I couldn't have missed friends as we went to see quite a lot of them. What I liked most about the beginning of our trip: we had no clue where we would end up, except for a wedding at the Moselle in the beginning and a birthday in the South of Switzerland in the middle. On the 6th of August we had to be back in the Rhineland to celebrate my father in law's birthday.
So far so good.
Our first stop brought us to the beautiful town of Traben-Trarbach, where we meet friends from all over the world every year. It's a couchsurfing meeting one of our friends is organizing in this very pretty hometown of his. This year was somehow special as Florian and his girlfriend were getting married during the camp. The ceremony was held by one of his friends, Trevor, on top of a vineyard in the shadow of an old ruin. Very romantic, I cried my eyes out...
We had an amazing hike (slightly chaotic as well, as every year), great nights dancing and at the fireplace and if I had to decide on a topic for Traben Trarbach 2017 it would be great conversations. It's funny, but from Trevor, the very talented musician from the US I had never really talked to before, to Tommi, a Finnish guy I have known for some years now to Jonas, originally from Lithuania but one of my dearest Berlin friends, I had deep conversations, the kinds you almost only have sitting around a campfire, with time at your hands and probably one or two beers. It was amazing and I truly cherish those moments.
|Nice light of Mr Schön's Petromax|
|Building a camp out of vans and palletts|
|Lisek and Panda tired from all the vacation|
|I love those campfire nights!|
Monday morning, everybody left, our benches were burnt and as the rain started to fall, we drove on, to Würzburg. It was a town "on my list", so to say, as I had heard quite a lot about it and sure enough, it was beautiful. The weather was nice and as the sun went down we walked across a bridge, back to our campsite, which was just next to the Old Town and I loved the atmosphere of people enjoying the rays of sunshine, having wine and just sitting and standing on the bridge.
The rain was trying to catch us so we drove on to Bad Dürrheim, a small town which used to be a big deal in the Spa world in the 70s, judging from the architecture, but now the buildings and gardens seem old, somehow fallen out of time. The campsite however was really cool, with very nice personnel. And the best thing was the big thermal spa just next to it. I bought a two hour ticket and enjoyed the salty water and some knitting time on my own while Mr. Schön and Lisek stayed in the van, also enjoying some alone time.
In the morning we went into the forest, also close to the campsite. It was a beautiful day and we treated ourselves with some delicious food at a "Waldcafé".
|Waldkinderkarten in Bad Dürrheim|
We had a short stop in Donau-Eschingen as well, a nice town, with the well of the Danube. The true tourists we were, we took some pictures and drove on. But look at those two, aren't they adorable?
Rheinfall / Schaffhausen
The waterfalls in Schaffhausen not only impressed Lisek a lot, but I also liked the panorama. It's incredible how much water runs down those walls. The Rhine, coming from Switzerland, is still a very clear river down South so much. In Schaffhausen it is pretty wild though. This evening we celebrated our 7th year anniversary with champagne and doing a casserole in our van for the first time. It was so delicious!
In the morning I was awake very early and decided to take Lisek on a walk along the Rhine into town. It was only dawn and we saw a lot of animals on the way, a lot of birds and squirrels, it was pretty special. (But also a very steep hike back. At least I thought so. Little did I know that the very definition of a steep hike would be challenged during our stay in Switzerland...) Schaffhausen itself is very pretty, with lots of trees and a nice rosegarden overlooking the town.
|It was delicious, we used this special "oven" for campers, it worked brilliantly|
We only had like an hour on our parking-ticket, but as we knew we didn't want to stay in St. Gallen anyway, we took a short walk to have a look at the old town, which is definitely worth a visit. St. Gallen is not only famous for its university, but also for the very old bay windows, made with handcrafted wood carvings that are pretty amazing.
We have a friend living in Chur and I thought it would be nice to meet up and let him show us the hotspots of the city. But since I couldn't reach him and finding a parkingspot for the campervan proved extremely difficult, we just went grocery shopping to Aldi, cooked a nice meal on the parking lot there and then decided to already go further South, where we would meet up with our friends Gio and Erich the next day anyway.
Going through the county of Graubünden (you know, Heidiland) was weird, because it almost felt like coming home, although we had only visited Gio and Erich twice in the last seven years. (One year before the two had met, we had already been in the area though, so it was the fourth time we went there.) The countryside is just so marvellous, all the waterfalls, the valleys, the cute little villages. It has a homey feel about it and it's an area that is very dear to my heart. Via an app we found that just behind the Italian border, there was a nice space for our Scottie, very romantic.
