Countdown: 9

Grundsatzfrage: Lässiger Campingbus oder Weiße Ware Wohnmobil? Selbstverständlich der Bus! Deswegen ist Hector auch so schlank (2m Breite) und hat so lustige Proportionen (5,60m Länge). Aus unerfindlichen Gründen umfasst seine Ahnen-Reihe einen Adventskalender, so dass mein Bus mehr als 24 Fächer, Türchen, Klappen, Regale und sonstige Verstau-Möglichkeiten hat – und da ist das Bad als Abstellraum noch gar nicht mitgezählt.

General question: casual camper-van or white mobile home? Sure enough: the van! And this is why Hector is slim (2m width) and comes with funny proportions (5,60m length). For whatever which reason, he has an Advent calendar among his ancestors, leading to more than 24 compartments, shelfs, boxes and further storage possibilities – with the bathroom as general storeroom not even counted in.

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The Couch as a raw Skeleton

Ende 2019 dann: Zu viel Arbeit. Etliche abgesagte Urlaubstage. Kaum noch Zeit für Ausgehen, Sport und Freunde. Was hilft? Frust-Shopping! Und so steht nun ein zweites Faltrad im Keller und die Frage im Raum: wie passt das in Hector?

In 2019, the following situation enfolded: Work, much too much work. Quite a few cancelled vacation days. Hardly any time to go out, do sports, meet friends. Consequently, I tried to compensate missing good times with shopping and, tadaa, I now call another folded bicycle my own. Which leads to the question: how can it fit into Hector?

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Materials – check! Work yet to come…

Eher zufällig stellt sich heraus, dass das neue Rad mitsamt Karton unter den Tisch passt. Wobei „Tisch“ nicht der tatsächlichen Nutzung entspricht: wo andere einen Tisch hatten, habe ich ein Lounge-Sofa, bei dem der Tisch den Mittelteil bildet. Bisher ist der Tisch-Fuß verstellbar, so dass mit nur zwei Handgriffen aus dem Tisch ein Bett (oder Sofa) oder wieder ein vollwertiger Tisch wird. Seit Hector bei mir lebt, habe ich 2x den Tisch benutzt und unzählige Male das Sofa. Daraus folgt: neue Füße braucht die Couch, dann passt auch das Fahrrad drunter!

More by coincidence than by purpose I detect that the new bike fits under the table. While in fact, the table is hardly ever used as such (at least under my aegis), it rather works as middle part of my couch. Hence, the flexible foot that enables either table-function or bed / couch has become superfluous. Time for some handcrafts, let’s get new feet to the table and make it a bike compartment!

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The in-between

Mit nur zwei Baumarkt-Besuchen, einem in den Wahnsinn getriebenen hagebau-Berater und 2 Wochenenden lässt sich eine Fahrrad-Garage bauen. Sogar ich kann das. Akku-Schrauber aufladen (wird kaum gebraucht, wirkt aber irre professionell), altes Tischbein abschrauben, Ansätze für neue Tischbeine vorbohren, neue Tischbeine anbringen, ausmessen: zu kurz.

It takes 75,20 € and two shopping dates with friendly hagebau-consultants and even super-blondie is able to build a bike compartment. It starts with the freshly-charged screwing machine (hardly used, yet such a professional image), remove old table foot, drill holes for the new feet and have them fixed underneath the table. I measure it and note: too short.

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Improving

E_Tisch_nachher_BSchließlich ergibt sich aus einer wilden Mischung von Schrauben, Tischbeinen und dicken Sechskant-Muttern die nahezu perfekt passende Höhe. Ich beschließe, es als Erfolg zu werten und baue das Ganze umgehend ein. Jedes der Tischbeine hat eine Traglast von 50 kg, die Verlängerungsschrauben halten ebenfalls 50 kg und die kleinen Mini-Schrauben zwischen Bein + Tischplatte sind immerhin zu viert. Natürlich lässt sich der Tisch jetzt nicht mehr in die höhere Kederschiene einhängen, aber wer braucht schon einen Esstisch wenn er eine Couch haben kann?!

Finally, a wild mixture of screws, legs and nuts build not entirely, but almost the right height. I call it a fit and install it immediately. Most of the components enable a payload of 50 kg – I suppose it will do. With the new legs, a higher aim with the table used as such is systematically disabled. But anyway, who would ask for a dinner table as long as the couch is in reach?!

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Siehste!

Jetzt fehlen nur noch Verzurr-Ösen die dafür sorgen, dass das Rad auch bei Linkskurven in seiner vorgesehenen Parkposition bleibt. 8 Schrauben und einen Spanngurt später ist das Ziel erreicht und mein kleines Heimwerker-Wunder vollbracht.

Next move is the fixing of the bike. I would rather have it stable not only when driving straight or turning right, but also during curves to the left. Clever girl that I am, I screw steel loops to the side walls of the benches, holding the bike in its parking position.

