Wednesday 8th – Friday 10th August
DAY 25 – NO PLANS (& my Mom’s Birthday!!)
Back down in the valley where the lovely owners of the excellent if manic Ötztal Arena Campsite had saved us a space despite being fully booked it was time to lick our wounds, recover our strength.
We had no plans for the day. A day of rest. Mrs P slept for much of the morning whilst I, remembering the old saying; While the cat is away…
…did some washing.
Later in the afternoon we went for a bike ride. After about 20 minutes we could see that the rain in the mountains was about to hit us so we headed downhill into town as fast as our little legs would pedal. I suggested to Mrs P a pastry and a beer and she set of at a rate of knots that any tour-de-France leader would be proud of. Got to the bakery just as the heavens opened. Ate a very average pastry and then decided to go out in the heaviest of the rain to a bar round the corner. The main reason for this wasn’t the lack of beer in the bakery. Oh, it had beer, this is Austria not Chelmsford. The main reason was the smokers. Austria, like the UK, has the same rules about smoking in public buildings and the same inconsiderate smokers (and I make absolutely no apology to any readers who may partake a bit of nicotine) who believe that smoking right next to an open door as the wind blows all the smoke out of their eyes into the bakery and the faces of those least tolerant of its multiple evils to be perfectly acceptable behaviour.
So, out into the rain, cycle 150m to a lovely little bar. Order beer. Sun comes out. Lovely. To round off the day we decided that it was about time we treated ourselves to dinner out. Schnitzel and chips at the campsite restaurant. Delicious, and huge, so huge that Mrs P ate only a handful of her fries. Embarrassed that her efforts may make our hosts feel we had not enjoyed our repast I finished them off for her (at least, that is my excuse).
DAY 26 – THE BEST LAID PLANS OF MICE AND MEN – PART 2
Well, who’d have thought? They named a whole river and valley after us. We have moved round to the Pitztal (‘Tal’ is German for valley, the preceding bit, the name of the river). We assume we will be treated like royalty and be greeted by a local group of dignitaries with keys to the valley. It is not to be. Aside from the usual stares offered to all right hand drive vehicles we are universally ignored. We don’t care. We know we are masters of all we survey. The marmots at least whistle in appreciation of our Royal visit.
We intend on spending the next few days before we head to Madrid [SPOILER ALERT: We are going to Madrid] honing our rock climbing skills.
At the head of the valley, we park Gandalf and walk 20 minutes to the hut for a coffee, no need to over exert ourselves, and then a further 20 minutes to the rock climbing area which the guide book makes look very entertaining and picturesque. We pass signs proclaiming; ‘Come to the rock climbing area’: ‘It’s great’; ‘Not to be missed’; ‘Look at these photos of how lovely it is…’ etc. Coffee over we head for the obvious bridge over the raging waters cascading with some urgency from the source of the River Pitze to be confronted with this…
Scratch heads, consult map. Not to worry, a short detour there is a bridge further upstream. Over the not so babbling brook…
Gone. Swept away by the huge melt this year off the glacier (which is disappointingly not named after us).
We can’t get to the climbing area!
Hey ho. We have a lovely lunch overlooking the somewhat swollen source of our very own river and watch hordes of people heading up the trail. We will have another enforced rest day. After lunch we decide we will return on Saturday, for Friday tis forecast to rain, and simply ignore the signs. If the bridge falls down while we ae on the other side we can see a way back down that side of the river. If it collapses while we are on it, which seems unlikely since 2 official looking vehicles did go over it while we were having lunch, then it will at least be ironic to be swallowed by our own river. Tune in Sunday to see if we survive.
DAY 27 – Friday 10th August – NOTHING TO REPORT
Rain. As advertised. In fact, the first rain we have had in four weeks that has been sufficient to stop play! We spend the morning checking to see if we are financially on track (sort of) and drinking coffee, the afternoon scribbling away, drinking tea and generally getting our money’s worth out of the campsite Wi-Fi. We are due to get cabin fever at about 5pm when we will probably go for a stroll. It’s a tough life.
The lovely couple from Sheffield, who we met on day 21, (they have names but I feel I should cloak them in anonymity and mystery) have sent us a message advising us of free camping further up the valley. Cool!
MINDFULLNESS ASIDE: Mrs P is reading a very good book (I am also reading it, but by osmosis) called Mindfulness, a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world. There ae some exercises in the back. One suggests that when beginning the practice of mindfulness you should write down a list of ways you might rebalance your daily life. It says, and I quote: ‘Don’t write down, ‘Give up work’ or ‘Take up mountain climbing’… This amuses us immensely. It is otherwise an excellent book.
GRATUITOUS CARTOON: Forgot to share the cartoon what I drew for Amanda on her birthday 2 weeks ago. Thought you might like it now. Better than a photo of a rather grey day.