“Due to its geographical location, our republic is the intersection of major tourist connections in Europe. Travelers often want to get to know this peace state and its people better.” “Every tourist can be assured of being hospitable here, because he is in a country, whose highest political principle is humanism. “
It’s amazing how the GDR advertised itself as a tourist wonderland in travel guides published by state publishers between the 1960s and 1980s. Anyone who reads them and does not know the second German state firsthand could consider it to be cosmopolitan and hospitable, a coveted travel destination in the first league of tourism.
Dhe perfect moment is just under 2000 revolutions per minute, the motor of the boat then turns strong and yet quiet enough that you can almost whisper and hear the birds singing on the bank. The sun rises quickly into a clear blue sky; It is seven in the morning.
Maybe they say something, but maybe they just have the same thought as so often in the past few days. The trip welded them together. Much faster than they thought it would. Behind them the waves are powerful, defined like tense muscles. They only break on the bank, but never on the water.
It’s the ideal speed, the ideal place, in the middle of the canal, right in the narrow channel that doesn’t touch the morning mist over the water on the starboard and port sides. It is the position where the land is so close and yet so far.
Kjust south of the Arctic Circle, in Harads, hang the seven different, all futuristic tree houses of the northern Swedish “Treehotel” at a height of four to ten meters above the forest floor. The most spectacular is the four by four by four meter living cube “Mirrorcube” – completely mirrored from the outside, it blends in with the lonely forest landscape and is hardly noticeable.
A tree trunk in the middle brings nature into the wood-lined house, behind the glazed facade there are windows that cannot be seen from the outside and a small balcony. Lots of light, the Nordic reduced interior and views of the forest, game and northern lights promise a comfortable and spectacular experience of nature.
The other tree houses of the hotel, which opened in 2010, are also worth seeing: The “Bird’s Nest” looks like an oversized bird’s nest, the “UFO” is actually a habitable flying saucer, and “The Cabin” is a container with panoramic windows and its own floating in the treetops Roof terrace. Underfloor heating and air conditioning turn all tree houses into comfortable escape places all year round.
A night in the “Mirrorcube” costs from 450 euros for two people with breakfast, treehotel.se
Upper Bavaria: A hotel with a view of the lake
Outside a lake view and a 20 square meter terrace with a heated, private whirlpool, inside space for four people in a double bed and a bunk bed with sliding door: In the “Treehouse Hotel Oberbayern” in Jetzendorf it is easy to get used to life from a bird’s eye view.
Despite the location (around 50 kilometers from Munich), the interior is quite Nordic with clear lines and light wood, the color palette from white to light blue, in turn, goes perfectly with Bavaria. The equipment of the five tree houses includes central heating, fully equipped bathroom, tea station, flat-screen TV and WiFi, but you are still in the middle of nature.
In the evening the wind blows through the treetops, the whirlpool bubbles soothingly and the sparkling wine tingles in the glass. Breakfast is served on the ground floor in the beach house of the resort on the shore of the natural lake, with the tree houses on the edge.
In the nearby forest climbing park, on hikes or bike tours through the Pfaffenhofener Land, the experience of nature can be deepened – or you can just dream on the terrace with a view of the sky.
Tree house with whirlpool for two people with breakfast from 260 euros, without whirlpool 210 euros, baumhaushotel-oberbayern.de, open all year round
Italy: Private sauna and delivery service from the hotel
From alpine breakfast in the morning to antipasti in the afternoon and cake in the afternoon to the menu in the evening: In the “San Luis Hotel” in Avelengo, guests can have all their food and drinks served directly on the terrace or in the living area of their tree houses – what is on offer a daily and undisturbed “little table set yourself”. If you want, you can of course dine in the “Clubhouse” restaurant, where a fine mixture of rural and Mediterranean cuisine is served.
The tree houses (plus several chalets, also made of wood) are located in a spruce-larch forest right next to a swimming pond, near the village of Avelengo, high above Merano in South Tyrol. The tree chalets measure 44 or 72 square meters – there is of course enough space for a living room with an open fireplace, a bathtub with a view, a private sauna and a refrigerator that is filled regularly and also contributes to independence.