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Hector’s official Bike Compartment

Vor lauter Schwung schraube ich noch schnell die Halterung für die Ukulele in’s Bad und dann ist für heute genug gebohrt. Ich freu mich schon darauf, alles einzuräumen und voll ausgestattet loszufahren – zunächst per Diesel, später dann per Fahrrad!

Going with the flow, I quickly mount a clasp for the ukulele at one of the bathroom walls and that’s it with today’s DYI tricks. I am so looking forward to packing up Hector and get going soon – first by diesel, later by bike!

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Hochplatte Hike

Es wird Zeit, die erfahrene Bergfreundin aus der glorreichen Nepal-Ära an die Seite zu holen für eine schöne Herbst-Tour: Die Hochplatte im Chiemgau soll es heute werden, und hinterrücks vorbei an allen Staus beamen wir uns in die Bergwelt.

Today’s destination is the peak of the Hochplatte and, together with my dear hiking buddy from Nepal, we fight our way around traffic jams and approach the Chiemgau.

Vor kurzem (2017/2018) war ich richtig gut am Berg: Kondition, Muskelkraft, alles da. Ich nehme an, dass solche Fähigkeiten nicht über Nacht verschwinden, also wird das heute ein entspannter Spaziergang. Wobei „über Nacht“ leicht geschönt ist – seit der Rückkehr aus Nepal kann ich die Bergtouren an einer Hand abzählen.

By now I got used to being a hiking pro: strength, general fitness, mountain skills – all set and proven by numerous tours back in 2017/2018. I assume that once you turn into a chamois, this is going to last forever. Or should I have exercised at least a bit throughout summer?

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Kaum überraschend ist das Schnaufen schon zu Beginn des sanften Anstiegs. Belohnt werden wir schon früh mit einer geradezu kitschigen Landschaft, aber ich halte mich zurück und jammere nur wenig.

As soon as the path rises up, I hand over the conversation to my hiking companion as she has definitely more breath left. However, I do not care too much about the strain: the beautiful landscape with picturesque facets rewards me despite of my lack of routine.

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Half-way up to the Hochplatte

Dort, wo es schon ordentlich steil wird, ist ein entscheidender Wegweiser dermaßen unauffällig angebracht, dass der Trampelpfad aller Irrläufer auffälliger ist als der richtige Weg. Zwei fragende Begegnungen später und 20 Minuten Umweg schnaufender stehen wir kurz vor dem finalen Gipfelanstieg – und das, obwohl wir noch mitten in der Vegetation sind. Typisch Herbsttour im Chiemgau: hier muss es nicht über 1.582 m hinaus gehen, auch in niederen Lagen lässt es sich anstrengend wandern.

Later the paths become steep and the signposts rare. The frequent usage of a dirt track makes it more appealing than the real route, and only when facing the unexpected gorge between us and the desired peak we realize the dead end that it is.

Dummerweise führt von der anderen Seite eine Seilbahn bis kurz unter den Gipfel, so dass es am Kreuz recht gedrängt zugeht. Sollen die doch alle gucken, ich versuche trotzdem einen Handstand!

Eventually, we make it to the top. With “top” being a moderate one. Yet, 1.582m height is enough to enjoy a 360° view on distant peaks, on the Chiemsee and on dozens of tourists that took the chair lift “Hochplattenbahn”.

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Even when you have reached the peak you still can be only half up to something

Der Blick von diesem mittelhohen Hügel ist umwerfend: Die Farben, der herbstliche Himmel, das Meer von Berggipfeln… Wie schön, dass meine Bergfreundin mich motiviert hat, auch die letzten anstrengenden Meter durchzuhalten.

Having the best company in my own entourage, I ignore all others. Meaning that I try to ignore their bewildered looks as I try to turn our world upside down. I really should work more focused on my handstand skills, gaining more aplomb for public shows like this. Anyway, the view into the open distracts me from further personal doubts.

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If I were a painter, I would try to paint the longing for flying in thin air, moving along with the clouds, towards the sea of peaks

Der Abstieg belohnt uns mit zwei weiteren Highlights: Zunächst mit dem Blick hinterrücks auf die Kampenwand. Ich denke freudig zurück an die Bergtour mit Freunden bei der mir klar wurde, dass es kraxelig werden muss, damit ich trotz Anstiegs-Anstrengung Endorphine ausschütte.

The descent offers further highlights with the view on the spectacular Kampenwand where I once started to learn more about hillwalks and what makes them interesting: It is about climbing parts and choosing the right companions.

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Say Hello to the Kampenwand

Schließlich folgt die Einkehr bei einer der urigsten Almen, die ich bisher erlebt habe. Nach Kaffee und Sonne und mit nunmehr bergab führenden Wegen ist auch das Schnaufen leiser geworden. Man sollte solche Ausflüge wirklich häufiger machen!

