Day 103

Start:  Worbis

Finish:  Gieboldahausen

Distance:  18

Total:  1559

I never really know what I will stumble into when I start my day. Today was one of the most interesting days I’ve had, and I had no idea it was coming. 

The day started out innocently enough when I walked out the hotel door after breakfast at 7:45. I first walked through Worbis and then found myself walking on the highway but there was absolutely no one on the road. I’ve been on this road before and it is normally busy. I walked an hour and never saw a single vehicle. It was eerie. After about three miles on this road I walked into the next little town and realized why there was no traffic. The highway through town was completely closed for construction. Traffic coming into town from the north was diverted off the highway. Traffic from the south where I’d just come from had been diverted at a point before I got on the road. So the three mile stretch I walked on was completely abandoned, except for me. After the construction the road was open to vehicles and luckily there was a bike trail. 

As I approached the town of Duderstadt, I noticed a building that said museum in German. It really didn’t dawn on me what the museum was about until I walked another 100 yards and saw a large sign that said “ Hier waren Deutschland undo Europa bis zum 10. November 1989 um 0:35 Uhr.”  Translated: Here were Germany and Europe until 10 November 1989 at 0:35 o’clock. Directly behind the sign was a large barrier gate, and later were some buildings that looked like they use to be guard or inspection stations. I realized I had just crossed one of the few official border checkpoints between the former West and East Germany.  Without even knowing it I had been walking through the former communist East Germany for several days. Somewhere south of Suhl, where I arrived last Friday, 12 July, I had entered the former East Germany without realizing it. So Suhl, Ohrdruf, Eckardtsleben, Mulhausen, and Worbis, town I stayed the night in, were actually in the former East Germany and now I was walking through an old border crossings back into what was West Germany until the Berlin Wall fell on 10 November 1989. Though the official reunification of Germany didn’t happen until 1990, the date in 1989 is recognized as the day the borders were abolished. 

I continued into Duderstadt, a beautiful German city, and had lunch. Duderstadt was a key city during the time of the communist border because it was here where the lucky few who could get permission to go into East Germany to visit family would board busses and make the short ride to the checkpoint to cross the border. After clearing both West German and East German customs, passengers would get off the first, West German bus and board a second, East German bus to continue to their destination. 

After realizing I had crossed the former border, I didn’t recall seeing any signs of the old fencing and other security boundaries that the communists had in place on their side of the border prior to 1989. However, I must admit, I didn’t realize I was in old East Germany so I didn’t know to be looking. 

Tonight I’m staying in the Hotel & Pension Amtsrichter in Gieboldahausen. It’s a beautiful old building which has been updated inside.  The gentleman who checked me in spoke very little English but he said something about the Fuhrer and 1932.  Not sure if he was trying to tell me that Hitler stayed here in 1932 or not. 

All in all, it was a most eventful day. I hope you enjoyed hearing about it. 

Sign designating the location of the former border between West and East Germany. It says “Here were Germany and Europe until 10 November 1989 at 0:35 o’clock.”

Bus stop shelter

Photos of the former border crossing.

Entering the walled city of Duderstadt, Germany.

The city of   Duderstadt.

City Hall, Duderstadt.

City center, Duderstadt.
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Day 102

Start:  Muhlhausen

Finish:  Worbis

Distance:  16

Total:  1541

Today was a straightforward 16 miles across more farmland. The weather was a little warmer than it has been for the last few days. Even though it stayed overcast, I was comfortable walking in a short sleeve shirt. 

The day got started with a very good breakfast at my hotel in Muhlhausen. I was out the door at 8:15 and walked for about two miles before I was out of town and in the countryside. I spent most of the day walking on what we would call a Farm-to-Market road at home. There was some car traffic but no trucks. They were over on the main highway. I had about a 1000’ climb early on. The hills here tend to be large, rolling hills so I might be climbing or descending a hill for a couple of miles, but the grade is not that steep.  

