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On Hiking and Home

By Hannah


View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Now THAT'S a picnic table

Now THAT'S a picnic table

Austria is pretty much all about the outdoors for us. Today was no exception. We took a cable car called the "Flying Mozart" up the side of a mountain in order to hike one of the trails recommended to us at the tourist office. We were as motivated to do this trail by the recommendation as by the need to use the six euro map that Mom had convinced herself to buy. The walk was much easier than the hike we'd been expecting, and as we ambled through the woods, it felt exactly like walking around a campground in BC. It wasn't exactly filled with breathtaking views of mountains and valleys, but I think that the woods were a nice change, and they provided some relief from the muggy heat. On a related note, it's possible we prayed a little too hard to the sun gods, as we're expecting 25 °C+ weather for the rest of our stay here.

We met a few tourists from Germany, and Mom and Dad were able to have a conversation with one of them, despite there being about ten mutually understood words between the three. It involved a lot of improvised sign language, but was still very impressive. Dad received a genuine "gesundheit" from one of the other Germans, which seems much more likely to grant good health when spoken by someone in their mother tongue. We also met a friendly lady who pointed us in the right direction after we'd gotten lost (or "turned around", as my parents put it). Austrians and Germans seem to be an amicable bunch, especially the trekkers.

Wagrain walk

Wagrain walk

We have just a month and a half left in our trip, which is a fact that all of us are reacting to differently. Abby is very, VERY excited to go back home. Not to say that she isn't enjoying the trip, but home is something that's been in the forefront of her mind ever since we left the UK. Dad, on the other hand, is dreading our return. Well, perhaps that's a bit hyperbolic, but I think he'd like at least another year of travelling. Mom is looking forward to coming back, but is definitely savouring the last weeks of the trip.

Now that the length of time until we come home is short enough that I can wrap my head around it, I don't find myself as homesick. I'm looking forward to the next several weeks, and while the thought of home is always in my head, I try not to let it overshadow the happenings of here and now. I feel comfortable travelling, happy to be in Europe, and am anticipating great experiences both east and west of the pond.

Posted by KZFamily 12:45 Archived in Austria Tagged home austria walk hike gesundheit Comments (1)

Sundae Wednesday

BY ABBY

sunny 21 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Mayen hike

Mayen hike

Travelling has, unfortunately, made us a little lazy on the exercise part, so as often as we can we go for walks and hikes. Today was one of those days. All four of us agreed on a walk to go on called Rastplatz (which Google translates to "resting place") and headed out onto our 9.3 km hike. The walk went through towns, valleys, hills, forest and farmland, so we were able to see a wide variety of scenery without going too far. The weather was glorious too, as the sun was bright and there was only a slight breeze. Our cars detected 21 degrees in its spot in the shade. It's nice to finally experience some summer as we have been pretty deprived of sun on this trip. I was even wishing that I had worn my shorts. My dad described the view around us as "not breathtaking, but nice to look at everywhere, so that you don't have to stop at everything," which pretty much summed it up.

Mayen area

Mayen area

Part way through our journey we stopped to look at a hunting blind, of which there were many along the trail. Dad climbed up to take a look around and called down to us about his discoveries. The inside was carpet lined, and there was even a bench and pillow. We stopped for lunch along the way as well, at a small area with some benches in a shaded hut, as well as wooden sun chairs and a picnic table. We snacked on some cheese, bagels, cheese, bread, cheese, carrots, cheese and chocolate. But we were soon on our way as we still had half of our walk left. Our walks and hikes have let us both take a break from the stress of travelling, but also let us experience countries in ways that most people overlook. We get to talk and enjoy each other's company (because we barely see very much of each other, especially in the past 7 months), while still being able to have the feeling of travel fulfilment, even if we didn't pack our day full of tours and sightseeing. In the last 500 metres before our car we found a water tap coming out of a rock, and promptly filled up our empty water bottles. Unfortunately, when we took a drink we found out that it was pure mineral water, which means it was sparking. None of us are big fans, even though around Europe, and especially in the last few places we've been to, carbonated water is an enjoyed form of refreshment.

