First off, basically reached the halfway mark!! I cannot even believe that!! AHH! It's crazy how time flies when you're walking across a couple of countries ;) But my oh my, Croatia!! It has truly taken my heart. Today was a really amazing walk, with the first half through country roads and many, many flat fields, straight through two towns, and finally some rolling hills that showcased this country's beauty, a total of a little over 26 km (16 miles)!
What is really amazing though is how friendly Croatians are (as seen by Vanya and others yesterday)--walking along the busy street in Vidovec where houses are right on either side of the road, almost everyone stops to say give a wave if you say hi. I had a really nice conversation with a woman and her parents-in-law, where she told me that this area is very agricultural and many people grow their own wine and flowers (a huge hobby to many!). Not only did they stop to talk with me, they also filled up my water bottle & gave me a nice selfie memory of them! (I was lucky that the lady spoke English--beforehand, I had two conversations in which the person spoke Croatian and I spoke English, so it was a lot of arm gesturing and many thumbs up!)
In the middle of the day (around 12:45 PM) I passed a good number of teenagers that seemed like they were walking home from school. I said hi to all of them but didn't stop to talk so I couldn't figure out what was happening. BUT along the way I met Marion and figured it out! Marion is a principal for a high school (15-18 year olds) who are studying medicine, and he told me that the students were going to Varazdin for their practikum in the hospital! It was quite cool because we had our conversation in mostly German--he told me that he had learned German in school and he estimates 50% of Croatians speak German and 50% speak English (although not mutually exclusive), so hopefully I will find myself quite able to converse with locals especially as we continue our time in Croatia! A thought that I had while talking to him was that he was off to go to the school, yet still stopped to have a nice conversation with me, not seeming in much of a hurry but I am sure he had stuff to do--thank you for slowing down and talking with me :)
The second part of today was seeing beautiful Croatian scenery--there were some gentle hills that allowed us to see the vast farmland contrasted with the mountains in the back. We went through a little forest and finally on a road that was 2 km away towards Klenovik. The accommodation was absolutely beautiful, and the bathrooms were actually just recently installed specifically for the Peacewalkers (which are amazing!). Tatjana and her husband Ljubomir were SO extremely hospitable (and she is expecting a baby boy in under a month), and dinner was delicious. They brought us out their own wine to have during supper as well as a Hungarian dessert to top it off, and so afterwards, Fly and I walked to Klenovic to explore the area and see the castle-turned-hospital. The castle is the largest in Croatia and dates back to the 13th century, although now, it is a hospital owned by Zagreb to treat patients with TB and lung infection. It was a little run down on the outside and not as grand as I expected it to be, but we caught a glimpse of the inside that looked quite modern. The sunset coming back home was absolutely gorgeous and made me think just how wonderful it would be to see this breathtaking view everyday--I don't think I could get tired of it.
Tomorrow is quite a long day to Krapina, but we are planning on starting out super early around 7 AM, and after that, we have our extra day that we will take a trip to Zagreb! Donal will meet us in Krapina tomorrow which is super exciting, and I'm ready to see more of Croatia--here we come!!
P.S. Listened to an AWESOME podcast on my walk today by Randy Pausch about time management, and I really thought about asking myself why I am doing certain things and what would happen if I didn't. Now that I have time on my side through walking for hours, I'm taking advantage of it to reflect and enjoy myself, the scenery, the exercise, and the people. "Maximizing time is not the end goal, but it is a means to an end. The end is maximizing fun."
The motto learned today: "Slow down. There is no hurry."
This morning, we had an AMAZING breakfast prepared by Vanya's mom that set us on the right foot moving forward. These past few days, I have been quite gung-ho about really walking the whole day through, but today, I decided I wanted to take some time in the morning to have a chat with a fellow Peacewalker, Robert, our wonderful host and Accredo center owner, Vayna, and the EPW designated helper, Nikola.
First, let me start off by saying the Accredo center is an incredible place--Vanya originally started it because of his passion, paint balling, in which he played professionally and won 9 consecutive championships! Since then, the Accredo center has grown into a team-bonding center with dirt bikes, zip lines, etc. and everyone from the Croatian National Handball Team to Samsung to the Prime Minister has come through for its activities and "good emotion manufacturing". We had a really interesting discussion about the pace of life in Croatia, and how the people there were so incredibly present and patient, always making you feel like you were the most important person. It's really interesting to think about when contrasted to the goal-driven, very fast-paced life that surrounds me at home, where people are constantly moving from place to place and often don't have the time to just take an hour of their day to drink a cup of tea with someone and just talk. I really appreciated how Robert approached the EPW, which was interacting with locals and taking time to understand and talk with them and learn about cultures and not be in a rush--and not saying one way is better than another, but it was certainly a different perspective.
