alongside the Elbe (often long distance) but also to hungry pilgrims.

If you don't want to stop there (if you did you will have to walk the few hundred meters back and continue in the same direction), turn right at the Elbe and follow the cycle path, keeping the river always on your left side. The way follows the cycle path and is either tarmac or paved with large, cobblestone-like stone plates. It mainly follows the path that was used to tow boats on the Elbe in times gone by, a hard and badly paid job. You will pass through Nünchritz where the way leaves the river for a short while, Grödel, where it returns to the river and Promnitz. There are pubs and restaurants with limited opening times on this stretch, but don't rely on them and make sure that you have enough water and food with you until Riesa.

When you reach Promnitz you might be lucky and the ferry (1 Euro) there runs, just ring the bell if it is on the other site. If the ferry doesn't run, just walk towards the bridge, that you can see from there, and cross the river that way.

Riesa is a big town with plenty of accommodation options but the only Pilgerherberge is in the house of glass artists, next room to their art exhibition. See http://www.glashof-riesa.de for contact details and to make sure that it is open. I slept there last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. There are ~6 mattresses on the floor of one room, a well equipped kitchen with terrace and toilet/shower with limited hot water. If I remember right they suggested a minimum donation of 8 Euro last year and if you ask kindly they might even give you their Wifi password ;-)

The next morning you follow the main road 'Lauchhammerstrasse' and cross the bridge over the Hafen (harbour) and turn directly after it right. Over minor roads you reach then Strehla (description Pilgerherbergen there see below at the end of Variant 2).

Variant 2 (when the ferry runs)

From Skassa you follow the usual signs of the Via Regia to the right through Weissig (no services), Roda (pub, usually opens at 11:00) and Glaubitz (several pubs, shops and BnBs). Approaching Zeithain you pass by a jail where there is an interesting concept in place. Pilgrims are invited to enter the garden of the 'offene Strafvollzug' (open jail, meaning the inmates leave during the day for work or similar, but have to be back in jail after that) to rest, have a drink and chat with the inmates.

Zeithain itself has only a Pilgerherberge (near the church, whom to call for opening is displayed at the parish house) and no other services. After Zeithain comes a long stretch alongside a road to Gohlis (pubs with limited opening hours and at least one BnB) at the border of the river Elbe. Shortly after is Zschepa (no services) and then the ferry which brings you for 1 Euro to the other side, to Strehla.

Before you take the ferry, you can also walk a few hundred meters further to Lorenzkirch whose church is a local pilgrimage place. If it is closed, just ask/call the people whose names are displayed as key holders. Also note the many 'high water marks' on the houses alongside the river, the last heavy floods here where in 2002 and 2013.

On the other side of the Elbe, in Strehla, have a look at the house opposite of the ferry landing place, the one with 'Cafe' written on it. Here a pair of falcons breed since over 10 years in the top right corner of the house, roughly on the same height as the first floor. You can watch them comfortably from the picnic bench opposite and see them flying in and out and feeding their young. It is really rare to see them breeding at such a low level, normally they prefer much higher nesting places like church towers.

To reach one of the Pilgerherbergen in Strehla turn right from the ferry landing and walk towards the town center.

Pilgerherberge I

Directly at the market square you see right hand side a sign 'Bäckerei und Pension Behnisch' (Bakery and BnB Behnisch). If you want to stay here, it is advisable to call ahead as this is also a favorite with bikers and the Elberadweg (long distance cycling path alongside the Elbe).

Up to 20 people can stay in this 300 years old house in rooms that range from 1-6 beds, bathrooms over the hallway. Prices vary on how many people share a room, I paid for a single room including excellent breakfast and bed linen 25 Euro, bigger rooms are cheaper per person. There is Wifi in the house, washing lines in the attic (a place to dry your clothes is a rarity in German BnBs!), the kitchen can be used on request, there are drinks, snacks and obviously cakes available and the two owners speak English! I liked it there so much that I stayed a second night ;-) Website: http://www.ub-baecker.de

Other Pilgerherbergen

In the grounds of the church is the parish Pilgerherberge, unfortunately I couldn't visit it, as it was closed for a few days, but it is now open again. The number to call for the key is displayed in the window of the parish office. And last, but not least the town has also a youth hostel (an old windmill), the Pilgerpass is also valid as a Youth Hostel pass, website http://www.jugendherberge.de/de-de/jugendherbergen/strehla88/portraet

Shopping – There is a supermarket at the beginning of the town and one near the main square, plus plenty of bakeries, butchers and an ATM.

Eating – I ate at the Lindenhof http://restaurant-lindenhof-strehla.de very tasty and pilgrim friendly, one of the owners even has done one of the Caminos, at least there is a Finisterra on display in the restaurant ;-)

Ok, one down, several more updates to come hopefully ;-)

Buen Camino, SY
 
Last edited:

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#22
Strehla – Dahlen ~20km

Way: Leaving the river valley of the Elbe, the Via Regia becomes mildly hilly again, but nothing too strenuous. Again a mixture of tarmac and “natural surfaces”.

Follow the main road through the village, a variant via the church and through the church yard is also sign posted, and turn left a bit after the church grounds towards Leckwitz (no services). Continue on the same road after the village until the road bears left and the Via Regia goes straight ahead on a gravel/sandy road first through fields/meadows, then alongside a forest (bench near the end of the forest). Cross another road and you head for the Liebschützer Berg with its historic windmill and a bell tower – lovely picnic spot. A further ~4km, mostly gently downhill, brings you to Lampertswalde where you find a Pilgerherberge, a cafe in the beautiful castle grounds and a pub on the main road, the latter two with limited opening hours. Theoretically there is also a pilgrim rest stop in the church, called Pilgersakristei (Pilgrims Sacristy) but both times I passed there it was closed ;-(

Pilgerherberge Lampertwalde

I have slept there last year and liked it very much. You find the Pilgerherberge if you pass through the church grounds through a gate and then it is the big house opposite. On the ground floor are kitchen (with some emergency food supplies), toilet and shower and the pilgrims room is on the second floor with a double bed, if there are more than two pilgrims there is also plenty of space on the floor of the parish rooms. There is also a big garden where you can hang your clothes and play with the cat ;-) Like in most cases on the Via Regia, if nobody is at home there are telephone numbers displayed that you can call to gain access.

To continue turn left from the parish house/right from the gate of the church grounds, go around the little pond and then all straight ahead through Winterseite, which has a beer garden with limited opening hours, and over the fields and then, shortly through a forest, towards Dahlen.

Pilgerherbergen

A bit outside of Dahlen is a Youth Hostel which accepts also pilgrims, but I opted to stay at the BnB Lindenpension, see http://lindenpension.de . Pilgrims can sleep here for 12 Euro in clean, nicely decorated (even with a TV!) rooms with own toilet/shower for 12 Euro. Bed linen/breakfast is NOT included in the price, but available for an additional fee. There is a very well equipped kitchen also. The BnB isn't too easy to find, the easiest way is to follow the Via Regia nearly out of town and when it turns right to turn left at the Bauernladen (Farmers Shop), pass it and take the next street (Weststrasse) right at a triangular shaped square. The Lindenpension is ~150m down that street on the left side. Alternatively follow the Wurzener Strasse from the market square and the Weststrasse is the second on your left. The first option is slightly longer, but you will pass via Dahlen Castle ;-) Reservation for this BnB is recommended!

Shopping – The aforementioned Bauernladen offers local products and has pretty much all what a pilgrim needs. In the town center is also a bigger Rewe supermarket, shops, pharmacy and ATM.

Eating – There are several places where you can eat in the town center including a Pizzeria which might be the most economical option apart of self-catering and serves tasty food.

Dahlen – Wurzen

Way: The usual mix of tarmac and natural surfaces, mostly flat. Follow the Bortewitzer Strasse out of town, after ~3km the Via Regia turns left and leads through fields and meadows towards Börln. There isn't much in terms of services in this village, one Eis-Cafe (limited opening hours) which really only serves ice cream, coffee and cake and a bakery with very reduced offering and opening hours.

Pilgerherberge Börln

~6 mattresses, toilet, shower and a tea point with some cutlery/crockery and a water kettle. Unusually for the Via Regia, no emergency food supplies like in other villages without a shop. A nice big garden where you can chill out/dry your clothes. If you want to stay here I recommend to shop in Dahlen and carry your own supplies. The owner of the shop has been known to give pilgrims food from her own supplies, but you shouldn't rely on it. She is very friendly, but a bit elderly and I don't know who does the shopping for her … A second possibility is to do what I did last year when I stayed there, I picked up a flyer at the Pizzeria in Dahlen and got my dinner delivered ;-) The Pilgerherberge is just off, right hand, from the Via Regia, roughly opposite the church. In short, church left, Via Regia on the street in the middle, Pilgerherberge right. The post of the Pfarrer (minister) is vacant at the moment, so things might change with this Pilgerherberge when a new one arrives.

The way continues then through the village and leaves the country road abruptly shortly afterwards to the right on a lovely, shady forest path and then again on minor country roads. You will pass through several small settlements, none of them has any services that are of interest to pilgrims (unless you need to repair agricultural machinery ;-). When you reach Dornreichenbach there is a Pilgerraststätte (through the windows I could see tables, chairs and a tea point, I am pretty sure you are not allowed to sleep there unless it is an absolute emergency) whose key you get in the Cafe opposite, that is if said Cafe is open … Guess when I was there … There is also a very clean public toilet in the same building which operates with a 50 cents coin or the equivalent in smaller coins. Apart of that, the Tiergarten (a small zoo with mostly farm animals that you can pet) and the church there isn't much there in the village as the only two pubs have – you guessed it – limited opening hours and that means mainly in the evenings and on weekends.The way continues through fields to Körlitz (no services). Important! If you use a map, please note that the Via Regia has now been diverted from the busy main road, so follow the way signs and ignore the map until you reach Wurzen.