I noticed today these strange wood boxes on little skids along the side of the road. They’re about the size of a large dog house and have some type of granular coming out the bottom front. (See picture). I saw them every quarter mile or so all day. I hadn’t a clue what these things were for. When I got to my hotel, I showed the picture to the gentleman at the reception desk and he said the granular substance is gravel and is hand-spread by a work crew on the roads when they get icy.  A truck comes along and refills the box when it gets low on gravel. Makes sense. 

My hotel here in Worbis is on the edge of town so for dinner I had to walk a ways down the street to a steakhouse.  That’s the first real beef I’ve had in over a month. 

The weather is forecast to start warming up over the next few days, but not the heat wave Europe had a couple of weeks ago. I’m about 51 degrees north latitude here; about the same as Calgary, Alberta, so the normal high should be about 70F.  Being this far north also explains why it gets daylight here around 4:30 AM and doesn’t get dark until 10:00 PM. That will only get worse when I get to Sweden and Norway. 

That’s all I have to report today. Because my hotel is located just as I came into town, I didn’t see the bear sanctuary I mentioned yesterday.  Maybe I’ll see it tomorrow as I walk through and out of town. JB

The weird boxes I saw all along the roads today.

I can’t explain this arena that had a U.S. Flag flying at both ends.

My home for the night; the Zur Wipper in Worbis.

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Day 101

Start:  Eckardtsleben 

Finish:  Mulhausen

Distance:  16

Total:  1525

Today’s 16 miles was a mile longer than I’d planned, but HALLELUJAH, I found the bike trail and didn’t set foot on the highway all day. I’d like to credit myself with this turn of good fortune, but the fact is I just accidentally ended up on the bike trail by chance. 

I didn’t get out the door until 8:45 due to breakfast availability, and the quality of the morning meal ended up being an issue later in the day.  It was very chilly all day, probably never getting out of the 50s, plus I haven’t seen sunshine in the last 3-4 days, so I walked almost all day wearing my Frogg Togg jacket. I walked the first couple of miles on back roads using the primary Google Maps route. Then, it gave me the option of following the busy highway I walked on yesterday, or walking an extra mile total and take an alternate route off the highway. I chose the alternate route and hadn’t walked a mile when I noticed I was on the bike route. You really can’t tell you’re on a bike route and not some random sidewalk going who knows where until you get to a turn in the route and you see the bike direction sign. Today, the first bike route sign I saw showed the route was going all the way to my end of day destination. I took a shortcut off the trail just before the end of the day, but I was pumped to say the least. 

I went through two small town along my route today, and neither had any place to eat lunch. So the sparse breakfast I mentioned above came back to bite me because I walked almost six hours, without a break, with nothing to eat. By the time I got to Mulhausen I wasn’t feeling all that good. I went straight to a restaurant and had a late lunch but still wasn’t feeling all that good two hours later. That’s the last time I’ll make that mistake. I’ll at least carry a candy bar with me so I don’t run low on energy again. 

Today’s destination, Mulhausen, population 36,000+, is a beautiful old medieval town that has a walled city center that was untouched by fighting in WWII so it retained it historic heritage and buildings, including 11 Gothic churches. 

Tomorrow I continue farther north for 16 miles to the city of Leinefelde-Worbis, known for its bear sanctuary. I hope all the bears are present and accounted for. I hope to post again tomorrow. JB. 

Main shopping district; Mulhausen.

One of 11 churches within the walls of Mulhausen.

The last three miles of my route after a day on the bike trail.

My hotel for the night of Day 101; the Hotel Mulhausen Hof.

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Day 100

Start:  Ohrdruf 

Finish:  Eckardtsleben

Distance:  19

Total:  1509

Today is Day 100!  That’s 100 down; 50 to go.  It was a pretty tough day because the route was almost totally on the busy highway. 

I got started this morning at 8:30 after breakfast at the hotel. I had a couple of miles on backroads but soon found myself on a busy two lane highway with heavy traffic. There were a couple of alternate routes to choose from but they both added several miles to my day and since I was already facing 19 mile, I just stuck with the highway route. It’s not too bad so long as there’s no guardrail. I can just step off the road farther when there’s a conflict. But when there’s a guardrail on my side, it gets a little tough. I got an offer for a ride after lunch but of course, I graciously declined. 

