Escape from the Rain: Klausen, Südtirol

Hmpf…

Hector is through with it: parked eternally, enduring rain and cold and never-ever used for spontaneous trips. For the 4th time in a row, 11°C and liters of rain cross my camping plans.

Solution: Change the destination!

Better here: Klausen, Camping Gamp

2h 45 are all it takes. Before the night settles in, we unpack the mountain bikes, get out the chairs and the table and enjoy outdoor dinner with a bit of wine and much of a view.

Other than Munich, the next morning in Klausen starts with blue skies, warm sun and a blocked bathroom door. The detail with the door is a bit disturbing. Not that I need Hector’s tiny bathroom when situated on a comfy campsite, but almost everything is stored in there: toothbrush, MTB equipment, sunscreen.

While others may face anything as boring as simple breakfast, we have a challenge ahead: analyze the function of Hector’s lockers, try to dismantle the blocking padlock, try and try and try to open this stubborn door. A half cup of coffee later, a final, frustrated slam at the door does the trick and it clicks open. The entire crew is happy to see me head off for the lavatory, toothbrush at hand.

…Then Later the Same Morning…

Plan of the day is a MTB tour from Klausen to Brixen. While the landscape is pretty and the weather just fine, I realize that today’s company is sort of a tour guide for the vertical.

MTB Tour of a Kind

We come from steep via very steep to incredibly steep gradient. Sweating and swearing, I push my bike uphill. I learn the hard way that a 19% slope is beyond cycling… My smile may have become a bit forced along the way, but at least I look sporty as hell.

…Up! He said…

In Feldthurns (Velturno), we use the inviting Gartencafé Tonig Bar for a break. Afterwards, the upcoming 20km of the tour are a piece of cake: passing by the castle, then down on serpentine roads, and finally following the river until we reach Klausen.

Focusing on New Challenges

The rest of the day is sunny, relaxed and full of wonderful food. Life can be sweet on a holiday weekend!

Relaxed Way Down

After a gourmet evening at Walther von der Vogelweide, we are up for another day at Klausen. Hector agrees to wait on the bus parking while the rest of us walks up to the Sabiona Monastery and the Chapel of Mercy (Lady Chapel).

Once more, the paths are steep and uneven. Still, it is so much easier without pushing the bike! Eventually, we arrive at the convent and enter the Church of the Holy Cross.

Huge wall paintings and the general atmosphere of the church are a surprise and a contrast to the fortress character of the area.

Church of the Holy Cross

By Sunday afternoon, we have checked all of Klausen’s highlights: the bike & the hike part, several restaurants, a bit of wine here and a bit of ice-cream there, the camping and the monastery. Hence, we tether up the sun to Hector’s hitch and go back to German weather.

A Weekend at Klausen with All In

3-Peaks Cross-Over: Notkarspitze

Starting Point Ettal

Sometimes the few-lines-tour-description does not come close to the sensation along the way. What sounds like a medium tour for a relaxed Saturday turns out a 3-peak-cross-over-hike.

Later, when we Look back on it, it will All Seem Easy

Unsurprisingly, Gunther is the hiking buddy of the day – whenever he joins, unforeseen summits (such as Ochsensitz or Ziegelspitze) come along. Fortunately, I am not easy to convince and keep to my expectation that the next peak in sight must be today’s destination of a summit.

First in a row is the Ochsensitz, passed by casually when taking the right path at an unmarked fork.

Almost hidden along the Way: Ochsensitz = No. 1

No. 2 = Ziegelspitze

It is only when we reach the Ziegelspitze cross that I have to admit: nice here, but not Notkarspitze. It is a pity, but then it is a good place for a snack with a view just the same.

We leave Ziegelspitze behind, appreciating the multifaceted paths, getting more and more of an open view on the surrounding landscape. The hilly landscape with ups and downs and ridges, to be more precise. It dawns on me that we need to conquer it all: the saddle we are on, the mountain we see ahead to the left, and then all the way up to the more distant peak straight ahead. It must be around here when Gunther drops a word about being happy that I have proposed the tour, meaning that I cannot blame him for the efforts we face.

