I started in that beautiful Spessart-village of Heimbuchenthal and I had to climb up pretty fast to about 400 m of altitude. Then the walk took me step-by-step down until I left the Spessart and reached the Main Valley.
This part of the foresty middle mountains (“Mittelgebirge”) seemed much more populated than what I experienced the day before. Very often I met other hiking or mountain-biking people.
It was interesting to follow marker stones that identified old borders and some of them dated as far back as the 17th century. It feels good to be allowed to cross borders safely, easily and free of charge nowadays. At one point, I came to the Dreimärker, where three territories met.
Further down on the way, I came to a saddle point, where my route crossed on the top of the saddle and to the left and to the right, there were both old paths down the hill towards towns down there. In the middle of that spot, there was an old oak tree (in German “Eiche”) which is called Frühstückseiche (Breakfast Oak) because apparently in the past lots of hikers would have they are breakfast in its shadow.
Stepping out of the forest was a shift of worlds into a very flat open landscape with apple trees. I followed mostly on small paths into the city off Aschaffenburg and crossed the Main there.
My highlights of the day were:
Frühstückseiche as a marker that has helped hikers across centuries orient themselves.
The sharp difference between the Spessart forest and the flat open land to the northwest of it.
The walk along Schönbusch Allee and through Schönbusch
In the morning, it was raining. One of the very few days, where I got some water from above. My first steps were through the city down to the river called Main, which is the border between Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg in this region.
The Spessart is one of the central European “Mittelgebirge” (medium sized mountains) and it is covered with what seems to be one enormous forest.
Sometimes I walked on beautifully designed gravel paths and sometimes it was right through the woods. Sometimes it fell steep to one side and rose high to the other, sometimes the landscape was softer.
Quite some time, I followed along streams or rivers (Kropfbach, Dammbach and others) and in the course of the day, I saw more deer than people.
I was amazed how far away I felt from towns, cities or traffic during those hours in the forest.
At the end of the day, I stopped by the Schloss Mespelbrunn, a medieval castle that is very beautifully placed in the scenery. The Spessart has this reputation, that back in the old days people had to be afraid of bandits in the forest. It is perfectly imaginable how to block one of the paths for a carriage to be trapped and some places seemed designed like in fairy tales. So, I can fully understand how those stories could develop.
My highlights of the day were:
Feeling completely alone in the woods – only meeting two people in the stretch of five hours
The strong oppositions in scenery: sometimes very dark, sometimes lit and open; sometimes thick bushes under the trees with short visibility, sometimes open view under a roof of trees; sometimes bright green floors, sometimes brown dry areas
Learning that the main trees were oak trees up until about 4,000 years ago and now it would be beech trees.
The weather had cleared over night and in the morning it was sunny and around 15° when I started walking from my parents‘ house in Pasing.
It was interesting to walk the paths of my childhood packed with a big backpack and dressed like a wanderer. Mostly on concrete roads I came through Westkreuz and Aubing and walked along the train tracks towards Puchheim.
At one point, the whole path was still under water and when jumping too short at some paddles, I was positively surprised by the water-repellent characteristics of my hiking pants. 😎
Around Munich, the landscape is fairly flat and so I only had one little elevation to overcome before Fürstenfeldbruck. I left the town towards the Pucher Meer (Ocean of Puch) and it felt a little out of place to walk with my „luggage“ along this pond where people came to swim.
Finally, I reached Mammendorf, the terminal stop of the Munich suburban train system and went one town further west to Hattenhofen to stay at a very comfortable, very Upper-Bavaria-typical hotel.
My highlights of the day:
First talk with people you meet by chance: an older man near Westkreuz who wished me luck and joked that he would check if I‘d take a suburban train.
How well the pants protected against water
The wonderful feeling of arriving at your destination – and getting a Kaiserschmarrn there!
My tour, of course, is a big project. So, I needed to get inspired by other big projects.
Since the Tour de France usually doesn’t start with a regular full day, I didn’t want to do that either.
So, the prologue went from my home to my parents’ house about 8km east.It was raining a lot that day and so I get to try the impermeability off my clothing and gear. All worked well and I arrived there safely.
