Tag Archives: walking

Hiking in the Bavarian and Austrian Alps

As winter approaches, we think of the Alps because of snow and skiing, but in summer it’s another world all together. A world of meadows, flowers and cows with bells, like a scene out of Heidi or The Sound of Music. One of my biggest wishes when moving to Europe was to go hiking in the Alps, and in my fifth summer here we finally made it there in summer. (Fifth summer! I had to count this on my fingers a few times. Has the time really disappeared so quickly?).

We went with a friend to Bavaria in the late days of spring heading towards summer, for four days of hiking in the Alps. The weather was great, four days of sun. We stayed in a little town called Aschau, near the Austrian border. There are hikes leaving directly from the town and many more accessible nearby, especially if you cross the border into Austria. Continue reading

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Outdoor adventures

Battle of the Seelow Heights and a walk near the Oder river

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Approximately 90km from Berlin lies the Seelow Heights, where the last major defensive line outside of Berlin was situated towards the end of World War II. This area of countryside, woods and villages lies near today’s border of Germany and Poland, near the Oder and Neisse rivers. From the 16-19 April 1945, a battle was fought for passage to Berlin between 1 million Soviet soldiers of the 1st Belorussian front and 110 000 German soldiers. Between 20 000 -70 000 Soviet soldiers (according to different sources) and 12 000 German soldiers were killed, and victory was taken by the Soviets, leaving the road to Berlin open from the 19th April. By the 23rd April, Berlin was surrounded and the final Battle of Berlin began. It is estimated that more than 1 million German soldiers were killed as well as 100 000 civilians and 300 000 Soviet soldiers, and that approximately 100 000 women were raped. Within 2 weeks, Berlin was taken, Hitler committed suicide and World War II had come to an end. Continue reading

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The Thomas T Tucker Shipwreck trail – after the fire

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Last time I was in Cape Town, fires were ravaging the mountains. It was early March, and for days the blaze continued, spurred on by strong winds and dry vegetation. Fynbos, the indigenous vegetation in the Cape, requires fire every 15 years or so as part of its life cycle (smoke causes many seeds to germinate, and fires clear away old and dead plants), but the extent of the fires was large this year and it was sad to see the mountain burning.

At the end of August I returned to Cape Town again and went walking with a friend at Cape Point nature reserve at the southwesternmost point of Africa, where we came across part of the area burnt by the fires. There are many great walks here, and we tried one I hadn’t been on before, the Thomas T Tucker Shipwreck trail. It was a cool and windy day, but hiking is great in most weathers, I love to see how places look different in different seasons. Whipped up by the wind, the ocean looked fantastic, and you could easily image how many ships met their demise. The peninsula wasn’t named the Cape of Storms by Portuguese explorers for nothing. Continue reading

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