Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dolomite logistics

If you are considering a hiking trip in Europe, the first thing to do is to realize that “wilderness” is a very different concept in a land that has been fairly densely inhabited for so long.  You cannot expect to go days without seeing anyone, but even when we hiked the Stubaital in August a few years ago, we never felt like the trails were crowded.  In the Dolomites in late September, we definitely were alone for long stretches, and since we were  hiking in the opposite direction from most people, when we did pass people, generally we saw them very briefly.   

Details worth considering: we hiked “backwards” and that worked out well, and I would recommend it if you are hiking when we did, in late September, since the southern huts close earlier than the Northern ones.  We met a few people towards the end of our trip hiking in the more normal direction, and they were doing some difficult planning to get places to stay each night; luckily they were willing to do slightly longer days than we were. It does mean that we climbed more and descended less overall, but there are plenty of ups and downs in both directions, so I wouldn’t obsess over that.  It was pretty easy to figure out about the bus from our hotel in Prags to the closest train station, and from the train station in Belluno to the trailhead; you don’t need to buy bus or train tickets in advance, but we bought our bus tickets the night before in Belluno, which made the morning a bit easier. Be careful with buying train tickets in the Northern parts of the Dolomites.  The trains up there are run by the Austrian train service, not the Italian one, so buying tickets up there will not be valid on most trains down in Italy proper, which are run by Trenitalia.  We made that mistake.  It ended up being rather expensive.   We had no difficulties with our train from Venice to Belluno, though, that was quite easy and was a pretty ride, too.

I made reservations for each of the Rifugios; none were full in the time of year we were hiking, so we didn’t need to, but it gives peace of mind (and allows you to verify that they are indeed open).  In the Stubaital in August, we had not done this, and at times were in overflow space, although never on the floor, as can theoretically happen.  I made all the reservations by e-mail or on the websites.  Some of the huts reply within a day, others took longer, but I didn’t need to call any of them. We used the Cicerone book to plan our route, and the three Tabacco maps listed in the book.  I followed Clara and Patrick’s bike touring lead, and cut most of the maps down before we left because they were huge and there was about half the map on each map that was far enough from the trail to be useless.  The signs are really pretty good, so you don’t need to be an expert map reader, but do keep an eye on where you are, because sometimes a bunch of trails come together, and can be confusing.

I would recommend carrying about 90% of what you will want/need for lunches and snacks; stopping in the huts that we stopped in, you’d have an option of lunch at a dairy or hut 3-4 times during the trip, but sometimes the timing was less than ideal, and some of the dairies were closed for us, hiking at the tail end of the season.  Plus, self-catering saves a bit of money (which you can then use for strudel).  I somewhat overpacked, but this meant that we could share with our friends.  Also, I am a firm believer that within reason, it is better to have too much food than too little, and food and water were the bulk of our pack weight.  There is a grocery store in Belluno, but we took stuff with us from Marburg, and so if you are spending time in a bigger city before the hike, I’d provision there, or take a few things with you.  It is easy to get cheese and sausage, but bread/crackers were apparently harder to find, so I would purchase something like wasa crackers or grocery store bread, dried fruit and trail mix/nuts before getting to the mountains.  Sasha and I brought 2 things of trail mix, 2 bags of dried fruit, 2 salamis/packages of salami sticks (we had a bit more than we needed, so shared some), a reusable squeeze tube filled with nutella, 2 blocks of cheese and a bag of baby bel cheeses (that was too much; we had most of a block of gouda left, even after some sharing), a package of wasa crackers, a small package of multigrain bread (sliced and store-bought, finished by day 2) and a package of tyrolean hard breads (which we also were able to share a fair bit of), which were tasty but broke into very small pieces. Two bags of gummy bears and assorted bars of chocolate rounded out our food supply; we brought extra there, intending to share.  I think we had apples the first day, and we did buy food some days and had strudel afternoon snacks instead of more of our food, so if you don't like strudel, you might have less left over than we did.  Our friends brought water purification tablets, which we used a couple days, since the huts had non-potable water (the huts are on mountain tops and the water sits in big cisterns).  We each carried between 2 and 3 liters of water a day, and went through it at varied rates (you know if you drink a lot or a little relative to others).   

