Just back from three weeks trundling around mountains in Austria and France with our Scottish university friends Fred and Allison.
We hiked for 9 days in the Zillertal Alps.
Highlights were scrambling over 3 steep snowy passes. The Austrian Huttes were impressive in particular the chateaux like Beliner Hutte complete with two little pigs running around eating the plants. (What would the Canadian National Parks say to that?) We walked amongst red azaleas, electric blue genetians, magenta saxifrage, yellow buttercups to the whistle of marmots as they dissappeared into their burrows, and the thunderous sounds of rushing waterfalls.
Lowlights - day three it began to rain at lunchtime, poured as we sweated over the pass. We were dripping by the time we reached the warm hut. One hour later we looked out of the window to SNOW - just felt like Canmore! Still we managed to continue the next day inspite of 6 inches of snow and swirling cloud. Sometimes following the path was like connecting the red dots painted on the rock but that day it was like braille.
Down from the mountains we boarded a train to Innsbruck and then onto Geneva were we picked up a car on the French side of the airport as it is cheaper. What a complex road system! You need swiss francs in switzerland and Euros in France - so we avoided Switzerland. We drove to Allison's brothers ski chalet in La Rossiere like an eagle eryie with fantastic views over waves of mountain ranges. Here summer arrived and we had a week enjoying many hikes with amazing views of Mont Blanc consciously soaking in the hot rays before returning to Scotland.
The final couple of days we delighted in the ancient town of Annecy, with its vibrant markets and patesseries. People walk and bike everywhere with shopping baskets spilling over with lettuce, spring onions, cherries, apricots and of course baguettes.
The next stop was C.E.R.N. - here 27 kilometres of underground tunnels are used to explore the collisions of streams of protons in hope of finding out what happened in the first three minutes after the big bang. 3000 of the planets brightest scientist from many different countries seek solutions to this problem.
Final evening we spent enjoying a leisurely French meal on a splendid patio, surrounded by sweet smelling roses, enjoying the ambiance, food and speculating about the lives of those around us.