Missing the beautiful Alpine scenery, Suzanne and I decided to negotiate the bureaucratic roadblocks affecting travel during the pandemic and treat ourselves to a road trip in Europe during September. Astonishingly, we lived to tell the tale!
Although we had to keep abreast of ever-changing U.S. and European requirements before and during our 17-day trip – and we were persistent in uploading and re-uploading all the COVID-19-related documents onto the struggling airline website (the airlines were the main gatekeepers for the paperwork) – we found European road travel quite doable once we landed in Munich. If anyone is contemplating a trip to Europe and would like some more details regarding how we managed the pandemic-related travel requirements, please feel free to reach out to us.
A few weeks before our trip to Europe, we decided to fly in the opposite direction to Colorado; and this served as a “shake-down cruise” before our more complex trip abroad. We timed the visit in order to lead grandson Forrest and his Boy Scout troop on a tour of the USAF Academy (they were on their way to the Philmont camp in New Mexico); and the trip also coincided with Suzanne’s high school reunion in Denver a few days later. Between these two events, we managed to visit with friends and Suzanne’s brother Bob. We also spent several glorious days hiking and biking the “Alpine” heights of Vail. So I have inserted a few photos of gorgeous Colorado into this year’s travel album.
Our road trip in Germany, Austria, and Italy included several Alpine regions that we’ve visited before – Bavaria and the German-speaking region of the Italian Dolomites, known as the “Sudtirol” in German or the “Alto Adige” in Italian. Featuring beautiful scenery, outstanding food, endless outdoor activities, and some of the most gracious people on the earth, these two regions are our favorite haunts in Europe. After staying with a long-time German friend in Bavaria, we traveled to several places that we had never visited before: the incomparable lake-side Austrian village of Hallstatt and a significant World War II site on the way there. Both locations are located a short drive from Salzburg, Austria, where the famous musical, “The Sound of Music,” was filmed.
All the usual tidbits about the places we visited are attached to the pictures in the “Google Photos” album. You might have to hover your cursor over the left-bottom of your screen for the comments to appear. If they seem to cut off in mid-sentence (due to your viewing device), just click on the circled “i” (for Information), which is located on the top right-hand corner of your screen.
One of the locations that we had never visited before – Hitler’s mountain-top “Eagle’s Nest” retreat, located on the German side of the Austro-German border near Salzburg – merits a brief comment. Rather than serving as a shrine for contemporary neo-Nazis (Nazi symbols and political expression are outlawed in Germany), the Kehlsteinhaus is a towering reminder to visitors from all over the world about how members of a monstrous regime once came to believe that they could commit evil acts without consequence in an effort to dominate the rest of humanity. To glimpse into what the capture of Hitler’s Alpine redoubt meant to the American soldier, who was fighting world-wide totalitarianism back in 1945, I would recommend watching the final episode of Steven Spielberg’s outstanding mini-series produced for HBO, Band of Brothers.
When you are ready, just click on the following links:
Alpine Adventures – 2021 – the “Google Photos” album with all the regular pics.
YouTube Action Videos (the run-times are indicated in minutes:seconds):
Biking Vail – (4:01) if you have a “need for speed,” be sure to view the last 90 seconds. Watch out for the wildlife!
Biking Bavaria – (6:33) upping our game, this video features some delightful narration from Suzanne. Find out why our family has such a wonderful connection with the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Hallstatt and the Five Fingers Overlook– (1:18) waterside views of the colorful Austrian town and footage from a 7,000-foot lookout point.
Biking Bolzano – (3:49) a leisurely ride through Europe’s largest Alpine meadow, located in northeast Italy.
Biking Alta Badia – (4:35) a trail ride to the top of a ridge-line with more stunning panoramas of the beautiful Dolomite mountains. The skies are so blue, you will squint!
NOTE: Due to the bright skies and contrasts (and limitations of my GoPro camera . . . and of the photographer), if the video you are watching appears a little dark, you might try going to “Settings” on your device and de-select the automatic brightness control.