The hammock is ideal for watching squirrels, and those who still need a change can go on a mountain hike or go down to Merano to stroll and shop.
A night in the tree house with all meals costs from 325 euros per person, sanluis-hotel.com, open all year round except November 8th to 27th and March 7th to 17th
Austria: Sleeping in a tree house under the stars
Constellations in the evening, a view of the Wilder Kaiser in the morning and in between deep silence and pure mountain air – you can hardly sleep better. In the tree house of the Hotel Hochfilzer in Ellmau in Tyrol, you simply roll your bed onto the balcony when it rains shooting stars.
Well wrapped up is especially nice on clear autumn nights, especially since you can easily push the bed back into the warm at any time. However, it is better to put on an extra blanket, even without an astro show. Because the silence of the night, the sunrise in front of the mountain backdrop and a maximum dose of alpine air will be remembered for a long time.
The outside shower and the floating bed on the terrace are reserved for the warmer months of the year, but inside the “tree house in Flora’s garden” the guest does not go without anything. Large pines are its focus, the facade is made of old wood, the roof is green, the interior with bedroom and living area, chic bathroom and kitchen as cozy as it is comfortable.
Owner Ingrid Hochfilzer and her brother Andreas Feigl have been practicing tree house construction since childhood; as an architect, Feigl has been able to develop his skills since these early projects. Together, the two designed their dream tree house with space for four people, it was only finished this year.
In winter it is also suitable for skiers, after all, the hotel complex is located in the middle of the Wilder Kaiser-Brixental ski area, with 280 kilometers of slopes one of the largest winter sports areas in Austria.
A night in the tree house with organic breakfast and use of the garden sauna costs from 121 euros per person, hotel-hochfilzer.com/de/baumhaus.html, all year round except in November and March
France: a castle in the trees
Why settle for a house when you can have a castle? The six differently sized luxury tree houses of “Châteaux dans les Arbres” in Périgord for two to six people do not bear their name for nothing. Built entirely of wood, its turrets, gables and bay windows rise proudly from an oak and beech grove, which in autumn shows its most beautiful side with its golden foliage.
The tree house castles are all located near the old moat of the former Puybeton fortress, of which only a few stones are left, all have princely, predominantly wooden furnishings: terrace with whirlpool, table and chairs made of roots, even the candle holders Made from the forest raw material that grows back around the hotel complex.
Two of the châteaux also have a Finnish sauna and a pool is part of the complex. A relaxation massage in your own castle can be booked on request.
The culinary offer is also opulent: You can choose from menus by Vincent Lucas from the neighboring restaurant “Etincelles”, whose cuisine has been awarded a Michelin star, or a snack with foie gras, canned duck, sausage, baguette, fruit and two bottles of wine – you just live lavishly in a castle.
A tree house for two with breakfast costs from 235 euros per night, chateaux-dans-les-arbres.com, open all year round, closed from mid-January to early February
Portugal: medicinal water and climbing in the natural park
In his designs for the tree houses in the Pedras Salgadas Nature Park in northern Portugal, architect Luís Rebelo de Andrade wanted to separate himself from conventional building concepts and instead concentrated on making them disappear into the forest almost imperceptibly. The result are futuristic buildings made of wood and slate, which form decidedly right angles to the trees – and which the eye only perceives at second glance.
The inside is also businesslike: straight lines, a color palette of natural tones, no frills. Two windows allow nature observation in the forest and a view of the starry sky. Water treatment and low energy consumption through insulation and LED lighting turn the tree residences into eco-houses.
Because of its thermal springs, Pedras Salgadas has been a well-known health resort since the 19th century. Today the thermal bath with pool, sauna and spa belongs to the nature park, the spa and medicinal water applications are also open to tree dwellers. And if you want to get active, book tree climbing: secured with a rope, you climb on wobbly bridges, ropes and nets through the tree tops of the park.
A tree house for two with breakfast and spa access costs from 230 euros, pedrassalgadaspark.com/en/accommodation/tree-houses, open all year round
Switzerland: The newspaper comes by basket lift
As is well known, the Swiss don’t do things by halves. That is why the “Wurzelbaumhaus” in Neuenkirch in the canton of Lucerne is actually a luxurious chalet for two, equipped with underfloor heating, a solid wood bed under a pear tree branch, a bathroom made of marble and oak, a kitchenette and a small library with DVDs and WiFi.
