Since last time we’ve crossed the borders between Germany and Austria, yet again another non dramatic border crossing. We rode down a hill in Germany and on the bottom of it our wheels suddenly crossed into Austria with a small sign confirming that we entered into a new country. Little did we know that we in a few days were going to re-enter Germany and Austria back and forth a couple of times.
From here we followed the cycle path along the Inn river with hellish hills – short, but intensive. But we somehow managed to even pass other cyclists on e-bikes struggling to cycle up the hills without any luggage. Have we gotten stronger legs or is everyone else just lazy? With the 6th day of headwind in a row we decided to give up following the river and head south, which turned out to be a good decision despite having to pitch and pack a wet tent in rain for the first time since leaving Norway.
After that we headed towards Salzburg. Just as we entered the city border after a lovely and long descent we got an e-mail from Anne-Lise, a Warmshowers member, saying that we were welcome to stay there for two nights. She also mentioned that they live 450 meters higher than the valley below and that it was “quite arduous to go up with bike. But it is possible 😉”
We were excited to rest before heading into the alps, and gladly accepted the invitation. Turns out this wasn’t maybe the greatest choice with resting our legs in mind. 450 meters of climbing isn’t so bad. But a 450 meter climb over 3 km is something different. Even without a loaded bicycle, no sane person would try to cycle the road we took to their house.
At first we used google cycle maps which of course sent us on a detour which led us to a forest path which was completely impossible to cycle or even walk with the bicycles. We gave up after 10 meters. Then we had to backtrack a couple of kilometers along with some extra climbing to the second road and decided to give it a shot despite it looking completely ridiculously steep even at the bottom. Could it be worse than this? Yup, it sure could.
We sent her a text message before we started telling her that if we don’t show up in 2-3 hours we are either dead from exhaustion or gave up. We started this climb after already having cycled 60 km and climbed 400m that day, mostly in rain.
The Norwegian girlfriend was exhausted and angry even before starting, because she was aware of what this climb meant, unlike Daniel who hasn’t lived near any mountains in his life.. hehe. So after two hours of pushing the bikes in 1.5 km/h, counting every meter of elevation gained, we finally made it to their house completely physically and mentally exhausted. We were welcomed by the warm smiles of Anne-Lise and her boyfriend Christian who showed us their lovely house in the mountains some 900 meters above the sea. They had lit the fireplace in our bedroom for the next two nights and later treated us with dinner before we collapsed into bed.
So on this evening Thea learned that anything is possible with willpower and Daniel learned to trust his Norwegian girlfriend regarding road grades. Maybe it wasn’t the most clever idea, but despite that, we have a memory for a lifetime!
The following day we mostly relaxed, washed our clothes and got to learn a little how they lived and what they did. Christian worked as a park ranger (he didn’t know the English word for it but we think that’s it) and Anne-Lise at Berchtesgadens National Park Centre – House of the Mountains, and they are both devotees of nature and sustainable living. On this day they were making wax from last years bee cubes so we got to see the process of this.
We were also invited to Anne-Lises work the last day and Daniel had always wanted to visit Berchtesgaden so we tagged along.
We got to roll down that damned hill we had pushed our bikes up one and a half days ago, and cycled about 40 minutes in rain to her workplace where she showed us around, explaining what she does. She holds a lot of courses, excursions and workshops for school classes/children on various topics related to the environment. Later we got free passes for the museum which was super cool, very interactive and modern.. We were really interested in seeing more of the national park and this beautiful part of Germany, but everything was unfortunately shrouded in rain clouds. Therefor we didn’t check out Königssee which is supposedly amazing.
So we said our goodbyes and backtracked all the way back to Salzburg in order to start Alpe Adria – the cycle route which would take us through the Austrian alps, still with completely exhausted bodies and in chilly rain.
So that was the story of our first Warmshowers stay. Thanks for hosting us on such short notice, and sorry that we were really exhausted!
From here we started cycling on Alpe Adria, but more on that later.
Until next time!