…then Further along the Way…
Walking up the Ridge is always a Good Idea

Eventually, we get there. Once settled down with a Gipfelsemmel, I regain forces quickly. Full of energy, new plans come up. Let’s take the most steep way down! We are young, we are strong, we can ignore the skeptical thoughts of the others. Before we leave, it is time to get back to handstand skills. Obviously, you should exercise every now and then if aiming for a vertical form…

#hikingthealps #lovehiking #handstand Hiking the Alps #travelbritta #travelhector
No. 3 = Notkarspitze in Various Perspectives

The way down is the most steep descent of all tours so far. In the end, I clench my teeth while I feel every nerve in my feet, every movement in my knees and every inch of altitude that we lose. Three minutes later, we are there: The Ettaler Mühle welcomes us with coffee, cold beverages and a rural choice of food.

Steep flanks on the Northern Side

The last passage back to the parking is nothing less than the ultimate proof of fitness: 3:05h up + 2:10h down have not brought us down. We beat the proposed 45 minutes by far, heading back to the car in a mere 25 minutes. Guess I have become a mountain-speed-snail after all.

1.100m altit. difference<14 km5:35 hmostly harmless

Opposite Peaks: Brecherspitz and Bodenschneid

No explanation available. Except, perhaps, for the pictures and the scenery.

This is why

Hard to tell why I go up to the top, then down, then up again. Sweating, sometimes swearing, either alone or in company. Knowing that hiking the Alps always leads to good company. Those who share the same wacky lust for mountain paths are always good for a little chat here or a tour-recommendation there, mostly likeable.

Path following the Ridge up to the Brecherspitz
Taking a closer Look

Starting smart and early, I make my way over the ridge towards the Brecherspitz at 9:00 a.m. Far from being the first, I find myself surrounded by a group of 60-something-guys and a cloud of flying ants. The latter can be beaten successfully by an overdose of citronella spray.

Up for a Concert

My Gipfelsemmel is accentuated by an Alpine concert. As Bergfex as can be, one of the mountain enthusiasts stands up and starts yodeling, leaving me stunned with goose bumps on my arms. Never had I guessed that yodeling can sound so sweet and charming! What comes next is a heartful song, again with the uttermost talent and just perfect on this exposed peak, high above the civilized world.

Happy on Top

No further motivation needed for my douple peak challenge! Leaving about 50% of the peak’s height behind, I reach the Obere Firstalm at 10:00 a.m. Too early for lunch, but a good time for the second part of the tour.

See the peak to the right? Next Stop Bodenschneid!

Despite the 28° C reached by now, I head up for the Bodenschneid, sole peak with view on all 3 lakes around: Tegernsee, Schliersee, Spitzingsee.

Almost there in almost 30°C

I have been here before, fortunately. This time, I am exhausted, paying few attention to the outlook. I rather try to sit in the tiny shadow thrown by the peak’s cross, regaining forces for the second descent.

The strangest of all peak crosses: Bodenschneid

Only yesterday, it seemed reasonable to add the Bodenschneid to the Brecherspitz-tour, facing the fact that 500-something-meters altitude difference are way below my possibilities. Now I wonder when and in which state I will reach the Obere Firstalm, aiming for shadow even more than for a light meal.

…then on my way back…

Thanks to my boundless fitness, it takes less than an hour to get down to the Alm. The terrace offers enough space for tourists and hikers, topped by great service and Bavarian food. From here on, the forest roads back to the Spitzingsattel/parking can be done effortless, even better with intensified gravity (food, did I mention the Bavarian food?!).

…for being here… for having reached… for widened horizons…

Finally, I am happy to count around 880 m altitude difference, two summits and 4,5 hours of joyful action.

880m altit. difference13 km4:30 hmostly harmless

Kreuzbergalm / Schliersee

The early bird gets the summit! During my second cup of coffee, I watch the sun enfold a midsized light show and start to prepare today’s hike.