Eiscafe creations in Mayen

Eiscafe creations in Mayen

When we made it home I took a quick shower and we all made ourselves presentable as our next stop was the ice cream cafe in the nearby square. As we still owe our mother a birthday treat, she opted for ice cream instead of cake, and we all ordered some very large, very expensive, and very delicious sundaes. We three girls got After Eight flavoured creations, while my dad opted for a chocolate coconut flavour. We sat out in the sun and quickly devoured our dessert, while taking small sips of our mineral water in between.

After we were finished eating back all the calories we had burned that day (and more), Hannah and I went back to the house while our parents set off on yet another walk, this one being 10 km. Neither of us were very hungry so we bought some veggie nuggets (for me) and some schnitzel (for Hannah). Our parents joined us later that evening, but Hannah and I shut them out and re-watched our rented version of Rise of the Guardians a second time, before heading off to bed. We've been deprived of West Wing because the internet in this place is terrible. It's been pretty hard on all of us...as you can tell it even forced us to interact with nature today. Sigh.

Posted by KZFamily 11:37 Archived in Germany Tagged germany walk hike ice_cream Comments (2)

Meall a' Bhuachaille Route: The All Weather Trail

BY ABBY

all seasons in one day 8 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

View on the Meall a' Bhuachaille Route

View on the Meall a' Bhuachaille Route

Today we went for yet another hike in Cairngorms National Park, this one was in Glenmore Forest Park. The walk itself was titled Meall a'Bhuachaille..you all can have a go at trying to pronounce that one (Bh is pronouced "V").

Today's hike turned out a little different. It was fine at first, the weather wasn't too bad and the sun even came out a few times, but as we neared the summit of our little hill we noticed that the wind was picking up, and some dark grey clouds were headed our way. A few minutes later some snow started to fall down on us, which wasn't bad at first, it just meant sticking another layer on to keep warm and we would be free to continue on. But it started to come down faster, and turned into hard little bits of ice which we were pelted with continuously. When we got to the top there was a small wall of rocks which we sat behind to try and stay out of the wind. But it looked to us as if there could be rain coming and so we decided that we might as well continue walking, as we'd be wet either way. The wind had picked up even more, but we pushed through, hoping we could find the shelter that the information centre had said was somewhere along the way. The rain never did come, but the hail stayed unfortunately. But as we got partway down the other side we were able to get out of most of it, which was quite a relief. The hillside was pretty steep, and a little slippery from the few days of weather, which isn't a great combination. But at least the other three were able to keep their footing. Closer to the base we found the shelter that we had heard about, and decided to stop in for a few minutes to have a little lunch. We were joined later by a few others, along with their 8 month year old dog. You all are probably thinking "Aww, how cute.. a puppy!", but it wasn't quite like that. It looked to us like a cross of a Doberman and a Rottweiler, and it was so huge that even the man holding his collar looked to be having trouble. Some of you may know that one of my biggest fears are dogs, especially large ones... who aren't on a leash... and are very energetic... and want your chocolate. But we were soon on our way again, eager to get on with our walk. The rest of the hike was very flat, as we just circled around the bottom of the hill around to our car. But before we were able to seek refuge in Winston, we got our last bit of weather, some nice rain to finish everything off nicely.

Meall a' Bhuachaille Route near Summit

Meall a' Bhuachaille Route near Summit

When we finished our route we decided that we were done for today, as the weather had been pretty nasty and we all just wanted to have a warm drink, or in my case, a shower.

I've also decided to include a short summary, if the details were just too much to handle and get your head around.

Wow, this is pretty. Yeah, quite nice. Now I'm tired... and hot. Oh, but not for long. Wow, that's a strong wind. Ooh, snow! Ow... ow that hurts... wow, that's a lot of hail. Yay, the top! WIND.. MORE WIND. Lots more hail. Finally, a break with food and shelter! OH MY GOODNESS.. IS THAT A BEAR? No? Just a dog?.. okay... Great, this is nice and flat. The car is so close!!... but... RAIN.

After we got home my parents took a nap (surprise surprise!!) and Hannah and I just relaxed and enjoyed ourselves. Later we got a knock on our door, and when we answered it turned out to be our friendly landlords offering us some freshly baked scones. They were warm and delicious and we all thoroughly enjoyed them. My mom was even able to wiggle her way into getting the extra one.

Posted by KZFamily 11:58 Archived in Scotland Tagged rain scotland mountain hill weather hike wind hail cairngorms_park scones Comments (3)

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