At the beginning of September there is a multi-day pilgrimage from Würzburg when the faithful walk over 100 km to the region’s holy place, Kreuzberg monastery. The journey is along Marienweg, a trail that connects nearly 50 religious places throughout Franconia. Aside from news of the yearly pilgrimage, we received recommendations from the web and friends that it was time to make our way to the biergarten at Kloster Kreuzburg.
The Monastery sits at the top of a hill and overlooks the surrounding valley of german moors. The monastic brewery was founded in 1731. Today the beer is brewed offsite but the biergarten and traditional food pulls a hearty crowd on a Saturday afternoon. As beer was the main attraction, we looked for accommodations (overnight guests can actually rent a room at the monastery!). Unintentionally, Our hotel was sort of in the middle of the woods: 6km from the nearby village of Bischofsheim an der Rhön… and 9km from the monastery.
It turned out the area was good for hiking! We decided to partake in the german tradition of wander, and set out on a weekend pilgrimage of our own: a 6-mile hike to the monastery on the Hochrhöner trail. The area, known as the Rhön, was filled with grazing livestock and is known for cross-country skiing in the winter. And we got close to our first live german Schnecke! A snail.
Hiking the scenic loop through the valley lasted all day which gave us plenty of time to record our journey to and from Kreuzburg!
Our oasis! We ordered half-liters of beer and the traditional fare. For me- lentil noodle soup and for Derek- schweinebraten with potato dumpling and red cabbage.
On our return trip we added the Zubringer Hochrhöner loop through the village of Bischofsheim a.d. Rhön to cover some new ground, and we stopped there to warm up. I would guess that hiking often begins near here, in Haselbach, a 2km walk up through quiet woods to the monastery.
By this time the weather had turned steadily more foggy and then to a persistent drizzle. Our buzz from the biergarten was long-gone and our spirits were beginning to dampen. The ground was completely wet. and muddy. and cold. We walked, and we walked. It was about three hours before we arrived at our starting point, near Schwedenwall (a trench used by the Swedes during the 30 years war). We were content with a hot shower and spent the rest of the rainy night vegged-out, eating pretzels and cheese crackers, and watching old german movies without subtitles on tv.
The next morning we awoke refreshed and to clear skies. Our day-long hike through the drizzly moors (with a stop at the biergarten) was clarifying and just what we needed.
And also, we parked next to this vintage baby-blue VW in the parking lot of our hotel!