Thursday, August 20, 2015


It had only to do with how it felt to be in the wild. With what it was like to walk for miles for no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental. It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be a human in the wild, and as long as the wild existed it would always feel this way.

- from Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I was reading Wild in the evenings during this hike and took a photo of this page on my kindle. It seemed so fitting, perfectly describing my sentiment of walking for entire days. It was a thrill to wake up in the mornings with the sun rising over mountain peaks at the same level. Kallie was visiting from Australia and, being a mountain enthusiast like myself, it was the perfect opportunity to use my new ‘alpine club’ (yes) membership to stay in huts and do a longer multi-day hike in the R├Ątikon region on the other side of Vorarlberg.

Of course, it's always more than good to come 'home' to Dornbirn. I love the local mountains that I've now gotten to know so well, all the other accessible nature -  rivers, canyons, waterfalls. Also the great people, some who I've only met quite recently but really make me feel a sense of belonging here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


We were originally planning on cycling the Via Claudia Augusta from Bavaria to Italy, crossing some steep Alps passes, but Julia had to be in Budapest early August so we decided to cycle there instead. The Danube cycle path (according to the internet) is the most popular cycle path in Europe – which we also noticed by the amount of people we passed, especially on the first days. 
We met midday two Wednesdays ago on the train to Passau, it was so good to see Julia again after 1.5 years. We met on my gap year in Germany in 2010 and have done a few cycling trips since like Berlin to Copenhagen 2 years ago.
After brief confusion cycling the wrong direction along the Danube for some 10km (it was so well signed, this was literally the only thing you could screw up if you really tried, which we did) we were on our way east. The first day was it was sprinkling a little which didn’t bother us much, and low-lying clouds made cycling along the Danube valley very magical. We decided to camp on this trip which meant carrying a lot more stuff on our bikes, but apart from one day of climbs in Hungary this was fine as it was mostly quite flat. I love camping and the routine of finding a good camping spot, setting up the tent, cooking dinner (every basic meal we declared “best food ever” we were so hungry), falling into bed at 9pm, waking up with the sun, making tea in the morning and setting down the tent to repeat it all the next evening. The next few days were wonderful. I’ve only ever really visited the cities in Austria or the mountain regions, but have never seen what’s between the cities east of Vorarlberg. Had memorable Linzer Torte in Linz and cycled through the beautiful Wachau region with all it’s winelands and famous apricot tree fields. 
On the 4th day we arrived in Vienna and weaved our way through the city via a stop at an ice cream shop (min. 1 x ice cream/ day) to Maike’s place, a friend I studied in Austria with last time. It was really nice to catch up with her, have a nice vegan meal and sleep in a bed again.
The next morning was quite rainy so we didn’t spend much time in Vienna and got straight on the road to Bratislava. In the afternoon, my gym bro/ hiking buddy Jan met us there and gave us a nice, scenic (= getting lost) tour of the city. I think “Eurotrip” and some Slovaks’ opinions made me set my expectations of Bratislava quite low, but it ended up impressing me so much! It’s a lovely city, don’t listen to Slovakians if they try tell you otherwise. We had a very funny evening at a pub and tried delicious potato dumplings with smoked cheese and pasta (?) with poppy seeds and icing sugar. So good. The next morning we had breakfast with Jan’s lovely parents and they drove us back to rainy Bratislava city centre to pick up our bikes and continue onto Hungary. 
Hungary felt a lot “wilder” than the first half of the trip. We didn’t see many cyclists after Vienna and had to keep an eye out more so we didn’t get lost. I’ve been to Budapest a few times but like Austria, it was so interesting to see the places inbetween the cities that I would never have otherwise. Thank goodness that Julia is Hungarian and could ask for directions. The days of cycling in Hungary can be summed up by fields and fields of sunflowers and corn and really high  (35+ degrees celsius) temperatures. Hungarians were super friendly, offering that we could camp in their garden when we were looking for a campsite, helping us (ok me) find coffee in the morning and always being very helpful with directions. I can only criticise their very sporadic driving and parts of the path which gave us our first (unexpected) taste of mountain biking. On our last evening, exhausted from a big day of climbing and covering125km, I went for a dip in the Danube and we had a picnic watching the sun set in Slovakia on the other side of the river.
It was a thrill to finally cycle into Budapest on the 8th day. There we relaxed at Julia’s family’s great apartment, ate a lot of Hungarian food, met some Aussie friends for drinks, met up with Anna who’s now living there (come back!), went hiking in Buda in 40 degrees, ate soft serves and walked around Margaret Island. It was such a good trip.

I’m putting the words before photos because they’re nothing special – didn’t have room or weight left to carry a camera so they’re just mobile photos, but still help illustrate the story.