The location is idyllic: the balcony offers a view of Lake Sempach and the greenery, and right next door is the owner family’s farm, where the tree dwellers can also look around in the stables.
The guest lives self-sufficient here. He finds breakfast prepared in the fridge and enjoys it at the time of his choice, fresh bread and the daily newspaper reach him in the morning contactlessly by basket lift. A menu for the evening can also be booked, for example cozy raclette from the village cheese dairy with Gschwellti: the ingredients are stored in the refrigerator, you have to prepare them yourself.
Overnight stay with breakfast 100 to 135 francs per person, wurzelbaumhaus.ch, open all year round
This text is from WELT AM SONNTAG. We are happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.
Eit doesn’t exist the North Sea. In this sea there are ebb and flow, sand and mud flats, wind and waves in very different forms. And coastal dwellers with many customs of their own. Every island, every shore here is different – and always something special. We present five of the most attractive places on the water.
Denmark: fishing trawler right on the beach
And that too, one involuntarily thinks – the fishing trawler ran aground, here in Jammer Bay on the northwest coast of Jutland in Denmark. The ship is lopsided and sways in the waves.
A sailor stands at the bow and throws a line. The surf tugs at the cutter. But it doesn’t have to be rescued, just pulled ashore.
Thorup Strand in Denmark is one of the last and largest landing sites for fish in Northern Europe, where the local fishermen and captains let themselves be pulled ashore with their cutters by a bulldozer, there is no pier or quay.
When the weather permits, the ten skippers of the local fisheries association extinguish their catch every day – mainly plaice, sole and cod. If you want, you can buy these fish right here from the ship.
Of course, you can also eat freshly caught North Sea fish in the small town: In “Thorupstrand Fiskehus”, for example, fish sizzle in butter that recently swam in the sea.
And in the snack bars you can get fried fish dumplings on hand for the beach. This is the best way to sit down in the fine sand, listen to the surf, look at the blue cutters and have the taste of the sea on your tongue – more North Sea is not possible (Info: visitjammerbugten.de).
Netherlands: Show of the stars on the mudflats
In the alleys of Schiermonnikoog, a few lanterns provide some light. But the small village is quickly left behind – and you are, in the literal sense, completely in the dark.
Schiermonnikoog is the smallest inhabited island in the West Frisian Wadden Sea in the Netherlands. In 2006 it was named the “most beautiful place in the Netherlands” by the Nederlandse Christelijke Radio Vereniging.
Also because of the darkness – on the island, which is just four kilometers wide and 16 kilometers long, nothing disturbs the view of the night sky. The few lanterns in the village and two lighthouses – these are the only artificial light sources.
Only a handful of residents live in the postcard-beautiful island village. The feeling of being far away from the rest of the world is therefore particularly intense on Schiermonnikoog. There is always a place on the island where you can be all to yourself. Just nature and the sea. And the sky above, which is most beautiful at night.
It’s a 20-minute walk from the village to the beach, first through the heather, then through a pine forest – and the sea spreads out in front of you, dark and unfathomable. A ghostly atmosphere, also because long-eared owls and nightingales are calling and the surf is rumbling.
More can be seen from the sky than from the dark water, such as the constellation of the Big Dipper. There is orientation, the fivefold extension of the rear axis leads to the North Star. It is one of the brightest stars in the sky and is exactly north.
A bright band stretches out up there: the Milky Way. The stars sparkle like diamonds on the velvety black. Depending on the season, Venus can also be seen; sometimes it is the evening star for months, sometimes it announces the approaching morning. Jupiter and Saturn are in the constellation Sagittarius. In spring the lion sneaks up as its constellation.
More and more stars can be seen – in the deep darkness you almost have the feeling of being drawn into space. And sometimes even a shooting star pulls its orbit through the loneliness of the universe and ensures an unforgettable goosebumps moment in the loneliness at night on the beach of Schiermonnikoog (vvvschiermonnikoog.de).