I ended up getting brought up 10 kilometers by Nikola (who is about to start his own company in pursuit of his passion, geocaching!), and somehow, by the fates, I ended up intercepting the rest of the group! We stopped for an ice cream together, and not long after, we were off towards Varazdin!
The day was very hot (32 C or 88 F) and so the walking was slow, but since Robert had actually paid to have our bags sent forward (thank you Robert 😊), we were definitely lighter on our feet! After a long dirt road, we stopped in the shade, talked U.K. politics (what an interesting time!), and went on our way towards our next accommodation! The path took us to through the city center which was beautiful, and we soon ended up at our accommodation, Hotel Turist.
I know I mentioned it in a previous blog post, but really, when you are traveling and don't have access to certain things or even have lowered expectations, everything just becomes that much more magical. The hotel was luxurious and the supermarket--oh the supermarket!--I have never loved a place more (check out the rows of Nutella in picture below)!
Fly and I *splurged* at the supermarket, grabbing fruit, chips, and beers, and headed towards the beautiful park to just enjoy a peaceful afternoon with Theresa and Bridget, where we simply appreciated each other's company and conversation :)
An interesting observation that we made when looking for a dinner place was that it seemed as if eating out for dinner is not necessarily something that is really big in the Croatian culture, since everywhere we looked was mostly served coffee/drinks or dessert. We settled at a wonderful restaurant called Angelo's, after a recommendation from local Croatians, and I had a beautiful squid salad. Afterwards, when looking for a bank (it seems as if most stores in Croatia only accept Kronas and not euros), I walked around a little bit more of downtown Varazdin before heading back to the hotel, where I am now settled in for the night :)
Today was truly a beautiful, slow, amazing, and present day--Croatia, you have truly been good to us walkers thus far :)
P.S. I am very intrigued that T-mobile is everywhere here, especially in smaller villages that we pass by. In another note, the EU is getting rid of data roaming charges on the 15th, so that's pretty dope.
P.P.S. The thread in my blister fell out today AND Fly taught me how to more efficiently dry my clothes by pressing a towel around them. #learningeveryday!!!
Holy dang what a day! Definitely has been my favorite yet :) Hungary for breakfast, Slovenia for lunch, and Croatia for dinner!
We started off the day on a beautiful bike path, where we passed many runners and bikers getting their early morning exercise (whoop whoop!). There was a beautiful lake that I stopped by for a little just taking it in and feeling the breeze from the trees, lucky to be surrounded by this nature. We went on an uphill climb that was definitely worth it because it now put us at the top of the wine vineyards that we had passed in the previous days and gave us an absolutely beautiful view of Hungary going into Slovenia.
We then approached the Vinarium Tower in Lendava, Slovenia around lunchtime and saw a Trieste plaque right up ahead! I ended up getting Gibanica for lunch, which is a Slovenian dessert that had layers of apples, walnuts, poppy seeds, cottage cheese, and cream (tryna hit all the food groups you know?). But the real treat during lunch was a group of Slovenians who were playing the accordion, tambourine, and 2 Slovenian instruments I did not recognize. As I approached to capture this music on film, Theresa took my hand to dance along and the group went wild! They continued playing music, and naturally I invited one of the older men to dance, and soon, we were a large circle dancing, singing, drinking wine and eating bread. One of the women took me dancing which ended up being a very fast spin, and I did some polka with another man! The musicians played Slovenian and Croatian music, but also, perhaps for my sake, they also played "When the Saints go Marching" and "Yellow Submarine." It was seriously such a random period filled with music and dancing (and selfies pictured below) before we said Adio, and headed our separate ways. What a time to be alive walking around with portable music!
After vowing to myself I would aspire to their level of merriment and spiritedness when I'm older, we continued through Slovenia, walking along roads in the city, seeing bigger supermarkets after a few days of smaller towns! Theresa and I talked about going out and just doing things without letting fear hold you back, and I shared the saga that involves Nature-G (s/o to this amazing human 😉). Before long, we came to the Croatian border, and because Croatia is in the EU but is not part of the Schengen Agreement, their borders are not open, so unlike crossing from Hungary to Austria and back, we got stamps in our passport and stepped into a new country!