While I was walking through wheat country again today, I also passed a very large windmill farm. I’ve seen a few windmills scattered about but this was the first large farm I’ve seen in Germany. I suppose there’s a windy time of year here, but it hasn’t been since I’ve been walking. Most of the windmills were standing still. 

I’m in the very small town of Eckardtsleben tonight. It so small Wikipedia doesn’t give any facts about the town; only the pension I’m staying in. If Wikipedia doesn’t know anything about the town, there must not be anything significant to report other than if you look outside, you’d swear you’re in the mid-west U.S. with all these rolling wheat fields. 

Tomorrow I think I walk down the same road as today. It’s only a 15 mile day so I may look for an alternate route to avoid the highway. That’s all for today. Thanks for following along. JB. 

Central Germany is definitely wheat country.

I walked through a large windmill farm today.

Spending the night at the Pension Bad Langensalza on Day 100.

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Day 99

Start:  Suhl

Finish:  Ohrdruf

Distance:  19

Total:  1490

After a fantastic day of rest yesterday, I was pumped up about walking today. And the day did not disappoint.

After an amazing breakfast at the hotel in Suhl, I got out the door at 7:45. The skies were gray and the temperature in the high 40s, but there was no rain. The streets were very quiet with it being early Sunday morning and I didn’t see a truck on the road all day. I was on city streets for the first 3 miles, then I turned onto a paved trail. 

At the beginning of the trail was a parking lot and I noticed up ahead of me by a few hundred yards there was a couple walking the same direction as me with trekking poles and the man had a small day pack.  They were keeping a good pace but I was gradually gaining on them. After 15-20 minutes I caught up with them. I asked if they spoke English and they both said they spoke a little. (That’s what they all say). We started talking as we walked and that’s when I met Hartmut and Marina Diemar, a delightful couple who knew all about the trail and surrounding area. They were walking to the next town of Oberhof, which was on my route as well. So we walked the next 3-4 miles together and had a great Sunday morning conversation. Their English was much better than they give themselves credit for, having learned it in school many years ago. Both were retired and just a joy to converse with.  The last mile of our walk together was a very steep climb but we were talking so much I hardly noticed.  After reaching Oberhof, they pointed me in the right direction and they kept going toward their home. 

Oberhof is a very nice little winter vacation destination. Since we had been climbing to get there, I noticed it was even colder than when I started walking back in Suhl. I found a nice little cafe and had some soup for lunch to warm me up, and I put on my jacket when I started walking again.  After Oberhof, it was downhill all the way to my destination of Ohrdruf. 

Ohrdruf, population 9786, is a very old town, founded around 725. In 1695, the orphaned Johann Sebastian Bach came here to live with his brother and attend school. During WWII, Ohrdruf was the site of a concentration camp and was the first such camp liberated by the U.S. Army, on 4 April, 1945. Also, Ohrdruf is the site of a Renaissance Castle, the Schloss Ehrenstein, built in 1550.  The castle was renovated in 2013, but in November of that same year, an accidental fire destroyed part of the castle. Also of interest is the site of a church, originally built in the 8th century. Associated with the Bach family who were organists there, the church was destroyed twice by fires in 1753 and 1808, but was rebuilt each time. The church was again destroyed by Allied bombers in WWII and only the bell tower remains today. 

Tomorrow it’s another 19 miles down the road to the small village of Eckardtsleben. It’s suppose to be a beautiful summer day here. My Sunday was great. I hope your was the same. Thanks for reading. JB. 

The Schloss Ehrenstein castle, built in 1550, stands watch in Ohrdruf, Germany.

Meet my walking companions, Hartmut and Marina Diemar.

My resting place in Ohrdruf, the Schlossgartenpassage.
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Day 98

Start:  Suhl

Finish:  Suhl

Distance:  0

Total:  1471

Today was a great day to not walk. It has been raining on and off all day and the temperatures were very cool. 

Last night after I posted my blog, I went down to the hotel restaurant and joined my new friends, the Prince family from Burleson (minus Conner who was eating with his shooting team).  We had a good dinner and talked until 9:00. It felt good to sit down and converse with someone from home. 

