Yesterday morning we dragged our weary bones out of bed and made peace with the manager of the youth hostel, who after all didn’t seem too offended at our irregular sleeping arrangements. We also met up with a German photographer named Philip who’s been walking in a straight line from the northern border of Germany toward the south, taking pictures of his country as he goes. It was fun to meet a “pilgrim” of another sort. See his blog here.
From there we caught a bus back up to Coburg, tracked down an internet café and a grocery store to take care of those two essentials, and then caught another bus up the hill to the castle. (We were willing to walk down the hill a second time—but not up.) It was a disappointment not to have more time up there; it’s a gorgeous setting and an amazing collection, with something like 30,000 Reformation era pamphlets and prints, and rooms devoted to medieval armor and weapons or hunting-themed beer steins and mounted antlers. Given the shortage of time we focused on (surprise, surprise) the Luther rooms, where Luther is supposed to have stayed in 1530 during the Diet of Augsburg. The most amusing discovery there was a “pulpit hourglass”—apparently how the laity kept some restraints on Reformation clergy’s newfound enthusiasm for preaching!
Then it was back down the hill, a bus back to the youth hostel, and picking up where we left off. We were on either the Santiago trail or a scenic bike route for most of the afternoon. I’d expected the day after our grueling 40 km stretch late into the night to be the worst, but it wasn’t all that bad; yesterday, however, was hard work. Whatever the exact physiology of it, we felt somehow that our “reserves” had all been used up and we were running on empty. The tired and increasingly sore feet would not be ignored, and the pack that theoretically has gotten a little lighter as we’ve used things up actually felt heavier. It was a little more humid, but any day without rain is a good day by me.
So it was plod, plod, plod, past some tiny towns and through Lichtenfels where we picked up some things for dinner (a nice greengrocer even gave us two bonus ripe apricots) and finally up the hill to Vierzehnheiligen, i.e. Fourteen Saints, a Franciscan church and religious house with pilgrim accommodations. We’ll take a look at the church this morning—having been entirely too tired to take it in last night—and it promises to be a Rococo wonder, judging from the outside. The very kind lady who showed us to our rooms also gave us access to a little kitchen, so we could cook up a warm dinner and sit on squashy chairs and say our evening prayers and once again enjoy shelter as the late-night thunderstorms began.