Wurzen

Wurzen is a biggish town with all sorts of shops and services a pilgrim might need. It is also the birthplace of Joachim Ringelnatz an 19th/ 20th century German writer and artist, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joachim_Ringelnatz You will note many references to his work in the town and a museum dedicated to him is in the same building as the tourist office.

Pilgerherberge I

You find the first Pilgerherberge where the Via Regia enters Wurzen, in the parish house of the first church you see. If nobody is in the office, call the telephone number in the window. The pilgrims room is on the ground floor where you can put one of the six mattresses on the softest spot of floor you can find ;-) Apart of that there is a well equipped kitchen, blankets to use as pillows, a shower, toilets and a garden. If you are lucky one of the parish ladies gives you a guided tour of the church and the priest normally checks in to see if you need anything like a chat or a pilgrims blessing. The whole place works on donations.

Wurzen – Wurzen ~1,5km

To catch up with my writing, I decided to walk a real monster stage today – a whopping 1,5km from the outskirts of Wurzen to the center and the private Pilgerherberge there ;-)

Pilgerherberge II

'Al hada de las hierbas', or in German, 'Zur Kräuterfee' (engl. At/By the Herb(al) Fairy) is another of my favorite places on the Via Regia, already last year I took a rest day here. So the owner, Christine, wasn't really surprised as I turned up at 09:30 this morning asking for shelter – try that on the Camino Francés ;-) The Pilgerherberge is on the first floor of an old, lovingly decorated town house, just above Christine's Bio shop. There is one room with a single and a double bed and plenty of mattresses and floor space, max. numbers that have ever slept here – 9. The bathroom has a tub, the kitchen is well equipped, has no stove, but does have a microwave/mini oven and there is a generous sized common area. For those that can play it, a piano is also provided, plus plenty of books and lots of food and drink to be paid in a 'honesty tin'. A little, secluded terrace is my favorite spot to put my feet up and where you can dry your washing. Cost is 10 Euro per night, 5 Euro for a self-service bio-eco breakfast and if you are really short of money speak with Christine and she finds a solution ;-) On the other hand, if you have a few additional Euro you can spare, just drop them in the donation box or the honesty tin please. Contact details here http://www.zurkraeuterfee.de and yes, that is the correct website even if the Pilgerherberge isn't mentioned, it is the website of her shop, make sure that you use the contact details for Wurzen!

Shopping – There is small market shop (bread, fruit, butcher, drinks) just a few hundred meters down the Via Regia from Pilgerherberge I and plenty of shops of all kinds in the town center close to Pilgerherberge II.

Eating – If you continue the Via Regia and reach the market square, there is an Italian on your left hand side. Really nice food (be careful, the portions are huge!), friendly service and you can sit outside and watch the world go by, ok, the world as it happens in Wurzen ;-)

OK, I am proud to have caught up with my current location, if I manage it, I will try to write and post some random notes about the Via Regia, and being on a pilgrimage in Germany in general. Until then

Buen Camino, SY
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#23
Random Notes on the Via Regia/Pilgrimage in general in Germany

As I am up to date with my Via Regia updates ;-) here some random notes about what is different/special on this way:

Pilgrim numbers – Since I started on 3rd June, I have met perhaps a dozen other pilgrims and that is surprising considering the close to perfect pilgrim infrastructure on this route. Total figures I heard from the knowledgeable include 'there are around 2000 pilgrims somewhere/somewhen walking the Via Regia each year' and that includes pilgrims that walk the Via Regia in stages, which are mostly Germans. A Herbergsmutter at the beginning of the way stated that she welcomes ~400 pilgrims/year in her Pilgerherberge. As there are at least two more Pilgerherbergen after hers that would make for a normal day of walking from the last one that agrees with point one if you consider those pilgrims that walk in stages.

A Woman's Way – Both my experience and that of the Herbergseltern coincide, there are more women than men on this way. Some reasons, we guessed, are – it is not challenging enough/doesn't provide enough bragging rights. 'Only' ~500km long, no Pyrenees to climb, no exotic food to survive/enjoy ;-) Just a safe way with a good infrastructure that allows you to be a pilgrim without stressing about accommodation etc.

Supermarkets/being on a budget – Germany is not a cheap country! If you are on a budget, stay away from eating/drinking out and get used to self-catering. Pilgerherbergen range in price from donation (which is NOT the same as free!) to ~15 Euro max., and more expensive if you stay in the occasional Youth Hostel/BnB. Big supermarket chains here in Germany are f.e. Aldi, Penny, Rewe, Lidl and they are mostly located outside the town centers. I would say that you can walk the Via Regia for an average of 20-25/Euro/person/day without suffering. If you want to eat out and explore Germany's Haute Cuisine, the sky is your limit.

Mülltrennung – German for 'rubbish separation (for recycling purposes)', a quasi-religious enterprise. Environmental issues are being taken VERY seriously in Germany and separating your garbage to put it in the right recycling bin is taken even more seriously ;-) Here a quick guide: Most places have their bins labelled or colored. Blue is for Papier=paper, brown is for Bio/Kompost = bio degradable rubbish aka banana peels, gelbe Sack=yellow bag is for 'packaging', basically everything from yoghurt containers over tetra packs to tins. But not pizza boxes, they are carton and belong in the blue container and also not wine bottles, they are Glas and belong into either a green (for colored glass) or white (for clear glass) container. Black is for Restmüll aka everything else. Have fun separating your Müll, and, btw, if you want to drive a true German around the bend just drop a tin a brown container and be prepared to run very, very fast towards the horizon. Oh, and if you think this is complicated read on about ---

Deposit – Imagine you buy a bottle of water, the price is clearly stated as being 69cents but the cashier asks for 84 cents! No, s/he is not trying to cheat you, s/he is just adding the deposit. Originally only applied to glass bottles, the deposit is now asked also for plastic bottles and even sometimes cans. No worries, you get your money back if you hand in the empty container at the next shop. As I don't like carrying empty weight, I just leave these container in a Pilgerherberge as an additional donation – in the end it doesn't matter who brings it back, the person who brings it back gets the deposit back – no receipt required!

Sleeping pad/mattress cover – The official German guide to the Via Regia states that you should carry a sleeping pad to put on top of a mattress to avoid it getting dirty too early or to protect you from not sparkling clean mattresses. In reality a very light weight sheet does the same trick and is lighter. I use my multi-purpose sarong for this.

Dogs – Dog owner laws in Germany are strict and heavy handedly enforced, no need to fear dogs in this country. If you meet an off leash dog during your walk its owner will call it to heel/leash it and you really have to convince them, if you are so inclined, that you love dogs and would love to say hello to his/her dogs. Now cats are another topic, they are allowed to go everywhere, until they 'go' in the garden of a neighbor then both the cat and its owner go to court ;-)

Bed bugs – Haven't arrived yet on the Via Regia, get there before they come ;-)

Mature camino – Originally I wanted to write adult Camino, but that sounded too much like 50 shades of rubbish ;-) On the Via Regia Pilgerherbergen work like this: You find/call somebody to open the place for you, you get a key, in the morning you put the key in a designated spot to be picked up and handed over to the next pilgrim. No curfew, no nothing, too few pilgrims to bother with this kind of rules.

So, now I really go to bed! Sleep well where ever you are and Buen Camino, SY
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#25
The “bridge” is a massive, half trunk of a tree 30-50cm wide with some wooden railing on both sides. It is suspended 1,50m high over the river and its length is perhaps 8m. Fixing my eyes firmly on the other side, humming 'la la la, there is no abysm, la la la, the birds are singing and there is no abysm' does the trick for me but if your vertigo is more severe than mine …
Yikes! :eek:
The Dom was the first and is still the largest example of a “Simultaneous Church” in Germany, another Via Regia superlative.
Wonderful. If only the rest of the world would figure out how to do this...
earth warmth (not sure about the correct English term, but you get the idea) heating
'Geothermal' may be the word you're looking for...
Most of the churches on the Via Regia are open
Just a safe way with a good infrastructure that allows you to be a pilgrim without stressing about accommodation etc.
I still doubt that I'd wander this way, but I do like the sound of it!
Thank you for all these notes, SY, I've enjoyed reading them! They're as good as a guide for any of us who might be tempted to go that way...and a whole lot of work.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#27
I am making busily notes for a real guide ;-) but happy that my updates so far are considered useful already, Buen Camino, SY
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#28
Wurzen – Leipzig/Sommerfeld ~ 21,3km according to my German Guide, ~26km according to map/pedometer

An experience that not only I have made, but that was confirmed by two other pilgrims and their own electronic devices. The distances stated in the official German guide are underestimated by ~15% in average. Something to bear in mind if you plan for a long walking day.

Way: Mostly flat apart of the area around Machern where it becomes shortly mildly hilly. A lot of “natural surface” apart of the villages and the beginning of Leipzig (Sommerfeld). The way marking is excellent, so here only a few comments about the villages to cross.

Grubnitz – no services

NepperwitzPilgerherberge just beside the church. Plenty of floor space and mattresses, well-equipped kitchen with food supplies, shower and toilet. Church – This little village church (usually open) features a modern altarpiece that was only allowed to stay in the church after two rounds of votes and some minor alterations by the artist – don't miss it. In contrast, the wooden panels that decorate the balconies show biblical scenes and are from the 15/16th century. A lively contrast. No other services.

Machern – The Via Regia runs more or less at the border of the village, but if you head towards the village center where the Via Regia turns right towards the golf course you will find shops and pubs. The golf course you pass at the outskirts of Machern also has a cafe/restaurant, but I didn't feel well enough dressed to try it out ;-)

Panitzsch – Some shops and at least one pub.

