Culture: A Bad Tourist’s Hike in The Alps

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Living in Munich is much like any other city: cars, streets, buildings and greenery. But unlike most cities, just a stone’s throw away is the largest mountain range in Europe –The Alps! Miles of nothing but mountains, some white, grey and pointed; others oval and green and full of life, all sprinkled with little chalets, bending paths, and cows. Each one fit enough for a Dame Julie Andrews singsong.  It’s little surprise that over 150 million people visit the place each year! The actual German Alps are just a tiny, tiny slither of the mountain range, but it’s enough to really bask in their beauty, plus you can just wonder over to Austria. I met a few people from Munich who said the Alps were the main reason why they chose to live here. It really is a clash of city life in two very different worlds.

Alps4I joined a hiking group as I really wanted to visit the Alps, but no real idea of how I would do so. The group was an amazing idea and I strongly recommend if you’re a bit like me and unsure how best to experience the mountains. Everything was planned; I had just to bring myself and what I needed.

We left Munich early, about 7am, and arrived at our starting point at about 9. We were travelling to Taubensee. I had no idea what it was or what to expect. Before joining the hike the group provides a difficulty warning to anyone thinking about joining. Luckily for me this was labelled easy. So I really did expect it to be quite easy.

However that wasn’t the case to begin with. Leaving the carpark we just went up, and up and up. It was horrendous and I was embarrassed that I was struggling so much, but I tried my best to conceal it from the others. It was only a few minutes later I realised I wasn’t the only one struggling,  as fellow hikers slowly removed jackets and stopped for a quick pause. Seeing their struggling made me feel a lot more human. The scenery at this point wasn’t much, trees and a steep, intimidating concrete path. It was only as we got on the top did the bomb of beauty finally explode. It was incredible.

Alps3The white-topped mountains, the deep green at their heel, and their never ending expenditure of mountains. It was absolutely breathtaking, and never have I hated the low quality of iPhone camera so much. But I think even with the best camera, this splendour was unattainable, you really have to be there to see it.

Alps2As we went on the terrain was scarily changing.  One minute we’re all applying sun cream and removing jackets, then next snow nearly a metre deep. Up there in the mountains the environment has no chill; it is one extreme or the other.

Thankfully after the initial almost vertical climb things started to flatten out.  As we climbed I was met with more and more jaw dropping views. I never really realised how big the Alps are. For miles nothing but the pointed, rough beauty of mountains in the background, and rolling green hills in the foreground.

After reaching Taubensee, a small and rather unimpressive lake, we headed down the other side of the mountain. We stopped at a very traditional, wooden, restaurant to eat. From here the views were stunning. It annoys me, because I feel like I am still yet to learn the words that really encapsulate and do justice to the things I saw.

The mountain range offers thousands of different hikes with its diverse terrain. Which is great because it means anyone of any age gets to see the beauty of the Alps. You can attempt an all week hikes that offer though climbs and testing environments, but perhaps for the not so adventurous, access by cable cars is common, and a great way to jump into the unbelievable beauty of the mountains. However, prices of cable cars vary widely depending where you go, so make sure to check in advance.  You can even take a walk on flat green fields besides the Alps, to see the beauty from a far-off framed perspective. But if I could I would encourage everyone to take at least one hike.

Also, not only does this beautiful setting host skyline hikes, but also offers a great variety of sports, such as paragliding, mountain biking, skiing, and sledging. I would strongly recommend a visit to anyone coming to Munich as they are so close. But definitely plan a good trip, or join a group just to make sure you really make the most of it.

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