Finally, we settle down at one of the most rural alp-shacks I have been to. Coffee, sun and the change of direction (now: downhill) make me relax and enjoy our chat that meanders from job situations over to philosophy, people and further topics of interest (life, the universe and everything). What a wonderful day!

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Oberauerbrunst-Alm

Countdown: 10

… und plötzlich stehen wir mitten im Jahr 2020 und die nächste Reise ist nicht mehr weit. Große Fragen werden aufgeworfen, deren Beantwortung meine Aufgabe sein wird.
… and, all of a sudden, it is 2020 and new adventures are waiting in line. Substantial questions will require empiric studies and lead to a rough plan and great expectations.

Prep_A

  • Werde ich in Sri Lanka zur rechten Zeit am rechten Ort sein, um mich von der Queen oft the Whitewash zur Queen of Waves zu entwickeln? Hoffentlich lenken Kultur, Ayurveda and überbordende Natur nicht zu sehr ab…
    Will I find and successfully surf big waves in Sri Lanka, becoming (finally!) the new Queen of Waves? Or will culture, Ayurveda and rich nature distract from the journey’s main aim?
  • Wird Hectors Lounge-Sofa zusammenbrechen, nur weil ausgerechnet ich neue Tischbeine angebracht habe?
    Will Hector’s couch tumble and fall just because it was me who has built the new table legs?
  • Finde ich in der Bretagne mitten im Frühjahr schon geöffnete Campingplätze? Oder werde ich improvisieren, hoffen und bangen dass meine Ressourcen ausreichen für Heizung, Außendusche, Kühlschrank und Erleuchtung?
    Will there be enough open campsites in Brittany, even in spring time? Or will I hope for the best with my limited resources for heating, outdoor shower, fridge and enlightment?
  • Ist Hector rebellisch genug, um einen ganzen Monat lang auf der falschen Straßenseite zu fahren? Und wie eng sind Englands Straßen im Vergleich zu Siziliens Altstädten? Heißt nicht das ganze Land “Eng” wegen der schmalen Wege??
    Will Hector’s inner rebel be wild enough to take the wrong side of the roads for a full month? And how narrow will be the roads in Southern Englang compared to those in Sicilian’s historic villages?

Prep_C

Besonders stolz bin ich auf meine Lernkurve. Als Hectors Reifen vor einigen Jahren schwedischen Boden berührten, stellte ich just in dem Moment fest, dass mein Navi keine Schweden-Karte enthält. Wenige Jahre später will ich testen wie gut sich englische Campsite-Adressen finden lassen und merke: an der französischen Küstenlinie ist Schluss, Großbritannien ist nicht vorgesehen. Jetzt bin ich gespannt, ob mir mit dem reflexartig bestellten neuen Navi wertvolle Abenteuer-Momente entgehen (nämlich dann, wenn das Navi auf den letzten 15km vor Zielankunft ausfällt) oder ob es ähnlich 98%-zuverlässig ist wie das alte.

Meanwhile, I am proud to be such a smart girl. While years ago I realized the missing Scandinavian maps in my navigation system only when reaching Swedish ground beneath the tyres, it now is different. I have realized the missing GB maps way earlier, when trying to look up randomly a campsite: obviously, my current TomTom’s horizon is limited to the French coast line. We will see if we miss adventurous moments with the upgraded version I immediately ordered. Only time will tell if it comes with the same 98% reliability, working well for hours and suddenly breaking down 15km before the destination will be reached.

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Kurz: Hector nimmt schon mal Anlauf, der Flug nach Sri Lanka ist gebucht und ich übe wohl besser noch etwas Ukulele, damit ich nicht wegen akustischer Mängel von den schönsten Stellplätzen vertrieben werde.

While Hector is all keen on getting started (already), I rather get some more practice with my ukulele. Otherwise I might endanger peaceful times on the most beautiful spots, due to the strangest noise that I tend to call music.

Zandvoort 2019

Of course, I would go and meet Linda at any place. Still, it is even better since she lives in a charming apartment in Zandvoort. Hosted like this, I consider it my duty to bring sun and fun whenever I go see her.

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First place to go on Saturday is the beach, what else. As I started recently to improve my handstand-skills, I spend almost all of my energy with the hands on sandy ground, exercising hard until I fall over from laughter.

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Linda, sun and a beach is one of those combinations that never fail. We have a good time and she tolerates all my jumping-up-and-down, my trial-and-error and my look-this-was-a-good-one.

The day passes by easily with sunny hours at the sea, cycling through the dunes and productive conversations about common holidays. The evening comes with nice dinner and a George Michael Tribute concert in a neat little town.

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If only I remembered the name of the town…

The concert is much better than I expected, supported once more by our lust for dancing. Imagine hundreds of people, all sitting well-behaved in their seats. Then bring the focus to the side, where two grown-up girls use the wide stairs for barefoot dance-moves all over.