In terms of stuff, we brought: gloves and winter hat and sun hat, 1-2 polypro long sleeves, 2 t-shirts, fleece jacket, rain gear (jacket and pants), tights, convertable pants (synthetic), 3 pairs of socks and underwear, a pair of running shorts, and I brought a lightweight wind jacket/vest. I also brought a soft lightweight skirt that I wore for sleeping and that I wanted for Venice.  I have mid-height hiking boots and feel comfortable with those (there was a fair bit of mud, so personally, unless you are running, I’d go with waterproof boots and not trail runners) and sandals to wear in the huts in the evenings (the huts have a bunch if you forget yours, but I prefer using my own; bring ones that can get wet to keep your feet off the shower floors if you can, bring sandals you can wear with socks since it can be cold). For sleeping, we have coolmax sleeping bag liners, and brought normal pillow cases.  You can also get lightweight sleep sacks with an integrated pillowcase.  We also brought pack towels and I use a bandana as a wash-cloth. Aside from the usual toiletries (get biodegradeable if you can; who knows where the wastewater goes) we brought plenty of sunscreen, and we brought a tube of laundry soap for sink washing socks/ stinky hiking shirts and did so every couple days.  I am not super minimalist, but I like being able to wear something less smelly in the evening, and since you don’t have to bring cookwear, fuel, tents, etc. I feel like everything I brought was worth it. Except maybe that extra cheese.

While I wouldn’t probably do that exact trail again (because I like variety), I had a great trip and I would very gladly go back to the Dolomites and hike one of the other Alta Via trails.  Except that I got guidebooks for Greece and the Greek Islands for Christmas, and they look amazing, so I think that may be our next destination of note. 

Dolomites II

This is a continuation from the previous post.

Day 5, like most of the previous days, was fairly foggy, although it was patchy at times, so we did get some views.  We watched the mountain bikers walk their bikes for a while, since they are faster when riding, but not much faster when pushing, and then we saw one of the hut employees coming out searching for the hut dog who had chased after the cyclists.  I am not sure what it is about a bike that makes it so irresistable to dogs, but there's got to be something.  The first few hours of trail were quite nice, from Rif. Tissi to a rifugio that we did not stay in, although we stopped for an early soup break, an to admire some Alpine Choughs running around on the railing.  We also saw quite a few lovely flowers, even though it was clearly past peak flower season.

Alpine Chough

All those black dots on the flat face are dinosaur footprints
After the hut, we had a steep drop down to a gravel road, and then a long slog down a steady grade on the road to a bigger paved road in the valley.  That bit wasn't so nice, and then we had some significant mud hiking up the other side of the valley, but once we were climbing it was nice to be in the woods again.  We were then skirting a beautiful mountain called the Pelmo, although we didn't really see it until the evening and the next morning, when the fog settled.  Still, we took a short side trip to go see a big rock covered with fossilized dinosaur footprints, which were kind of cool, even if many were just kind of indentations and not very footprint-like.  Chris decided to nap instead.  We then spent the night at Rifugio Citta di Fiume.

Chris decided napping was more interesting than dinosaur footprints

 The next day was clear in the morning, so we saw a fabulous sunrise, and aside from some Very Serious Mud, the day was pretty nice.  We saw tons of cows and some sheep (if unfortunately from a distance) and took a mid-afternoon strudel break before tackling the most technical portion of the entire trip; a steep climb up, and then a set of (relatively easy) via Ferrata up to one of our favorite Rifugios on the trip, Rifugio Nuvolau.  These via ferrata were 2 stretches of fixed cables and a few ladders, but unlike the one we looked at a few days earlier, the footholds were obvious and big, and we didn't feel unsafe doing it without any gear, even though the top set was pretty exposed.  This Rifugio is very isolated, high on a steep, rocky peak, so there were no showers (not just cold or expensive ones), but the food was good, and the owner is Canadian, so we were able to have eggs and bacon for breakfast, not just piles of white bread with butter and jam, which was a nice change. 