Dreiecksiedlung – no services

Sommerfeld – see below

Pilgerherberge Sommerfeld

When you come to the outskirts of Engelsdorf (lit. Angels Village) you need to turn right just before the car seller. The Pilgerherberge is on your left, just before the church on your right. Enter the courtyard right hand side of the staircase, it is in the building on your right. On the ground floor you have a kitchen, toilet and shower plus a multi-purpose room and the dormitory is through the left door in the back and up an outside metal staircase. ~10 mattresses and plenty of blankets plus a lot of stuff like sleeping pads that other pilgrims have discarded. Stamp and donation box you find btw in the cupboard of the ground floor hallway. This Pilgerherberge is usually open, if not you find the contact details outside at the door of the main building.

Eating – If you walk towards the church and then turn the first street left you come to a Pizzeria with decent food and drink. If you show your Pilgerpass, you even get a discount on your bill ;-) More restaurants can be found if you follow the Via Regia direction Leipzig city center/big shopping mall (see below).

Shopping – Leaving the Pilgerherberge and turning left you pass a farm shop and then another one that specializes mainly in drinks, but has also some other bits and pieces. On the big road, after the Pizzeria mentioned above, you find a bakery. If you continue direction Leipzig city center for ~1km you come to a huge (for Germany) shopping mall with all kinds of restaurants (even a McDonalds, if you are so inclined ;-), shops of all kind, two huge supermarkets and even a Decathlon and an Intersport in case you need to replace/buy some gear.

The walk into Leipzig isn't too bad, but if you want to skip it, the S-Bahn (lit. city train) and several bus lines stop near this mall. Choose one for Hauptbahnhof or nearby.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#29
Sommerfeld – Leipzig Center ~10km

Way: Compared to last year, the way marking has improved considerably and is easy to find. I strongly suggest that, when you have reached the city center, you go into the Hauptbahnhof (Main Railway Station, the Via Regia passes in sight of it) to pick up a free and detailed city map. Some of the main sights are not directly on the Via Regia and having a map makes orientation so much easier.

If you don't know Leipzig already, it is a place worth exploring, either by taking a rest day here or by doing what I did and walking a short stage in and a short stage out, leaving you plenty of time to take in the sights in the afternoon/evening of day one and the morning of day two.

It really would be too much to list everything here, have a look at http://www.leipzig.travel to see what is on offer. Also a good place to check if your planned pilgrimage coincides with a major event like the Book Fair which will make finding accommodation rather difficult/expensive.

Pilgerherberge Leipzig

I stayed at the Central Globetrotter Hostel, but I wasn't too impressed. The staff wasn't really interested in somebody that stays only a day. Also the cost was with 22 Euro (without breakfast) for a bed in a 4 bed-dorm a bit high imo. But the thing that really got to me was that the last one to join our dorm arrived at 02:45 at night, turning on the main light to make her bed... I really think that a big hostel should have a better solution for late arrivals!

Finding Pilgrim Accommodation/Sights

The tourist office can help you to find a place to stay, also AirBnB and booking.com are well known in Germany. Also the info point at the Nikolaikirche, see http://www.nikolaikirche.de can advice you. The Nikolaikirche is very close to the Via Regia, in the city center of Leipzig.

If you are running short in time or just aren't into sightseeing, you still should visit this church that was one of the focal points of the peaceful revolution that let ultimately to the reunification of Germany.

One of the other, many!, historically interesting churches is the Thomakirche where Johann Sebastian Bach worked as cantor.

As I said before, there is plenty to see in Leipzig like the new facade of the university which incorporates the mirror image of a 1962 destroyed church, the zoo, the rests of the fortress Moritzbastei, the museum of medieval criminalistics and and and ...
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#30
Leipzig Center to Möckern ~7km

Way: Slightly less well marked. From the Naschmarkt (a big square) go down Hainstrasse, cross Richard Wagner Platz diagonally left, cross Goerdelerring and Tröndlinring and then go down Jacobsstrasse. Follow it to the end and then, crossing another road, into a park. The way marking in the park isn't too great, keep to the left edge of the park, cross another road, continue on the left side of the park and at the next road, near a bridge, you have to decide if you want to turn right towards the Pilgerherberge in Möckern or if you want to continue the Via Regia further.

Pilgerherberge in Möckern

To find the Pilgerherberge turn right and follow the Heuweg and then, when you have reached the first houses, turn left into the Kirschbergstrasse. Where the Kirschbergstrasse meets a bigger street you see a big house just in front of you and church slightly to your right. The house is the parish center in whose garden you find the Pilgerherberge. If you can't raise anybody in the parish center, there are telephone numbers of the key holders displayed outside the house, at the fence. Important! Because of lack of heating this Pilgerherberge is closed in the cold season.

Very small Pilgerherberge with four beds in total, one bunk bed and two emergency cots in a small, converted garden barn. Shower, toilet and kitchen are in another building. Donation. You get the keys and need to put them into the mail box when you leave. Big garden and welcoming parish that is always happy to see a pilgrim at their services and/or other events.

Möckern – Kleinliebenau ~12km

Way back to the Via Regia

Coming from the Pilgerherberge turn right into the main street (Slevogt Strasse), at the big traffic lights turn left and just after the bridge turn right into a path alongside a stream. A bit further along, in the middle of the allotments is a nice, friendly pub with limited opening hours and very reasonable prices btw. Continue the path, go under a main railway line and cross another, very narrow gauge, railway line, turn left and continue alongside the lake (here another pub). Just before the parking lot turn left and cross the big stream over a bridge and continue on this road until you reach the next bridge. At the end of that bridge turn right again and you are back on the Via Regia. The way follows now roughly the river Luppe (always on your right) through forest and meadows and is well marked. Shortly (~2,5km) before Kleinliebenau you reach the pub Domholzschänke in the middle of the forest. This is the last pub with reliable opening hours for quite some time – take advantage of it! From here to Kleinliebenau the Via Regia follows a minor country road.

Pilgerherberge Kleinliebenau

In a small building attached to a small church. Mattresses on the floor in the attic, kitchen, shower and toilet on the ground floor. There is no shop nor food in the Pilgerherberge, so bring your own food! If the Pilgerherberge is booked out with a school group (as it happened to me) the kind 'church ladies' will settle you into one of the houses/garden huts of a neighbor ;-) There is an Imbiss (snack bar) at the camp site just outside of the village with very limited opening hours and average food. Again, if you want to stay in Kleinliebenau – Bring your own food!
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#32
No, I didn't went hungry @Viranani ;-) I had food with me and was lucky enough that the Imbiss was open ;-) Buen Camino, SY
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#33
Kleinliebenau – Merseburg ~18km

Way: Perfectly sign posted and very little tarmac, only out of Kleinliebenau and into Merseburg, the rest is soft, natural surfaces and a delight for the feet.

On the downside, there are no services (pubs/shops) between Kleinliebenau and Merseburg until you reach Luppenau and the restaurant there has ever changing opening times. So planing ahead and carrying enough food between Leipzig and Merseburg is very important!

Luppenau Pilgerherberge – I slept here last year. A very nice place to stay if the restaurant nearby is open and/or if you can beg a bag of pasta or similar from the Herbergseltern. The “Frido”, as the Pilgerherberge is called, is another multi-purpose building with shower, toilet, common area and kitchen in the ground floor, straw mattresses for 6 in the attic and a nice garden/courtyard to sit and relax. 5 Euro.

You find it, if you turn right just before the Castle-Restaurant and go down that road ~300m, it is on the right side of the Voluntary Fire Brigade House. Contact details for the key at the door. It might be a good idea to call ahead, especially on weekends and/or during school holidays, as the building is also used for groups.

The “Frido” is an intercultural meeting place that also hosts local events as well as a youth exchange program between Israel and Germany.

Pilgerherberge MerseburgVery important! - Renovation work is planned for this year, so ask in the Pilgerherbergen before or here http://www.kirche-merseburg.de (left bottom corner 'Kontakt') if the Neumarktkirche is available, if not, no panic, Merseburg is a big town with plenty of alternative accommodation available.

You find the Pilgerherberge in the Neumarktkirche (New Market Church, dedicated to St. Thomas Becket of Canterbury), but you need to pick up the key beforehand at the Bäckerei (Bakery) Rahaus ~150m before the church, directly on the Via Regia on the left hand side of the street. You return the key in the morning to the same place, where you can also have a delicious breakfast and where the donation box is.

Donation (which is dedicated to the urgently required renovation of the church building), pilgrims sleep on the church gallery on cots or mattresses, there is a tea point with some crockery/cutlery, a toilet and a wash basin, but no shower. As the church has a beautiful acoustic, the thoughtful Herbergseltern even provide hymn books for pilgrims to use ;-)

Equally important! During the colder season the church might be a bit of an survival exercise as it is also quite damp. There are plenty of blankets, but no heating. During winter it will be closed as the water pipes will need to be empty at that time of the year.

To See – Merseburg has a lot to offer but the one thing that stands out is the Merseburger Dom (entry free for pilgrims). Here you can also find a facsimile of the famous Merseburger Zaubersprüche (Merseburg Incantations) from the 9/10th century, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merseburg_Incantations , the only surviving Pagan (waves at @Tincatinker) writing of that time in Germany.

The other thing not to miss, imo, is a walk alongside the river with beautiful views of Dom and Castle, especially in the evening or early morning.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#34
Merseburg/Frankleben/Mücheln – Way Options

Ok, that will be a wee bit complicated as there are two options to leave Merseburg and two other way options from Frankleben to Freyburg/Unstrut. I will give you first an overview and then describe the main way more in detail and yes, having a map with you is highly recommended on these variants as the sign posting can be a bit sketchy in places. All options are flat to mildly hilly with a steep descend into Freyburg/Unstrut at the end :

Option 1 – Direct route Merseburg – Mücheln ~20km
This variant separates from the main route near the Gotthardteich (a pond/lake in the city center). It follows the Klobikauer Strasse out of town and then goes, mainly on cycle paths/tarmac, via the Alte Heerstrasse over open fields towards the Geiseltal Lake (flooded former coal mining area). There is very little shade apart of one small forest and close to no refreshment options. At the forest is the Pilgerklause (Pilgrims Hermitage) which offers food and drink - if open.