Today I slept in until 8:00 and hung out around the room until 10:00 when I went back to the restaurant and had an amazing breakfast.  They had the best spread I’ve seen since I’ve been back in Europe. I gorged myself. 

Around 1:00 I decided to get some warm clothes on, borrow an umbrella from the hotel, and venture out. I intended to walk a few blocks into the city center. Unfortunately, it was too rainy to get far. I made it just down the street to a grocery store, scoped it out, bought a Coke and Snickers bar, and walked back to the hotel. I decided this might just be a day for reading and resting instead of sightseeing.  

I’ve spent part of today trying to get my walking shoes dry after yesterday’s drenching they took. Since they were already completely waterlogged, I decided to give them a bath in the bathroom sink last night. That’s when I discovered they weren’t nearly as waterlogged as I thought. After giving them a good soaking, they must have weighed 10 pounds. They dried all night but they were still drenched this morning. So I’ve applied several rounds of hot air from the hair dryer throughout the day and I think they’ll be good to go by tomorrow morning. 

The only issue I have with this hotel, which is very nice, is their WiFi stinks. The signal seems to come through very strong, but you can’t connect to anything on the internet. I needed to make some accommodation arrangements for the next few nights down the road, but couldn’t get anything to connect from my room. I went down to the lobby to try the internet down there, but still no luck. I resorted to using my iPhone data to get the job done. I’ve got places to stay through this coming Thursday night. I’m confident in my route plan that far out because the weather is suppose to improve beginning tomorrow through the rest of the week. 

Late this afternoon the rain slacked up a little and I walked into town for dinner. Surprisingly, there was hardly anyone out in the streets which is very unusual. I guess the weather kept them away. That’s all for today. It’s back on the road tomorrow for a 19 mile walk. I hope everyone’s Saturday was good. JB. 

Another cathedral; this one in Suhl, Germany.
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Day 97

Start:  Hildburghausen

Finish:  Suhl

Distance:  18

Total:  1471

Today was planned to be a straightforward 15 mile walk to the nice city of Suhl. It turned into an 18 mile power walk to keep from getting caught in thunderstorms. 

Today’s weather called for thunder showers beginning at noon in my destination of Suhl. I got up early, got packed up, took my backpack to breakfast with me, and hit the road at 7:05. It had rained all night so the roads and trails were very wet, but it was only overcast with no rain when I left. 

I walked about three miles on a busy highway before my phone directed my route off the highway onto a trail. I was skeptical about this knowing that if this trail turned into dirt I was about to get muddy and wet. As the trail started, it was a nice wide gravel road. After about a quarter mile it became a narrow gravel trail. After another quarter mile, the trail went away completely and became just a cleared path through the trees with waist high grass. I was suppose to be on this for about two miles after which it rejoined the highway. By this time my feet were soaking wet from wading through the wet grass so I pressed on through the clearing until it rejoined the highway.  Shortly after getting back on the paved road, I walked into a small town with a bus stop where I pulled out my new, dry shoes and a dry pair of socks from my backpack and put them on. I brought a new second pair of shoes with me from home which I’m suppose to start wearing in a couple of more weeks when my first pair are worn out. 

So my new shoes and dry socks fixed my immediate wet foot problem, but I couldn’t afford to get my feet wet again today.  I did a quick, in-depth review of the remainder of my route and it had me going on and off trails again several times.  The other option was to walk the rest of the day on the highway where it was dry, which would add three miles to my route. I really had no choice so my 15 mile day became an 18 mile day. 

Because I was trying to beat the rain, I didn’t stop enroute for lunch but instead walked the 18 miles straight through and arrived at my hotel just as the rain started. Unfortunately, checkin time was not until 3:00 and my room was not ready. I went to the hotel restaurant for lunch and worked on this blog while waiting to check in. 