Weeks of rain have kept me away from the Alps far too long. Consequence is one of the light-blue tours of my preferred hiking book, presented as a 3 hours-walk up to the Kreuzbergalm.

…then along the way…

School holidays meet one of the rare sunny days, resulting in high traffic density. Yet, I reach the Schliersee region at 6:30 a.m.without the slightest delay. When I start my walk at 7:05, I hope that I will reach the peak before my body realizes that I have skipped breakfast (time over food quantity, I’d say).

#kreuzbergalm
Good Morning, Kreuzbergalm

I beat the expected time (1:50h) significantly when settling down at the peak at a quarter past eight. The scenery is lovely, with the Wendelstein in the East, Baumgartenschneid in the South and the grey, stony walls of the Karwendel peaks in the West.

Lookout to Wendelstein

The Kreuzbergalm is a perfect match in the rural surrounding. It is a pity that I am too little too early for the offered delicacies.

Looking West

Smart girl that I am, I have taken along the mediocre trial of home-made cinnamon buns, knowing that anything tastes delicious in the thin air of a high peak. About 500 kcal later, I have regained enough energy for a selfie before a super-speed descent back to Schliersee.

reach out touch faith; #personaljesus
Reach out, touch Faith!
415m altit. difference7,5 km1:45hVery Harmless

Four weeks later, the déjà-vu. Today with a friend and the Kreuzbergalm open for guests. And with confiding, happy cows. We (the cow and me) come to the same conclusion: All worth it.

Finzalm and the Beauty in Nature

Later today, I will pity not to have put a bikini in my backpack… The landscape, the torrent and the entire tour turn out just lovely. All of it begins with Götz, the organizing hiking master of the day.

Initiator of the pretty Tour

We start at Wallgau and follow forest roads in the general direction of the Finanzbachklamm. The charming gorge lays down at our feet, or so it seems when the dirt road eventually approaches it’s edge.

Finzbachklamm

Once stepped in the network of hiking paths around Krün / Wallgau, you can choose any kind of route suiting the mood of the day. Götz, all up for his mission of the detection of Kaiserschmarrn, makes it clear that a hike without mountain tavern is not among given options. Consequently, we head for the Finzalm = today’s destination.

#Hikingthealps Hiking the alps #lovehiking #finzalm
Finzalm

The Alm is pretty and offers whatever you want – except for Kaiserschmarrn, that is. At least one of us is happy and all head-over-heels for coffee and a light meal. The other one takes it with nature-given dignity.

With your Feet in the Air and your Head on the Ground…

The chalet is surrounded by a landscape that has emerged directly from a kitschy fairy-tale book. Of course, I am a rational person, but while my companion is busy with a piece of Kirschstreusel-cake, I secretly watch out for unicorns, just in case…

Fairy-Tale Landscape

Before we follow the Finzbach-gorge back to Wallgau, we step down into the valley with happy cows and a mystic current.

In such a charming surrounding, I wonder if it guarantees eternal youth once you dive into the shimmering water. Perhaps I will come back for a trial when I grow up…

If only I had taken along my bikinis…

Returning to the car takes some time due to all the specialties that are to be admired along the way. The gorge of the Finzbach, a natural cave beneath a giant rock formation, and the fairy-tale path with figures and stories right at the end of the tour.

In the end, we may not have resolved the mystery of the handful of young men and why (or where-to) they carry umpteen crates of beer, but we have enjoyed a wonderful hike.

Another Facet of Finzbachklamm
300m altit. difference11 km3hharmless

Teufelsstättkopf – Leaving Pürschling and Tourists Behind

Back to Hiking – Holidays are over!

Nice Prominent Peak

A real peak, standing sole and prominent, that is what the Teufelsstättkopf is like. I start at Unterammergau, leave alone the gorge of Schleifmühlenklamm (tempest destroyed the path) and find a slow, steady pace.

Oh so Lovely

Forest roads lead up with significant gradient, with the outcome of uncounted short breathers for the low-level-superspeed-tourists. When a lovely chapel hits the way, it is by far more welcome for a respiration pause than for its inner or outer beauty.

