Sunday, November 24, 2013
Snow is well and truly on the mountains here (and no doubt will be in the town in the coming days as well) and before the skiing season officially starts in two weeks I've been having a lot of fun hiking in the snow and sledding down. We did a few trips over the past couple of weekends - snow hiking is hard (and cold), but so rewarding, especially if you discover blue sky after walking through a low-hanging cloud like last weekend. I also had my birthday this week. I'm 22 now, but especially in the last year I've felt like I've become younger; thinking even more (naively?) that the world is my oyster, carpe diem. I'm realising more and more that I don't want to 'settle down' any time soon - I definitely don't want to work full time, I learnt that from my recent internship. I'm not good at working 9-5, five days a week. I'm becoming less and less sure about what I'd ultimately like to do, as the list of things that I don't want to do grows. I've realised that I don't want to live in a city, something that is completely different to what I thought about myself for almost my whole life. Being in this part of Austria has made me realise that I really want to live somewhere with accessible nature, where I don't have to travel hours outside of a city with a car to be surrounded by it.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
A little over two weeks ago, I woke up one morning and saw the mountains (not even very high up) covered in snow. It was the day after I finished my internship and we decided to do a little snow-hiking. It was freezing, in my running shoes (I really should invest in a pair of hiking boots) and tights, but so much fun. We hiked/ climbed through the low-laying clouds and had beautiful, clear skies at the top of the mountain. We ate potato bread and speck and shared a flask of tea at the peak, and belly-slid down.
Last weekend a group of us decided to spend a night on top of a mountain. I went on a solo hike earlier that week and had the perfect spot in mind. The hike up was significantly harder with our big packs, and at one point one friend and I decided to take a vertical 'short cut' instead of walking up the long winding road around the mountain. Climbing with a big backpack was interesting (/dangerous) to say the least and we got more than a few strange looks from other hikers who could see us from below, but we made it to the top first...ha. Our plan was to make a few tents out of tarpaulins and ropes, but when the ex scout/ engineers students in the group saw freshly cut logs, they felt inspired to build a full-on shelter. We made a big campfire, cooked corn and sausages and when we saw police lights coming up the mountain quickly hid our wine and rum bottles (wild camping isn't technically allowed in Austria), but they never came. We like to think the climb up was too tough for them.
Quite a few weeks ago, after beer festival no. 2 in Stuttgart, a big group of us went hiking in Damüls, a big ski area in winter. The autumn colours were very beautiful and walking along the ridge was the perfect easy Sunday hike.
I thought I'd briefly show some of mountains we've been going up lately. I'll be sad to leave this beautiful part of the world.
Friday, October 25, 2013
A ten week full time internship and two half marathons in two weeks under the belt, I was really looking forward to my 'reward trip' to Helsinki to visit my good Finnish friends from last semester. I've been really interested in Scandinavian countries this year and I was interested to see how different or similar Finland would be compared to Norway and Denmark which I've visited before. I didn't know anything about Finland before this year; I probably would have guessed that Helsinki is somewhere in eastern Europe, but after hearing about it so much through my friends, I really wanted to visit it. The Finnish language is a completely unique language (nothing like Swedish or Danish), they love extremely salty liquorice, saunas are a very important part of life and alcohol is super expensive due to a huge tax (so masses of Finns go with big trolleys and suitcases with a boat to Estonia to buy cheap alcohol - it's quite funny). We also took that boat to Tallinn one day, a city which I also really liked - very cosy cafes, pubs and cobblestone streets. In Finland I stayed in Espoo, Finland's 2nd biggest city, but only about 15 minutes to Helsinki. Espoo is around a bay and the Autumn colours in the nature was beautiful when I was there - it didn't feel like a 'city' at all. The food was amazing too - I tried reindeer meat which was some of the tastiest meat I've ever tried (and actually very ecologically friendly and ethical), Finnish cheese with cloudberries, lingonberry moussey porridge, cinnamon rolls, delicious salmon, rye everything and lots and lots of coffee. Apparently the Finns are the biggest coffee drinkers in the world and I could definitely see that. Helsinki is such a cool city - I particularly liked the modern art gallery Kiasma, and the design museum. It's definitely a very design-orientated city - the new library for the Helsinki university is what dreams are made of. It might not be such a well-known country (especially in Australia), but Finland is definitely worth a visit.
iPhone photos - didn't have enough space for my real camera unfortunately!
Monday, October 7, 2013
I remember wishing as I stood, frozen, seriously considering if I could get a rescue helicopter to come airlift me out so I don't have to climb, unassisted, up any more snow-covered vertical rocks. We were so unprepared it's kind of funny - we didn't consider that there'd be so much snow on the mountain already. After not a lot of sleep and a trek to Munich for Oktoberfest the day before, I hazily woke up and put on my usual running clothes for the hike. All other pro hikers we came across had sticks, and proper hiking- and footwear for the snow, in true German/ Austrian style, and I could see them doubtfully eyeing my runners and PE shorts. The view on the peak (and actually constantly during the hike) was amazing and so rewarding after the scary & stressful climb up. On the way down the peak we had had enough of walking in deep snow and slid down a good hundred meters or so on our rainjackets.
I rewatched 'Touching The Void' recently and have started listening to 'The Dirtbag Diaries' stories (highly recommended if you like the outdoors in general) while working, and I've got this new urge to do more 'extreme' outdoor things - unfortunately just in time for winter.
Braunarlspitze, 2649m | Bregenzerwald | Vorarlberg, Austria