Once I got my room assignment, I was waiting to get on the elevator and overheard a mother and daughter speaking the kind of English I speak. I asked them where they were from and that’s when I met Becky and Sydney Prince from Burleson, Texas. They are here in Suhl with husband/father Greg and son Conner. Conner is on the U.S. Junior National Shooting Team. They have been in Italy for the Junior World Shooting Championships and are now here for the Junior World Cup. Here’s wishing Conner good luck shooting skeet in the next few days. 

It is forecast to rain again tomorrow so unless something changes, I plan to stay here for a day off. I hope everyone’s week was good and you have a great weekend. JB. 

I spent most of Day 97 walking down this highway.

This entrepreneur was out walking dogs early this morning in Schleusingen.

Another large castle, this one in Schleusingen.

Meet Becky and Sydney Prince from Burleson, Texas. Sydney wants to be an Aggie!
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Day 96

Start:  Coburg

Finish:  Hildburghausen

Distance:  18

Total:  1453

Today was pretty much a grind. It had all those things that make the day seem like it will never end; walking on the highway, uphill, and rain at the end of the day. I was glad it was over when I got to my destination. 

Last night’s hotel was about as low as I’m willing to go. I shouldn’t complain because I planned my route so I can have an indoor place to sleep every night.  It definitely beats pitching a tent. However, the only thing last night’s accommodations had going for it was it was indoors, it had a  shower, and the WiFi worked good enough to get my journal posted. Other than that, I wouldn’t recommend it. I didn’t even take a picture out of embarrassment that I actually stayed there. 

I got on the road this morning shortly before 8:00. It had rained during the night but quit about an hour before I left. The weather was overcast and in the 50s. After I’d gotten out of town, which took about 30 minutes, I immediately found myself on a two lane highway, and of course, no shoulder. Unfortunately, I was on that road for about 12 miles. The traffic wasn’t that heavy but the speed limit was around 60 MPH so I had to spend a lot of time walking in the grass beside the road. 

By lunchtime I was in the town of Bad Rodach. I was looking for a place to eat, and had about given up when I found a very nice looking cafe, Andi’s Frankenstube. There I met Angela, the waitress. She spoke perfect English which she learned from her Puerto Rican husband. She started reading me the menu, and when she got to the paprika schnitzel, I stopped her; I’d found what I wanted. The food was amazing. Angela and I talked for a bit, she copied down my website, I signed the restaurant guest book, and I was on my way. 

After leaving the restaurant, my route turned off the highway and I found myself walking through wheat fields, and then woods. I had a pretty good climb, and then it started to shower. It was raining just hard enough to be annoying but not hard enough that I needed to put on rain gear.  However, by the time I walked a couple of hours in the drizzle, I was wet. As the shower got heavier, I covered the last mile to town and my hotel in 15 minutes. Unfortunately, the symbol for my hotel was not in the correct place on Google Maps. I went to where it directed me to go but the hotel was not there. After 15 minutes of walking around and finally knocking on a door, a gentleman gave me directions. I’d walked right by the hotel earlier but wasn’t looking for it. Now I’m in my room trying to get everything dried out. 

Tomorrow I only have 15 miles to walk to Suhl. The weather says thunderstorms will begin at noon. My plan is to get on the road early and out walk the rain. I think that about covers it for today.  Thanks for following along. JB. 

Walking through wheat fields on Day 96.

Meet Angela from Andi’s Frankenstube.

I had a nice gravel road to follow through the trees.

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Day 95

Start:  Bad Staffelstein 

Finish:  Coburg

Distance:  13

Total:  1435

Another beautiful day in central Germany.  Last night’s rest was good, breakfast was good, the weather today was just perfect, and I only had to walk 13 miles so overall, it was a mighty fine day. 

After a short walk to get out of the small town of Bad Staffelstein this morning, I turned off the main highway and found myself on a paved backroad through a forest of trees. This lasted about five miles. The road was very lightly traveled, though the few cars I saw on the twisting road acted like they were very familiar with where they were going. After popping out of the tree line, I was in a nice clearing looking down on the beautiful little Bavarian village of Altenbanz. 

The roads were very crooked today and will be that way for some time because I’m back in hilly terrain. As long as I’m walking the backroads there will be some climbing and descending as well. 

