Monday, September 23, 2013

Tegelberg Triumph - Upward & Forward

We were not going to leave Fussen without getting a front view of the castle, period. After several unfavourable responses at the info centres, one guy suggested that we take the Schutzengelweg track on Tegelberg towards Rohrkopfhutte and after 1/2 hour or so "you will not miss it". He was right and we were very glad indeed.  

Pumped and in the mood for a good hike, we descended and decided to take another route - Gelbe Wand Klettersteig. 2 3/4 hours to the summit didn't sound bad at all and for a moment, somewhat ambitious. The track also appeared as a dotted line in our german map - sounded exciting!

So we pushed forward. After about an hour and half of walking and stepping, we were out of the woods and it was time for a juncture. Although no ordinary one. 

Having walked a fair-way up, trekking down would be too rough and certainly bad for the knees. But seeing what lay ahead of us, that should have been an easy decision! Determined to find out whether this really was the only way and whether what we saw was the only toughest bit - maybe upwards was indeed the way to go. 

With that curiosity, we crossed our first ever fixed rope section and after that, there was no looking back (or down). For 4 full hours. 

Not for the faint-hearted! Hence we opted to walk-under instead  ;)

What about signage on the way up?!

Fruits of our labour

Certainly calls for a beer
Easier, less fun way down

Friday, September 20, 2013

Wachau Wonderland - Melk to Krems

The 38km bike ride from Melk to Krems at first felt like a daunting undertaking. But it takes an extra-ordinary track to push two novice cyclists to go further and further into lush green fields flanked by mountains and a meandering river that just keeps getting better.


The "Donauradweg" route was comprehensively marked and we decided to ride on the south bank till Spitz and then cross-over by ferry to the North bank, as suggested by the experienced. That was the plan at least, until we religiously followed the signs to Krems  (instead of Aggstein) and for some reason crossed over at the bridge instead. Damn! But I'm not sure if we missed anything as the ride was spectacular anyway. 


We rode through rich green fields and beautiful terraced vineyards, tasted wine en route, scored delicious fruits from generous locals and could not get our eyes off the marvellous river. Most of the towns (such as Willendorf) were charming but Durnstein was Danube's traffic-free crown jewel and it came in many shades of apricot!



View of Richard the Lion Heart's castle ruins from Durnstein station

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Salzkammergut - Paradise Lakes and Mountainous Drama

When this is the view that you get throughout the bus journey along the lakes of Salzkammergut, you know there's something incredibly special about this place. 

My immediate reaction to this unparalleled natural beauty was WOW where have I been all my life! It was paradise on earth - the other world. 

Without wasting anytime, we ventured out on the first day to grab a piece of this Habsburg monarchy's fairytale nature land. Our first journey was a wonderful bus ride (via Bad Ischl) to the dramatically illuminated Dachenstein Caves, located within easy reach of a cable ascent followed by a 15 minute walk. It was also our first encounter with delicately ice-capped peaks and snow that melted on tingling finger tips. 

The best was saved for the last part of the day - Halstatt a tiny town of spectacular beauty with giant Mt Dachenstein looming overhead.  A pleasant stroll through this town and its postcard-perfect square took less than an hour but enjoyably relaxing. A bone chapel with decorated human skulls was this petite town's way of making place for the newly dead. 

Rain prevailed during the drive back home but that didn't stop this stunner of a place from appearing any less beautiful.