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Sunday even outperforms Saturday. Strong wind makes us rent a pair of sun loungers + wind shield, half way between the beach bar and the rough sea. Not that I lay down for long – working on handstands and body tension is just too tempting when put in such a wide sandbox.

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The evening perfectly suits our talents: A beach party offers fun and house music from the afternoon until late night. Relaxed atmosphere and people of all ages (except for twenty-something-youngsters) lead to a wonderful evening.

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Not only that best company (Linda + dancing friends) welcomes me at the beach; out of the blue I spot folks that work on simple, yet nice-looking acrobatic partner moves. It is no surprise that within instances I join them, followed by Linda and her friend.

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Once more: Playing the sandbox!

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The rest of the day is dancing, laughing and dancing. During the evening, I stop for a moment and reflect the Then, the Now and the Upcoming: By then, just a week ago, I have been hiking in the Alps, with Hector and Jack, terrific skies full of stars and typical Bavarian rural scenes. Now I am here in the Netherlands for friends and barefoot dancing. Upcoming in another week will be the Oktoberfest with typical dresses, drinks and its own, special vibe. Having all this compressed into a mere 20 days is like stepping from one world into another supported by futuristic technology. I shake off the thoughts and continue dancing – here and now and (probably) forever.

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Dance! they say

Before I fly back, we use the rainy Monday morning for a trip to Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum. It is only in front of the building that Linda recognizes what I have been aiming for – my Dutch pronunciation is that bad that she only understood “museum” while the name of it remained cryptic. Once there, we find beauty and pop art and contemporary art and message-art, all settled in the most charming building. If not for the people and the fun, the Netherlands would be worth a travel at least for arts and exhibitions.

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Video Installation at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

 

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We enjoy last hours together until it is time to wave goodbye. It will take half a year until our next trip: See you soon – another day, another beach.

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Hochschnaufen auf den Hochstaufen

2019 is one of those years when you learn to use each and every bright day for summer action. You never know when rain and cold will take over the local weather, hence you better get going soon.

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Promising Sunrise

Today’s destination is Innzell, a small and charming village that tries to attract some leftover tourists from Chiemsee, Berchtesgaden and Salzburg. Astounding enough, it comes with a range of different overnight possibilities for campers of which Hector chooses Camping Lindlbauer. Despite the comfort of the place, our sleeping night is a short one. How could you ignore a site where you can count thousands and millions of stars, winded up in the milky way, garnished with the International Space Station floating by?!

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Waking up in Innzell

The reason for us being here lies a bit below the firmament: Walking up from Adlgass to the top of the Hochstaufen should be a nice and relaxed hike. Before we start, we enjoy coffee, croissants with homemade jam (talked into by the friendly camping staff) and the view on green meadows and proud mountains.

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20,-€ and 90 minutes of driving and see where we are 😊

The hike turns out to be versatile. We start from parking Adlgass (5 minutes drive from our campsite) and walk on forest roads to a small lake. Some ducks sit on the wooden pier, ignoring stoically the bypassing tourists, claiming older rights on the lake Frillensee.

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The paths are more upwards now and lead us through pictorial forests. As soon as we leave the trees behind, the paths turn into climbs, now being more steep and – from a passionate climber’s perspective – even more interesting. Hikers with a fear of heights might enjoy it less than we do.

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The summit fits in the scenery: few space, edgy rocks and a 360° view. And, of course, a cross. Since I started hiking the Alps, I found out that I like to discover how the particular cross on today’s peak looks like. They are all different, motivating me to collect (virtually) more and more of them.

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Below the peak is a tiny chapel and mountain hut that needs steel ropes to fix it to the rocky walls of the cliff. We enjoy soup and coffee and the August sun on our faces.

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Hiking-Camping-Buddy Jacktheyogi

The descent takes not more than half the time of the ascent and soon enough we come back to waiting Hector. Regarding traffic, it could be wise to turn South and stop at the first good opportunity to wash off the mountain’s sweat – be it either the sea or a hot shower. It takes some discipline to act reasonable and turn North, following the queue of cars back home and arrive just in time for a gorgeous sunset.

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Besides the micro vacation with camping, summer and summits, further things have been sorted out today: Better learn now than later that Hector cries for new breaks – good to have this coming up during autumn (rather than during longer tours throughout Europe). The sound of his four wheels coming to a halt in front of home is like a sigh of relief: We had wonderful trips, we made it safely back home and now it is time for some caretaking. Brave little van!

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Such a Wonderful Van, surrounded by a Beautiful Scenery

 

Alpspitz Ferrata

…und dann war da noch mein Lieblingsberg. Derjenige, der sich halbwegs in der Nähe befindet und den ich annährend 100 mal fotografiert habe. Die zackige Spitze, die schroffen Felsen, die markante Form: Die Alpspitze!

…and then there is this particular mountain that made it on almost 100 pictures of mine. The serrated peak, the craggy rocks, the striking form: The Alpspitze!

