I've been in Austria for 4 months now (more like 3 if you minus my South Africa holiday). Time has gone really fast but at the same time it feels like so much has been fit into these few weeks. My housemate told me I'm the most active person she knows – I think I'm bad at being bored.
I'm sad that my exchange student friends are leaving soon, I can't believe they're going already. When I was on exchange here two years ago I remember how bad the thought of leaving was.
Here are a few miscellaneous things I haven't written about on here:
In May my two housemates and I had a lovely long weekend in Anger, a small town in Bavaria near Salzburg. We stayed at German Anna's family home, explored the area (Bechtesgaden, Bad Reichenhall, the beautiful Königssee), saw the Maibaum being set up by men in lederhosen and ate and drank extremely well. On the very cold and drizzly Sunday morning Anna and I got up early, ate a lot (me at least) and set off to run in the Salzburg half marathon. I wasn't quite as trained as when I ran it two years ago and I had somehow hurt my foot running the week prior, so I wasn't even sure that I'd be able to complete the distance. Luckily a few Nurofen and some Voltaren cream did the trick and it ended up being a really nice (and wet) run and I finished in 1:44, a minute slower than last time but totally okay with me.
A few weeks ago Matthias and I cycled Bielerhöhe Pass. I went on a pretty intense hike the day before and probably psyched myself up too much for the ride - the big climb ended up being much more doable than expected. When we got there the road was still closed for winter but we decided to try it anyway, and ended up having the whole pass to ourselves. So good. It was crazy to be cycling so high up (2032m above sea level) with so much snow and such vivid turquoise blue dams.
I feel very lucky that I get to spend another year in this beautiful part of the world.
Sunday, May 31, 2015
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
I've been up a few mountains lately. (Part 1)
The weekend after I got back from South Africa we woke up at 3am on a Sunday morning (!) to walk up Mörzelspitze to watch the sunrise, something I haven't done since living in Vorarlberg. It was very cold, very dark and there was a lot more snow than expected™ (this has somewhat become a catch phrase in my first 3 months here). Probably because of these things we missed the right path to Mörzelspitze and ended up on another slightly smaller peak. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful morning watching the sun rise over the mountains behind us and Lake Constance in front of us. Shoutout to the friends we saw walking between clubs, beer in hand, who we picked up on the way and ended up walking all the way to the top with us.
When everybody seems to be busy I can count on my procrastinating gym-junkie Slovakian friends to join me for a sunny mid-week afternoon hike. We had planned to just go up an old favourite waterfall hike but can't say no to a challenge and afterwards decided to also include Staufen peak.
It was lovely weather two weeks ago (it seems like winter again now) and a local suggested Winterstaude to be a nice day hike. We started from Bezau in the Bregenzerwald, went up Niedere and from there along the ridge to Winterstaude peak. Coming back, we thought we'd take the shorter, more challenging way down. Again, there was more snow than expected™ and we couldn't see any trace of a path (or tracks for that matter) and we ended up scrambling down the steepest face of the mountain down to Schetteregg ski area, with a lot of sun burn as a souvenir.
On Sunday I thought I'd give Mörzelspitze another go as I've since aquired a hiking map of the area. ...I ended up guiding our group of 6 in the wrong direction from the start but quickly decided that we'd go up Hoher Freschen instead, as Stefan was keen as always to go up a peak over 2000m . I'd been up there two years ago, what could go wrong? Answer: More Snow Than Expected™. It's a really amazing hike, unfortunately there was a lot of fog on Sunday which blocked the view but also looked really beautiful. For this hike we finally went above the tree line and had to climb/ balance along some tricky ridges, made even harder by a lot of fresh snow. In hindsight it was probably a little dangerous to do considering the conditions, but morale was high throughout the day and no one got into any trouble. Once on the peak, we decided to skip the risky ridge climb down and hike through the snow to skiing area Laterns instead.
I love being here and having such beautiful places so easily accessible. I'm thankful for the wonderful friends who follow my 'routes' despite serious doubts and whose company make hiking that much more enjoyable. I've also done a few trips and amazing bike rides recently, will write about those soon. (or not... it always seems to be so long between blog posts despite good intentions. I also upload photos quite regularly on Instagram)
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
I really felt South Africa this visit. Since our move to Australia 12 years ago, I think my understanding of SA has been a bit narrow. We used to go back very summer holiday (not as often now) and visit the same familiar places and see the same people. Since we moved I haven’t really seen any new places or met many different people, so my perception of the country was limited to summer days at the beach house, a suburb in Cape Town and a small town in the Klein Karoo. When talking to Elize before her visit, I had to admit that I didn’t really know much about SA apart from my relatively small and safe bubble, even having spent half my life there. On this visit I tried to be a bit more independent, even though my parents seemed to be convinced that setting foot out of the door alone nearly anywhere in SA would result in certain death. The first 2 days was lovely, Elize was also in Cape Town (cheers for the photos!) so we took the bus around the peninsula, walked around Hout Bay, took a freezing dip at Clifton beach, ate mexican and climbed through the clouds up Table Mountain. I had some quality family time over easter at the beach town where I spent the majority of my summers, ate a lot and ran trails along the ocean. I also went for two beautiful hikes in the Overberg mountains which also has a view of the ocean: perfect. On a longer hike I was lucky to catch up to two girls and chat with them which made the hike even nicer. My family also went to the KKNK, an Afrikaans culture festival in Oudtshoorn and we saw some great Afrikaans plays and a memorable opera performance. My last week there I was back in Cape Town. It was lovely to just spend time with my family and be there for my cousin’s birthday - little family things that I usually miss out on. For the first time I took a train in Cape Town (it was so fine, I think I had this irrational fear instilled in me), took buses around, hiked up Lion’s Head by myself, went for another freezing dip in the ocean, met up with old friends, went for trail runs in Tygerberg Nature reserve. It was great.
I’ve been super busy since coming back to Austria, will write about that soon.