Mücheln
I stayed here last year and whilst the town is charming, it is also a bit 'lifeless', but has shops and pubs. There is a church dedicated to St.James and the apostle is also depicted in the towns coat of arms. So yes, the town was/is certainly in the 'corridor' of the St.James Routes. Today the Saxonian St.James Way (Sankt Jakobus Pilgerweg) crosses the town and joins here the Ecumenical Pilgrims Way for a while.

Pilgerherberge Mücheln
The Pilgerherberge is in the parish house near/opposite St.Jakobi church. 5 Euro, shower, mattresses, toilet, well equipped kitchen. Very clean and friendly.

Mücheln – Freyburg ~16km
Again, no services in the villages in between, little shade and lots of tarmac, at least on the first half. Well sign posted and you get photocopied maps in the Pilgerherberge in Mücheln. This way option joins the main way by the forest ~8km before Freyburg/Unstrut. Description Freyburg/Unstrut see next post.

Option 2 – Merseburg – Frankleben – Mücheln ~20km
From the Gotthardteich you bear left, cross the Tiergarten (see also detailed description below) and follow the way to Frankleben. When you have arrived at the Castle/Church, you need to head towards the lake and turn left at the lake into the cycle path direction Mücheln. This option has the advantage that there are more services like cafes/pubs etc as well as slightly more shade.

Option 3 aka Main Route - Merseburg – Frankleben – Freyburg ~28km

This is the main Via Regia option and also my preferred one, see also suggestion below.

From the Neumarktkirche cross the river and then follow the way marking through the town until you reach the inner city pond/lake Gotthardteich. If you see, like I did, here signs stating 'Holzbrücke gesperrt' (wooden bridge closed), you will need to go at the end of the lake straight ahead under the railway lines and then immediately left (also sign posted, the two options rejoin after a few hundred meters). If the signs have disappeared, just follow the Via Regia way marking across the bridge, through a little park to a big road. Cross the road and enter the Tiergarten (pet/farm animal mini zoo) through its Süd (South) gate. Keep roughly at the right border/side of the Tiergarten until the Via Regia turns sharp right and downhill towards a small bridge. Cross the bridge and shortly after, turn left onto a rather overgrown path. This path leads you then to a road, follow it left for a short while and turn left again into an equally overgrown path. This path ends at a road and from here you follow a country lane to Reipisch and Frankleben.

Reipisch – Slightly off route, there is a Vereinshaus (meeting house/village center) opposite the open church where, if open, you can use the toilets and refill your water bottle and, if very lucky, even buy a coffee or so. No shops. There are a lot of info boards throughout the village that explain in word and image the history of the place.

Frankleben – Go back to the main route and continue straight ahead on the country road towards Frankleben. You will pass the only restaurant in town that way ;-)
Where the road bends left, there you see the church and opposite the castle where the Pilgerherberge is located. The street right (passing the church) brings you to the lake and Option 2, the main way continues straight ahead where (triangular road crossing) you find a small shop, a cafe and a bit further ahead a bakery.

Pilgerherberge Frankleben
If you ever wanted to sleep in a real castle from the early 16th century, this is your place ;-) To find it follow the hand painted sign 'Schloss' leaving the horse stables on your right and head for the left side wall of the castle, the entrance is at the second door and the Pilgerherberge is normally open.
You have the choice between the actual Pilgerherberge (10 Euro) on the ground floor and several rooms (15 Euro for pilgrims) on the first floor. On the ground floor are also the shower, toilet, two kitchens and even more toilets (In one of the bathrooms are even washing machines you can use on request!) plus a lovely courtyard with chairs, benches and tables. If nobody is around, just leave your payment in the donation box of the first dormitory. There are ~6beds in a large dormitory and one bed in a smaller room.

Castle Frankleben is a curious case. On the ground floor there is an exhibition that shows how the castle looked in the past, how it deteriorated and how it is still being restored. I called ahead and was told that the Pilgerherberge is open and that I should make myself at home. The only people I met where some friendly workmen that showed me briefly around and offered me the washing machine. As night fell I realized that I would be the only person staying at the whole castle over night! And yes, you can close the dormitory part off by key from the rest of the castle. I woke up at 02:30, no special reason, and sat a while before the castle enjoying the frog concert from the pond – so peaceful, but if you get easily nervous staying alone over night in a huge, old and empty place, perhaps not for you. Otherwise highly recommended!

Way Frankleben – Freyburg/Unstrut
From the castle continue up the road towards the village, go straight ahead passing the bakery and follow the big road/cycle path out of town, cross it and continue on the cycle path. Way marking is just sufficient, but keep your eyes peeled. Unfortunately until the end of Rossbach nearly exclusively tarmac. From there until Pettstädt a gravel road and then again a straight cycle path until the forest (close to where Option 1 rejoins the main route) before Freyburg/Unstrut. From here shadowy, soft forest paths and a steep descend into Freyburg/Unstrut.

Extra Tip: If you want to visit the impressive Castle Neuenburg that overviews the town, follow the sign posts 'Schloss Neuenburg 400m', from there you can descend into town via another way and don't have to return the same way.

Stage Planning Suggestion: As you see, there are many ways to tackle the stage between Merseburg and Freyburg/Unstrut. I would either stay in Luppenau, walk the next day only 4km to Merseburg, look around the town/Dom and then walk in the afternoon the 8km to Frankleben. Or I would suggest staying in Merseburg, especially in summer and when the church is open for pilgrims to sleep in, and just make a short hop to Frankleben later in the day, after having visited Merseburg. The options via Mücheln add in fact more km/an extra day depending on the average daily km you are willing to walk.

So, that is it for the moment, later today hopefully more! Buen Camino, SY
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
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Now: http://egeria.house/
#35
Freyburg/Unstrut
The way marking through town isn't exactly brilliant, so I suggest you head towards the main church when reaching the valley ground. From there turn left and towards the river. Crossing the river, you see a Netto supermarket on your right, go straight ahead until the railway line and turn left into the street just before it. From there you see already a large building with 'Karosseriebau Fiedelak' written on it. The Pilgerherberge is indeed part of a car mechanics business ;-) Please try to arrive during normal business hours or, if that is not possible, call ahead. See http://www.fiedelak.go1a.de/kontakt-anfahrt/ for contact details.

Pilgerherberge Freyburg/Unstrut
10 Euro plus 1 Euro Kurtaxe (compulsory tax in some German spa towns). There is a Pilgerzimmer (pilgrims room) on the first floor with two bunk beds, a kitchen corner, table and chairs and over the hallway you find shower and toilet. If there are more than 4 pilgrims, there is more space 'somewhere' in the house or you get directed to alternative accommodation options. In the morning you are send off, but only if you like to, with a short Bible reading and a prayer.

Things to do/see

  • Schloss Neuenburg – founded end of the 11th century, extended in the 12th and 13th century.
  • St. Marien Church – from the early 13th century.
  • Old Town – just stroll through its narrow streets and enjoy local products and wine. Freyburg/Unstrut is an important, albeit small, German wine production area.
  • Sektkellerei Rotkäppchen – Sparkling wine production and tasting http://en.rotkaeppchen.de/sparkling-wine-cellars/, the name is based on one of Grimms fairy tales – Red Riding Hood btw.

Way out of town
Again, not well sign posted. Cross the bridge back into town and turn right following signs to Blütengrund. On small roads you pass first the Max Klinger https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Klinger Haus, now a museum, and then the Steinernes Album (Stone Book), 12 sandstone reliefs that are 300 years old and depict mostly Old Testament scenes that are connected to wine and wine production. Shortly after, you reach the pub, very picturesque and open from 11:00 onwards and the ferry (1 Euro) at Blütengrund. Ring the hand bell if the ferry is on the other side. Ferry times are roughly from 9:00 to 19:00 during the main season.

Alternative for boat fans
There is a regular boat service between Freyburg and Blütengrund, you miss the Stone Book, but you save your feet some tarmac. Departure each day at 12:15, 14:45 and 17:15, arrival 40min later. Cost 8 Euro.

Winter Way Option to Naumburg
As the Via Regia requires a ferry crossing and this ferry doesn't run during winter (meaning roughly it doesn't run from November to March inclusive) or when there are extreme low/high water levels, here one of the many alternatives.

Follow the Via Regia, as described above, until Blütengrund, if the ferry doesn't run, continue alongside the river on the cycle path for ~2km, cross the river via the Henne bridge and either follow the busy road into town (not really recommended) or walk the ~2km back on the cycle path on the other side of the river. Opposite Blütengrund, now being on the other side of the river, you will join the Via Regia again (see below for ways into town).

Blütengrund – Naumburg Dom
Road reconstruction is currently taking place, so some way markings have disappeared and/or are hidden. From the ferry continue straight ahead and turn left after the parking lot into a small country road. Follow this one to the big road and railway line. Turn right and immediately left and pass under the railway line and climb the stairs, from here again good way marking.

Short cuts: The sign posted way really takes you around the town, if you are tired, there are two easy short cuts you can take. 1) After you have climbed the stairs from the railway dam, don't turn left but continue straight ahead following the sign posts 'Zentrum'. 2) Do turn left and follow the Via Regia way marking until Marientor (medieval town gate) from here follow sign posts to 'Dom'.

Naumburg Pilgerherberge
I stayed now the second time at Haus der Kirche (Church house), before I describe it, here the easiest way to find pilgrims accommodation in Naumburg. Go to the Dom and ask at the visitors desk/entrance for help ;-) They not only have a folder with all pilgrim accommodation options and will call for you to arrange it, they also speak English ;-)

Haus der Kirche – directly by the Dom, 10 Euro. There are two rooms on the first floor, one with one bunk bed and one with a bunk bed and a single bed. Both rooms have en-suite showers and toilets. On the ground floor is a well-equipped mini kitchen with some basic coffee/tea supplies and cold drinks in the fridge for donation. There is also a lovely and quiet courtyard where you can dry your clothes and relax in the evenings. That is where I am sitting at the moment and typing ;-) If there is space, you can ask to stay a second night (15 Euro). An excellent option if you want to explore Naumburg and its Dom in depth. In the morning make sure the exit gate of the courtyard is open (not closed by key) and leave the key in the door of your room, pulling the door of the Pilgerherberge and the gate firmly closed behind you.

