This week, I have reached two milestones: I have finished the first letter of “home”, namely the “e”, and I have now been on the road for one entire month. This is the perfect moment to look back and to look ahead at the next few weeks.
Most impressive to me are the people. And this from me! From the mouth of a woman who can be alone very well and who appreciates her independence. I was and am impressed by my friends, family and acquaintances, whom I have formerly not felt so close to. Because they are always there for me. With advice, encouraging words or a dinner and a bed. And perfect strangers give me gloves, a lift, dinner and a bed to sleep in, and maybe for one night only make me part of their family.
How can I explain this, if you haven’t experienced the warmth and sympathy? It is such a great feeling that I wish everyone would feel it at least once. To get there one doesn’t even have to do something as extreme as my journey. It’s much easier than that: Even if you have a cell phone in, ask someone for directions. Or knock on your neighbors’ door and ask for a cup of flour. Smile at the older lady in the subway… After this one month I find it very difficult to be misanthropic.
Certainly not everything went smoothly. The severe blisters in the first and the third week. The times, when I had to pay for a bed after all. The exhaustion. The difficulty to fill a blog in two languages with content. Weather. These are all experiences that I would have preferred not to make. But I have made them. And it’s on me to try to understand them, so I maybe learn from them.
My assumption that the first week is the hardest and that I will know after three weeks if I really want to go through this journey, has been confirmed. In the time I have thought about what is important to me about “Walking Home”. And I think that the nature of my journey will probably change again over the course of the next months. Days when I use the bus or train, more rest days, shorter daily stages, these are all elements that I had not planned. Also, I will probably use more couchsurfing.org to plan ahead, especially as long as due to the weather staying outdoors overnight is not an option.
I’m still following the question of what home really is. Dina from the forester’s house in Glashütte has given me a great lead, when she said: “find the home in yourself”. But this will not be the final answer. Home for my hosts has so far been so many things: family, faith, childhood,… I’m looking forward to the following encounters. I’m sure the conversations will not get any less interesting.
15 things I’ve learned in the past month
- Church bells in Germany ring for every quarter of an hour, up to four times, in a deeper tone and on the hour the number of hours in a lighter tone. Only sometimes, they ring for ten minutes without a pause. Why, I don’t know.
- Deer fat creme is fantastic. Creaming the feet every morning before starting the walk reliably prevents pressure sores and blisters.
- Apples taste not so bad. They don’t even need to be cut into bite sized pieces.
- In well established tourist places where people earn some extra money or make a living by letting rooms, it is difficult to find (free) shelter.
- When traveling alone a private room rental is almost always preferable to the DJHV/HI youth hostels. For a private room, including delicious breakfast (and lunch bag), you are looking at 20 or 25 € versus at least 20 € (usually more) plus membership card for a bed in a shared room at the hostel.
- I don’t like hiking. I like to go for a walk. I like being on the move independently. But hiking is not really my thing. Nor is cycling.
- Forests, especially coniferous forests, are creepy.
- In Germany there are many many many forests.
- Germany has much more interesting towns and sites to offer than the ten that would have come to my mind before traveling here. Train (or bus) roulette is a travel idea for everybody: Buy a ticket to the place, which is the third on the departures board and I’m sure you can make exciting discoveries at the destination
- My Merino sweater is great (albeit prone to holes). The zippers on my Vaude backpack not so much.
- Walking sticks are great. They normalize the weight of the backpack. When walking uphill, I can pull myself up on them. When going downhill, they provide support. And when I actually can’t move any further, they help me to stand upright.
- The perfect day’s stage is about 25 km.
- It’s OK to change my journey so I feel good. And if that is to take the train. Then that is OK, to.
- I’m on a pilgrimage. For a pilgrimage is nothing but “the way to ourselves”.
- People are fantastic. They are open and interested and involved in the idea and the course of “Walking Home”. They want to help and do so each and every one in their own way.
Now the ascent to the “m” begins. Through the Rhön I return to Hesse to Fulda and Marburg, continue to Koblenz, Trier and Worms. East of Metz I leave Germany. The “m” is completed with the line to Strasbourg and back to Metz. As things stand now, it will happen in the second half of June. That means I would be so much on schedule that I will possibly take a week or two off. WWOOFing would be an option (or workaway.info).
You can now also easily support “Walking Home” with money. The money, however, doesn’t go to me, but is to benefit committed projects: I have created a page on donation platform betterplace.org. Your donations go to organizations that work in very different ways to ensure that every person has their own home. Why don’t you have a look: https://www. betterplace.org/en/fundraising-events/walking home
I post daily brief updates about where I am and how my day was on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cbsoundso Twitter: https://twitter.com/cbsoundso . And on GiveIt100.com I publish – if Wi-Fi connection allows – for each day a short video: