I set off earlyish this morning in the hope that I wouldn’t be too pressured. I was tired after my first day, and knew that this second day was going to be very hard as I had such a long way to go. Because I am here early in the season accommodation is a bit tricky, sometimes hard to find and at times expensive - hence my anticpated long day.
Again, the way is flat. Not a bump, a wrinkle, or hillock to be seen! Making my way to the start of what is called Napoleon’s way without difficulty I stopped at a rest stop to have my brekky (yesterday’s roll). I had just put my pack on when, glancing down the path I could see people waving at me. It was both Tina and Sigrid, out revitalising the signs along the way. Tina had to return to get more yellow paint and so I walked with Sigrid as she practiced her graffiti skills in spray painting yellow arrows.
This part of the way is straight – dead straight, and of course flat! So far I had been fortunate that, although cold, the weather was such that there was no wind. This would have been very miserable with a strong wind blowing, which I am sure it does on occasion. While having a rest, Tina arrived expressing her concern that I had too far to walk on this day (right, but nothing that could be done about it) and offered to give me a lift for a few kilometres, and then take my pack onto Gyhum where I was headed for the night. As it turned out this was a tremendous help. Even without my pack, having left at about 8 in the morning, taking a lift for a few kilometres, and not really having many long rest stops it was still 8.00pm (and dark) when I arrived, and I had been really striding it out over the last 10 kilomtres!
Returning to the Napoleon way. A farmer from the village has organised big, VERY big, boulders to be left at various points along the way as memorial stones. One such stone marks the spot where an aircraft crashed during WW 2, another commemorates the 500 years since Luther nailed his thesis to the church door in Wittenberg. As Tina drove us the last leg she regaled us with stories and he one that tickled my fancy was the memorial stone marking the place where a pilgrim hostel had once stood. Here, pilgrims went in, but never came out! They were murdered for their money. As Tina told the story, I had visions of Hansel and Gretel, and when I looked closely at the stone, sure enough, there was a witch on it! Just around the corner from this boulder was a stone age burial site. This way, though used by Napoleon, was used thousands of years before by ancient peoples.
The way follows a variety of paths, from asphalt roads, single lane and more like cycle ways, to dirt tracks through the forests. All of it beautiful. The last part of this day goes through some pretty wet forested areas. I have no doubt that in the summer mosquitoes would be a real problem / pest. It is a very quiet way at this time of the year. Apart from the occasional villager that stops to speak to me I have seen no one as I pass through the forests and the fields.
I was particularly glad that Sigrid and Tina had been through ahead of me. Just before Zevern the Via Romea and the Via Baltica go their separate ways. Tina and Sigrid had made it very clear in which direction those of us on the Via Romea were to go. We were to turn left, the others, right.
|A memorial stone mariking the demise of a plane, complete with the debris found there|
|Sigrid pracitcing her sign writing. A constructive job for those with a yen for graffitti, the only trouble being that every splash of yellow is the same|
|The church at Zeven. I stopped and looked at the Museum here before heading onto Gyhum. Even though I didn't have my pack, it was a long hard road, and I was pretty tired by the time I arrived there|
|The junctions where Tina and Sigrid met me - armed with their cans of yellow paint|
|The memorial stones commemorating the site of the pilgrim hostel where pilgrims entered and never cam out|
|The road might be long, straight, and flat and cold, but I can still smile!|
|Tina and Sigrid at the stone marking the Napoleon's way - a long straight stretch These boulders are HUGE!|