I keep to my constant snail-speed and enjoy the surrounding.

Looking down on Pürschlinghaus

Once the Pürschling-Haus is left behind, the ways finally turn into diverse hiking paths. I accelerate when the peak gets in sight – based on the rock walls, the final passage might be of the interesting kind.

#hikingthealps #lovehiking #loveclimbing
Rock, a whole lot of Rock

The last meters are indeed worth the entire hike, topped by the stylish cross and the exposed inches around.

The Interesting Passage

Once settled down with my Gipfelsemmel, I soak in the view. Pictures hardly get a glimpse of the impression you witness when seated high above almost everything: the path 40m below, the valley down in 800m or the Alps’ peaks showing up in a few km distance.

I tend to like it up here

Before I turn downwards, I try to imitate the shape of the peak’s cross. The outcome is slightly hilarious, but still I strike the pose despite limited space.

930m altit. difference11 km3h 35 min.mostly harmless

…and then: Back. France 2021, Part 14

In fact, this is not how it looks like on departure day. Instead, rain and stormy wind ease my decision to get up and going – if not for the closed barrier at the campsite’s exit. It remains stubbornly closed until I place an early morning wake up-call for helpful staff with a key.

Super-Héctor et la Moselle

Hector takes the road under his wheels, turns up the music and off we go. 829 km further, we are back in summer temperatures and make Metz our home for the night. The camping municipal almost falls into the Moselle river with a mere 10 minutes-walk to the heart of the city.

Metz, downtown

Metz is not huge, but vivid and full of students, leading to all kinds of bars, cafés and restaurants spread over the alleys of the vielle ville.

Metz, Cathedral

The cathedral is the most prominent landmark around and most probably calm and impressing inside. I wonder if I should check it out, but get tempted by Hector’s cosy bed. 10 hours of driving have been less of an effort at the age of twenty-something…

The 533 km between Metz and Munich are a piece of cake. Being only half way through my pile of road music, I put Hector in parking position right in time for a welcome coffee at my neighbour’s place. Great to have both: a comfy apartment and the world’s best super-van.

Highlights and Encounters – France 2021, Part 13

I wake up in golden light with low tide at my feet. Today is my last day on Île de Ré and there is one village missing on my list.

My destination of choice, La Flotte, is a quick win: just a few kilometers against the wind and easy to find – as long as the sea is to my right, I can hardly go wrong.

…straight, then left…

It turns out that La Flotte is the most charming of all island villages. A cute little harbour, a handful of bars and restaurants and one or two tiny alleys with all sorts of shops. Today, it is topped by a dramatic sky.

La Flotte, Harbour

I hurry up for some pictures with green water and heavy clouds. I very much prefer interesting skies to endless blue horizons – at least for the photographs.

Sunny Days look oh so boring, don’t you think?

I am realistic enough to prefer a table under a solid roof for lunch, making me look like a smart (and dry) girl. I am in the middle of my main course when the rain pours down and dozens of tourists hurry up to find better places before their wine turns into spritzers.

A half hour later, the scenery is picture-postcard again. In high season, the places might be packed with people, but in the mid of June with mixed-up weather, it is as relaxed as can be.

so relaxed

I stroll around and take my time to detect the facets of the place. I have the promenade at the shore all for myself, except for the toy boats (or so it seems) dancing on the water’s surface.

Promenade at La Flotte

The view over the sea towards the horizon reminds me of one of my favourite songs: Au-delà des orages / je part en voyage / mon âme au vent / le coeur éléphant… It is about travelling, about a big heart and about the joy of living – and so appropriate.

Au-delà des orages…

A few steps further, I come to a small church. Despite the emptiness (me being the sole person in here), it feels vivid and inviting. The spirit of it’s regular visitors fills the air like the well-used song books fill the shelfs on both sides of the main aisle.