Eating/Supermarkets

There are two supermarkets in ~5-10 min walking distance, best is to ask one of the Herbergseltern to show them to you on a map.

Opposite of the Pilgerherberge, slightly to the right, is the superb and very friendly Indian Restaurant Taj Mahal where you can see the Dom from the beer garden and enjoy really great food. I know it sounds funny to recommend an Indian restaurant in Germany, but it is really the nicest place to eat I have found in Naumburg so far!

The Pizza Eck at the corner Steinweg/Lindenring (5 min walking distance) is perhaps the best budget eating option in town, also with outside sitting area. Tasty food for really affordable prices and very friendly.

Naumburger Dom
If you only visit one single church on the whole Via Regia, make it this one! (OK, the Dom in Merseburg is a very close second choice (see previous post)). Home to the statue of Uta of Naumburg, nicknamed the most beautiful woman of the medieval ages, it is one of the most remarkable examples of late-romanic/early-gothic church architecture. Its center, and best known part, is the West Choir with its 12 donor statues, Uta included, of medieval personalities from 1250. These and other works of art were created by the enigmatic Master of Naumburg from whom not even his name is known. What is known is that he learned his craft as a stone mason in France at various cathedrals there before working at various cathedrals in Germany moving slowly eastwards. Plan in enough time to not only visit the Dom itself, but also its remarkable garden where plants are growing whose ancestors once served as living templates for the leafy decorations of Dom columns and pillars.

Another lovely feature are the modern brass hand rails that the German artist Heinrich Apel created in the 20th century for the Dom. One is dedicated to St.Francis of Assisi and shows him welcoming all kind of animals, even the snake. St.Francis stands at the top and the wee beasties crawl up the handrail towards him.

Also 'our' apostle, Santiago, is depicted in various works of art throughout the Dom and its treasury, including on a triptych from 1518/19 by Lucas Cranach the Elder.

One last bit of interesting titbit of church historical information. It was in Naumburg Dom where Martin Luther himself consecrated the first protestant bishop, Nikolaus von Amsdorf, in 1542.

For pilgrims the entrance is free and a photo (for personal use only!) permit is available for 2 Euro. Information material in English is also available. Seriously, don't miss Naumburg and especially don't miss its Dom!!!

Jakobsviertel
In the South-East of the town and inside the line of the old town walls you find place names like Jakobsmauer (St.James Wall), Jakobsring (St.James Ring Road, outside the wall), Jakobsstrasse (St.James Street), Jakobsplatz (St.James Square) and others, a clear indication that the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela had a huge influence on the development of the city.

Kirschfest
The annual Kirschfest (Cherry Festival) is based on a legendary event that took place during the Hussite Wars in the first half of the 15th century. The Hussite army led siege to the town and a famine threatened. A schoolmaster had the idea to dress the children of the town in white 'death robes' and send them to the Prokop (leader of the Hussite forces) to beg for clemency. Apparently the Prokop was so touched by this that he gave cherries to the children and ordered his army to retreat from the town. And, so the legend continues, since then the Kirschfest is celebrated annually to memorize the gift of cherries and peace. 'Coincidently' the Kirschfest is just taking place as I pass through Naumburg - plenty of people in medieval dresses on the streets!

OK, that was it so far,

Buen Camino, SY
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#36
A quick explanation for the lack of updates:

I had to break up my pilgrimage shortly before Weimar (the way passes in 10km distance of it) for two reasons. One being a rather persistent heel pain and the other a camera that only takes black pictures now ;-(
The last week or so I was so frustrated that I wouldn't want to type anything, but as my feet/heels are now slowly feeling less painful (the camera still takes only black pictures) I feel better now and updates until my stopping point will be posted this week (hopefully). And ( equally hopefully) I will resume my pilgrimage in August and hopefully make it to the end in Vacha.
Buen Camino, SY
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#37
Oh, too bad, SY. I hope the camera is soon in working order...and that whatever is going on in that heel heals quickly!
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#38
Oh, too bad, SY. I hope the camera is soon in working order...and that whatever is going on in that heel heals quickly!
The camera is a pretty dead body, thankfully the feet are improving ;-) Buen Camino, SY
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#40
Yes, it was a good camera, but mechanical appliances tend not to heal organically, body parts do ;-) SY
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#41
Naumburg – Punschrau ~13km

It seems it is road construction time this year on the Via Regia, they are also working on the road at the exit of Naumburg ;-( The good message is that it will provide in future a separate walk/cycle way over the bridge and into the next village, Rossbach, instead of just walking/cycling on the hard shoulder.

Breakfast option: Just at the end of Naumburg and before the bridge, there is a very small shopping mall on your right that opens early and has a cafe in its entrance.

For the moment the way continues like this: Walk on the hard shoulder over the bridge, turn right (by the parking lot, signs are difficult to see) onto a small path that meanders through the meadows. Just before the river turn left, walk under the road bridge, turn left and walk a bit back up to that road. Cross the bridge on that road and continue following the now clear way markings to Rossbach.

Rossbach – If you pass the village after ~10:00 you might find one of the 'beergardens' that are attached to the local vineyards/wineries open which also serve food – apart of locally produced wine. There are a couple of pensions in the town and the youth retreat center of Naumburg diocese accepts also pilgrims as guests, see

https://www.jung-im-bistum-magdebur...ungsstatte-st-michaels-haus-rossbachnaumburg/

After the village the way climbs up a moderately high hill and then leads, all well marked, through fields, meadows and alongside a forest to Punschrau. Unless you are as lucky as I was and happen to pass by during the annual village fair you have to rely for food and drink on what you find at the


Punschrau – Pilgerherberge

Just by the church in the former rectory, now parish house. If it is not open, contact info is in the display case on the fence. Toilet, shower and kitchen with some emergency food supplies are on the ground floor (the big meeting room at the right also has the stamp) and there are 3 beds plus plenty of mattresses on the first floor. All a bit rustic, but also very peaceful. Donation.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#42
Punschrau – Rudersdorf ~18km

Way: Unfortunately a lot of tarmac again, I think it was this stage that did my heels finally in, but well marked apart of the exceptions mentioned in a moment. After leaving Punschrau you pass through Spielberg, Zäckwar and Benndorf (none of them having any services). ~1km after Benndorf the way turns left and after another ~300m right. Don't miss that turn as the way marking is a bit hidden in the hedge. Follow this way into Lissdorf (no services). The way marking through and after the village isn't brilliant, just follow the main road through and out of the village. When you arrive on top of the hill, shortly before Eckartsberga, cross the larger country road and follow the gravel path into the little town.

Pilgerherberge Eckartsberga

I stayed there last year. You find it in the big house just opposite the church at the entrance/right hand side of the town. There is one bed in a small room and plenty of mattresses to go on the floor of the other room(s), a kitchen, shower and toilet. Basically the whole ground floor can be used by pilgrims when there are no meetings or events. The minister and her family live in the rest of the house. Donation.

Eckartsberga

The main tourist attraction is the half ruined fortress that towers over the town, here also a restaurant. The town offers all services, but not always in the places you expect them to be. There is a hotel in the center of town with a restaurant and an ATM nearby, but the only supermarket/place to buy food is way out of town continuing on the Via Regia.

Way: The way marking out of Eckartsberga isn't brilliant either. Basically you pass through the suburbs (here supermarket) and follow the road to Seena. Take care that you don't end up on the big national road, instead turn right-hand away from it in the middle of the town. From Seena (no services) the way is well marked again and thankfully also more natural surfaces than tarmac. Before reaching Rudersdorf (only Pilgerherherge, no other services), you pass through the small village of Thüsdorf (no services).


Pilgerherberge Rudersdorf

A converted barn on the grounds of the former rectory, near the church. The telephone numbers to call to get the key to it are, you guessed it ;-) in the display case on the fence/gate. Basically you have a whole house with kitchen (plus emergency food supplies), living room and toilet/wash basin (but no shower!) on the ground floor and on the first floor are several rooms with ~10 mattresses in total. Price: 7 Euro
 
Last edited:

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#43
Rudersdorf – Weiden ~12km

That was the stage where I noticed that there really was wrong with my heels ;-( as they already started hurting before I started walking …

Way: All well marked and thankfully not a lot of tarmac and only mildly hilly. The way passes through the following settlements: Oberreißen (hotel, restaurant and snack bar near the end of the village) and Nermsdorf (no services). After climbing the hill at the end of Nermsdorf and crossing the cherry orchard there are two possibilities. One that goes directly to Weiden and one that that passes via Buttelstedt.

Direct Variant: Don't cross the small stream, instead follow the Pilgerherberge sign (stylized yellow house on blue ground) left until you arrive at the gate of the sheep pasture, the old circus caravan you see is the Pilgerherberge ;-)

Buttelstedt Variant: Follow the usual way markings until the beginning of Buttelstedt, go downhill, turn right at the road and walk up the steps towards the square with the church. There is a lovely sign saying 'Pilgers-Rast' but there isn't any sense in following it, as it means just a few benches in the sun without any fountain nor shade. You find on the square also a bank with an ATM (see below). Turning left at the end of the square and following the street downhill you find a supermarket, a couple of restaurants (I recommend the pizzeria) and a pension or two.