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Beautiful Summit

Es gibt einen Klettersteig, der hinaufführt. Und es gibt das Alpentestival in Garmisch-Partenkirchen und den Stellplatz am Wank, kurz: nix wie hin.

A well-known via ferrata leads up to the summit. This weekend, it comes along with the Alpentestival at Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the camper parking Wank, hence best preconditions for a gorgeous weekend in the Alps.

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Home is where you park it

Während der halben Stunde, die ich am Wank-Hütterl für meinen Stellplatz-Schein anstehe, dämmert mir, dass viel Action womöglich ganz schön viele Menschen anzieht. Für heute ist jedenfalls alles gut: Hector steht friedlich eingereiht und der Blick reicht vom Kramer zur Alpspitze und zurück.

The waiting time in the queue of the Wank-Hütterl for Hector’s parking ticket makes me think twice about the attractions of mountain events and the masses of people they attract. Anyway, Hector has found a nice slot in the row of camper vans with a view that ranges from the Kramer to the Alpspitze (and back).

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Now, really??

Der nächste Morgen begrüßt mich mit Regen. Hmpf, denke ich während ich mich vom Bett zum Cockpit bewege. Doch dann: Wow! Dem Regenbogen nach steht am Fuß des Kramers ein größerer Goldtopf.

Summer rain welcomes the next morning. My first reaction is something like “Hmpf” while the next second it turns into Wow! Seems like a jar filled with gold is to be found at the foot of the Kramer mountain.

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Yeah, really!

Später am Tag denke ich, dass ein wenig Sponsoring aus eben jenem Goldtopf meinem spontanen Rabatt-Shopping nicht geschadet hätte – aber angesichts der Angebote auf dem Testival-Gelände geht das auch so in Ordnung. Das Ganze ist eine große Werbe-Veranstaltung des größten Sporthauses am Platz (Sport Conrad), was mir jedoch ziemlich wurscht sein kann. Hat mich ja keiner zum Geldausgeben gezwungen und auch der Eintrittspreis ist mit inbegriffenen Vergünstigungen und der kostenlosen Sommerrodelbahn schnell wieder eingespielt.

I should have asked for some sponsoring out of that gold jar, covering the unforeseen shopping of sports equipment at the testival merchandise stands. Yet, the offers being part of the marketing event (the whole weekend seems to be offered by the local sports shop Conrad) are pretty okay. The same is true for the entrance fee that is already earned back with a bundle of rebates and the summer toboggan that is offered for free.

Mit Barbara, die gegen Mittag dazu kommt, stürze ich mich gleich 2x die Rodelbahn hinab und bei der zweiten Runde gilt natürlich: wer bremst, verliert!

With Barbara, arriving later that day, we run down the toboggan two times in a row with the standard principle “Brakes are for Losers!” valid for the second turn.

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Ob Garmisch wirklich so rustikal ist wie alle meinen? Unbedingt!

Unser Schwung reicht gerade noch aus, um kurz vor Ende der Öffnungszeit noch zwei Parcours im Kletterwald zu absolvieren, was irre viel Spaß in luftiger Höhe bringt. Aufgrund der brav abgegebenen Handys leider ohne Bild-Dokumentation, dafür auch ohne Regen. Sekunden, nachdem wir wieder festen Boden unter den Füßen haben, kommt ein weiterer Sommer-Schauer an und es gießte kurzzeitig in Strömen. Wie gut, dass wir nur wenige hundert Meter zurück zur Homebase haben. Es geht doch nichts über einen günstig geparkten Hector!

Full of zest and just in time before today’s closing, we make it to the climbing garden. Fun and height and the conquest of wobbly parcours are the perfect conclusion of today’s activities – and with heavy rain settling in, the short distance of mere 300 metres back to Hector is more than welcome.

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Lady Helmchen und Calimero am Fuße des Klettersteigs

Am nächsten Morgen sind wir beinahe die ersten an der Alpspitzbahn. Besser gesagt: wir wären es, wenn nicht der großen Andrang und die geführten Alpentestival-Touren bereits zu etlichen Sonderfahrten lange vor dem üblichem Betriebsbeginn geführt hätten… Den daraus folgenden Pulk Ungeübter, der zu Stau am Gipfelweg führt, erleben wir zum Glück erst auf halber Strecke.

We intend to be ahead of all others, right at the start of operation at the Alpspitzbahn and we almost succeed. We learn that due to the Alpentestival, dozens of additional rides have been offered already an hour before the regular time. Lucky us that it takes more than half of the distance before we bump into the bulk of people that cause a jam on the way to the summit. And here comes my personal greetings to the American hikers that I would cordially welcome if not for their ignorance and stupidity when it comes to common behaviour in mountain regions.

