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Got lost today. “Lost” is of course relative if you set out to make the walk itself the purpose, not the getting-there. Still, after walking (mostly uphill) for three hours, it comes as a bit of a shock to recognize the wayside little chapel (do they all look alike?) as the one you stood in front off the previous evening and to read on a nearby marker that the village you left two days ago is a mere 4K away? Yikes! How did that happen? Or, better, where to from here?

The drawback of having left the fancy topographical map somewhere (lost on day one) and eschewed the carrying of a compass (“no need, all you have to do is keep an eye on the river”) is that both would have come in handy at that moment! Not having met a single human being all morning, chances were slim to ask a farmer or hiker for directions.

Instead, I sat down, drank some water, ate hazelnut chocolate, chuckled and got up to retrace my steps to the nearest fork in the road. Downhill, at least. The rest of the day turned into a bit of a fiasco: walking alongside a busy thoroughfare (drivers tend to ignore roadside pedestrian walking a mere hand’s width from their speeding Auto); stomping across muddy fields and gathering a kilo of clay on each boot; a sudden and steady downpour undisturbed by the shower-proof qualities of my anorak; sliding down a vineyard so steep that I had to dig in my heels and self-made hazelnut walking sticks lest the slate-strewn path between rows of vines became a death slide; and finally allowing myself to wait for a local bus (the kind that stops at every big tree in every village up and down the river), filled with noisy schoolkids, none of whom seemed to have received the memo about offering a seat to an older person. But the bus was dry and the driver kind enough to point out a village café where they served delicious lentil soup and purple-plum cake while I waited for the connecting bus.

Finally arrived in Trier, Germany’s oldest city (founded by Romans in 16 BC). A little culture shock: well-dressed throngs, name-brand boutiques, McD’s and Subway. Oodles of outdoor cafés under sunny skies — felt right at home in my mud-splattered garb and bright-yellow pack. The Tourist Office could find just one vacant room at € 66 (in contrast to the average of € 27 I’ve been paying in villages along the way). While trying to find said hotel, I did the un-manly thing of asking for directions and a kind gent offered to take me to his local pub (run by a Yugoslavian family) where they gave me a room for € 25/night, with shower and WC down the hall, TV with all the channels. And when they say single room, the mean a bed for one narrow person. Once more, all’s well. May your day go well.


11 responses »

  1. Hi Peter,
    I am enjoying following you on your journey! Sounds like you had quite the day! Here in Victoria, fall is in full blown with just the occasional sun bursts…a bit early for that! Oh well, life is still awesome. I am really enjoying the “Being Zen” book, that’s for that.

    See you soon!


    • Hi Mylene, i’m still sitting in the smoke-filled internet cafe surrounded by slot machine-polaying losers. glad you have the book — meant to ask whether you’d found it.

      thought of you today as I walked uphill using two walking sticks. noticed that i was holding them too firmly, using energy unnecessarily. just as you taught me when lifting the 20 lb (or was it 30?) weights.


  2. what a great day you had! i emjoy reading about your adventures… steady ahead, one breath at a time!!

  3. steady on, indeed! thank you, nancy. sending you rays of sunshine from the ancient city of Trier. may all be well with you. peter

  4. What an entertaining post! Thank you for sharing this and for the smile it brings…not because of the mishaps but because of your attitude towards them.

  5. Thanks Peter, it’s fun to follow along! Your trip suddenly brings to mind the great backpacking stories of Colin Fletcher.

  6. Oh Peter I loved this post… read the whole thing out loud to David. It is the kind of note he used to write to me before he had his stroke. That ability to tell a story with humour when things have really be quite awful! May your today be better:)

  7. hello david and terril — i’m glad my stories bring back sweet memories. may your health continue to improve. peter

  8. Hi Peter,
    Fletcher is the grandfather of American backpacking, he loved long hikes and solitude, but also didn’t mind cities either. He wrote several very famous books begining in the 1960’s. “The Man from the Cave” was one of my favorites, but there are some other really good ones.


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