Helgoland: The home of the gray seals
The little ferry has hardly left Heligoland when it arrives at the dune opposite. The little sister island with its snow-white beach and the holiday village is a bathing paradise and at the same time the nursery for Germany’s largest predator – the gray seal.
531 young animals were born on dune in 2019. The population has grown significantly in recent years and Heligoland’s side island has become a hotspot for seal fans from home and abroad.
In summer several hundred animals hunt for fish in the waters around Heligoland, often taking a break on the beach of their native island. Nowhere on the North Sea can you see the seals better.
However, a safety distance of at least 30 meters must be maintained on dunes – the sluggish-looking animals can, if they feel threatened, come out of cover at up to 20 kilometers per hour. And they do it without hesitation!
Those who want to be on the safe side prefer to take part in a guided tour. A specially created panorama path offers views of the sea again and again – and with a bit of luck you will see hairy snouts emerge from the waves.
It is not always seals, it can also be seals. They don’t use Helgoland as a nursery, but they also love trips to the island to do the same thing as human visitors: enjoy sunbathing (helgoland.de).
St. Peter-Ording: sailing on sand
How was that with the braking? The sand yachts are fast and have foot pedals as a steering wheel, but no brake pedal. Several of these three-wheeled speedsters with sails whiz across the beach of St. Peter-Ording. A constant wind blows on the kilometer-long sand ridge and puffs up the sails.
“The beach here is particularly suitable,” says Sven Harder from the Nordsport beach sailing school. He offers courses for beginners on one of the largest beaches in the North Sea. “Beach sailors have a lot of space here, hard sand and mostly good wind.”
Wind strengths between 3 and 6 are ideal, adds Harder, as it is a wonderful way to escape the stress of everyday life. If you know how to slow down the beach runabouts, you would like to add.
The course starts with some theory, the rules of avoidance, flag signals, safety instructions and fitting the helmet. It is particularly important because the lower, horizontal rod on which the sail sits just above the head swings back and forth when driving.
And how do you even get going? “With a line that we call a sheet, you let the sail loose or pull it in,” says Harder. “The sheet serves as a kind of gas pedal. If you pull the sheet tighter, the sand yacht accelerates. If you loosen the sheet, you reduce the speed again and thus determine the pace. “
And brake? “You let the sheet as loose as possible, but not let go! You steer against the wind and take the car away from it. “
Dealing with the sand yachts seems child’s play. Feel, think, do – and the box starts running. Soon the course participants were racing on the firm sand of St. Peter-Ording.
Even beginners get going quickly, and they can soon manage a speed of 50 and more. And apparently the beach yachtsmen have been paying close attention during training, because everyone manages to brake without an accident. Without a brake pedal (st-peter-ording.de).
England: castles overlooking the North Sea
You can literally hear the blades clapping and the screams of rough men echoing through the walls – in your mind, of course, because it is more than 1200 years since native Celts and invading Vikings crossed their blades here in what is now Northumberland.
The defiant castles, of which there are many in this part of the English and Scottish North Sea coast, fire the imagination of the visitors. They are silent witnesses to an eventful history – and a wonderful backdrop for a walk on the beach.
One of the most beautiful North Sea beaches in Great Britain is the one in front of Bamburgh Castle. The castle itself is now a place for cultural events, you can visit it, walk in the footsteps of sagas and legends.
And you can live here: On a clear day, the view from the room in the Neville Tower extends across to Holy Island and out to the Farne Islands. With binoculars you can see seals and dolphins, sometimes even whales.
The late light sets the huge castle in a picturesque scene and lets the walls light up like brass, the clouds in the sky are the color of mallow, the surf shimmers silvery and light gray.
The beach is clean and beautiful, the lords of the castle and the nature conservation organization Natural England are in charge. Bamburgh Beach is sweeping, ideal for long walks; however, the water is too cold for bathing.
Surfers in their wetsuits have it better, they appreciate the wind-blown coast, where steadily passable waves roll. Those who love lonely walks will get their money’s worth here, and everywhere you can enjoy an unobstructed view of the sea and the beach, the drama of the landscape and the sky.
But you can also just sit in the slipstream of the dunes and watch birds for hours. Or you can practice as a lord of the castle – and build a sand castle in the form of Bamburgh Castle (visitnorthumberland.com).