2019_08_04_DZunächst geht es ordentlich bergan: Leitern und Eisenstufen im Fels markieren den Einstieg in die Alpspitz-Ferrata. Für mich als Skihasen ist die Gegend in sommerlicher Form völlig unvertraut. Seltsam, oberhalb von Garmisch zu sein, ganz ohne Ski an den Füßen. Und all die grünen Wiesen! Die Wege, die sonst unter den Pisten verborgen sind, die grauen Felsen ohne weißen Puder…2019_08_04_DD

The Alpspitz Ferrata starts very common with its most interesting parts: vertical ladders and iron steps mark the first section. I have been here many, many times but never in summer: it is almost weird, being here without skis at my feet and with green meadows and pure grey rock.

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Zu Beginn können wir gut unser Tempo gehen – nicht einsam und allein, aber doch ohne aufgehalten oder gehetzt zu werden. Die Aussicht ist immer wieder grandios, nicht zuletzt, weil alles hinter dem Osterfelderkopf wie abgeschnitten von der Zivilisation ist.

The vista is wonderful. The Osterfelderkopf blocks most of the view towards civilization and makes us feel like chamois, embedded in pure nature. Apart from the ferrata’s steel rope, that is.

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Erst ganz oben auf dem Gipfel reicht der Blick bis in die Täler von Grainau und Garmisch. Wir sind rundum zufrieden mit unserer Leistung: Klettersteige gehen wir erwiesenermaßen lässig und sicher. Besonders, wenn sie (wie die Alpspitz-Ferrata) so leicht sind, dass man sich gelegentlich fragt, ob das ewige Ein- und Ausklinken der Karabiner wirklich notwendig ist.

Reaching the summit widens the horizon: now we see the valley of Grainau and Garmisch and a whole lot of peaks and mountains around. With our experienced via ferrata skills, the way up has been a piece of cake. And, more true, due to the fact that technically it is the easiest one I have done so far.

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Gipfelstürmer

Erstaunlicherweise sieht die Alpspitze von oben ganz anders aus als von unten. Der markante Zacken ist nicht mehr zu sehen und er ist auch nicht ganz so spitz wie eine Tobleronen-Ecke. Schroff ist es schon und allzuviel Platz gibt es auch nicht (wo soll man denn hier einen Handstand machen??), aber schön ist es. Zumindest die ersten 20 Minuten, dann werden die Wolken dichter und wir hadern nicht länger mit all den warmen Klamotten, die wir mit rauf getragen haben.

The funny thing with mountain peaks is the fact that they look totally different once you make it on their top. The typical form seems gone and it is not half as sharp as it seems from below. Yet, it is still rugged and offers not much of a surface (not enough room for a handstand). Beautiful, that’s what it is. Only minutes later, the clouds fight back the sun and we are grateful for all superfluous jackets and hoodies we carried up here.

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Then on the Way back…

Auf dem Weg nach unten verlieren sich die Bergtouristen. Und die Wege. Von Wegweisern ganz zu schweigen. Die Idee, einen Schlenker zur Kreuzalm mit ihrem sagenumwobenen Kaiserschmarrn zu machen, geben wir unterwegs auf. Stattdessen folgen wir dem einzig erkennbaren Weg zurück zum Osterfelderkopf.

Auch wenn wir vom Alpentestival vieles gar nicht wahrgenommen haben (die Boulderwand, das Freibad, die Partnachklamm), so hatten wir doch ein herrliches Wochenende in den Bergen. Mit Hector, mit Shopping, mit Klettersteig und mit viel Genuss!

We abandon our plan for a detour to the Kreuzalm due to the sheer lack of signposts. Finally, we make it back to the Osterfelderkopf where we congratulate ourselves for this wonderful weekend in the Alps. With sun and rainbows, with shopping and via ferrata and with Hector and my wonderful camping-hiking buddy Barbara!

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…once I grow up, I will go for the Jubiläumsgrat and all the way up to the Zugspitze (visible in the far back of this picture)!

Sicilia – The What, The Where and The How (Part 2)

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Moving around a bit: 1.662 km on Sicila

Have we seen everything? Far from that. Yet, Hector and his varying number of passengers drove down and up and East and West and we have seen just enough to generate the yearning for more.

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Cefalú

(10) Cefalú. The perfect spot for perfect vanlife. For early bird yoga, an almost private beach bay and a nice city close-by. 23,48 €/night are a fair price at camping Sanfilippo. Forget about the mini shop, forget about the minimum number of hot showers, enjoy the simple camper life and the view.

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Villa Romana del Casale

(11) Piazza Armerina / Villa Casale: The ruins of the ancient villa with an overflow of mosaic tiles spread over all former rooms is definitely worth a visit. I deeply recommend to do it early: before hundreds of busses filled with ancient tourists arrive. And before you visit Monreale.

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(12) Scala dei Turchi / Agrigento: Beach parking at Punta Piccola Park / Porto Empedocle has been perfect for a night (20,- €) and the walk over to the cliff called Scala dei Turchi. The aftermath of having been there is my personal handstand challenge that keeps me busy (and sporty) ever since…

Oh, and Agrigento? Yes, is there, too.