We got some Krona at a bank and got some good ole snacks at the supermarket! Here, I departed with the group, as they decided to take a taxi to the end, and either my stubbornness, drive, or stupidity (you decide) had me continue on the last leg through some forests, some nettles, a cute town, cornfields, and getting lost...many times *sigh*. (I was actually very frustrated because some of the directions were not clear, but hopefully that will be fixed for the other walkers!)
BUT I made it for day 8! OUR accommodation, which is listed as a paintball center, actually has us staying in this beautiful hotel, where an all inclusive spa is included! Unfortunately, it closed at 8 PM, which was not long after I arrived, so instead, I went to the pub with the others and got an amazing pizza -- dinner in Croatia! During dinner, we met Robert, a peacewalker from Seattle, who unfortunately was not continuing on because his friend and walking partner had a family emergency. We got to chat over dinner and found out that people who travel truly have 3 degrees of separation!
Oftentimes, a week into traveling can be the tough point, but today was a great turn around where both scenery and countries changed. Excited to see what Croatia will bring, and crazy to think that: one week done and one week closer to Trieste!! AHH!! And until then, since I did not get to swim, I am going to take a bath and let my body relax :)
UPDATE: We just got news that Donal, who was originally in our group, but couldn't come because he had gotten pneumonia, is going to fly in and join us on the 14th!!!!! He has walked the EPW 3 times, and he is a superstar--SO unbelievably excited to meet him!!
Today was the last day in Hungary (what!), and although it started off with a light drizzle, quickly into the day the sun came out (especially for Bridget, as she's been sun deprived in Ireland!). It was very much like a casually stroll today since we sent our packs on with Theresa to our destination of Lenti, which was definitely a move since my feet were still feeling tender from the walk yesterday and from my newly threaded blister. Since much of the terrain was flat and the walk was not as long (15.6 miles), there was ample time for conversation together & reflection alone. A few misturns, some forested areas, a long red road, some crop shuffling, a quick cross into Slovenia (all of our first times!) and back out into Hungary, and one tractor pulling down an electrical wire and shutting off power in the town later, we found ourselves in Lenti!
Lenti has around 8,000 inhabitants in it, and you can immediately feel it's different presence than the other villages and towns we have passed/stayed in. For the accomodation, we stayed at the Denis Hotel, a very nice hotel and restaurant just a little past the main road of the town! After talking with the owner whose family started the hotel around 25 years ago, she told me a little more about Lenti, which is famous for its thermal pools, just down the road from us! Unfortunately, I did not wander into these pools because they closed pretty early, but I did wander into town, which was much busier than the smaller villages, with people driving and riding bikes and standing in the streets talking. It was nice to feel the town "alive," and I'm really interested to see how other countries compare!
The dinner at the hotel was amazing: I got this awesome cauliflower dish, another dish ordered was chicken with dates inside, another was Hungarian soup with liver dumplings, and another was Hungarian pizza (sort of like barbecue with ham and onion and other things!). It's crazy to think one week has passed (another what!), and I have well walked over a total of 100 miles (and even more kilometers!! Why doesn't the US use the metric scale?!). We are all definitely getting a little tired, but sending our packs on definitely helps, and we are starting a new wave of adventure tomorrow!
On another note, I have started to adopt the language of my group, now saying "keen" and oftentimes slipping into some sort of accent. I am quite keen to see what I bring home as part of my catchphrases from this trip ;)
Today Tina and I set off on the trail after a lovely evening and morning with Janet and her amazing hospitality. After we got out of the town, we went awhile on the dirt road and discussed a variety of topics, including experiences traveling, relationships, parenting, politics, to name a few. As we walked along the trees, we realized we had not seen a red arrow for awhile.
Note to self and other Peacewalkers: The EPW will NOT take you through an electric fence! If you see one, it is probably the wrong way!
Well if that gives you indication of what happened next, we went through thinking it would lead somewhere, but alas, we ended up in an enclosed cow pasture and thankfully due to GoogleMaps and our stick, we navigated back to the path that we had just overlooked, and walked on to the next town. GO us!
Around this time, I realized that a blister on my left pinky toe had been growing, and may need to be taken care of when we got to accommodation. More on that later, but Tina and I ended up walking for awhile, keeping our energy up, since this was a 27.5 km day but ended up being 30 km (around 20 miles) for us after our little pasture detour. Lucikly, around 15 km in, we reached an EPW coffee place that Janet had told us about, and we were greeted by the lovely Ava, her son Robert, and his girlfriend, Barbie. They brought out drinks, sandwiches, and cookies that we could buy and we stopped under a veranda to rest our weary feet.