Extra Tip: Taking money out of an ATM in Germany without ending up with with only 100 Euro Bills ;-)

Most, if not all, ATMs in Germany offer you a language selection btw. So even if the amount you want to take out is displayed on the multiple choice menu, do press 'other' and enter the amount manually. Only then you will be asked what selection of bills you want and can choose the smallest denominations available, avoiding frightening poor hospitaleros later on trying to pay a 7 Euro stay with a 100 Euro bill ;-)

As I wasn't sure how my heels were opinionated about walking further, I did the easiest and delayed the decision by ordering a pizza and an alcohol-free beer in the above mentioned pizzeria. A phone call to Weiden confirmed that the Pilgerherberge was available and after raiding the supermarket I called it a day and limbed to Weiden. The easiest way to do that is NOT to follow the lovingly described short-cut that the hospitalero suggests, but follow just the road signs saying 'Weiden 1km'. Believe me if you are anything like me, you will do less kilometers on the longer route ;-)

In the village itself turn left at the crossroads and the entrance to the house/farm is towards the end of it. The most important thing they ask you, is to always shut a gate that you have opened because of the sheep!!! The second most importing thing is that you call ahead and do NOT simply move into the caravan as it is also sometimes used by family and friends that are staying over.

Pilgerherberge Weiden

In the middle of the meadow, where the sheep are grazing, are an old circus caravan and an outhouse – that is the Pilgerherberge! Inside the caravan are a wooden stove which also, theoretically, serves as a cooker, a table with chairs and a raised wooden platform with a mattress (pillows and blankets are in the chest of drawers). Outside is a covered seating area with a comfy couch and a table and, at a little distance, the outhouse (dry-compost version, please do use the sawdust provided to cover your business ;-)

If and when the family is at home, you can also use the shower in the main house and the 'real' toilet ;-) Oh, and they are also fluent in English btw.

Weiden – No services, but it takes less then 10 min, if you are not limping, to get to the supermarket and/or restaurants in Buttelstedt.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#44
Weiden – Buchenwald ~15km, not counting the detours when trying to find the way

Way: Leave the sheep meadow via the gate (Please close it behind you!) and turn left and follow the signs to Buttelstedt. Continue a short while on the main road and then turn right onto a cycle path following alongside a minor road towards Schwerstedt.

Schwerstedt – All services, but no Pilgerherberge. Close to the church you will notice a sign saying 'Pilgeroase'. To get there turn right at the next street and after 50m it is the house on your left. Just enter the garden via the gate and if somebody is at home you get a coffee or drink and can use the toilet. If nobody is at home, just play with the cats and rest on the chairs ;-)

Way: At the end of the village when you pass the ostriches (No Joke!, and just for the record do NOT try to pet them, they bite!) you are on the right way. Continue through fields and meadows and head for the church in the center of the village.

Pilgerherberge Stedten – The telephone number to call is on the side of the village church which IS also the Pilgerherberge. Mobile reception is bad in the village, but the hospitaleros are used to come over and check the Pilgerherberge when they get a not understandable call from an unknown number ;-) I stayed here last year. On the ground floor you find a tiny kitchen/tea point and the toilet with a wash basin but without a shower. The ~10 mattresses are on the gallery and in the tower. If you want to stay there, you will need to buy food in Schwerstedt, see below.

Stedten – There aren't any services in the village that are relevant for pilgrims apart of a tiny family-run pub that opens only in the evenings and mainly serves drinks. If you ask very kindly the landlady might make you something to eat with what she happens to have in the kitchen ;-) and it is a great place to meet and chat with the locals!

I really need to preface the next few paragraphs with my pilgrims story from last year:

In 2015, when I walked the Via Regia for the first time, I slept in the church/Pilgerherberge in Stedten. In the evening I asked the Herbergsmutter where the way continues the next day, to which she replied: “Do you want to go to Erfurt or to Buchenwald?” For those not knowing for what horrors the name Buchenwald is synonymous see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buchenwald_concentration_camp

Last year I decided to walk directly to Erfurt, this year, partly because of doing research for a guide/web site, I decided to walk this variant.

Variant 1 (directly to Erfurt, info from 2015)

The way was well marked and, at least until you reached the outskirts of Erfurt, mainly on natural surfaces. Between Stedten and the outskirts of Erfurt there were no places to stock up on food/drink nor accommodation options of any kind, so plan ahead food-wise if you plan to walk the main way.

Variant 2 (Stedten – Buchenwald, 2016)

I really don't recommend this route because of it pretty much non-existent way marking. If you want to walk it, here is the way I took with the help of a decent map and by asking the locals.

There is supposed to be a trail that leaves Stedten directly towards Ettersburg – couldn't find it. So I took the road towards Ottmannshausen, ~200m before the church I took the old district road (now a glorified gravel track) to Ettersburg and from there I asked my way through the forest towards the memorial site of Buchenwald.

Accommodation Buchenwald

There is indeed a kind of youth hostel attached to the interpretation center, see https://www.buchenwald.de/en/130/ As I phoned them there were fully booked but they confirmed that they also accept guests that aren't part of a group.

To Weimar

As my camera (also my digital recording/memory-aid device had died) and my feet where in pain I took the hourly Bus to Weimar and checked in a hostel to sort myself and my equipment out.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#45
Weimar
Weimar isn't actually on the Via Regia, so I didn't feel guilty taking a bus there with the firm intent to, after a couple of days of rest and the purchase of a new camera, continue my way. Good intentions but … a) there was only one shop that sold cameras (amazing for such a big city) and b) it became quickly clear that my feet needed more like a couple of days rest to be able to continue the Via Regia. Here a few tips if you happen to go to Weimar, which is certainly worth a visit see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weimar

Weimar Accommodation
I stayed at the Labyrinth Hostel https://www.weimar-hostel.com/en/ and liked it very much. Central location and friendly atmosphere.

Weimar Eating
Delicious Vietnamese food at 36 Pho Co, see https://www.facebook.com/36-Pho-Co-547301525438495/ and equally delicious Turkish food at https://www.facebook.com/Divan-Weimar-432059506954321/
If you are looking for places that serve more regional specialities, there are plenty of those also around ;-)

Over next weeks I might add some random bits of information to this thread, but I fear you have to wait until August for the last week or so of Via Regia updates.

Buen Camino, SY
 
Camino(s) past & future
'Portuguese' ' Frances' ' Norte' 'Salvador_prim' ‘le puy’ ‘Inglés’ ‘CDM’ ‘Invierno’ ‘Fin_Mux’
#46
Wow. How did I miss this thread.
Thank you so much for the link from pm
I will put some time into reading it all.
You are amazing.
Annie
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#47

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#48
Finally!

So-called real life got a bit in the way, but I am happy to report that I just booked my bus ticket to Erfurt to continue my interrupted Via Regia/Ecumenical Pilgrims Way on 21. November ;-) I will post updates us usual and can't wait to get on the way again! Buen Camino, SY

PS This late date means also that I will have then walked the Via Regia (or parts of it) in basically all 4 seasons ...
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#50
So, finally my pilgrimage continues:

I'll keep it short as I walked only 4,5km today ;-)
I stopped in June in Buchenwald/Weimar, but for a variety of reasons, mainly practicalities of travel, decided to retake the way a wee bit further on in Erfurt.

Way Erfurt > Schmira

The way out of the city isn't as well marked as it used to be as wool bombing/knit bombing (or whatever you call it) has also arrived in this part of Germany and some way markings on lamp posts and the like have now a woolly cover ;-) Again, the map comes in handy! After Erfurt very little tarmac and mostly soft/muddy walking paths through meadows. No big climbs, just a bit undulating, a pleasant walk.

Schmira and albergue

Schmira is a small village, so no shops. It is recommended that you buy food in Erfurt if you want to stay here, but in an emergency a couple of neighbors are willing to sell/give you something out of their pantry.
The albergue is in the church, in the former choir which is now the winter chapel cum library. On the ground floor are a toilet and wash bassin, but no showers, a small, but well equipped kitchen with some emergency supplies. The dormitory has at the moment one big mattress and one 'field/camping bed' and plenty of blankets. Which are needed as the room has a cosy 14C at the time of writing this ;-) Therefor I will be the last pilgrim of this year, after me they will 'fold things together' and close the albergue until March next year when it reopens.
Also to mention - extremely kind and friendly hospitaleros/village that truly love pilgrims and the pilgrimage. Cost: They ask, if possible, for a donation between 5 and 10 Euro.

So, that is all for the moment, tomorrow hopefully more, SY
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#51
PS to last post

The heating run through the night so it is now really cozy warm for breakfast and packing.
Also forgot to mention, only hot water in kitchen, but the provide a plastic bowl for carrying over to the washrooms. It is the combination of simplicity and kindness plus the sleeping in historic buildings/churches that makes the Via Regia Pilgerherbergen such a special experience imo. Buen Camino, SY
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#52
As I am meanwhile sitting in the bus to Bayonne, I have time to write up some 'proper' updates ;-)


22. November Schmirna > Gotha-West (27km)

Weather: Sunny, but cold, perhaps around 6C.

Way: Half tarmac, half wet meadow paths, but nearly always well marked and more or less flat.

Important: Until Gotha no reliably open shop or pub directly on the way! You need to take enough water and food for the whole stretch!

A few kilometers past Schirma is the detour to the Pilgerherberge in Frienstedt and also to its pub (a bit further on), both are well-marked but mean a detour of 1Km either way.

The nice thing on this days stage was the abundance of benches and pick-nick tables, plenty of possibilities to rest for me. Gotha itself is a big town and offers everything a pilgrim might need.

The way into Gotha is well marked, until you cross, near the town center, the little stream, there the way markings disappear into thin air … This is the second time this happened to me and my solution is/was this:

Cross bridge and big road, turn right and walk alongside big street until you can take the next street left, walk up the hill to the big street in the town center proper (Near the Neues Rathaus/New Townhall). Turn right into this street, walk past the theater and then, when you see left-hand a nice looking shopping street with big stone benches at its entrance walk left into it and you are back on the Via Regia! Follow it until it joins the Eisenacher Strasse and either leave Gotha that way or follow my description below to find the Pilgerherberge.