All we had to do to get to Montespluga was taking the mountain pass road of Splügen, which proved to be very adventurous. I was really glad Mr. Schön was driving, while I was always trying to see, whether there was a vehicle coming from above. It was scary. But worth it. On the way, you have spectacular views, a lot of little rivers that come down the mountains and the village of Montespluga has a very distinct feeling about it. Solitude oozes from the houses and the streets. The big mountain lake had little water, so it took some time to walk towards it, but we parked our car with a view to both the lake and the mountains. On the way to the parking lot we overtook a cow, walking on the street, with a big cowbell on that might have saved her life several times already. The clong-clong of the bells were heard in the distance, and sometimes right next to our car, when the cows decided the grass was greenest on our side. Montespluga would be the perfect place to write a book, especially as the pass is closed in winter and used as a skiing slope. I bet life can get very lonely and cold in the winters here.
We were really lucky with the weather the next day, as it got sunny and pretty warm. You can somehow feel that you are in Italy there, not in Switzerland anymore. And I couldn't even tell you why. We heard weird birds hollering all the time and I tried to spot them with our binoculars, but had no luck. Only later I found out that what we had been hearing were the groundhogs warning their family members. So cool!
|Beautiful Village Montespluga - Clearly Italy and not Switzerland|
|The dried lake looks like on the moon a bit.|
|The cattle runs free in the Alps, so they also ate right behind our bus|
|The next day it was hot|
|Splügen mountain pass - we had to go up and down again|
We went down the adventurous Splügen pass again, made it down in one piece and were so thrilled to see Erich and Gio and their new house that they had been building those last two years. It is so amazing! A Swiss mountain house, made from timber they had chopped themselved in the surrounding woods, including some old wood from the old horse stables into the architecture of the house. I loved it so much!
It was Erich's birthday that weekend, so he had invited a few more friends, which turned out to be a great idea. We had so much fun and the group really grew together in those few days. The first evening was already special, as they took us to a waterfall nearby, where you could make a fire and use it not only to warm yourself (pretty cold up in the mountains), but also to have a barbecue.
Saturday morning, Erich, who is a farmer, had to bring in the hay from one of his Alpine meadows and while he has a machine that throws the hay onto a trailer, all the hay has to be raked in a line in order to pull it up. Everyone was given a rake and then the work begun. It was warm that day, the sun was shining and we were truly enjoying ourselves. It feels so good to work hard, using your muscles, especially as our workdays usually mean sitting at a desk for 8-10 hours. I think after two hours we were done and the trailer was full of hay, giving us some time to play with Lisek and tire him out, too.
|Helping with the hay and and feeling very proud indeed|
|For somebody from the "Flatlands", this hill felt already high up in the mountains|
|looking like a shepherd's dog into the valley|
In the afternoon we went on a "hike", although the others, being Swiss, they wouldn't use that word unless you walk up the mountains. As we were walking around a lake, we agreed on calling it a mere walk. I had bought new hiking shoes and it turned out a great idea, not so much on this "walk", but on the actual hike that was about to follow the next day. The walk around the lake took us about four hours. Gio and Erich wanted to use it to test our stamina, as they wanted to take us up on their favourite mountains the next day.
We managed the walk, but especially Mr. Schön was tired that day, really doubting he was up for what the others had in mind the next day. But I encouraged him to come, as it was a very special opportunity for us.
|Our hike in the afternoon led us to Sufernsee, a lake with magical colours|
|Our steep hike - Before: still smiling|
The last two hundred metres or so, we had crossed not only the timber line, but the grass line and all we had under our feet there was little pieces of slate, me stumbling more than walking, constantly worried that Lisek (who is really clumsy) might miss a step and fall down the cliffs. It was scary and at the same time so mindblowingly beautiful and exhausting. One of the days of my life that I will never forget.
The way down was almost as steep and as the way up was a question of your fitness (which was ok for me), the way down challenged our muscles, which was harder for me, as my ankles were totally not used to this kind of work. But my new hiking shoes really did a good job. I was so glad I had bought them!
|It sure was a nice day and a spectacular view|
|My body fighting with the thin air. See the others in the background. I feel behind.|
|Lisek did really well|
|Our friends' place is just amazing. That is the view from their porch|
|They made a traditional white bread "Hefezopf" everyday for us. Soooo good!|
After our hike - the hardest hike of my life, I can say that and I bet my Swiss friends laugh about that- we thought we wouldn't last long before we went to bed, but wrong, first we played Taboo, a team of three people from different language-backgrounds against a team of three Swiss men. Guess what? The team with two women won the game fair and square! No wonder, I think Taboo was made for women. After that the drinking games started. We drank a whole bottle of Obstler, Schnaps that is, and it was so much fun!
|The living room - Their home is so incredible! I am in love!|
After a beautiful weekend with our friends in the countryside, we decided to spend a night in Liechtenstein, while we were on our way to Bavaria, to the next friend to visit. And I can honestly say, it was worth it, as it was probably my most favourite spot on the whole trip. (Although, that is a tough choice to be frank...)