The highlights of the stage were:
I only had to turn for the first time after 7.5 km
I enjoyed being faster than the cars in the traffic jam piling up at one construction site.
It felt funny walking a path that I know very well with full gear and the big backpack.
When I was talking about my summer vacation plans, I got two reactions: some people thought that this was mainstream nowadays and a fully trending activity, some people told me, that this seems like a crazy idea and who would ever think of an activity like that.
To me, getting both of those reactions to the same idea, seems like an indication of quality. 😉
Several friends of mine had talked greatly about their experiences on the Camino de Santiago and since Jan had done a replacement for his vacation by hiking through Bavaria, I started making a plan of following in their footsteps without following in their footsteps.
Since we have a family gathering close to Frankfurt at the end of August, I decided to walk there from Munich.
I will take you guys on my tour and blog here about the individual milestones and about general reflections I have while walking.
It is important to me to note, that:
It’s not about the kilometers, but about the experience. So, it doesn’t really matter if I make it all the way there by foot or if I have to take some other forms of transportation in between or in the end;
It is supposed to be vacation, so I still want to enjoy the days and not just work out;
I will try to limit my communication with others to a minimum and see what comes up when I talk to myself for several days in a row.
Heute morgen bin ich mal wieder Laufen gegangen. Es war noch kühl und neblig. Einiges an Laub hing noch am Baum, vieles lag in bunter Farbenpracht zu meinen Füßen.
Ich habe mir angewöhnt, die Leute zu grüßen, an denen ich vorbeilaufe. Manche erwidern den Gruß, manche reagieren gar nicht, manche sind verdutzt und rufen dann „Guten Morgen“ hinterher.
Heute morgen kam mir eine Frau auf einem Teilstück durch den Park entgegen. Ich war gerade nach rechts abgebogen und über die kleine Brücke gelaufen. Jetzt ging es ein Stück geradeaus auf einem breiteren Weg, der von großen Kastanien gesäumt war. Die Frau sah mich schon länger als ich sie. Als ich ihr – kurz bevor wir beieinander waren – ein „Morgen“ zurief, antwortete sie mit einem breiten Lächeln: „Guten Morgen“.
Oh, war das eine Freude!
Beim Laufen hängen wir unseren Gedanken nach, wir nehmen nur einen Teil der Welt war. Dann kommt ein Lächeln ganz unvermittelt. Wie herrlich! Wie schön, wenn uns jemand anlächelt. Ich nehme mir vor, die Leute jetzt mit einem Lächeln zu grüßen. Wann lächelst du mich an?
Beim Anflug nach Sao Paulo gleicht die Stadt noch einem nächtlichen Lichtermeer, doch schon auf dem Weg vom Flughafen zum Hotel geht die Sonne auf. In Brasilien ist es aktuell Herbst und es geht auf den Winter zu. Deshalb liegen die Temperaturen zwischen 15 und 25 Grad Celsius.
We took the Sao Paulo Free Walking Tour
Nach einem kurzen Stopp im Hotel, um uns frischzumachen, brechen wir gleich wieder zu einer Walking Tour durch die Altstadt von Sao Paulo auf. In einem 4-stündigen Spaziergang kommen wir an den wichtigsten Sehenswürdigkeiten dieser beeindruckenden brasilianischen Metropole vorbei. Wir gehen zum Ursprungspunkt der Stadt, wo einst Jesuiten ihre erste Mission errichteten, und zu den drei höchsten Gebäuden; wir kämpfen uns durch den Verkehr und bewundern Kathedralen; wir erleben die verschiedenen Facetten einer Stadt mit viel Reichtum und viel Armut.
