Beginning June 5th I was fortunate enough to have 2.5 weeks off from work which I spent extravagantly celebrating my (number undisclosed) birthday while traveling Northern Europe and Scandinavia. But more on that later, because chronology is overrated; excepted in the cases of measuring your height on a door frame or reading the Harry Potter septology. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised that this past weekend in what I used to call “Boring Ol’ Salzy” has been just as jam-packed with excitement as the previous 2 weeks as a vagabond had been.
Having dedicated Friday to lots of meditation, a bath and a seriously full night of sleep, I was rejuvenated after the long travels and ready to conquer some terrain. Beginning Saturday with an early alarm that I was eager to wake up to, I scarfed down some fruit and granola then met my match in Salzburg: Gaisberg. The second largest mountain within Salzburg city, this beauty had been on my to-do list for quite sometime. Nothing too treacherous, the roughly 1300 meter high mountain offered a great new view of the city below as well as the towns and farms sprawling outwards, despite the stratus clouds. It must be said that Austrians are incredibly fit human beings. Two women that must’ve been in their mid to late 60’s had no problem powering ahead of the 4 spry young women that we thought we were. This is nothing new in the area. People here love their outdoor sports (mountainwear being the fashion of choice in the city) and it is absolutely inspiring. Looks like we needed to up our game!
Thankfully with energy to spare it was time to rush home for a shower and a meal and let the Summer Solstice festivities begin! Later that evening my hiking buddies and I hitched a ride to Leogang, Austria; a ski and sport town a little over an hour away. There we attended a bonfire- Austrian style. Not the drum circle, nude dancing around a fire that I was hoping for, I wasn’t disappointed nevertheless. Atop the mountain was a small burning pyre and dozens of sticks you could light to carry your own torch. This method was practiced on mountain tops all across the range creating a surreal panoramic view of red-flame lined mountains. Unfortunately I have no pictures of this, so you’ll just have to take my word for it or try it yourself next Solstice.
Now, Sunday in the Western world is typically known as a day of rest and that is doubly true in ultra conservative Austria/ Bavaria but Australian Meg, English James and I had to rebel against this notion and treat ourselves to a grueling 40km (round trip) bike ride to Hoeglworthsee in Bavaria. The hilly landscape made for yodel-inspiring views and ice bath-inspiring climbs for our legs.
The landscape in Bavaria is certainly less pronounced than the imposing mountains of the Alps in Austria, but it is also certainly more placid than the craggy stone faces you’d find across the border. Green rolling hills covered in green leafy trees creates an openness that is completely relaxing, accessible and centering. As far as the eye can see is really freaking far without a giant mountain in front of your face. It is a different kind of joy to appreciate the long range of the blue-violet mountains in the distance. Plus, the crystal clear lake at our destination didn’t hurt a bit either.