If you are a camper, go to Liechtenstein! Free parking in the most amazing places, with a clean bathroom and beautiful landscape. Again we were in the mountains, parked next to a turquoise lake, cowbells around and nice hiking routes (much easier than the last one. We felt like the world-champions in hiking after our stay with the Swiss, nothing could scare us anymore. So funny!) It was also nice to just be the two of us once more, before we would meet another friend of us. We met two nice locals who recommended a Gasthof restaurant for having a beer. The view on the mountains and the setting sun, while sitting on the restaurant's terrace enjoying a craft beer is one of the most precious memories of that holiday.
On our hike that evening we were lucky enough to see a bunch of Groundhogs that were really upset with us (and probably Lisek) and made a lot of noise. The whole family ran into their caves and the fat boss was standing upright, keeping us in sight the whole time...
My grandparents have always been hiking on their holidays, usually in the Swiss or Austrian Alps and for the first time I felt that I could truly understand what it must have meant to them. The solitude, the feeling of being part of nature, the satisfaction you feel when you have a decent meal after a day of being physically active and being off the world and at the same time within the most beautiful nature... It can't get much better...
|Isn't this a bautiful lake?|
|Showing Lisek where our van is (As if I had any idea...)|
|Landscapes like from Postcards|
|He was even brave enough to get into the cold mountain lake|
|Scottie in Liechtenstein|
Our friend lives in the small village of Haag, near the Chiemsee and when we arrived in the evening, he took us out to the Beergarden there, which was really beautiful, with ferry lights and an impressive view over the valley.
|First evening in Haag, having delicious food in the Biergarten|
|Beer was very present during our stay in Bavaria. This one is the local beer from Haag|
While the weather in Liechtenstein was very pleasant, Bavaria was stuck in a big heat wave while we were there. The temperature rarely fell under 35°, but we wanted to go and see some of the landscape. Franz has the most amazing car, a Tesla, which he was happy to take us in from one tourist spot to the next.
On the first day we went to the famous Chiemsee. We took a ferry to go and see both islands, Herrenchiemsee with the castle and Frauenchiemsee, with an old monastery and some very cute houses. In the monastery bookstore I found a recipe book from the 1970s, originally from the English ladies-school that is set in the little village Franz comes from and that his mother went to to learn the arts of householding. Pretty old-fashioned of course, but those ladies knew how to bake, plus I thought it was a nice souvenir as well. On Frauenchiemsee they serve a special fish, Renke, in the summer months, which we tried with some - of course- beer and potatoe salad. It was really tasty.
|baking book with recipes from the little village of Haag|
|Of course we took the Tesla|
The second day, Franz decided we had to see the Königssee as well. And it was amazing! The landscape is so beautiful and the water looks the clearest blue. The only problem was the big crowd of tourists, which made a) going to the other side via ferry or b) renting a rowing boat a hassle. So we decided to go into the beergarden and then have a swim, which were the best ideas in this heat!
|It was so crowded - we decided on another Biergarten and a swim|
Bamberg has always been on my list. From co-workers to friends, to relatives everyobody seems to have already been there and loved it, so I wanted to go, too.
And Bamberg could be so beautiful, but first, we had troubles finding a spot to park, as some of the places were already crammed full and then the inner city centre, the old town, is open for traffic. So even in the narrow streets, that are truly beautiful, you have to make way for cars coming through. In most cities or towns those would have been pedestrians areas and I don't get why Bamberg didn't do this. I liked our stay there, but the town could be so much nicer without all the traffic.
|"Smoke-beer" Not a fan|
|The rosegarden of Bamberg is pretty nice|
|Playing Hide & Seek in the garden|
That town was a winner. I can't really say what it was, as we have visited many beautiful places on our tours, but both of us agreed, we could live here. This little student's town had a feel to it, that even our first encounter with a local shows brilliantly. We parked Scottie on a parking spot very close to the Altstadt, when a guy living in the house next to it came to us and suggested we parked on the schoolyard right next to it, as it was the school holiday and that way we wouldn't need to buy a ticket in the morning. Really nice. And I thought he would tell us off for sleeping in the van in front of his house. Nope. Very kind guy.
Marburg is famous for its students and they are everywhere. Even the castle is a dorm, with the students' names on the front door. How cool is that? The prices are low and the food is good, the old town full of charming restaurants and bars. We ended up in the same bar "Barfuß" for dinner and breakfast. It was just perfect and the waitresses were so cool and service-oriented. Plus, Marburg has so many bookstores! I felt so much at home here.
|Marburg Castle - A student's dorm|
|We loved Cafè Barfuß|
On the 6th of August we left Marburg to go to my father in law's birthdayparty. Seven years ago, when we were very loosely dating and when I was at his birthday party for the first time - not even sure, whether I should go - he welcomed me to the family with a big hug. And little did I know that I would indeed be a part of that family from that day on. Very kind welcome and also this time that was a great ending for our trip.