Afterwards, feeling much more refreshed, we walked through a good amount of dusty road, with a few up and down hills and close to the end, we reached the Ewok house (pictured below)! We met a nice man named Zsolt Kobol in the town coming out of the Ewok house (which has a grand total of 18 people!), who told us that the Ewok House was owned by a German who is currently in Vietnam. He hired an architect to build it, but currently no one currently inhabits the house. We then powered on the next 6 km to GO-NA the place we would stay for day 6!
I was definitely very sore coming in but relieved there was a pool at the accommodation (although I would not take a swim until much later on in the night). We had a nice dinner, and then, came time to pop the blister.
I would like to give a HUGE s/o to Fly, who is currently studying in Scotland as a pre-med and I can already recommend her as an amazing doctor. She sterilized the needles and thread, and I watched her do it first like a professional (and I admittedly started crying just watching her do it). BUT she and Theresa sat by my side and coached me as I successfully popped my first blister!! Honestly I have never felt so proud #nowaseasonedwalker 😎
I do think something to keep in mind on the EPW is that you do end up deciding what your experience will be like and what interaction you want to have with both the other walkers and the places that we stay. I have found it really nice to talk to accommodation hosts, as well as the people who are there, and learn more about the area or even the local drinks there! Fly and I ended up sharing some homemade Hungarian wine (mixed with mineral water) and Körtepalinka with three guys visiting from the neighboring town, whereas we could have also curled up, read, and slept (truly an amazing option as well)! During the day, there were times Tina and I chose to walk side by side engrossed in conversation, but also times where we walked separately, taking in the walk by ourselves and listening to music. It is what you make of it, and I would say it was quite a wholesome day. :)
This day really has taken a lot out of me, BUT I am happy to say that I have successfully walked 20.4 miles through wine cellars, forests, open fields, and straight through the middle of a cornfield (when I got lost)--completely alone!
I knew that one of my goals during the EPW was learning how to be alone and physically challenge myself, so when the rest of the group decided to taxi halfway, I decided this would be a good day to put the pedal to the metal and walk the entire 30 km (and then some as I got lost). I started off the day walking through some open fields, listening to various voice messages, when after 2 hours, I stumbled upon the little town of Moschendorf, and took a stop for sunscreen. Little did I know that this would lead to more than an hour of wine tasting, talking to the wonderful Wolfgang and Barbara, playing guitar, and learning more about the area!
I said hi to Wolfgang as I saw him, and we first started conversing in German (by this time, I had crossed the border back into Austria), before using English. Wolfgang told me that the area around was a wine tasting area built in 1787 and recently rebuilt within the past 20 years, and the area was known for Uhudler, a rosé tasting of strawberries and blackberries, that was only Horne and sold within this area! He then told me normally the area didn't open until 2 PM, but today there was a tourist group coming in, and if I wanted to join in the wine testing, he would not mind. I agreed, set my pack down, and Barbara came and offered me a glass of Uhudler. It was deliciously sweet (I already love Rose and this was truly prime!!), and before long, I had decided to buy a bottle to bring to the rest of the group when I finally reached my destination! I sat around strumming a guitar I had found, sipping Uhudler, and talking to Wolfgang about his retirement two years ago and moving from Switzerland here to this peaceful area in Austria. Before the tour group came, however, I realized I should probably get going since I had a long day ahead of me, and Barbara sent me off with some sweet bread :)
14 miles, a group of Hungarian women, and one forest man later, I am ready to head to bed after finishing Day 4. Back to the beginning!