That is where we were going to spend the night! (we could see it after climbing up the via ferrata
The next morning we woke above the fog again, and again, the sunrise was amazing, and we had a view of a famous rock formation called Cinque Torri out of our bedroom window.  The day's hike was pretty mellow distance-wise (the official trail looped around somewhat confusingly, so we opted instead for a more direct route) but was really one of the best days of the trip. We took the shortcut path down to the busy paved road in the valley, but we had some great views all morning back up to where we had been and on to where we were going, and we even saw some Chamois, which look very different than I thought, and (at least from the distance we were looking from) look more like antelope than sheep/goats.  

The valley we were heading into is very interesting historically, since this was an extremely highlycontested front between the Italians and the Austrians during WW1; we saw various bits of ruined fortifications, and after incredibly mediocre sandwiches and cofrom a tourist junk shop in the valley we headed up towards one of the more unusual features of our trip (As a side note, if you are planning on hiking the Alta Via 1, do not count on lunch along the busy road between Rif. Tissi and Rif. Lagozuoi; if you need food and don’t want to order it to go from your previous night’s hut, go the more roundabout way and stop by one of the real rifugios near Cinque Torri).  The mountain of Lagozuoi was literally fought on and over for years during WWI; the Italians held the bottom and an incredibly narrow ridge half-way up the mountain (called Martini ledge), and the Austrians held the peak and ridge.  The “normal” Italian tactic during the war was incredibly stupid, and involved direct assaults up-hill into machine-gun fortified high-ground trenches. Needless to say, high casualties and not very effective.  Then the Italians got the crazy (if somewhat less lethal) idea to tunnel up through the mountain to blow up the Austrians from below.  Kind of clever, except of course the Austrians could hear what was going on, and were able to pull back before the explosion, so didn’t really lose much, although a huge chunk of the mountain is now gone.  Chris was convinced that he could see how it had looked and what was missing; to be honest, there was a lot of rubble that didn’t look that much different from many other scree slopes, but I believe that he was interpreting everything correctly.  In any case, we took some steep switchbacks about halfway up the mountain, then got out our headlamps and climbed well over a kilometer up the mountain through tunnels; conveniently supplemented with stairs and cables more recently than WWI.  Now, I am increasingly convinced that war is just plain stupid and that it would be way better for everyone concerned if we all just put our energy towards schools and engineering feats of construction not destruction, but the tunnels were pretty cool, nonetheless.  There were interesting educational signs and rooms with various recreated things, but even the tunnels themselves were interesting, and it was crazy to be climbing up through a mountain.  The fog/rain rolled in about as we reached martini ridge, so the tunnels also served to keep us out of the drizzle.  Unfortunately, that meant that we didn’t have great views from the summit that afternoon, but the showers were hot, and the food was very good and different from what we had the other nights, so despite being one of the more expensive (private) rifugios, Lagozuoi was nice.  It seemed more like a hotel than a rifugio, and indeed, is serviced by a cable car, so definitely there was more of a mix of people than at some of the more difficult to reach huts.  Sasha and I explored the summit a bit before dinner, even though it was foggy.

Summit cross, Lagozuoi, in memory of the Italians and Austrians who died on the mountain in the war