Pilgerherberge in the Versöhnungskirche (Church of Reconciliation) in Gotha-West(stadt)

To get there: Where the Via Regia leaves the Eisenacher Strasse (lit. road to Eisenach), turn opposite this point left into the Priessnitzer Strasse, follow it downhill until the fuel station, turn at the fuel station right into the Eschleber Strasse and walk past a Netto Supermarket (closest shop to the Pilgerherberge), at the bus stop turn left and after the children's playground right. From here you can already see the church in the Werner-Sylte-Strasse.

Pilgerherberge: In the basement (but with windows!), several mattresses, pillows, but no blankets, shower, heating, washing machine with integrated dryer!, on the ground floor well equipped kitchen where you are allowed to help yourself to tea and coffee and the open church. Garden with covered smokers corner ;-) and a friendly dog called Max! Costs: 5 Euro.

Way back to the Via Regia: There is a map showing this in the Pilgerherberge but the basic directions go like this:

Leave the church grounds and turn left and walk to the street you came in last evening. Instead of turning into that street, simply walk straight ahead over the meadow. Cross a couple of streets (always keep walking straight ahead) and aim at the hotel you can see from the distance where you will reach the Eisenacher Strasse again. Cross it and look for the foot path that is more or less opposite of the hotel, follow it and after a few hundred meters this path meets the Via Regia which you now follow to the left. You have saved yourself a detour ;-)


23. November Gotha-West > Bodelschwinghhof Mechterstädt (16km)

Weather: Cloudy-foggy and coolish.

Way: Apart of one bit, well marked and again half tarmac, half path, a bit hilly but nothing to write home about.

Important: Also between Gotha and Mechterstädt no reliably open pubs and no shops at all.

Shortly after you passed the view tower (which is a bit off the way, but well visible) the pilgrims way ends up on a concrete road – with no way marking in sight. You follow this road to the right for approximately a kilometer until you see a wide sandy path coming from the left. Turn into it and from here on the way marking is fine again. The way goes a bit up and down and then on the level through old military training grounds. Approximately 2km after a wooden hut is the turn to the Siloah Community and its Pilgerherberge. You can see the huge white cross from far away. To get to the Bodelschwinghhof just continue on the way. To get there there are two possibilities:

Not way marked: Take the first 'real road' you see on your left and continue it downhill towards the village until you see a meadow path on your right. Take that and cross the meadow, you will hit another road which you turn left into and continue downhill and you end up directly at the main entrance.

Way marked: Continue on the pilgrims way another ~400m and you see the way marker pointing left down an overgrown and a bit stony path. Follow it and you will join the first way option when the meadow path joins the road from the left.

Pilgerherberge (Important! Only open from Monday to Friday!)

On the ground floor of one of the many houses, address yourself to somebody at the main entrance/administration building. 3 rooms with beds, TV and their own bath/shower. Small kitchen in the hallway. You get your own key. Costs: 8 Euro/night, 2 Euro for bed linen/towels (optional) and 2,50 for breakfast (optional). Free wifi after 16:00.

Mechterstädt, despite being rather small, has all a pilgrim needs: A shop (behind the railway lines and church), pharmacy, dentist/GP, and two pubs. There is also a railway station with an ~hourly train to Eisenach.


24. November Mechterstädt > Eisenach (via the cycle path ~18km)

Weather: Dense fog and as I have already walked the Hörselberge with fog in spring 2015, I decided to take this time the cycle path through the valley. But if you don't know them, I strongly suggest not to miss them! This mythical mountains are connected to legendary figures like Frau Holle, Venus and Tannhauser. Again take enough water and food for the day with you, there are two pubs, but if they are open?

Cycle Path: From the Pilgerherberge don't turn right, but turn left and go downhill to the village. Cross under the railway lines, cross the big road and follow it right hand out of the village where you will find the well marked cycle path which you will follow to Eisenach.

Contrary to the way over the hills, you can find the following offerings in these towns directly on the way:

Sättelstädt: Bakery and Fish/Meat Snack, both very recommendable.

Kälberfeld: pub

Schönau: pub

Eisenach Pilgerherberge

I stayed at the motherhouse of the protestant sisters at the Karlsplatz. Attention! It only opens at 16:00, but you can leave your backpack there also earlier.

Newly renovated and in the basement (with windows!) of the main building. You get your own key. Common area, kitchen, shower, heating, 3x2 (bunk beds), 2 single beds and one mattress, plenty of blankets, pillows, slippers for your tired feet and many more little, lovingly created details. If you like you can chat after breakfast and Morning Prayer (8:00, voluntary) with the sisters. Pilgrims are also invited to tell the community a bit about themselves at the end of Morning Prayer – if they like to only! You have to leave the Pilgerherberge by 10:00.


So, that was it from me on the Via Regia for this year ;-) If I remember something later, I will add it and if you have any questions about this fascinating way – feel free to ask them ;-)

Buen Camino/Bon Chemin, SY
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
C. Francés (2004-), C. Portugués, C. de Madrid, 1/2 V. Plata, 1/8 Levante, hospitalera Grado 2016.
#54
Did you ever combine these posts into a guide? My husband and I are planning our summer vacation...
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#55
Unfortunately not, it is still on my rather long to-do-list ;-( BC SY
 
Camino(s) past & future
C. Francés (2004-), C. Portugués, C. de Madrid, 1/2 V. Plata, 1/8 Levante, hospitalera Grado 2016.
#56
We are seriously planning now, which means I'm going to work as much overtime as I can over Christmas to have enough spare time on my work account to do this AND our (much shorter) Portuguese and Spanish walks next year).

You, my dear, inspire me!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Salvador (2014)
Camino Primitivo (2014)
Camino Muxia (2014)
Camino Fisterra (2014)
#57
Görlitz – Melaune ~22km (I am giving the distances here from Pilgerherberge to Pilgerherberge, not the distance I actually walked to do my recherche ;-)

As I had done the bit to the Heiliges Grab (Holy Sepulchre) yesterday already, I “shortcutted” through Old Town down to the Heilig Grab Strasse and continued from there. The way follows this street (the way markings are mostly on the left side of a road/street to encourage you to walk facing the traffic) out of town. Beware when the street bends firmly right, the Via Regia still continues straight ahead. You will pass the big hospital (on your left) which is the last possibility for a “proper toilet” for many kilometers to come. Just go in the Haupteingang (main entrance) and look/ask for signs “Besuchertoilette” (visitors toilet). After that important task out of the way ;-) you continue the same street always straight ahead until you reach the border of the town. Just after you have passed over the bridge that goes over the railway lines you have to turn right, cross the road and continue on a smallish tarmac road and cycle paths towards Ebersbach. On the beginning of the village you see the building of the Voluntary Fire Brigade with a mural of St.Florian. Voluntary Fire Brigades are an important part of German village life and often the first to arrive at a fire/emergency as the professionals are normally stationed in the bigger towns. And when there are no fires/emergencies they are always present at village fairs ;-)

Ebersbach – The church, dedicated to St. Barbara, is often open and worthwhile visiting because of its interesting middle pillar that is set off slightly to one side and its interior with its many balconies and connecting stair cases. A stamp and guest book are also available. If the church is closed, try the parish house in the same grounds. There is no Pilgerherberge here but a Pension (Bed and Breakfast) that is happy to rent out rooms, also for one night only, to pilgrims. I am on a limited internet connection most of the time, but if you google “Pension Schmidt Am Schloss Ebersbach” you will find their website with prices and contact info. There is no pub or shop in the village but the cheerful BnB owner assured me that no person has ever starved to death in his house in the evenings and much less a pilgrim.

The way continues then over the fields to Liebstein (no services), passes the Limasberg where an settlement as early as the 5th century is documented (now only trees remain) and then continues to what is officially the smallest mountain range in Germany. The Via Regia is really a way of superlatives ;-) from the most easterly town in Germany (Görlitz) across the smallest mountain range in Germany, all in one day ;-) The max. altitude is nothing to be afraid of – 406m and this is the highest altitude a pilgrim has to cross for many days until close to the end of the Via Regia.

2 km after Liebstein the way enters the Königshainer Forst (Forest) and after the second picnic spot/hut at your right there is a critical point where apparently a scallop shell way marking is missing. You see a way bearing off to the left, but the Via Regia continues straight ahead, the only way marking being a yellow dot on a white square, the next scallop shell takes ~1km to appear. Try not to get nervous ;-)

The way continues over forest paths with a last short, but moderate, climb towards the Hochsteinbaude. The Hochsteinbaude (High/Top Stone Mountain Hut) is a pub-restaurant with beer garden and therefore a well loved stop by German pilgrims ;-) They offer tasty meals (one, a hearty pasta and meat soup, at a reduced price for pilgrims, show your Pilgerpass) and also vegetarian and even vegan options. They do have their own pilgrims stamp and are happy to refill your water bottle.

Important! There used to accommodation here, but this is not anymore the case.

Equally Important! Tuesday is Ruhetag (rest day) meaning they are closed on Tuesdays!

And Important for bicigrinos! The next 500m downhill are difficult, with rocky underground and tree roots, but after that the way is ok to bike again. There is a road option to get from the Hochsteinbaude to the next Pilgerherberge in Arnsdorf, if the weather is nasty and/or you prefer to avoid the difficult bit.

Finally Arnsdorf, sorry for rambling on ;-) There isn't much to see in the village, apart from the open church, and there are no services, but the Pilgerherberge does provide everything a pilgrim needs and could wish for.

Pilgerherberge Arnsdorf

As a lot of the other Pilgerherbergen on the Via Regia, this is a multi-purpose building. You find it if you turn just passed the church left, following the sign of a stylized yellow house on blue ground and turn right into the courtyard of the rectory/manse/parish house. You are also welcome to just rest here, there is a drink water tap and a wooden shelter. If you need the toilet or want to stay here, just ring the door bell at the “big house” or, if nobody answers, call any of the numbers displayed on the poster beside the door.

