Friday, August 10, 2018


As you may have guessed, I was away on vacation with the family, though not for the full three weeks since the radio silence. I consider myself lucky that once again, we had a great time with lots of fun and exciting new sights and sounds. Summer vacation 2018 took me first solo to Bavaria where I climbed Germany's highest, the Zugspitze (2962m). I took the pic below on final approach.

I got there by way of the Reintalroute, which is the easiest one. Easiest one, not counting of course the ascent by cable car, haha. Indeed, the summit of the Zugspitze is a bit of a circus, with scores of tourists coming up without breaking a sweat, to then gobble down bratwurst in the eateries on top, spend their euros on silly tourist stuff in gift shops etc. To be sure, I took the cable car back down, because I figured that if I took the same way back I'd never make it to my hotel before midnight. Indeed, the day before I hiked from Garmisch-Partenkirchen via the Bockhuette and the Reintalangerhuette to the Knorrhuette (ca. 2,050m), where I stayed for the night. I had originally planned to then push right thru to the summit in the morning, take a few pics and get back the same way; but the trek from Knorrhuette to summit took me 4 hours, and it was around eleven when I finally got there. It wasn't doable to get back down to the Knorrhuette and all the way back from there to GP in the remaining daytime. So I took the easy way down. Even so, once at the bottom of the valley, near the Eibsee, I still had to hike an estimated 18 (?) kloms back to the hotel. Anyway... it was fun, exciting, tough at times, and above all beautiful Bavaria was gloriously baking in the sun with a magnificently blue canopy over it.

I hurried back to Belgovakia, did a couple of last minute chores I hadn't been able to finish, then packed the family in the good ole Outlaw Wagon which has carried us safe and sound to so many places, from Achill Island to Niedzica and from Geiranger to Lago Maggiore. And over Nuremberg we reached Prague. Now, Prague was a revelation and a shock. Can't remember if I ever saw so many palaces on so few square kloms. It was... breathtaking, and after only one day the family was in serious danger of Cultural Overkill. This is Saint Vitus Cathedral, the top attraction of Hradcany Palace, but my pitiful photo does not do right at all to the beauty and glory of Prague's Crown:

You will have to go see Prague yourself, and trust me, you won't regret it!

Then it was off via Brno and then through Slovakia to Poland's Tatra Mountains, more precisely Zakopane, where I had booked a mountain hut for a week.

Below the view from our cottage, Chata Stacha on Mount Gubawovka in Zakopane. The silhouette of the distinctive mountain you see there, the Giewont, can, with some imagination, be perceived as that of a sleeping guy, and indeed, Zakopanians refer to Giewont as 'the sleeping Knight'. 'Knight', cause the guy they have in mind is an ancient Polish King, Boleslaw the Brave.

I went up Giewont too. It's only 1894m, and it gives no problems from whatever direction you approach it. Only the last 100m or so pose a bit of a challenge, as the summit is a butte with steep sides you have to negotiate using chains fastened in the rock walls. After Giewont I hiked up the Kondracka Kopa (2005m), why not? It's just crossing the saddle between the two and then up about 250m over a decent path. Look at The Sleeping Knight's head (the part with the cloud plume is his breast, the indentation his throat, the summit his head), between it and the tree leaves to the right is the saddle and the featureless summit of Kondracka Kopa.

It was all over far too soon, and it's a damn pity time is as short in supply here as sane people, cause there's so much else I'd like to elaborate on - Cracow comes to mind. But alas. Anyway, on our last but one day we drove from Zakopane over Zywiec (famous for its beer) and Bielsko Biala to Karpacz, which like Zakopane is a bit of a mountain resort. Only thing is, the Tatras at Z-Town have alpine allures, while the mountains behind Karpacz are far lower and gentler, even though they are called the Giant Mountains. Highest among them is the Sniezka, the summit of which Poland shares with the Czech Republic. As it happens, the Sniezka, at 1,603 meters, is Czechia's highest. On the summit there's a postmodern conflagration of UFO like disks from the communist era:

And this is what the gentle mountains on both sides of the Czech/Slovak border look like:

I'm not a great photographer and I still got an old iPhone4, so these pics prolly don't excite wow feelings towards Central Europe, but trust me, the place is more than worth a decent vacation. So many things to see and do yet, but you won't hear me complainin' - it was oooookay.



No comments: