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 :)