The Pilgerherberge occupies several spaces in the converted barns, but there is also the Landkino (country cinema) and the social center of the village here. As Fr. Fünfstück, one of the Herbergsmütter (lit. Mother of Hostel (pl)) told me, there is theoretically space for an unlimited amount of pilgrims, but beds, mattresses and toilet/shower facilities are limited. There are 3+2 beds in a, heated in winter, separate pilgrims room, 8 more beds in 2 unheated rooms as well as some mattresses and plenty of floor space for those that bring their own sleeping pads. There is linen on the beds, pillows and blankets are available, but obviously you need to bring your own sleeping bag. The later you need in all Pilgerherbergen!

Price: 7,50 Euro in summer, 8,50 in winter (because of heating costs)

Important for all Pilgerherbergen! Groups over 5 have to reserve/call well in advance (min. 3 days) to avoid accommodation problems and really big groups should carry their own sleeping pads.

The Pilgerherberge has in total 3 toilets and 1 shower, a kitchen with plenty of food and drink that you can buy at retail prices (look out for the price list for pilgrims, not the one for social events, whose prices are higher) and a gorgeous courtyard to chill out in. Pilgrims are welcome to join into any event in church and every Friday from June – August (roughly) there is a cinema night with barbecue. Like in many other Pilgerherbergen, bigger youth groups might also stay there for retreat weekends or similar, especially during weekends and school holidays. This is on one hand a great way to learn to know Germans closer, on the other hand it can be a bit confusing for pilgrims expecting solitude.

Extra Tip: If you stay here at Fridays, you will be offered the delivery of fresh bread rolls on Saturday mornings as the minister jumps every Saturday morning on his bike to buy “frische Brötchen” (freshly baked bread rolls) from a bakery in the next village.

To continue the way: Again no problems, just follow the signs down to the main road, cross it and then turn left and right into a small country road. The way passes through Heideberg (no services), Döbschütz (no services, but a gorgeous castle with a moat which you can only admire from the outside as it is private property) and then over a shady, tree-lined way over an old dam to Melaune.

Melaune Pilgerherberge

Melaune belongs to the same parish group as Arnsdorf (and Buchholz further on the way). As the priest lives in Arnsdorf, the house and grounds are mainly used by youth groups, pilgrims and one family living there. The Pilgerherberge is on the third floor up some pretty steep staircases (yikes!) and is a complete pilgrims apartment/flat with kitchen (with basic food supplies), shower/toilet and 11 beds in 3 rooms. If there are more pilgrims they can be accommodated, partly on mattresses, in other rooms and another house on the grounds. There are linen, pillows and blankets.

You get the key at house nr.40 in the same street, but on the right hand side. For the rare case the whole complex is occupied by youth groups you will be warned of that in Görlitz and Arnsdorf, but this happens max. 2-3 times/year. There are only 2 keys to the house and the pilgrims accommodation, so you will need to share them if there are more than two pilgrims. Doesn't happen to often ;-)

There is a shop in town (open until 18:00 on weekdays, shorter on Saturdays and closed on Sundays). To find it continue the Via Regia until you reach the big road and see the church, turns right, cross road and go in the next small road and you see it.

The Pilgerherberge operates on a donations only system (including the food/drink you use from the pilgrims kitchen). You find the donation box on the shelf in the hallway in form of a small ceramic boot together with the pilgrims register and the stamp.

Spenden (Donations) in Pilgerherbergen

There are still a lot of Pilgerherbergen on the Via Regia that operate on a donations only system, so here some thoughts about this:

Costs of living are higher in Germany than in Spain, what might be an ok donation in Spain will most likely not cover the costs caused by your stay. Think water, electricity, cleaning material, costs of washing bed linen and blankets, minor and major repairs/replacement etc. Nearly all Pilgerherbergen are run by unpaid volunteers that do this in their spare time beside having a job and family and be otherwise engaged in the parish.

So how much to give as a donation?

A fellow German pilgrim taught me the “rule of 5”. This means for everything of the following he gives at least 5 Euro: a place to sleep, a shower (yes, there are Pilgerherbergen that have only a wash basin), dinner, breakfast. And if you can afford give more, please do so, sometimes a whole roof needs to replaced!

I think this rule is a good rule of thumb to go by, don't you?

So, that is it, soon more. Buen Camino or, better said, Guten Weg! SY
You will pass the big hospital (on your left) which is the last possibility for a “proper toilet” for many kilometers to come. Just go in the Haupteingang (main entrance) and look/ask for signs “Besuchertoilette” (visitors toilet). After that important task out of the way ;-) you continue the same street always straight ahead until you reach the border of the town.
What is the etiquette between besuchertoilettes? Is it acceptable to attend to calls of nature discreetly (leaving no trace) in the wild in Germany? Obviously trails littered with paper are offensive... Thanks
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#58
Besuchertoilette = visitor's toilet > you are visiting, the hospital in this case for whatever reason ;-)

And yes, same rules as elsewhere in nature. Leave no trace and look for a "corner" that is out of view.

Buen Camino, SY
 
Camino(s) past & future
C. del Norte '17
C. de Fisterra '17
Berlin-Sant.-Muxia (from 2018)
Via Regia | Berlin-Leipzig '18
#59
I know this is very old, but I was so happy to find this thread! I'll be doing the next stretch of my Camino (Weg?) out of Berlin later this year, and will be following the Via Regia from Leipzig. The monster stages I did out of Berlin (6 days/stages from Alexanderplatz to Leipzig!) will fortunately not be necessary for the next stage, partially due to more varied accommodation options and partially as I have a little more time. The guides generally though I have found are under-informative and over-priced, so every little bit of info helps, even if it's two years old! Thanks, @SYates for detailing this so well!
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#60
Glad to find it helpful @nickymd1 ! I have also a small website, in English, about this way here: http://viaregia.guide/ I strongly recommend the German guidebook, even if your German is (perhaps?) limited available here https://www.oekumenischer-pilgerweg.de/index.php as it contains all the information about available accommodation on the way. Also good to have are the two specific maps available in all major cities in the tourist offices.

Guten Weg/Buen Camino, SY
 
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-en-Velay - Saint Jean Pied-de-Port April-May 2002
Saint Jean Pied-de-Port - Santiago October-November 2003
Pau - Puente la Reina October 2006
Swiss Jakobsweg: Merligen - Geneva August 2014
Via Regia/Ecumenical Pilgrims Way: Görlitz - Kamenz August 2015
#61
Also good to have are the two specific maps available in all major cities in the tourist offices.
From Leipzig you will only need the second map. Published by Dr Barthel Verlag ISBN 978-3-89591-153-8
 
Camino(s) past & future
C. del Norte '17
C. de Fisterra '17
Berlin-Sant.-Muxia (from 2018)
Via Regia | Berlin-Leipzig '18
#62
I strongly recommend the German guidebook, even if your German is (perhaps?) limited available here https://www.oekumenischer-pilgerweg.de/index.php as it contains all the information about available accommodation on the way. Also good to have are the two specific maps available in all major cities in the tourist offices.
I'll give them a look-see, thanks. My German has gotten pretty good over the past 6 years so it shouldn't be too much of an issue!
 
Camino(s) past & future
C. Francés (2004-), C. Portugués, C. de Madrid, 1/2 V. Plata, 1/8 Levante, hospitalera Grado 2016.
#63
The German guidebook for the Ecumenical Way says you MUST bring sleeping mats - that are supposed to be placed over the mattresses to protect them from the sleeping bags.

Is this true?

If the point is mattress protection, why MATS and not sheets?
 

Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-18
#64
If the point is mattress protection, why MATS and not sheets?
The sentence in question: "Die Ausstattung ist meist schlicht und einfach. Die Herbergen stellen grundsatzlich Matratzen, sanitare Anlagen und eine Waschgelegenheit zur Verfugung. Jeder Pilger benotigt seinen eigenen Schlafsack und seine eigene Isomatte. Die saubere Isomatte ist aus hygienischen Grunden auf die Matratze zu legen, was wechselnde Bettbezuge uberflussig macht."

Looking on Amazon.de, "Isomatten" look like any backpacker-type sleeping pads, either the thin foam or the inflatable types.

I have to agree with the OP, that if mattress protection is the only concern then a Tyvek or otherwise lightweight groundsheet should suffice. However, given the rustic/preliminary/extremely simple nature of the facilities on this route, one cannot rule out having to sleep on a floor at some point.
 
Camino(s) past & future
C. Francés (2004-), C. Portugués, C. de Madrid, 1/2 V. Plata, 1/8 Levante, hospitalera Grado 2016.
#65
Signing in from the youth hostel in Görlitz - at 70 Euros for the double room. We met two Dutch ladies in town yesterday,, all of us looking pilgrimly scruffy and waving the German handbook, but they decided to go find somewhere cheaper. We will no doubt meet them again today, since we’re walking the same distance.
 
Camino(s) past & future
C. Francés (2004-), C. Portugués, C. de Madrid, 1/2 V. Plata, 1/8 Levante, hospitalera Grado 2016.
#66
We gave up in Strehla, after a few days of increasing temperatures. I wasn't made for walking in 30+C!

We did have a wonderful time, met a lot of nice people, practiced our rusty German and enjoyed t he landscape.

And then we took the train to Dresden, Weimar, Erfurt and Wittenberg, and walked 15-23 km in each place, just sight-seeing, but there was SHADE, and no backpacks, and easier access to water. The last day it was 36 C in the shade, so I think it was a smart choice not to struggle on.

We might return, when the weather is cooler.
 



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    Votes: 3 0.5%
  • March

    Votes: 29 4.5%
  • April

    Votes: 101 15.7%
  • May

    Votes: 164 25.4%
  • June

    Votes: 48 7.4%
  • July

    Votes: 14 2.2%
  • August

    Votes: 9 1.4%
  • September

    Votes: 184 28.5%
  • October

    Votes: 71 11.0%
  • November

    Votes: 10 1.6%
  • December

    Votes: 5 0.8%
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