I was almost sad to leave the Swabian Alb and continue on the Frankenweg through Franconia. The Frankenweg itself is over 500 km long and I had already hiked the whole trail in long weekend sections when I was still working. Now I was only re-hiking a 170 km long section of it. To my big surprise I had almost no recollection of the trail although I had hiked it less than 6 years ago. The Frankenweg is not as spectacular as the Swabian Alb. The landscape consists of rolling hills, lots of forest and fields and many very pittoresque villages. Again there is plenty to see: Museums, churches, castles...
Most interesting was the amount of pilgrimage churches all along the way. Almost every day I would come across a pilgrimage church founded because someone had had a vision of the virgin Mary, had been cured of gout or rescued from a thunderstorm. Most fascinating was "Maria Brünnlein" (Mary Fountain), that actually has a fountain inside the church and people are queuing to fill their containers with "holy" water. Even I have never had the chance to fill my water bottles inside a church! Inside the pilgrimage churches you can see a lot of "Votivtafeln": These are pictures donated by people who have been helped which describe the circumstances of the miracle. It was interesting to see how these circumstance have changed. Whereas people 200 years ago were usually rescued out of thunderstorms they nowadays survive accidents on German autobahns with Mary's help.
Hiking on the Frankenweg
But there was much more to see than churches: I visited a Roman museum (the Frankenweg crosses the Limes, the old border of the Roman empire), a spa for a much needed general clean up, and plenty of old Jewish cemeteries. And of course there was also a culinary highlight: Bratwurst! Bratwurst in Franconia is a tiny little thing -which is very good for frying in a pan on a camping stove. The whole sausage burns within seconds and after the cooking the bottom of the pan is completely burnt. Still it is worth it as I think it tastes great - especially after a yearlong diet of American Lipton side dishes and Australian Continental pasta!