Today was quite a cool day after the rain, making the walk very enjoyable--barely any sweat and no sunscreen besides my face and neck! We had a great breakfast at the horse barn and headed out around 8:30 AM. We walked through various dirt and grassy paths, and before long, we saw a man coming from the other side approaching us! When he came, he gave a HUGE hello to "welcome the Peacewalkers and protect us in the forest!" His name was Lacy, and he was a true forest man. His mom was German and his dad was a Hungarian soldier, and when he was 4, he ran away to the forest for 2 days because he was scared of his father. He continued to tell us about his life growing up, especially within the communist era of Hungary, as well as pointing out wildlife, the significance of different trees, and signs he had made for the Peacewalkers in the forest! He walks 10 km a day through the woods, protecting them as "we are all guests and nature is our mother,"
He left us at our next town and we went on our way. As we continued to walk, we not only crossed the border from Hungary to Austria, but crossed back from Austria to Hungary while walking the Iron Curtain Trail, where the former Iron Curtain stood, a boundary dividing the Communist East with the Capitalist West. As we went from Austria back into Hungary, you could really see the difference in wealth the two countries had just through small towns and villages. It definitely made me think of the larger mission of this walk, and really understand the suffering that went on because of this border. Many cars passing the border merely slowed down and nodded to the police officer sitting where the former border patrol officers must have been extremely strict. Rajmund, our accommodation host, told us over a yummy dinner of goulash soup and crepes that during the time when the border was closed, you really could not buy anything at the shops because they would not have anything on the shelves. He affirmed that "the open border has undoubtedly been the best thing for Hungary, and even so, it is 30-40 years behind Austria."
Another interesting thing to note about both Lacy and Rajmund: both had some connection with Allentown, PA! Lacy goes there every year to write history of the area and Rajmund's sister has been living there for over 10 years. I am guessing if I took a gander over there from Pittsburgh, I would find a lot of Hungarians who settled there, found jobs, and built their own community. It's crazy how the world is connected!
And as we were settling down for the night, we noticed some women walking into the community center we were staying at, carrying mats and small exercise-like balls. We asked them if we could join, and soon enough, we were in the midst of Hungarian Pilates, full of core stretches and squeezing the ball to exercise something that I am unsure of. Needless to say, it was an awesome experience and everyone was super welcoming!
"I've got a new term for people our age: degeneration." -Theresa, Ireland
Today we headed towards Dozmat from Köszeg, but we decided to take a "rest day" and have our packs sent forward as a group, since Day 3 can oftentimes be the hardest of any walk. This meant that as we traversed through forest, little towns, hobbit houses with cows by them, big billowy fields, and finally to the horse barn we are staying at for the night, I got to rest my shoulder and my calf and the rest of my body for the almost 16 miles we walked (what a "rest" for me means on this walk! I have faith!!).
Since we stayed in Hungary for today, one thing I realized was how handy my education of German was! It allowed me to converse with most shopowners if needed, and along the way, I got a red "Hungary" hat (by insitence of my mother who remarked I was quite sunburnt) and some delicious gelato at this cafe in Bozsok, which truly lifted my spirits! Lesson to note: pay attention when learning languages! They are the gateway into someone's world :)
For most of today, I walked a few paces behind the group, and really took in everything around me, all the while listening to podcasts, music, and the sound of nature. As we neared the last 5 km of the walk, we went through these gigantic fields, and of course, what else to do but belt out Adele and Sam Smith? (A very liberating moment, danke schön.) I was particularly enamored by the BEAUTIFUL flowers that were everywhere, and I think I want a garden just like them when I'm older!
We ended the day in Dozmat at a horse barn, but in reality it is this absolutely beautiful guest house, where a hot shower and delicious dinner were to be had! I saw Theresa going to do Tai Chi, and I am glad to announce that I will be her disciple from this day foreword, hopefully doing it every morning and night! Tomorrow our packs will go back on, and it will be a new day and a great day :)
PS. I didn't get sunburnt today and applied around 4 different times!! WAHOO!!
And with just over a half-marathon long walk (13.6 miles), Day 2 is complete! We started the day with a hearty buffet breakfast from Jufa Hotel, as well as packed our lunch & apple snacks from the breakfast, so I would say it was a successful morning! We met two other Peacewalkers who were from Calgary, Canada which was super exciting to know that our group was growing--and who knows, maybe some mysterious Peacewalkers will continue showing up!
The day started around 8:30 AM with four of us going ahead first, and it was a nice cloudy day, cooled down from the day before. We walked through a lot of nice bike paths and roads (where many bikers would greet us with a "Guten Morgan!") and a particularly long stretch of brush that had been trampled on by previous Peacewalkers. We went through expansive rolling hills as well that reminded me of the Sound of Music, and passed through a few quaint towns that had absolutely beautiful flowers as decoration! All the while, the red arrows were certainly keeping us in the right direction walking!
A lovely part of the day was walking through the town and meeting someone who was picking cherries! With the limited German I had from taking the language in high school, I understood that we could simply take the cherries and eat them along the way! We noticed that the entire town was covered in nice cherry trees and thus we had a nice snack! The latter half of the walk was more woodlands like, with gravel paths and through a forest before we emerged spotting Köszeg in the distance!! The red arrows definitely helped us navigate the town, and we walked along parks before we finally came to the street where we found Accomodation #2!
