Posts tagged walking

Death by Olive

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A seahorse fountain in the square

We are always interested in trying new foods and Ascoli Piceno had something unique on offer – olives stuffed with veal and then deep fried. A cardiologist’s worst nightmare but a delight for tourists’ tummies! This town in the Le Marche region of Italy has plenty of interesting sights, beautiful squares and pretty architecture. Its tourist appeal is readily evident with the numerous American and English voices that can be heard echoing off the Roman monuments.

A quick descent out of the mountainous region of Monti Sibillini National Park lead us to the Adriatic sea. Beautiful blue skies and abundant sunshine, combined with a powder blue sea should result in hordes of sun worshippers … or this is what we thought. The only sight that met us on the beach in Porto d’Ascoli were endless rows of sun loungers and parasols. It looked like a holiday ghost town. If only the English knew about this September paradise. I’m sure many would love a cheap holiday in the Italian ‘off’ season.  We eventually located a wild camping spot right next to the sea, and were rewarded with a pretty sunrise the following morning.

The rising sun looked like a nuclear bomb

Monti Sibillini

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After the hustle and bustle of touristy towns, we escaped to Monti Sibillini and its eerie National Park, which straddles the Le Marche and Umbrian region of Italy. We stayed in a grassy (and free) area di sosta close to the town of Castleluccio, surrounded by mountains.

Handgliders and paragliders make good use of the flat basin, perfect for easy landings. Some of the more adventurous ones could even be seen disappearing in and out of clouds that tumble down the sides of the mountains.

The area is perfect for hiking and mountain biking; we did both whilst we were there. Apparently, there are numerous wild animals and plants to be spotted, but the wildest thing we saw was a bleary eyed shepherd and five sheepdogs who thought that Odie looked like a good appetiser.

Konigsee

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Inside the ice cave

Konigsee is a gorgeous lake, hemmed in by alpine mountains, with stunning clear waters fed by mountain rivers. The Germans are very careful to keep it in pristine condition, so much so that even the boats that traverse the lake are electrically powered to prevent polluting the water. There are also no access roads into the park, making it a paradise for hikers.

We chose the round trip by boat which stops off at two places. At one point the boat halted in the middle of the lake so that our guide could demonstrate the incredible echos from the surrounding rock by playing a short tune on a bugle.

An ice cave sits an hour’s walk from the first stop and is well worth the effort. In summer entering the caves is discouraged as it can be dangerous, but we decided to risk it anyway. Inside the cave ice cold drops of water rain down causing a small river of water to form. It’s magnificent, albeit slightly scary when you see rocks and ice falling from above.

Germany’s tallest waterfall sits at the other end of the lake. Unfortunately we were short of time (having made a late start) so our visit to the falls was brief, but nevertheless enjoyable.

Accidental Austrian Strudel

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Rain, rain, rain! We had hoped to make the most of Lake Constanz but the only constant has been a steady downpour. Luckily, while drifting through Friedrichshafen, we spotted signs for the Zepplin Museum and decided to check it out on a whim. As it was early, we were fortunate enough to find a parking space easily but they were few and far between when we returned to the van. Get there early if you don’t want parking headaches. The museum itself was fascinating. I can’t believe how huge the Zepplins were, especially considering how few passengers they could carry. What we did find rather odd was that the top floor was home to an art exhibition. The rather tenuous reason (or should that be excuse?) for its existence was a little sign with the words “Science is art and art is science”.

We found a Stellplatz adjoining a campsite near Lindau. At last a chance to do some washing! A brief break in the steady downpour allowed us to go for a cycle to explore the area. We stopped at a cafe for a warming cup of tea and a very delicious apple strudel. On the cycle home we noticed a sign showing the way to Deutscheland and realised that we had accidentally strayed across the border into Austria for our strudel!

Lindau bay lit up at night

When evening fell we cycled, away from Austria this time, into Lindau town. The bay is lit up at night and is very pretty, apart from a rather odd neon sign at the top of a statue which changes every few minutes from a smiley face to a sad face. The restaurants on the water front are very expensive but a short walk to the end of the row will take you to a funky little cafe which serves cake and beer, a combination I have come to love 😀 We suspect that although it has a lovely riviera feel at night it would be very different in the day, heaving with tourists.

Los Picos

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I thought we should explore the Picos De Europa on foot. David didn’t realise I meant a 7 hour hike along mountain paths. Huge granite monoliths with their tops covered in cloud drop down to a deep gorge with a sparkling blue river, it is inspiring.

On the way to Cain we dawdled taking photographs and watching Odie totter along the edge of the path sans any barriers like they would have in England. Along the way we met some curious mountain goats who posed nicely for some photos. After a quick lunch in Cain and discovering that the only way back was under our own steam we set off and very kindly the sun decided to come out. David fearing for the worst resorted to using Odie’s travel dog bowl as a hat to prevent sunstroke.

We eventually made it back to the van (all in one piece) and compared our battle scars. David will be checking up on me next time I suggest we go for a little wander. La Rueta De Cares is the most walked path in Spain, they say in August it gets so busy it is comparable to walking along Oxford Street. We recommend dealing with the crowds for some delicious views.

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