This article was first published in May 2020.
The text comes from WELT AM SONNTAG. We are happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.
SSaturday afternoon, in a tributary of the Havel, somewhere in the jungle of the wetlands between Werder and the city of Brandenburg. The journey has come to an end, dock one last time, and then the passengers are back on solid ground.
A slight swaying can still be felt. Is that now due to the waves, which confused the sense of balance last week in the steady, gentle rocking of the stately motor yacht “Galathea”, 14 meters long, with three double cabins, saloon, pantry and two bathrooms? Or does it just show the pleasant confusion after a vacation in a strange world that is in a familiar area but looks like a kind of parallel universe in your own country?
After all, the view of things was different: it was the waterside perspective of the banks of those lakes, rivers, canals, towns and villages in the Margraviate of Brandenburg, southwest of Berlin, which one is actually very familiar with when cycling, jogging or hiking with a dog are.
Mecklenburg Lake District
How big does the Breitlingsee look when you sail on it, how colossal is the Glienicke Bridge, where Russians and Americans exchanged their agents during the Cold War, from below, how majestic and within reach is the Sacrow Church of the Savior on the banks of the Havel, a historical building Icon, inaccessible during the Walling Period, neither from the West nor the East.
But also the industrial areas, the ports for bulk and general cargo such as in Berlin-Spandau, with their huge rolling cranes, can be seen with different eyes from the houseboat. After work, when the crane operator finishes his work and climbs down and you tie up on the quay opposite, for a sundowner on the upper deck and then to sleep, this scenery only looks bizarre and fantastic, but by no means uncomfortable. And there is something special when the sun rises early in the morning while walking through the steel monster skeleton and the coffee smells on the flybridge.
In a boat across Germany’s lakes
Corona times make people look for alternatives when on vacation. The trend towards destinations in the area, in one’s own country, could last for years. Reason enough to get to know the neighborhood anew, to catch a different glimpse of it, to sail across the lakes, rivers and canals.
With the whole family or with friends; Many motor yachts have room for six, or eight adults if necessary, as well as a board dog. There is something for everyone, for holders of boating licenses as well as for newcomers, who after a short introduction are also allowed to drive spacious boats, with minor restrictions (see below).
The east offers the most rewarding inland waters in Germany for a week on a motor yacht or houseboat. The Mecklenburg Lake District is legendary, where nature is still wild and untouched here and there.
The heart of the lake district, the Müritz, is the largest inland lake in the Federal Republic of Germany with over 112 square kilometers – here those who enjoy driving can do a lot of distance. Likewise on the wide Brandenburg water course, the main areas of which are mainly to the west and south-east of Berlin. Mecklenburg, Brandenburg and Berlin together offer over 2000 kilometers of rivers and lakes, this is Germany’s largest networked water sports area.
If you are looking for pure deceleration instead of shoving around, you will be happy in Saxony-Anhalt: In the Central German Lakeland, which was and is still being built in the renatured areas of the former Goitzsche open-cast lignite mine, you will find a nice range of fixed “floating houses” on Geiseltalsee and Großem Goitzschesee . You can go on water excursions here by canoe or rubber dinghy.
Depending on the size of the houseboat, you can survive a week without mooring once: leave the fairway every evening and out with the anchor. Most charter companies have adapted their refrigerators over the decades to the growth of thirst and customer demands. The diesel supply is always generous, water and waste water tanks are also sufficient with economical consumption – swimming instead of showering.
First nature, then a shore excursion to the restaurant
Nature experiences are guaranteed. Once the engine is off, a giant catfish appears from below in a short arc. In the evening, geese move across the sky high up, water lilies bloom and – depending on the season – a frog croaks in the swamp at the back. At most, the show-offs cause excitement as they hit high waves in their speeding Poser yacht and sweep the wine glasses off the table in the bobbing houseboat.
Every now and then, with all the love for distance, you should moor at one of the countless marinas. The chat there with the neighbors is not only entertaining, useful tips are almost always given about the next stage or the best bakery that you can go to the next morning with the bike you brought with you as a precaution.