Sunrise the next morning

Poor Ann, that pony left a bruise!
The next morning was clear again, and so again we had a gorgeous sunrise.  On the way down the north side of Lagozuoi, we also passed a ton more short tunnels and fortifications, and the rest of our group humored us as Sasha and I clamored around almost every one.  The first half of the day’s hike was really nice.  There were some pretty peaks around us, and we saw some sheep and then a beautiful alpine lake, and there was a steep but well-graded trail up to another forcella where we stopped for lunch.  After we got down from the forcella, however, we hit a wide, flat jeep road which still had pretty scenery, but was fairly boring as trails go.  Unfortunately, the dairy we passed early afternoon was closed, although that didn’t stop Ann from getting attacked by a disarmingly cute biting pony.  We made good time on the road, however, and got to the next rifigio, Fanes, with plenty of time for a pre-dinner strudel and cocoa (a delicious but unusual strudel with a more cake like-dough than typical), and Sasha and I even had time to go for a second hike before dinner.  Which was really cool because we saw some incredibly unusual rocks.  There seems to be a whole slope of Karst rock, which we thought made it look like we were walking over a stone brain, and then there were fields of boulders that reminded us of the trolls in Frozen (which we had just seen).  Fanes was also great in that it had nice, hot showers which were not timed and didn’t cost extra!! This Rifugio was also more like a hotel, and we were a bit worried because the book said it was often quite loud, but in the end we only had one other roommate in our dorm room, and he was quite quiet, and while there was music for a while in the evening, we couldn’t hear it from our room at all.  And the food was quite good.  We ordered off a menu and it was more like a restaurant than a rifugio kitchen (not that I mind a bowl of spaghetti followed by polenta and meat after a long day’s hike, but change was good).  
Brain rock!!

The pretty meadow we passed by accident
Photographing from Seekoffel summit
The official trail of our penultimate hiking day was probably the least exciting trail-wise, or would have been if we’d stuck to the trail.  You can take a road/gravel road from Fanes down to another hotel/rifugio, then there’s a steep climb up and you can stay on the wide road all the way to the last hut (or first hut if you are going the normal direction).  But in trying to take an alternate trail version up the last part to the hut, we misread a sign and accidentally took a side-side trail (very infrequently used) up to a small rifugio which, although we reached it at a perfect time for a snack of some sort, had no food to offer us but yogurt!  But even though it was a bit further, we had some nice views down into the valley we had just climbed out of, and walked through a lovely meadow, followed by some really unusual bumpy hills, so it turned out to be a nice detour.  Also, we reached the final rifugio of our trip, Rifugio Biella, in time to hike up a nearby mountain, Crodo del Beco or Mt. Seekoffel, in Italian and German respectively, which was a strenuous but fun hike up.  The trail was rocky and at moments tricky (enjoyably, not dangerously) to descend, but luckily this was our clearest afternoon of the entire trip, so we had some nice views from the summit, and took lots of pictures.  It started snowing on the way down, but not hard enough to make the going difficult.   We enjoyed our stay at Biella.  The staff made up for their limited German/English with enthusiasm (we could see into the kitchen and saw them dancing away at some point in the evening) and the food was tasty.  It definitely felt “rustic” after the previous two rifugios, but since we were hiking out to civilization the next day, that was no problem. And, we lucked out, for in the morning when we got up, our cheerful hostess pointed out a few Ibex (Steinbock, in German) on a scree slope of the mountain we had hiked the day before.  We got some good lucks with binoculars before breakfast, but luckily, they were also still there as we were hiking out after breakfast; they weren’t that close, but it is still cool to see large mammals (at least large by European standards).  
Dinner the last night

The hike out the final day was nice but fairly uneventful.  There was ice on the puddles we passed on the way down, and pretty soon we had views of Lago di Braies/Pragser Wildsee, which was a lovely blue lake surrounded by mountains.  The lake is a destination in its own right, so once we reached the lake, we saw tons of people out for an easy stroll, but the crowds weren’t too heavy in late September, so we were able to have a final picnic lunch on the beach of the lake, before hiking a few more kilometers into town to find our hotel.  There were buses to the lake, but we decided it was easier to walk.  We reached the hotel with plenty of time for one final strudel, and o find the small grocery store in town to stock up on a few snacks for our train ride the next day.  We ate dinner in our hotel, and the food was really good, and not just by hiking standards.  And, besides the lovely food, they had a salad bar, which seems like a real treat after days and days of pasta and meat and polenta.  As if that weren’t enough, the inkeeper even washed all of our dirty clothing, since they didn’t have coin operated laundry machines (we did pay a small amount, but man, that was definitely money well spent!!)
Lago di Braies

At the official start/end of the Alta Via 1!