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(13) San Vito lo Capo: Promising, based on the facts of location and campsite data. While, at least for my experience, the promise remains unfulfilled.

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(14) Monreale: Incredible in it’s richness and artfulness. Located close to Palermo’s port, it has been the ideal finish of my Sicilian trip.

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Up and on and around the Cathedral of Monreale

 

(15) Shortcut: Taking the ferry from Palermo to Genove is the shortcut on the way back: 21 hours full of doing nothing but sunbathing, sleaping, reading and eating. All of a sudden you arrive in Northern Italy.

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The cabin I booked half a year ago offers plenty of space, a hot shower and the meet-and-greet with the fire steward. Afterwards I know that a closed bathroom door would prevent the fire alarm caused by clouds of hot steam.

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Before this travel, I used to think that Sicilia is far, far away. In fact, it took me less than 1,5 days to get back: In one minute I wave goodbye to Palermo (Wednesday, 21:00h) and at 00:30h (early Friday), Hector and me are back home with the usual ambivalent feeling of endless travel-lust vs. home-sweet-home.

>>Start

Sicilia – The What, the Where and the How (Part 1)

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4.078 km = 1.737 km München – Capo Milazzo + 1.662 km Siclia Φ + 680 km Palermo – München

Let’s start with the base line: It is so worth it! Every km, every moment. Sicilia is a wonderful destination that offers you almost everything. Except for good surfing conditions, but that is another story of another holiday.

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Perfect vanlife, even without being even

With Martina, I joined two weeks of a fantastic road trip. We followed the sun and the cultural attractions, we tasted local delicacies in all kinds of restaurants and faint sulphur smell on the volcanos. We shared Hector’s space, doubts where to find the next bus stop and wine with a view.

The peak of the entire trip was the peak of Stromboli: Lucky us, we were spontaneous and in time for perfect conditions, five weeks before an unusual strong eruption caused death and danger. We are grateful for our harmless, yet impressive-as-hell experience on top of the volcano.

Apart from that, every day and every place offered various highlights:

(1) Kaltern am See: Nice region, especially with good weather. We compensated endless rain with good company and tasteful dinner (special greetings to Michael!).

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Happy Feet, Heading South

(2) Baia Domizia: Probably a boring place with a neat campsite. After 24 hours constant rain, we worshipped bright skies and sea view. Price: 31,60 € for 1 Hector + 2 Ladies.

(3) Tropea: Beach, a relaxed campsite (18,- € and well-located) and the first of the most beautiful sunsets during the trip, accompanied by wine and snacks and the view towards Stromboli.

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(4) Capo Milazzo: Arriving on Sicilia! Camping Riva Smeralda might have seen better days in the late 80ies, however, it is the ideal starting point for an excursion to the Aeolian Islands. With sunny weather, low expectations and with 20,- € (per night) you can enjoy sea view all over.

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Camping Riva Smeralda, Capo Milazzo

(5) Stromboli: Terrific!!! Count in at least 4 hours on the boat, 40,- € for a charming bed & breakfast and unconventional volcano guides. Most people tend to see everything on Sicilia except for the Stromboli – what a mismatch, given that it has been the outstanding sensation of the journey.

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(6) Taormina: Hector is well-located on Camping Paradise at Letojanni (23,73 €/night) while the crew is well-located in the general setting of Taormina – ancient theatres, vivid city streets and mouth-watering restaurants included.

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Happy Travel Girls at Taormina

(7) Siracusa: Not the simple parking (20,- €), but the famous peninsula Ortigia seemed worn-out at first. Hour by hour, though, it turns out to be interesting, old, young, touristic, vivid and delicious.

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Siracusa

(8) Noto: Public bus transport is a bit of an adventure between Camping Sabbiadoro (28,80 €/night) and Noto. The baroque town of Noto is all worth it, including a cathedral and further churches, food and arts. If you think that Avola might be fine for a stop over: it is not and we are proud having it found out all on our own.

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Noto

(9) Etna + Catania: Hard, very hard to catch a cloudless day on the 3.000 m peak. Although we failed on that part, we still claim being the lucky ones as we decided against an overnight-stay on the 2.000 m parking at Etna Sud – we would have been shaken with the eruption happening a mere three hours later. Instead, we can confirm that even outside of Catania downtown they have fantastic seafood!

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Etna

…more to come in Part 2

Monreale

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Three weeks on Sicilia. Uncounted Baroque buildings, ancient ruins, mosaic tiles, cliffs and nature. You tend to believe that you have seen everything.

Then you reach Monreale.

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Welcme to the Cathedral Monreale

Where to look first? At the ceiling! And the biblical stories that spread in golden mosaic over the main nave. Ahead of the storyboard, sunlight falls through high windows, embracing the oversized Jesus in gleaming colours.

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I let my eyes wander along the inner walls and it is like reading a delicious comic version of the bible. There are Adam and Eve, Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and all legends of the Christian scripture. My favourite series show the embarking of the ark, where people and animals gather together in that tiny mobile home.

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Hard to tell which facet wins the excess of attractions: Richness? Artistry? Storytelling? I dare to say that the composition of it all is unique.

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Monreale is not just an architectural leftover, representing glory days. It is a well-used church, with praying nuns among the tourists and with a fairy tale wedding the very same afternoon. It is a pity that some of the tourists show a profound lack of sensitivity when visiting a holy building in funny raincoats. (Note from the author: Some people consider themselves being clever using a knee-long raincoat as “decent clothing” to cover bare shoulders and legs inside the church. Just guessing, but they might have sources in a North-Western land, separated from Europe by the Atlantic ocean.) I look at Jesus in the cupola and think he probably dislikes it as well.

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I crisscross through the cathedral, admiring everything around. A part to the left is virtually separated from the rest by an additional entrance control. No extra fee gets charged, yet the control works as a filter that separates interested visitors from others.

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Happy Feet on Holy Ground

Art and beauty is almost exaggerated here and it begins at the feet: Stone mosaic covers the ground with a certain base pattern, but inch by inch with different interpretations of it.

The beauty in this aisle exceeds the main nave and it is on the edge of being overloaded.

 

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2019_06_12_A6cI wave goodbye to Ezechiel and the other prophets as I turn towards another ticket counter in the rear part of the church. For some Euros extra, I enter a narrow staircase that leads up and left and straight and up until the corridor spits me out on a small platform. The cathedral, the view on Palermo and on the landscape, the cloister beneath – once more I stare around, stunned with beauty.

With entry charge and the dark, tiny stairs that lead up here, few other tourists reach the small balcony. The access only works for a small percentage of visitors: those who are curious. And slim.

While the stromboli has been the outstanding highlight of our trip, Monreale is the perfect conclusion to it.

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Peaceful and Calm

Palermo, right around the corner of Monreale, will be a good reason for future visits on this wonderful island. For this afternoon, I am fine with the choice of cafés around the (now closed) cathedral, spending my time lazily until it is time to get Hector on the ferry.

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Cefalú II

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Back to where we belong

Three-and-a-half-days until the ferry will carry us back North. I could use the time and cross off my list all outstanding highlights: Trapani, hikes through national parks, Erice, rivers and ravines. Instead, I get back to my favourite spot with Hector’s rear tires almost getting wet and salty.

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Déjà vu? Wonderful Remake!

Lazy but sporty days are up: admire the golden morning light with a first coffee. Then find some place close to one of the campsite’s WiFi spots and lay down the yoga mat.

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After about 30 minutes online-yoga session, I add some handstand kick-ups as a direct consequence from the Scala dei Turchi, aiming to pimp future tourist pictures. The rest of the day is a mixture of meals (breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner and a bit in between) and sun-vs-sea.

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Place to be: my Bay

With so much relaxation, I could do with some company. Lucky me that I am down at the “base level area” of camping Sanfilippo, with rough ground instead of neat gravel and with hippie travellers instead of RV campers. A chat here, a warm welcome there, motorbike talks with young tent campers and quiet evenings – so far, so good. The only thorn in my flesh is the driver of a white VW van who stays next to my Hector with two young sons. He is so much of a lookalike to “my bartender” (a dear friend for years) that I wonder what to do first: a) Order a cocktail or b) Give him a kiss? I try do play it decent and invite him over to a glass of wine for my last evening. It is around 11 PM when I realize that most probably he will not show up anymore. Anyway, at this point the wine bottle has not much left to offer…

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Then the next morning…

The next morning, I feel awkward. For about 30 minutes. Then I pick up my regular yoga routine, ending it on the beach today with some last handstand trials. Having exercised the kick-ups for a mere three days, it comes as a nice surprise (even for me) when I manage to get up easily and stand straight upside-down for 2-3 seconds before falling over light as a feather. How cool!! I jump around, all excited, find somebody to take a video from the sensation, and grin widely at the world.

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Tadaaah! That’s where I get after 3 Days of Training

Minutes later, I find a confirmation mail on my smartphone, telling me that I successfully applied for two reserved tables at the Wiesn (“Oktoberfest”). All out of a sudden it becomes obvious: That Karlsuhe-daddy-guy with his hilarious, brand-new VW car (ever heard of Diesel-Skandal, how dare you still drive that one?!), he will certainly rack his brain for days and years, wondering why he has let it slip away, that great opportunity of good wine in best company. A girl with 2 Wiesn-tables and the skills for a neat handstand – is there anything more you could ever ask for? Yeah, see!

All in a good mood now, I pack my belongings and get Hector ready to go, while every now and then people come by for last greetings, a warm good-bye or help with renitent marquee pegs . With a light sigh I leave my wonderful bay behind…

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So long and thanks for all the Fish

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