The thread of the conversation is already tied in the afternoon when mooring, when a helpful hand catches the thrown rope and routinely covers the cleat with a head blow, i.e. the line is secured against unintentional loosening with a kind of sailor’s knot. And if you have picked the right port from the area guide, the shore excursion will be sweetened with a good restaurant, provided you have reserved in time.
Because of Corona, the demand for yachts is high
In the summer of 2020, Corona ensured that the jetties at the charter companies were empty – and those in the marinas were correspondingly full. Anyone planning a boating holiday for the coming year should start looking for a suitable yacht in good time.
Large boats offer a lot of space inside – but cause space problems in the ports. For a boat about 14 meters long, jetties are rare. Anyone who probes by phone after 4 or 5 p.m. must expect rejections rather than promises. Maybe the headbridge is still free at the front. Or the steamboat landing – see you tomorrow morning at seven thirty. Hardly any harbor master wants to reserve.
Public quays are more likely to be found in the larger towns, and they are also often full in the high season. It is easier for nine or penalty yachts. There would also be room for a family there. Here and there sailing yachts are also on the move, but if you want to get to know several lakes, connected by canals and rivers with bridges, you would drive more under motor than under sail, with a horizontal mast.
It is important to plan the stages well
Good planning is everything. More than 30 kilometers a day is uncomfortable. Those who anchor in between, who want to walk through Potsdam’s center, Werder, Babelsberg or Brandenburg and avoid worrying about the evening berth, plan shorter stages from the outset.
Especially important for those who like to travel: At the end of the week you have to be back at the charter port – and very punctually, otherwise it will be expensive. If you only plan the return trip on the Friday before the boat is returned (usually Saturday 9 or 10 a.m.), you should think twice about it, given the time-consuming locks and any hectic pace.
Boats up to 15 HP do not require a license. These are either smaller specimens or houseboat rafts with a rectangular hull, which have become increasingly popular recently, even if some routes are closed to them and they are only making slow progress. Which is why the radius for weekly planning has to be set significantly smaller with them.
Most are booked for day trips because they only offer spartan sleeping places. Sometimes they are also equipped as party boats with booming bass loudspeakers and so make those seeking peace and quiet annoyed.
Locks can be a problem in a houseboat
But there are also real swimming bungalows for newcomers in every comfort and price class, inside with cabin suites, professional kitchens and, if necessary, even with a sauna and wood stove. The advantage of these houseboats: They only have a shallow draft, so they can hardly run aground. While the cabin cruiser captain has to feel his way around at walking pace with a fixed view of the echo sounder where the marker barrels tend to be missing in the shallow fairway, a bungalow like this can – carefully – almost advance to the shore.
The worlds then separate when it comes to the mooring maneuvers or, more clearly, in the locks, where the clumsy newcomer in the houseboat just before the crash has to listen to instructions over loudspeakers, more or less friendly and audible for everyone. So if you like it stress-free, choose a route without locks.
Experienced license holders may prefer a traditional yacht. Many things have become easier for those who may have made the appearance decades ago; bow and stern thrusters, for example, have long been standard. Which is why nowadays nobody can be admired from the jetty while “parking backwards” perfectly. With draft beer later in the harbor bar, there is still enough to talk about. By far, of course.
Tips and information
Houseboat provider: Brandenburg and Berlin: the small landlord mariTeam in Deetz near Werder offers good service, houseboats from 750 euros / week (dialog-charter.de). Kuhnle Tours is based on the Müritz, but also has locations in Berlin and Brandenburg, bungalow boats from 59 euros / night, houseboats from 511 euros / week (kuhnle-tours.de).
Mecklenburg Lake District: Yachtcharter Schulz in Waren an der Müritz has a wide range of houseboats, from 490 euros / week (bootsurlaub.de), as does Müritz Yacht Management, from 649 euros / week (mueritz-yacht.de).
Leipziger Seenland: Seeblick houseboat rental offers fixed houseboats and “floating houses”, for example on the Großer Goitzschesee and Geiseltalsee, from 120 euros / night (hausbootvermietung-seeblick.de).