Some days ago, I have met a nice gentlemen who proudly talked about his life. How he feels at the age of 80, how he likes the exchange with others and how much he loved his wife. It is by far not the only encounter of these holidays, yet I still hear his warm goodbye: Soyez heureuse! / Be happy! I figure this may be the best bottom line for a fulfilled life, and I am willing to give my best following his advice.

Me, Happy.

By now, I am en route with Hector for about 16 days and it still feels wonderful. Along the way, I have met friends and strangers, surfers and tourists, pensioners and campsite workers. I have felt adopted by my camping neighbours, and I have tried my best to pimp the beach sunsets with some ukulele chords. The conclusion is: the world is better with open borders and open-minded people of all kinds.

If not for conversations and encounters, a voyage would be nothing more than just sightseeing. I love the unexpected moments that enfold, such as the fresh fish offered by the camper-next-door – just because of a nice “hello” on the way back from his afternoon’s kayak & fishing tour.

Finally, my last island-day comes to an end. But not without the most spectacular sunset: Hard to decide which scene I like best, so here comes the inflation of red-golden light in umpteen pics.

It’s oh so quiet (when my ukulele is out of reach)

And, of course, Hector is the heart of it all.

Tomorrow, we will make our way over the beauty of a bridge, heading East for some hundreds of kilometers.

#iledere #travelhector #reisebritta #pontdere

The Bridge – France 2021, Interlude

Pont-de-Re #iledere #pontdere #travelhector #reisebritta
Sundown in Rivedoux

The bridge Pont de l’Île de Ré is the most dominant object in and around Rivedoux. Picking up the coast line, stretching in a smooth curve over the sea, it is a nice piece of a monument. The instable weather rewards me with fantastic light, luring me out of my van, with the camera in one hand and the tripod in the other. The outcome is a series of unfiltered holiday extract: golden and promising, calm and exciting, with a wide view that may or may not exceed the horizon.

La Rochelle – France 2021, Part 12

Rivedoux is the perfect starting point for a day at La Rochelle. The bridge is toll-free for cyclists and the pistes cyclables enable a relaxed visit. No parking fee, no traffic jam. While the route along the shore is closed down for construction, the alternative is pretty okay as well.

Passing by the local Airport

In the banlieus of La Rochelle, architects have proved that playing with colours, with different heights and with open space and some meadows or trees beware the inhabitants of the  cramped feeling ever seen so often in apartment blocks. I pass by several examples of different styles and forms and little parks in between, approaching the centre ville from the backside.

Banlieus

My first glance at the older parts of La Rochelle is into the market hall: unfortunately, all closed down. So much for the recommendation of best food and choice of delicacies.

Leaving the market behind, I stroll around until I get to the most touristic part: the vieux port. Famous for ancient towers and known as “white city” due to the white stone of most buildings, it usually attracts thousands of tourists. June 2021 is different: despite some foreign languages here and there, La Rochelle is far from being overrun by travelers from abroad.

Vieux Port

In the late morning, cafés and restaurants are still empty and hence inviting for a cup of coffee or two. Stress-less sightseeing at its best!

Relaxed City Trip

I continue my way along the old city walls and the basin of the old port. Having read a bit about the towers and their various functions over the time, I wonder if a visit inside one or another is worth it.

Given the hilarious prices (min. 9,- EUR for the small one), I skip it and rather invest my holiday savings in a solid lunch break.

Leaving the Port behind

With the afternoon, darker clouds approach. I admit that the ancient La Rochelle is pretty and vivid, yet I am not the most excited city hopper and rather get back to my island of happiness.

Clouds above La Rochelle

On my way back, a lady whose age is some years ahead of mine, takes a visible effort to ride an old version of a racing bike. With my super-speedy Brompton bike Prince Harry I overtake her easily. For about three times. I may be faster, but she definitely knows some tricks and abbreviations.

…and then the Afternoon enfolds

Back on Île de Ré, I realize that the rain clouds decided to keep to the mainland. Best conditions for a couple of hours at the campsite’s 20m pool, finally getting me into some swim training and a bit of a teint.

A remarkable way to Include the Lighthouse into the City