I will tell you about our time in Venice in another post, and will include a separate post about what we brought and some logistical details, in case anyone wants to hike this trail, but I really love hiking in Europe.  I love the mountains, and I love how they are just different from hiking in the US.  Backpacking with tent and campstove is fun, but so is walking through sheep meadows and having a hot meal prepared for you every evening.  Civilization is never very far off in Europe, but the air still tastes clean and fresh, and the mountains and sunrises are glorious. 

the Pelmo from Rif. Citta di Fiume

Saturday, December 13, 2014


(Note: Sasha started this post, but Anna finished it, so that's why the "author" and writing style don't quite match). We hiked the Alta Via 1 in the Dolomites, Italy for our vacation this year.

We started at the bottom of the map...

... and hiked to where Anna is pointing
It was AMAZING!  Traveling across the map took only a few seconds, but to actually hike the 130-ish kilometers, we took 10 days.  We weren't setting speed records, and had plenty of time for photos, lunch, second lunch, strudel stops, side-hikes, etc. along the way, as well as time to take a LOT of pictures.  Also, three of our friends from the Boston area joined us for the trip, which was really a lot of fun.  Although we enjoy all of our adventures with just the 2 of us, it is also nice to share these experiences with friends.

Before Sasha joined me in Germany, I went on a week long hiking trip in the Stubaital of Austria with this same group of friends, and it was such an amazing trip, I started plotting ways to get back into the mountains as soon as we got settled, and also going to Italy was at the top of my Europe travel list, so going to the Dolomites and hiking from rifugio to rifugio (hut in Italian) was exactly what I wanted to do for our long vacation this year.  I had spent months pouring over our guidebook, planning where we'd stay each night, making reservations, staring at the various maps, so by the time we had our bags packed and headed to the train station, I was very excited.

Once again, we started our trip with a night train.  Not the best night of sleep ever, but I woke up on my birthday in Venice, which is pretty awesome.  We'll post later about Venice, since we went back after hiking for a few days, but then in the afternoon we took a train up to the town of Belluno to spend the night before heading to the trail head.  As we took the train north, the scenery slowly shifted from lagoon to plains to hills to MOUNTAINS!!! I love mountains!

A second gelato (the first was in Venice), a nice birthday dinner, a good night's sleep, and a breakfast later and we found the bus to take us the the trailhead.  We asked the driver to let us out at a stop called "La Pissa" (for those of you who want to get your accent vaguely right, the double "s" is pronounced, as far as we can tell, like an English "sh"), which was hardly more than a bus stop sign on the side of a busy road, which fit with our guidebook's directions.

I should note here, that most people hike the trail from North to South, but we decided to do it in reverse.  We did this for a few reasons: first, we were hiking in mid- to late September, which is the tail end of the hiking season in this region, and some of the rifugios close on September 20th.  More of the southern rifugios close early, so in terms of having places to stay and good bail-out options if the weather turned bad, it made more sense to go south-to-north.  Also, there were some dedicated amateur photographers in our group, and they declared that the lighting is better with the sun at your back, which happens more frequently if you are hiking north.  SO, we took all that into account when making the plans, and started where most people finish.