Requirements: A boating license is often not necessary for many models and areas; more than 900 kilometers can be traveled in East Germany without such a document. Houseboats up to 15 HP are mostly free of license, classified “tourist waterways” are often navigable with boats over 15 HP without a license, a briefing (charter certificate) from the rental company is sufficient. Rules vary regionally and should be requested from the landlord.
Further information: deutschlands-seenland.de; reiseland-brandenburg.de; mecklenburgische-seenplatte.de; blaues-band.de (Central Germany)
This text is from WELT AM SONNTAG. We are happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.
Dhe path through the Radurschltal is perfect for hiking enthusiasts: first it goes gently over alpine pastures, then steeply up the stream, past waterfalls, until finally the Hohenzollernhaus becomes visible on a rock spur. Almost perfect – only one thing is missing: hikers.
“There’s not much going on here,” says Elisa Thöni. The young woman works for the Tiroler Oberland Tourist Association, so there is reason to suspect that she is saying this for marketing reasons. Because lonely areas are in great demand in Corona summer 2020.
But Thöni assures that usually – earlier, before Corona, in normal summers – it was not easy to advertise the region. Because the Oberland is a lesser-known corner of Tyrol; Places like Pfunds are one of them, Nauders and the Kaunertal are next door. “We don’t have a Matterhorn, we don’t have a Wildspitze – we don’t have these striking fashion mountains that everyone wants to see and climb.”
A comparison with Ischgl shows the difference
But this year this shortcoming suddenly turned into an advantage. Ernst Partl, managing director of the nature park in Kaunertal, stated in a meeting that social distancing occurs “almost automatically” for them, since so much mountain space is available to the individual.
And the key word was found: Alpine Distancing. However, they did not have the beautiful term protected on site, nor did they put up any Alpine Distancing signs. Because the Oberland is almost an alpine open space, everyone can use the vastness of the mountains here.
You have even calculated it: 580,000,000 square meters for 9700 guest beds in the Oberland, Nauders, Kaunertal region – that means almost 60,000 square meters for each guest. This is a game of numbers, because who can imagine something by that.
Elisa Thöni breaks it down: “In Pfunds there are 1,600 beds for every 2,700 inhabitants.” Nearby Ischgl has 1,600 locals – and over 10,000 guest beds. “Alpine distancing is a given with us,” says Thöni.
Schnapps to disinfect at the hut
To check this, we now hike to the Hohenzollernhaus. Contrary to what the name suggests, it is not a hunting seat of the Prussian nobility, but a hut of the Alpine Club, built in 1924 by the Berlin section “Hohenzollern”.
Hut landlord Joe Waldner has been managing the house for six summers. In the small room, you have to say, locals sit very close together at the table. At the next table two German couples shout: “We appreciate the fact that we can enjoy freedom without masks!”
Obviously, you have to imagine Alpine distancing out in nature. Waldner squats on the corner bench in the living room, but leaves plenty of space for those who want it. It doesn’t get crowded in the hut at night, he says. There are 50 places to sleep in the camp, strangers have to leave a distance of 1.50 meters, “then camp places in between remain free”.
Waldner pours out rosé-colored stone pine schnapps, mild, only slightly resinous. Homemade, for this he places pine cones in grain. “Drink up,” says Waldner, “that disinfects. That’s how we do it up here. ”But then he wipes the tables with disinfectant according to the regulations – also made himself, from the so-called forerun, an undrinkable distillate precursor.
In times of Corona, traveling is not a matter of course
Then Waldner tells about the new lake behind the hut. A small natural wonder that has only been around since August 2019. For a few days there was a lot of water in the depression on the scree, “that should actually seep away,” he thought. But the water remained, and when a mudslide slowly piled up in front of it, a small landslide, Waldner’s Hüttenbach dammed up into a lake.
A rock glacier, i.e. permafrost under the scree, was the solution to the riddle. At first there was a lot of excitement, “you didn’t know whether it would someday rush down the Radurschltal as a tidal wave and threaten Pfunds”. So a part was drained. Since then, the rest has been shining turquoise in the sun as a small mountain lake, Waldner proudly calls it the Emerald Lake.
Today nobody watches him shine, nobody is on the move. Alpine distancing works here again without any effort. Two thoughts gain special space here and now: How nice it is to just be back in the mountains.
