(Guide says 27.5km – 17miles, but we walked 20.5km – 12.7miles)
Everyone woke up and started to stir at the same time. This always happens when several people are sleeping together in the same area. The large city hall in Szentpéterfa still felt surprisingly spacious with 9 of us all tucked in. We did have one snorer in the bunch, but it’s to be expected, there’s always one.
So far, this has been the most organized, and best value when you consider cost versus the service and food you are provided at accommodations. There is a super nice and busy gentleman named Raymond who runs things, but his young assistant, Ivan, is seriously on top of things. You can tell that they are genuinely concerned about everyone’s comfort and well being during the stay.
The dinner is held communal style at the pub across the street and is so delicious and generous for the €10 per person cost. Giant bowls of goulash, brown bread, and Hungarian pancakes for dessert. The whole experience from the moment of arriving until heading out feels very Camino like. I never had the feeling that their motivation for doing this is solely money. You can see they enjoy every moment.
Jenny and I sadly said our goodbyes as she really felt she needed to walk with her short timeline, and I desperately needed a rest day. I made so many mistakes the day before. Several times I had rocks and debris in my shoes and didn’t stop to clear them out soon enough. I also walked for about 5k with loose shoes and knew it, but was feeling too lazy to stop and retie them properly. All that combined with slogging through mud for hours just absolutely destroyed my feet. It’s crazy what a difference a few bad decisions and one day makes. My feet were on the mend when I woke up yesterday, but I currently have six large blisters, several little ones in between my toes and one of my little toes is entirely a blister.
Because of this, I made a decision to walk 8km to a nearby town called Heilgenbrunn, back into Austria, and have a rest day at a very nice hotel found on Booking.com. Raymond graciously agreed to shuttle my pack ahead to the hotel on his way with the other packs, so that I could give my feet even more of a break today. It has all worked out so well, but I’m sad that I have to say goodbye to Jenny. She doesn’t have any extra days in her schedule and must go back as soon as the walk is finished, so she is pressing on. I understand completely as this was my exact situation on the Camino when we parted ways all those years ago. And…everyone must ultimately walk their own walk. Buen Camino, Sweet Jenny, may peace be with you!
As we walked down through the little villages along the way, dark clouds loomed overhead keeping us a bit on edge, but the weather cool. I’ve honestly lost count of how many sunflower fields I’ve walked through and yet they continue to thrill me. Each one a little more open than the next, they continue to make me smile. The rest of the landscape has grown old though, I must admit. Four days of the exact same thing ever so slowly, for miles. I long for a glimpse of the coast, or just anything different.
The walk to the tiny village of Heilgrenbrunn is so enjoyable. Walking slowly and being able to take time to notice everything is sheer ecstasy. There’s no race, and knowing that I only have to walk 2.5 hours seems like a stroll in the park. I don’t find the manic pace that must be kept each day on the EPW to be enjoyable with my feet the way they are. The first four days have felt like a race you can’t win. Walk as quickly as possible for 5-8 hours, arrive at accommodation and shower, wash laundry, hang laundry, eat dinner and go to bed. Finding the time to write or to explore the villages just isn’t in the cards yet. I’m really hoping that I can get my feet and body in shape and get faster with the walking to free up more time for exploration.
Hotel Krutzler turns out to be a major score! From the giant bathtub in the room to the two beautiful swimming pools and adjoining restaurant which is owned by the same family, we couldn’t have found a better place to rest. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are divine authentic Austrian meals and the owners make it their personal mission to take very good care of “the peace walkers.” While they have heard about us, we are told that we are the first to visit the hotel. We also enjoyed the little village of Heilgrenbrunn quite a lot, as there are several wineries to visit. There is also a two week walk through the region going from winery to winery that I hope to return for at some point. The owner of the hotel insisted upon driving us back to the EPW path himself, so that we could resume walking at 6am and his wife had packed lovely bag lunches with treats to send with us, as if we were her own children going off to school. If you need a luxurious rest day between Szentpéterfa and Örimagyarós, Hotel Krutzler is definitely the place to go!
We find the arrows and start walking at Kemestaródfa headed for Örimagyarós. Once again feeling unhurried with only 14km and 3 hours of walking to get to our destination. The skies are grey keeping us cool, and scenery the same that we’ve seen for the past five days. We move as swiftly as my feet will allow, only stopping to admire the sunflower fields.
As we walk by one home and I admire the huge garden and snap a photo, the Hungarian woman who had been bent over out of site stands up and yells for us to come over. We walk up the long drive and she greets us smiling with a long fast strand of Hungarian words. We smile back and tell her we only speak English, but she continues to smile and speak as if we are in a two sided conversation. This goes on for about 15 minutes and then we all feel the time is right to wave and say, “szia” sounds like “see ya” which is goodbye in Hungarian. She apparently needed to see some fresh faces and have a chat and she wasn’t bothered in the least by our inability to respond. She does live in a sleepy little village, and we all have times when we just need someone to listen. It was all very pleasant and it sure seemed that we left her much happier than when we arrived.
After one more section up into the hills and through the woods, we arrive at the accommodation. Our hostess, Janet, one we’ve heard much about, isn’t at home. Everyone raves about how nice she is and how enjoyable the stay is, so I’ve looked forward to it. Jenny had sent a message saying that Janet had 10 people booked already but that she said we could stay in her guest house. This being a house and not a hostel looking place, we assumed this was it. She arrives a few minutes later and apologizes up and down but tells us we can’t stay in the house. She says she has two options for us to consider. One in a youth hostel with a bunch of school children, but a private sleeping room, and another at a nearby hotel that her friend owns.
We chuckle about the kids, but chose the youth hostel so we can have dinner with the other walkers. It’s clear to see that Janet has been worried about this situation and how to best accommodate us.
We get all settled in by 1pm and still have time for me to do some research and attempt threading my blisters for the first time, do the laundry and write a little bit before dinner time.
Janet’s Chestnut House & Summer Camp
25 euros per person for bed, dinner, and breakfast.
15 euro per group for baggage transport.
Some favorite pics from the day: