Pilgrimages don’t have to last for weeks or months in order to have a great impact. A single day experience can be of great significance too! This certainly was the case with my one day pilgrimage on the Münchner Jakobsweg.
the Munich Way of St. James
As you might have noticed on my instagram, I frequently travel to Germany. A fortnight ago, I spent the week in Munich and, in preparation for my day off, did some research on hiking trails nearby. My search ended on this German website dedicated to all the different German routes to Santiago. Although I didn’t understand half of it, I did figure out how I’d spent my day off: hiking the first part of the Müncher Jakobsweg, or the Munich Way of St. James.
Munich to Schäftlarn – the first stage
Purple skies. I left before the sun had risen and took a metro to Marienplatz, which lies in the city center of Munich. From there I walked to the beginning of my one day pilgrimage: Sankt-Jakobs-Platz (St. Jacob’s place).
This first part of the Münchner Jakobsweg took me through the old town of Munich, first across the river Isar and then south, following the water. Soon enough, I’d found a sign of recognition: the scallop shell, guiding me on this micro Camino.
The day was gorgeous and the sun brightened up the impressive display of autumn colours. It was like walking through a painting of a landscape I’d never seen in my entire life. About two hours in I had a short coffee break, and ate a sandwich by the water. The quiet was almost overwhelming. I soaked it up and let it sink in before I continued on a forest path that led me to Schäftlarn.
Reaching the monastery of Schäftlarn meant I’d finished the first stage of the Münchner Jakobsweg (24km). I went into a small Maria chapel and to my surprise I found a little table with a pilgrim stamp attached to it. When walking the Camino de Santiago, getting a stamp in my pilgrim’s passport always felt like receiving some kind of reassurance. “See! There you go, another step in the right direction, keep on going!” I couldn’t resist and – in the absence of something more sufficient – stamped the metro ticket I’d used in the morning.
Schäftlarn to Starnberg – a little bit longer
The bells rang twelve o’clock. I sat on the lawn of the monastery, eating another sandwich. I sort of challenged myself to keep walking if I’d make it to Schäftlarn before twelve. So yeah. No way out. Off you go!
From Schäftlarn, the route went a up long way, and up and more up. Then the path took me through wide open fields, past farms and through a few of tiny villages. Again, the scallop leading the way. I noticed how my awareness had changed from when I’d left earlier that morning. Now, my body was in tune with the rhythm of my steps. My mind became quiet.
And then there it was, the Starnberger See (Lake Starnberg). As I walked down a sloping street, I could see the water shimmering in the sunlight. The path took me into a park right next to this giant lake. Once I was down by the water, I stepped onto a big stone lying right on the edge of the lake. I looked to my left and my heart filled itself with joy. The Alps! The view was so intensely beautiful that I forgot my aching legs for a moment, completely taken by that which my eyes were capturing. The end of my micro Camino couldn’t have been more enchanting!
As I sat in the train back to Munich, the day played itself out in my head like a video on double speed. Not just the many different things I’d seen and admired, also the emotions and quiet moments that had passed through me, repeated itself in my head. I was surprised. Since returning from Santiago, I’d was constantly looking to for major hikes. Obviously, having a job and a million and one other things to do plus little financial means, those massive adventures are just not always an option.
My micro Camino on the Münchner Jakobsweg made me realise that big insights can happen anytime, also on a one day pilgrimage (or any other hike for that matter). The secret, I think, is to just get out there and open yourself up for the possibility that you’re about to have your biggest adventure yet!