And the realization that traveling cannot be taken for granted, that the world is not necessarily and always available to us travelers. So you hike much more consciously this Corona summer, also perceive small natural wonders, such as this emerald lake, which is not shown on any map.
He is surrounded by numerous three-thousanders; The Bruchkopf and Glockturm, Großer Schafkopf and Wildnörderer can be climbed by experienced mountain hikers. However, if you want to see the lake, you shouldn’t hesitate for a long time.
An artificial waterfall in the Kaunertal
If you hike up from the Smaragdsee, you reach the Kaunertal. Now you have a real rarity, an artificial tunnel into which water is led, which in turn rushes into a basin in the form of an artificial waterfall. Quite a spectacle, dark and nice and fresh – but here, too, no one else is far and wide.
The tunnel was built as an irrigation canal from 1947 using the Marshall Plan. It transports water to this corner of the Kaunertal, which is one of the regions in Austria with the least rain.
The strange canal is not a tourist attraction, however, because you cannot rely on it: on hot summer days, so much water is channeled through the tunnel that it is not accessible. On other days, however, you can hike through it – and even then you are mostly alone.
Back at the Hohenzollernhaus, big complaints: goats gather under the stone pine trees. These are gnarled overgrown in the landscape, mostly individually at a perfect distance from one another. As a farewell, Waldner’s hand shoots forward, then he brakes and says: “Crucifix! Too little distance! No, you shouldn’t shake hands. It’s really difficult for us, we Tyroleans are warm people. “
Does that work with the distance in the Alps?
Pfunds down in the valley is an old, not very rural village. Thick houses, some from the 17th century, crouch with solid bases next to the street, ancient inns, always located on the way to the south. In terms of style, they are reminiscent of the Engadine. Elisa Thöni says that you are often out and about in three countries here, for example she likes to ride a mountain bike to the Swiss Engadine and to eat pizza on the Reschenpass, which is already in South Tyrol, i.e. on the Italian side.
She did not notice any difference in keeping their distance in neighboring countries. And she advocates the same standards, whether over there or over there. Because not all guests reacted like the mask-free hikers at the hut. “Germans in particular had expressed a feeling of discomfort that things were so different here.”
That was in early summer when Austria temporarily lifted the mask requirement. Now it is again the duty to cover your mouth and nose in transport and in shops, as in Germany. Thöni thinks the decision is right. “If you no longer wear masks and see, you forget the whole Corona.”
Everyone would have enjoyed the short trip to freedom, “but the reality is that it is not over”. That is why all guides and bus drivers have been briefed once again that they will really put on the mask. “So that the Tyrolean meander doesn’t creep in.”
So does that work with the alpine distance? Conditionally. On the way back from the Hohenzollernhaus down to Pfunds, the hiking trail regularly gets tight. You have to walk sinuous lines and constantly avoid other hikers, but the many undisciplined goats that run around there. The animals have probably never heard of this Alpine Distancing.
Tips and information for the Tyrolean Oberland
Getting there: The Tyrolean Oberland and the Kaunertal lie in the west of Tyrol in the border triangle with Switzerland (Engadin) and Italy (South Tyrol). Accessible by car via Munich, Kufstein, Innsbruck, Landeck or via Kempten, Reutte, Imst, Landeck. By train via Munich to Landeck, from there by bus or taxi.
Accommodation: The “Hotel Kreuz” in Pfunds has a spacious garden and specializes in herbal cuisine and local products, double rooms with breakfast from 120 euros (hotelkreuz.at). The Hohenzollernhaus is an alpine club hut, in a multi-bed room adults pay 25 euros, club members 15 euros, the night in the mattress dormitory costs 20.50 (10.50) euros, half board an additional 27 euros (hohenzollernhaus.at).
Further information: Tiroler Oberland: tiroler-oberland.com (with lots of hiking tips in the tour portal); Nauders: nauders.com; Kaunertal: kaunertal.com
Participation in the trip was supported by the Nauders, Tiroler Oberland and Kaunertal tourism associations. You can find our standards of transparency and journalistic independence at axelspringer.de/unabhaengigkeit.
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