I never found a place to eat lunch today until I got on the edge of my destination, Coburg. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Coburg is the home to one of Germany’s largest castles, the Veste Coburg. Situated on a hill just south of the town, the castle was built in the 10th century and today is a museum and art gallery. 

Some of you who are following my whereabouts closely might have noticed I have not been following the published route on my website for the past couple of days.  The route I posted under the route tab was planned many months ago. However, while I was back in the states on break, I reviewed the portion of my route that I’m currently walking and made some changes between Bamberg and Hanover, Germany. The new route, which I did not post on my website, is a little shorter than the original route. After I get to Hanover in about two weeks, I’ll be walking the published route again. 

I’m still one day ahead and there is rain in the forecast for the next three days. I’m planning to press ahead for now, but if the weather gets too wet, I’ll take the day off I’ve been saving. More to follow on that. 

Today was Wyn and my 43rd Anniversary. I thought all day long about the amazing life we have together.  I don’t think either of us would change a single thing. 

That’s all for today. I’m going out in a bit before the sun sets and try to find a good view of the castle. I couldn’t see it as I came into town today because of the tall trees. If I can get a picture I’ll post it. Thanks for reading. JB. 

Another nice little Bavarian village; this one is Altenbanz.

About to enter city center; Coburg, Bavaria.

Beautiful Coburg, Bavaria.

Veste Coburg; one of Germany’s largest castles.

There are some amazing homes in Coburg.
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Day 94

Start:  Bamberg

Finish:  Bad Staffelstein

Distance:  17

Total:  1422

Guten tag from the beautiful little town of Bad Staffelstein, Bavaria. Today I had a great 17 mile walk north from Bamberg through several small villages and am beginning to get back into the hills after several days of relatively flat terrain. 

I got started at 8:15 this morning after a good night’s sleep and a very light breakfast. The hotel I stayed in last night was just a small step above a hostel. The entire facility was self-serve. When I made the reservation a few days back, the owner sent me a text with the code for the front door. Once inside the lobby, my room key was hanging on a bulletin board. I got my key, found my room, and that was it for checkin. In the room were instructions for breakfast which was included in the cost of the room. It simply said enjoy breakfast and don’t eat more than your share of someone else will not get any. So breakfast today consisted of one roll with some jam, a small yogurt, and water because I don’t drink coffee. I can’t gripe; you get what you pay for. 

I was on and off bike trails all day.  It didn’t matter very much when I was on the highway because the traffic was very light. I went through a little town about noon and after that scrumptious breakfast, I was getting pretty hungry.  There was only one street through this little town, so if I was going to find a place to eat, it was going to be on that street. I went in the first place I came to, but all they had was pastries. I needed something more substantial than that. The next place was an Italian restaurant that looked closed so I kept walking. Finally I got to the end of town and that was it. No more options. So I turned around and walked back a quarter mile and tried to open the door of the Italian place. What do you know; they were open.  It looked closed because there were no cars out front and I was their only customer.  I chowed down on some very good tortellini and salad and a huge coke. After that lunch I was full of energy like you wouldn’t believe. 

Tonight I’m in the town of Bad Staffelstein.  In the next few weeks, until I leave Germany, I’m staying in several “Bad” towns. You probably are wondering why a town has the word Bad as part of its name. I wondered the same thing so I looked it up. In German, the word “Bad” means bath. But not the kind of bath you take in a tub. “Bath” as in “natural spa, or spring fed water.”  So they use the word Bad in the names of some of their towns like we use the word  “Springs” in some of our American towns; like Hot Springs, Ark., or Sulphur Springs, Tx..  

Tomorrow I have a relatively short 13 mile walk to Coburg, home of one of Germany’s largest castles, Veste Coburg. The weather is forecast to be nice for one more day, then three days of rain and thunderstorms. I’ll plan for the worst and hope for the best. Thanks for following along. JB. 

Shoulder deep in wheat; ready for harvest.

Following the bike trail to Bad Staffelstein.

One of the Bavarian beauties in Bad Staffelstein

My home for the night; Traditionalgasthof Gruner Baum.

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