Corrib Ramblers barred from Bavarian Hostels! 2003
By Mary Kyne
Members of the Corrib Ramblers have a letter from the President of the Bavarian Hostels’ Association barring us from using their accommodation as we were all over the age of 27!! We were highly insulted!!
We travelled from the district of Freiburg along the border of Switzerland, along the shore of Lake Bodensee, the largest lake in Germany.
The River Rhine
The river Rhine rises in Switzerland and flows through LakeBodensee. We stopped at the lake to admire the thundering of the water over the RhineFalls, the spray flying hundreds of feet up into the air. We travelled through the Rhine Valley an immense area of rich pasture land, large maize fields, sunflower fields with thousands of yellow heads bobbing in the gentle breeze, numerous orchards of apples and plums, fields of hops for the beer industry, fields of flowers destined for the markets – gladiolas, dahlias, roses and many more varieties.
The Oberstdorf Alps
Soon we left the tranquillity of the valley behind us and we began to climb a narrow corkscrew road up into the majestic Alps of Oberstdorf, which is blessed with a multitude of natural beauties by the Creator. In Oberstdorf we were over awed by the sheer splendour of the steep rock peaks, smooth green slopes, crystal-clear mountain lakes mirroring the reflections of the wonderful surrounding forests. What more could hikers, like ourselves, ask for?
Oberstdorf – An Alpine Village
We got an early wake up call on our first morning when we heard the clanging of the cow bells as the herd were led in for milking. The women also gathered with their linen bags to collect fresh breads from the bread-man. The predominate noises in the alps of the Black Forest are the clanging of the cow bells, the pealing of the church bells and chimes and the striking of clocks every quarter of an hour. What a pleasant and comforting sound instead of the din of traffic? We climbed the highest local peak of the Alps, Nebelhorn a mere 6,640 feet above sea level.
We are ramblers not mountain goats, so we took a cable car to the summit, which was dominated by a huge wooden cross. From this excellent vantage spot we could view the numerous peaks as far as the eye could see, while underneath us were the alpine forests carpeted in a blanket of wild flowers – similar to the species found in the Burren in CountyClare.
On the slopes of the mountain we had the pleasure and seeing and hearing the bells of a herd of up to 200 cows grazing in the lush grass. It was hauntingly beautiful. Several experienced climbers were negotiating more difficult peaks nearby. We could see them using ropes and ladders which went up the the face of sheer rocks. Power gliders, at first and later up to twenty hand gliders glided like gigantic birds over the magnificent peaks. What a view they must have witnessed?
We walked miles down the steep slopes. We had to be extremely careful descending as some spots were treacherous. The experienced gained on Croack Patrick and Maiméan certainly assisted us on this descent. We all came up with different ideas to make the descent less painful and more enjoyable – we side stepped, we back –oedalled, took short steps and some tried to do it to our Irish version of ‘Shoe the Donkey’ and the 123 side step! The exercise was exhilarating as we were rewarded every step of the way with incredible views and vistas. After a lunch stop at a mountain lodge where we refreshed ourselves with drinks of local beers and juices, homemade breads, cheeses and meats we took the ‘Romantic Route’ or river trail down into the valley. All along this route we had the privilege of listening to babbling mountain brooks as well as experiencing the coolness of the pine forest casting its long shadows across our narrow sandy and stony path.
After leaving the forest behind us we emerged into a rich valley covered with alpine flowers. Many people walk the numerous paths that run through the valley, some are very young and some are quite old, everyone enjoying God’s gift of the mountains to mankind. We all felt very privileged to have walked this area. Finally with aching muscles we made our way back to Oberstdorf where we went to the local mud baths for a refreshing dip to restore some form of normality to our over stretched muscles. We could have done with three and one oil!
That night we went to sample the famous Bavarian beer and to listen to their distinctive music. We were not disappointed. We had a great party to celebrate our achievement on the mountain slopes. We danced and sang until we flopped. The beer was served in a large glass round container with a tap at the end. You filled your tumbler at the table from the glass.
Visit to Munich
Our final leg of the adventure took us from Oberstdorf to Munich. On the way we stopped at the famous monastery of Ettal, 900metres above sea level situated in the Alpine foothills. We enjoyed a guided tour of King Ludwig’s fairy tale LinderhofCastle. The magnificent castle was designed like Versailles. The furniture, fixtures and fittings impressively reflect the lifestyle if this reclusive king who valued his privacy. It remained his favourite residence until his tragic death in the waters of Lake Starnberger.
Fast Train to Munich
We took the fast train to Munich on our last night. We admired the famous cathedral and government buildings. We listened to classical music played by four young musicians under an ancient archway. It was encouraging to see so many young people silently and pensively listening to the music. At no stage did we encounter rowdiness or drunkenness even though everyone was consuming plenty Bavarian beer. We visited one of the big beer houses, which was capable of holding a few hundred people all seated at long wooden tables enjoying their beers.
Roland planned this trip with great attention to detail. He left nothing to chance. We were all extremely grateful to him for his kindness, good humour, safe driving even though he was tipping 90-100 mark on the Autobahn! He had a surprise for us every day. He did everything to please us and ensured that the trip was a memorable experience for us all.
We extend a special thank you to Peter Mc Aleer, his co driver Sinéad O Halloran and reserve driver Christina O Malley. They did a great job keeping up to Roland. If the Gardaí ever want ‘car chasers’ they need go no further than Peter and Sinéad. Thank you to all members of the group who contributed in their unique way to make this trip so enjoyable.
We will have to start planning for the next trip!
Note 2012: Unfortunately our beloved Roland has departed this life – see tribute to him on the site.
May he Rest in Peace.