(Guide says 18km -11 miles, but we walked 27km – 16.8 miles)
We decided to strike off at 5am to get ahead of the rain that was forecasted. Gabor, a gentleman at our hotel was kind enough to pack our breakfasts and allow us to take them the night before. We also made a decision to be kind to our feet by lightening our packs a bit. We shuttled a duffle with a combined collection of our heaviest things ahead with Gabor to the next city. This was his genius suggestion and since he lives there and happened to be making the trip anyhow, there was no charge. During our stay at JUFTA, he was so kind and helpful. He also recommended an incredible restaurant called Da Buki. All I can say, is go there and see for yourself!
As we set out walking in the early morning all was completely silent except for the birds. This is my favorite time to walk. The cool air felt so refreshing and we tried to take it all in before the sun began to bake us. We began following along railway tracks and then walked into the forest for a while, which was a very pleasant change from walking along the roadside. We apparently enjoyed the forest a bit too much because, at some point, we missed our turn AGAIN and ended up extending our time in the forest by nearly 30 minutes walking on logging roads.
At the point in which we realized the red arrows had once again vanished, Jenny brought up Google maps and mapped a walking route to Steinberg, the village we were headed for next. Google maps gave us a wonderful walking path and it was mostly through the forest with just a short amount of time on the roadside, so we decided to just go with it. What we actually found in the end, is that Google maps offers a much nicer path and way of walking in a relaxed manner without having to be hyper paranoid about hunting for or missing arrows and trying to interpret confusing directions every 200m. Once we made the decision to just let Google guide us, the mood lightened, everyone started smiling and we stopped feeling the anxiety of being perpetually lost.
We’ve decided that the person who wrote the guide must enjoy being focused upon navigation when he walks, but we really enjoy walking along having conversation or, during the quiet times, deep thoughts about life. Reading and being mindful of 50+ step military style directions during a five hour walk every single day becomes very tiresome. We didn’t even make it through day two before trying to come up with another plan.
It was honestly so nice to just stroll along and chat without being panicked about missing an arrow somewhere and then having the discussion solely focused upon trying to decipher the directions given. We’d lose the arrows without even noticing and then, before we knew it, we’d happen upon the red arrows again. Now it was all very stress free, and much like running into an old friend.
Shortly after our red arrow epiphany, we came across two men standing at the edge of their lawn, smiling, with three dogs. As we passed by they said, “Halo” and started speaking with Jenny in German.
As we carried on talking, we found that one of the gents, Franz had asked Toni, the other, to wait there with him because Toni speaks English. Apparently, last year while Toni was away at his home in Florida, many Americans and Australians paraded down the street in front of their homes and Franz was not able to figure out why. They had also noticed the red arrows painted here and there, and they were very curious about what was happening.
While visiting, I spent most of the time talking with Franz and Jenny translated in German, and all the while, Toni & Gary were speaking in English. We learned so much about these two gentlemen. First and foremost, that they’re both very kind souls and they have built ranches next to each other, while their homes are a little bit of a distance away. The reason for this? Because it’s handy to have a ranch to go to with their horses and a sleeping spot just in case they have disagreements with their wives.
Franz insisted that we have a drink of water, then expresso made with his Nespresso machine, followed by a shot of schnapps. At one point, he stepped away and then returned with a giant American flag mounted on a staff which was adorned with an eagle. He waved it around a few times to unfurl it and then mounted it in a bracket in front of his ranch. He then asked Jenny to tell us that he feels America has helped Austrians a great deal. He said that he always remembers the many young American soldiers who died fighting and the great sacrifice that was made to protect others. He shares with us that he has a deep appreciation, much respect and love for America because of the life that he gets to have now.
Before we left, I shared with Toni that I am looking for a place to settle at the end of my travels. I gave him my list of requirements: all four seasons, room for chickens and bees, a small plot of land to have a nice garden and orchard, in addition to good areas to fly fish, ski and walk great distances. But that I also want, nice, open people, in a rural area where I can learn at least two new languages, he quickly says, “This is your place, right here.” Such lovely souls. Needless to say, we didn’t want to leave them. The time we spent chatting with Franz and Toni has been the most enjoyable of the adventure so far.
After leaving them, it seemed we walked through brushy fields forever. It was really only about an hour I think, but felt much longer because we had made the mistake of sending our pant legs ahead in the duffle. Not the wisest thing to do with stinging nettles everywhere. We knew this from the guide and posts made by other walkers, and had even discussed it at one point, but had been so hasty to lighten our packs that they had all been sent on. We had to move slowly and carefully through the brush which took much longer than it should have, but all was well.
When we finally popped out in the next little village called, Öberloisdorf, the first thing that caught our eye was a bakery. We decided to go in to have a look and ask about using the restroom. The woman behind the counter, Mrs. Schuh, was so excited to see us come in and in German said, “Ah, more peace walkers?!” while making exaggerated walking motions with her body. She and Jenny spoke in German and before I knew it we were walking through the giant back room right past all the delectable things they had waiting to be delivered. I spied something that looked phenomenal with spinach and cheese, but I hadn’t seen it offered in the front. I was really sad, I have to admit. At that point, I had walked about 13 miles and it seemed like one of those with a cappuccino might just make all right in my world again. Mrs. Schuh apologized and told us they had been specially ordered for a party, I tried not to show my disappointment and decided to take something else.
I walked back in a few moments later to see the owner smiling with a large plate containing three Spinattaschem. Oh, the joy!!! Apparently, Martina, the owner, and daughter in law of Mrs. Schuh, came in and said that it was fine for us to have three of these divine things! My life will honest to goodness, never be the same again. So much goodness, and it’s surely because they are made with love! If you find yourself here, don’t miss going to this bakery! We had a lovely break sipping our cappuccinos and eating our spinach pastries. We were able to remove our shoes and let our tired feet air out in the sunshine for a bit before heading out again.
As we walked out of the village, we found ourselves on a long gravel road lined with cut, stacked firewood. One thing we can all agree upon is that Austrians like to have stockpiles of firewood ready at all times. From this road, we saw red arrows painted on a few trees that led into thick forest with no visible trail. We stopped and looked at it for a moment in disbelief before Jenny broke the ice by shouting, “Are you freaking kidding me?” This is really kind of comical because in the past two days we’ve spent our fair share of time complaining about walking down the roadside and how much more we like the wooded areas. Well, we wanted forest, and that’s what we’re getting! Sans pant legs, of course!
After the forest, we walked through three long wheat fields and then down into the village of Köseg. As we entered the village, I could tell that we are all very relieved to be arriving so early in the day, and without having had to deal with rain. Our bodies and minds held up much better than they had on the first day as well. This gives us hope for the days to come, we needed this day. We were in good spirits as we walked the final 2km along a small stream to the hostel.
Csikar Csarda Panzio
40 euro per person includes breakfast
Dinner purchased separately, and worth it.
Baggage transport 50 euros
A few favorite pics for the day: