Well, I have to say, that it isn’t half a long drive to Austria. It’s dead easy to look at a map and casually say,
‘Oh, we’ll go up into Belgium from Dunkerque, across to Luxembourg, on into Germany, then down through Bavaria and access Austria from there….’
Can’t remember how long it took us to get there – I’m sure it must have been over a week. To be fair, neither of us are into non-stop driving, so we do tend to treat it as a mini road trip on the way to somewhere. We’ll drive for the morning and find somewhere to stop early afternoon, then we’ll go for a couple of hour’s walk – amazingly, you can always find somewhere to walk, wherever you are – then chill for the evening. And of course, if we see anything interesting en route, we’ll stop and have a look.
Anyway, after what seemed like forever, we ended up in Bavaria.
We definitely lacked focus on our trip this summer. We didn’t really do any planning, but just decided to ‘go with the flow’. As a result of this, we never quite knew where we aiming for and certainly hadn’t staked out the best walking centres.
Oberammagau seemed a good place to start, though – at least we’d heard of it……
The weather wasn’t brilliant, but we had a couple of reasonable walks in the area.
It didn’t quite grab us though, and so after a couple of days we moved on a handful of miles to a place called Garmisch Partenkirchen. Here, there was a mountain called Wank, which Geoff seemed to find particularly amusing.
There was a motorhome Aire at the cable car station which served this peak, so we spent a few pleasant nights here.
Once again, we had a few nice wanders.
It was here, that we started to realise a few things.
Firstly, the Alps don’t seem to be a place to go for solitude. I’m sure there are quiet spots to be found, but generally speaking, the average wander almost seemed to be as busy as Kinder on a sunny Sunday.
Secondly, they seem to be primarily aimed at skiers, with summer walkers being an afterthought. As a result of this, peak after peak is served by gondolas, cable cars and restaurants.
Thirdly, cable cars seem to be the way to easily access the higher peaks, but at an average cost per journey of about 20 euros each, plus 4 euros each for the dogs, the financial implication of this seemed totally over the top for us.
The German cakes were very nice, though.
Anyway, it was time to move on again.
This time, we ended up near Berchtesgaden. It was near here that Hitler had his ‘Eagle’s Nest’, which has now been turned into a restaurant.
We found a nice little campsite to stay at for a few nights.
The weather was mixed. Some sunny days, some torrential rainy days, but we managed to avoid the worst of the rain in our wanders.
And we still hadn’t got to Austria.
By this time, we actually weren’t sure whether to bother with Austria, but eventually came to the conclusion that after we’d come this far, it would be daft not to.
And so, we headed over the border on a beautiful sunny day.
‘Twas very pretty, but we ended up driving quite a way to a town called Schwaz, before we found somewhere we could stop easily with the van.
And inspired by the gorgeous weather on this day, we got some tourist info and settled down to a few more days walking.
But it didn’t quite work out like that. Geoff suddenly came down with a rather nasty bout of food poisoning. The doggies and I looked after him for the next day, and then the day after it rained. And the day after it rained again – torrentially. Our hearts just weren’t in it – it really was time to move on.
15 thoughts on “Paws In The Alps – Part One”
Alps in summer can be roughly divided in two categories, those places where skiing takes place in winter which means lots of hardware on the hills and lots of people being lazy, those places where there is no organised skiing in winter and they tend to be very quiet in summer. Where I go in Italy, it only gets busy where the cable car from main village goes up and a few honey pot rifugios which are easy of access (ie you don’t have to walk much more than an hour from the nearest road), otherwise it’s pretty much all to yourself. I see you had the same kind of miserable weather I had, in my case it meant I barely saw a soul (except on one day when I attended a lunch at a rifugio organise by the Alpini, Italy’s alpine soldiers) during my hikes.
Hi Yuri 🙂 I have to say that we would be the first to admit that a bit more planning on our part, would have no doubt got us in to much quieter areas. Another time, perhaps!
And as for the weather, I’m not really sure why we thought it would have been wall-to-wall sunshine there, but we were a touch disappointed. I suppose we’ve been spoilt in the past, with the weather in places like Yosemite, where the high mountains tend to be much drier and sunnier in the summer – even though we have had the odd bad day there, they are few and far between.
It was still a good holiday, however. I don’t mean to be critical of it, just reflective really. We had lots of fun, saw lots of stuff, went to places we’ve never visited before and the doggies had a whale of a time!
Gosh Chrissie, everyone is driving on the wrong side of the road!!! Lovely scenery, unfortunately touristy things have never been a favourite of mine either . Lovely scenery and some cracking photos. Looking forward to part two.
Thanks Dawn 🙂 Both the walking and the weather improve dramatically in part two!
I loved Austria when I went there years ago on a coach trip and would love to go again. I got sick of all the ‘people company’ in the end and wandered off on my own. I walked over the nearest pass and miles down the next valley – so far in fact, I had to thumb a lift off a German lorry driver to get back to base! 😉
Austria was indeed very scenic and I’m sure there is lots of fantastic walking there, but I can understand the people company getting to you – we’d be the same!
I’m always like that – I can only deal with company in small doses – very much a loner. Having said that, they were a brilliant bunch just the same 🙂
I’m glad you still enjoyed it despite some things not going well. A good exploratory trip for more adventures there in the future perhaps. And the dogs do look like they’re having fun!
The dogs are always happy, Helen – as long as they’re with us and out and about doing stuff!
Beautiful photographs Chrissie and a wonderful post as always. Can’t wait for Part 2. Big virtual hugs and chop kisses for Dixie and Tilly!
Thanks Karen, extra Jumbones for Wyatt Earp 🙂
I tried to say ‘Oh, we’ll go up into Belgium from Dunkerque, across to Luxembourg, on into Germany, then down through Bavaria and access Austria from there….’ and found it was very difficult.
You’ve got me trying to say it out loud now, and you’re right, it is difficult; especially if you try and say it too fast.
Brings back memories of my youth when a long drive to Alps to climb mountains was always my summer holiday until my kids arrived. We used to climb some of the big 4000m peaks where mechanical assistance is welcome but there are quieter corners even in the big mountains. My favourite was a backpack around the mountains to the north of Briancon. There were a few people about but we had some superb quiet wild camps. You can see a few pictures here:
I managed to do the backpack with my arm in cast from a broken hand!
Only been walking in Austria once in the Oztal. The valley was busy but the mountains were pretty quiet, fantastic for walking, and boy was it hot and sunny (sorry!), Campsite in a place called Huben, out in the countryside by the river was very nice
Those photos of yours look great Andy – love the wild camping next to idyllic lakes, too.
Maybe a return trip might be in order for us at some point in the future, only having done more focused research on where to go etc.
Btw, might be spending a few days in the Brecon Beacons in a couple of weeks, so will be probably be trying to pick your brains for a couple of nice walks if we do… 🙂