From the bus stop, we walked along the road for a few hundred meters, passed a little creek and a cute waterfall, then found the trail and started up...and up...and up... One benefit? drawback? of hiking south-to-north, is that we had significantly more elevation gain over the course of the trip, because we started much lower than we finished.  But going uphill is fun, so no worries.  We took a rather steep official cut-off trail, then joined up with a jeep-track, but spent most of our hiking hours climbing.  Still, it was great.  We both noticed almost immediately that as our breathing evened out and our leg muscles started working, all of the stress of work, job applications, etc. started to melt away.  We would breathe in a deep breath of cool mountain air, and it cleared all the worry from our brains and bodies on the way back out, so we just started focusing on the rocks and trees and mountains around us.  For the next 10 days, our biggest worries were whether or not we'd get to the next rifugio in time to have cake or strudel before dinner.
Sasha, putting one foot in front of the other on his way up the mountain.
Well, day 1 we got to the first rifugio (Pian di Fontana) in time for strudel before dinner, or should I say first strudel, since dessert was included with the "half board" dinner, which was also strudel!  At the rifugio, we also met up with the first of our friends, Chris, who had hiked up a day early to give his body more of a chance to acclimate, and to get some good photographs.  It is fun hiking for many hours only to meet up with your friend, who you hadn't seen for a while (and then, in the Boston area), in a tiny stone hut half-way up a mountain in Austria.  International travel is awesome.  And friends are awesome, too.
I think I'll have some meal pictures to share later, but for those of you wondering about the food (aka MOM), some nights we had "half board", which included 3 courses, other nights we ordered a la carte off a menu, but generally the meal went like this: "first course, choice of vegetable soup, pasta with tomato sauce, or pasta with some sort of meat sauce, second course, polenta or potatoes with meat or with cheese, dessert of the day."  Now, we ordered half-board a few times in Austria and the desserts were always very Germanic, which pretty much means a small dish of some soft sweet thing; yogurt, pudding, molded creamy pudding, etc.  Those sorts of desserts are fine and all, but I was much happier with the deserts in Italy, which tended towards the cakes or strudels.  Yay for cake!!

The next day, we had a lovely hike through a national park to the second rifugio of the trip (Pramperet/Sommariva).

Sasha and Chris on our side-excersion  
Anyway, the terrain was interesting, and it was a fairly short day, so we had time to do a short scramble up to the local maximum (as near as we can tell, Cime di Zita, Sud) near the major forcella (pass) of the day.  By this point, the fog had risen, so we couldn't see down the side of the ridge, but we could see enough to know that it was a long way down!

  Generally, we went to bed pretty early (lights out by 10, and some nights we didn't even make it to 10) but that was good, because the weather pattern that held for most of our trip was clear, cool mornings with an inversion layer of clouds in the valleys, which then steadily rose over the day so that the evenings were mostly socked in (although we would get intermittent views all day, so we still did get some afternoon views).  What it did mean, though, is that we often had amazing sun-rises, and yes, I was actually out for sun-rise many days.  I am not claiming that I was perky or loquacious for those sunrises (tea came at breakfast) but they were beautiful.

Day 2, challenging stretch of trail

Day 3
The third day brought some actual rain for part of the day, but never very heavy.  We went up and over one forcella, but it was pretty thoroughly socked in up there.  There was, however, a cool ruined building that has played a number of roles over the year, including barracks during WWI.  After that, we dropped steadily down to a road, and had a reasonably long stretch of road walk, which was OK because it was a very low traffic road, and it was great because we had the option to stop at an amazing dairy, and had one of the best lunches of the trip; nothing super unusual, just delicious sausage, cheese, honey, and toasted bread.  And then we couldn't say no to either of two kinds of dessert (jam tart and some sort of cheese blueberry bars).  I'd blame that on the language barrier, but that would be a blatant lie.  We were lunching under an awning, though, which got us out of the rain.  Turning off the road, we then had a long, muddy climb that was really hard.  The grade wouldn't have been too bad, but there were heavy vehicles doing road/trail work near the top, and they had turned the trail to soft, wet mud, so at times it felt like we were trying to climb up a treadmill.  But we made it, and once we got past the vehicles, the rest of the hike was on jeep track all the way to the next rifugio where we were greeted by a flock of very friendly goats (I thought they were great, but Sasha scared them away after a bit when he decided they were getting too friendly; something about how he didn't want the goats to actually eat my pants....imagine) and then in turn we greeted our two other hiking companions, Ann and Chris, who for scheduling reasons had to skip the first two days of the hike, and instead hiked up from the town of Agordo.