Walking Through Sao Paulo
View into the streets of the valley in the middle of the city
View of the park and the skyscrapers
Am späten Nachmittag findet dann das Leaders‘ Meeting der Preconvention statt. Alle Rotaracter, die Workshops leiten, Diskussionen moderieren oder sich sonst engagieren, werden mit ihren Aufgaben vertraut gemacht und treffen sich gegenseitig. Die meisten von uns kommen aus Lateinamerika, einige aus den USA und wir sind immerhin zu dritt aus Deutschland. Wir sprechen das Programm durch und stellen uns vor: die Stimmung wird von der Vorfreude auf eine tolle Konferenz geprägt. Nach dem Check-In geht es jetzt noch zur Welcome-Party. Dort werden die ersten Kontakte geknüpft und alte Freundschaften aufgegriffen. Das Convention-Fieber hat uns wieder. Sao Paulo verspricht, großartig zu werden.
Rotaract leaders an Rotary staff
Meeting Rotarians everywhere – the same ideals bring us together
Outside the building. This is the Rotary International World Headquarter or short „One Rotary Center“
When you exit the elevator on the 18th floor, you see all the flags of countries and territories where Rotary International has a club.
In the middle of all the flags, you find the Rotary wheel.
…and I found the German flag.
This is the boardroom where our meeting was held.
My little part of the table and all the documents to use and consider.
A view into the room from the back, where the was place where the Rotary Internationl staff members could support us with comments, presentations and insight
This was the view out of the window from the meeting room. In the mist, there is the skyline of Chicago.
Sometimes we get the chance to get a glimpse of what the world is like in those areas where the big decisions are made. During this Rotarian year 2014/15, I have the great honor to serve on the Rotaract/Interact-Committee of Rotary International. It comprises 11 people from around the world and in order to discuss our different points more effectively, we had one meeting in person where we all came to the Rotary International headquarters in Evanston, USA.
The meeting took place on the highest floor of the building (floor 18) in the „Board Room“. It’s a large room where you find in the middle a table in the shape of an elliptical ring. In the middle of the ring, there are huge screens where the presentation slides are shown. In front of your seat, you find a small microphone. It may be helpful for people who speak very low, but it is crucial for the interpreters. On one side of the room, there are several booths for the interpreter. They can see into the room without being seen themselves and they will only hear what you say when the microphone is switched on.
It is fascinating how well the discussion worked being effectively held in 3 languages: English, Japanese and Spanish.
As participants, we came from 5 different continents, all different walks of life and with different backgrounds. It was fascinating to see how well we could work on all the topics and discuss our different viewpoints – always in an atmosphere trying to find a consensus.
In the future, I will certainly look differently at pictures from diplomatic meetings – having experienced what it feels like to work in such a setting.
Once again, I’m off to the US. It’s my first meeting with the Rotaract-Interact Committee and we have plenty of very interesting topics. So my first destination is Chicago and more precisely Evanston, the headquarters of Rotary International.
Afterwards, I have the chance to go back to Detroit and see my families. Great times ahead!
This little island just off the Australian coast is so beautiful. It’s circle shaped and lying without any close neighbors at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef forming the endpoint of the Reef.
It has been mined for guano, which is basically bird poo, in the late 19th century. Back then, all but 10 trees have been cut down and 1 meter of dirt has been taken from the entire island. It was sold as fertilizer and as an ingredient for gun powder. The whole island was stripped from most of its vegetation.
The only people who lived constantly on the island where the lighthouse keeper and his family. Eventually an Australian convinced the government to take tourists on the island and he regrew plants and trees. We learned about the Pisonia trees who are original to the island and the Casuarina trees who refertilize the soil and stabilize its surroundings. Besides, we saw the impressive Pandarum tree that just grows new roots every now and then. It sometimes looks as if a didgeridoo has been put underneath a horizontal branch to support it.
Then you find interesting birds on the island. Some of them (the White-Capped Noddy) have the nice habit of pooping all over making it just a question of time until you’d be hit. We learned that it apparently brings good luck…we still wait for what great things will have to happen now. Since there are no usual land-bound animals, the birds have no real predator. So they can sit, walk and nest on the ground.
The coral around the island has grown over thousands of years and there are beautiful fish around. We’ve seen whales breach and flap their tales, we swam with sharks, we floated alongside turtles and had a school of big eye travelleys beneath us. The wildlife is beautiful! It’s amazing! It’s breathtaking!