Monday 3 October 2016

Austrian Holiday

Sunday, September 4th saw a significant proportion of the DHWC departing form Dublin airport with Topflight, clutching boots, bags and sticks: destination-The Tyrolean province of Austria. Our chairman, Richard had been researching and planning over many months and what a fine job he did.
It was a delight to arrive in Ehrwald, such a beautiful alpine village and more especially to the Hotel Sonnenburg where Danielle and her staff welcomed us and indulged us to an exceptionally high standard over the next 7 days.
The week began by us being gently seduced into the sounds of the mountains: the rustling of the soaring conifers, the fragrance exuded from the pines and meadows, not forgetting the comforting chimes of cowbells. Our Austrian walking guides greatly enhanced our holiday. They catered for all in our 39 strong group and were an invaluable source of information and so knowledgeable of the history of the area. They promoted the "Alpine Pace" which meant everyone reached their own heights whilst appreciating the scenery along the way.
On our first walk of the week, we went to the Seebenbach Waterfalls, which thrust forth from the Sonnenspitze Cliffs. This was a leisurely walk and helped us to absorb our new surroundings. The cross at the top of Hollfopf 2.194 m was our destination midweek: it was Eileen's birthday and after singing our greetings to her at breakfast, we headed off on an amazing day. We took the cable car first and then transferred to the 2 seater chair lifts which swiftly and silently glided us to the next ski station. We then proceeded to walk to the summit of Hollkopf. The air was quite thin but it was a beautiful day and we were blessed and elated when we arrived at the Plateau above. We picnicked, rested, recharged and descended. As if that was not enough excitement for one day, many opted for the alternative downhill transport- The Biberweir Summer toboggan run- round and round until we reached the bottom. What a thrill that was. Childhood revisited.s
The fitter among us, mostly men but with a couple of courageous individuals representing the fairer sex conquered the slopes of the Zugspitze glacier. They began from a 1500 m starting point and ascended to a height of 2570 m- a distance of 12 kms-climbing throughout. That was a very tough 6 hour climb. Those intrepid souls were welcomed back at the hotel to rapturous applause: all looking content, relaxed and healthy.
The walk to Lake Seebensee was beautiful, walkers frequently having one foot in Austria, the other in Germany. The guide explaining how it would originally have been Tyrolean and Bavarian independent territory. The lake water was very cold but good for tired feet and those that were tempted to paddle were very glad they had done so.
The summit of Zugspitze 2062 m is Germany's highest point. We visited the museum and the glacier below. It was very busy with tourists-we were lucky to see the views as the top was obscured by fog soon after we reached lower ground.
On Saturday when the organised excursions were over, we all spent the day in various ways- some took the little red train to the town of Garmisch- others to the lake Heiterwanger See for a leisurely 2 hour boat trip. Two members cycled there- Other s visited the city of Innsbruch to immerse themselves in the culture and sights
There was a brass band playing in the village one night but most evenings were spent in the hotel where our own musicians played and singing and dancing prevailed. Friday night was Quiz night- a big thank you to Ronagh for organizing that. Thanks to Erich and Brendan for helping .
This is the time of year when the farmers of Ehrwald bring their livestock down from the mountains to lower ground for the winter. On our last day, the group got to witness the descent of the sheep and shearing at first hand. The cattle donning garlands of flowers- it was a spectacle to behold. Villagers with stalls displaying their arts and crafts dotted about in the sun made our final view of Ehrwald a lasting and arresting memory.

The beauty of a holiday like this is that it gives us a chance to do what may be impossible to do alone, but there is always a chance to be alone. Nothing is compulsory. If you are considering joining a club, do consider ours. If you are an ex member or an inactive member, perhaps you will try again, Walking is so very conducive to good physical and mental health. Our club motto is "Fitness, Friendship and Fun " Why not give it a go.
Thanks again to Richard , it was a wonderful holiday. Here's to next time.


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