Good thing we had a map, this sign wasn't so useful!! Day 3
Road walk, day 3
tree growing in ruined building
Amazing lunch, day 3

Welcoming committee at Rifugio Carrestiato

Day 4 was a pretty long day, and was tough for our friends who just got up to altitude, and as our fourth day, we felt it a bit, too. We got a bit of a slow start because there was a Via Ferrata near the Rifugio, and we had heard of these "iron paths" and wanted to see what they are like.  These routes are bolted cables going up the mountains that you climb up with a special climbing harness, and this one was (according to a book we found in a later hut) particularly difficult.  The trail started across a ledge maybe 2 feet wide, then as far as we could tell, started going straight up the mountain; it looked more like mountain climbing than hiking, so we just took a few pictures and went back to our normal hiking trail.  Via Ferrata look like fun, but only with appropriate equipment and with either experience or with a guide who knows what they are doing!!  We were quite satisfied with merely hiking, on a mix of pure hiking trails and jeep roads (we even saw a jeep on one!!).  We even had to cross a small snow field.

The problem with candid pictures, is that then most people aren't looking at the camera. Oh well. Snack stop!!

The hike was pretty nice; we had some nice views before the clouds rolled in, but definitely ended with a few drizzly, foggy hours before reaching Rifugio Tissi.  Although the weather didn't stop us from taking an afternoon strudel break, of course!  And we were lucky to have a brief break in the clouds in the late afternoon. With all of the other hikers, we piled out of the rifugio to photograph the amazing peak across the way that we knew was there but hadn't seen yet! And we also hiked a few extra feet to get up to the summit cross that is really close to the rifugio.  Now, the rifugio is near the summit of a small peak and it was a rather rocky trail up to it from the jeep road in the valley, so we were rather surprised to see some mountain bikers trickling in (in the dark) as we were starting to eat our dinners.  I think they were a bit underexperienced for the roughness of the trail; it sounds like they did as much mountain bike pushing as riding.  Having had that experience before myself (I am NOT a technically good mountain biker), I feel like we definitely had the better approach this trip, sticking to our own two feet!

OK, I'll write about days 5-10 and Venice in other posts since this is getting long.  My goal is to get all three posted by the new year, so that I will have time to tell you about our planned Christmas trip to Vienna and Salzburg with my (Anna's) family!
You would think it would be hard to hide something this big, but the fog is pretty capable of hiding mountains.

Summit cross near Rif. Tissi and fog

Saturday, November 1, 2014


Since we have moved into our new apartment, the Marburg portion of my daily commute is now much shorter, and includes some great scenery.

Lahn River (September 2014)

Elizabeth's Church (September 2014)

But every day, I also walk by the ghosts of the past. Their names are on gold-colored squares in the sidewalk, and they are people who used to live and work on the street I walk down.

In memory of all those who died or suffered because of human cruelty and prejudice and in solidarity with those who today suffer prejudice and cruelty.

Especially in memory of:
  • Isaak Julius Adler
    • deported 1942 to Theresienstadt Concentration camp (located in modern day Czech Republic), murdered Oct. 30, 1942.
  • Dina Lucas
    • deported 1942 to Theresienstadt Concentration camp, murdered Sept 9, 1942 in Treblinka Extermination Camp (in modern day Poland).
  • Dr. Ludwig Bachrach
    • forbidden to work in 1933, fled to France, died in 1942 in Dijon.
  • Bertha Bachrach
    • fled to France in 1933, survived
  • Walter Helmut Bachrach
    • fled in 1933 to France, interned in the Drancy Internment Camp, Paris, France, and deported and murdered in Auschwitz in 1942.
  • Albrecht Artur Bachrach
    • fled in 1933 to France, interned at Drancy, deported and murdered in 1942.
  • Pauline Rothschild
    • attempted to flee to the USA in 1939, died April 1, 1941 in Marburg.
  • Minna Rothschild
    • attempted to flee to the USA in 1939, deported to Riga, Latvia in 1941 and murdered.
  • Dr. Benno Benedict
    • deported in 1942 to Theresienstadt, murdered Oct. 2, 1942.
  • Richard Hartmann
    • Hospitalized 1922 at the State Hospital Marburg/Scheuern, transferred? to Hadamar and murdered on May 16, 1941 as part of Aktion T4 (non-voluntary euthanasia program).
(note: according to the internet, JG. is an abbreviation for Jahrgang, which I believe is an index number, and not a birthday)