We got in around 3:30 PM, and after showering, I promptly fell asleep and took a nap, with my whole body aching. Fly and I then went downstairs and had a really nice dinner and talked all about education & the reforms that need to happen (a topic I could go on forever about!). Our group has decided to send our bags over to the next stop for tomorrow, especially since when walking Day 3 can be the hardest (says those much more experienced than I), so I believe the walk will be nice & relaxed without a 40 L bag on my shoulders!
"Party Meals for Hungary Guests at Any Time" -- truly cracked me up #klassic
Now the time has come to hit the hay, and get ready for a day of walking tomorrow! Since the sun has definitely left its mark, tomorrow's mission is to reapply every 20 minutes. Protect the skin! It's really beginning to hit me that we are walking all the way to Italy...what?! 1/11 of the way there!
Peace out for now,
16.2 miles later, day 1 is complete! I can't believe the walk has officially started, and now that we are in the first accommodation, I can recount the arrival in Sopron and the first day!
Zoe and I arrived in Sopron last evening around 5 PM, and were charmed by the small city beauty, elegance, and simplicity. As we walked into town, we ended up running into Fly, a fellow Peacewalker from England! We ended up walking all around town because being the lack-of-common sense person I am, I did not book any hotels. SO note to future Peacewalkers: book accommodations way in advance because Sopron can be a pretty pricey place!! There are guest houses on the outskirts of the city that tend to fill up quickly, but are much cheaper than the hotels downtown. Afterwards, we met up with Theresa and Bridget, both from Ireland, and had a lovely dinner at Deak Etterem (who Donal, a veteran Peacewalker who was going to join our group but unfortauntely got pneumonia, had reserved for us) discussing tomorrow's logistics and getting to know each other, before calling it a night. Zoe and I ended up best case scenario couch surfing with a native Sopron architect, Attila, who was very hospitable (and taught us a lot about Sopron!). Zoe and I talked pretty late into the night, when we decided it would be best for her not to do the peacewalk because her pack had been bothering her and really digging into her shoulders, and walking such long distances would certainly not help. I couldn't be more grateful to her friendship, kindness, spontaneity, and genuineness, however, and I cannot wait until she is a future Peacewalker :)
The next morning, after a nice breakfast with Attila, I said goodbye to Zoe at the train station, and headed to meet up with the group at Hotel Löver! Fly and I ended up arriving a little later, so we ended up walking the day together, as Theresa and Bridget had started ahead of us. And dang, what a day!
We started off the walk through a good amount of shady forest area which was quite nice since the sun was out, and soon, ended up on a hill where you could see where we had left behind Sopron. We then walked through many stretches of grape vineyards that were absolutely stunning--we passed some rolling hills that reminded me of the Sound of Music. All the while, we were following red arrows that were painted on trees, rocks, and signs (with stickers!) by the wonderful Cressey and Peter, who had gone before us. There were a few countryside houses along the way which were really nice, and all the while, Fly and I shared wonderful conversation!
We stopped in a little town for some ice cream & coke to cool down, and when we continued along our way, we got hit with first a light drizzle and then some pretty big rain drops! Fly and I decided to go off the route and instead turn into the closest city for shelter from the rain, and hey, what's a walk without some rain?! As we took refuge in this town, we realized that there was a sign pointing to Neutal very close ahead that said 5 km, and after thinking a lil bit about the rain that may still come, we decided to follow that through the town and hope it ended up converging with the path again. So we walked through the town--which was beautifully neat and tidy and quaint--and when we reached the end...THE RED ARROW ONE AGAIN APPEARED! Instincts of directional sense had prevailed!!!
We followed the arrows after that quite easily until the last stretch, where we couldn't quite see any more but we came into a clearing, and while we were confused at first, ended up being our first nights accommodation!! We had made it in at around 3:40 PM (woo!) and I had never smiled so widely :)
Theresa & Bridget came in a little afterwards and we shared dinner together and got ready for bed--at around 9 pm!! And now, my body is aching, my shoulders are sore, my clothes are drying, my mind is nervous, and I am honestly a little scared for the days to come, but every day is a new day, and I'm super proud of finishing Day 1. Here's to tomorrow, and crossing back from Austria to Hungary!
PS. Thank you for helping me calm my fears and nerves and worries. This is going to be a challenge, but it's one I want. You know who you are :)