Austrian-Italian holiday


Katy and I went on a long trip through Germany, Austria and Italy this year. We spent a day in Munich, and wandered around the Englischer Garten which is huge and features a surprising array of water sports right in the centre of a major city. We saw lots of people swimming between bridges in the fast-flowing (and cold) Eisbach river, on a hot day, which looked like great fun.


From there we went to Sankt Johann im Pongau in Austria. Highlights there included climbing from town (600m) to Hahnbaumalm (1122m), climbing from town (600m) to Ober-Alpendorf (~850m), down to Alpendorf, getting a cable-car from there to Obergassalm (1520m) and climbing to Sonntagskogel (1849m). No snow of course! It was about 30C. We walked all the way back down. The Jagersteig detour from Kreistenalm was very nice with black squirrels, wild rasberries and loads of mushrooms.

Another day we drove along the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, very impressive, but a lot of the views were obscured by heavy cloud. We did see the Pasterze Glacier for a few minutes, and lots of marmots. We had a day in Salzburg, there was hot sunshine and torrential rain.


From there, we went to Bolzano, just over the border in Italy, home of Otzi the iceman. The Otzi exhibition is really interesting. Bolzano is a gorgeous city built in a steep valley with a large river flowing through it. There are several churches, two of which are particularly impressive, nice parks, amazing array of paths, bridges and cycle-lanes, but best of all, there are 3 extremely cheap and regular cable cars going from the city centre (267m, was 33C while we were there) up to the mountains (which were as cool as 10C at the highest). Bolzano is the only city I've ever been to where you have such complete control over your ambient temperature, and when you have as much hair as I do, this really is a wonderful thing. We had two good day trips, one from Bolzano (267m) to Oberbozen (1220m) by cable car. From there we took a narrow-guage train to Kolbenstein (1156m), and walked through the forest to Pemmern (1538m), where we took another cablecar to Schwarzseespitze (2070m) and walked to Rittner Horn (2260m), where there were spectacular views and panoramawegs... Our second trip from Bolzano (267m) was to Bar Eidelweiss (1108m) on the extremely vertical and scenic Seilbahn Kolhern (cable-car). We then wandered through the woods to Titschen (1616m) and accidentally stumbled across the Rotenweg (near Rotenstein (1506m)) which gave a stunning view over the Bolzano valley. Our holiday was from 20th August - 4th September. It seemed a good time to go, there was loads of sunshine, we were in the mountains for mushroom season (saw many, many varieties of mushroom).


Finally we went to Fiesole on a hill overlooking Florence for the wedding of my friend Helena, which was undescribably great.