In August Bianca and I rented a VW camper van and drove south to the Austrian / Italian Alps for two weeks of hiking. Below is a day-by-day summary and attached slideshow with pictures of the highlights from our trip. Some details may not be as interesting for all, but are included for my own reference later. Skip to the end for the slideshow and best results :).
Sat 15/8: Picked up van, drove ~3hr & spent night @ truckstop in Luxembourg.
Sun 16/8: Drove to Freiburg Germany, had brunch with Bjorn & friends. Hung out at Bjorn’s friend apt, then drove to Lake Constance following Bjorn and friends. Went for an evening ride in their sailboat on the lake & went swimming in the open water. Had a short drink with them back on shore, then took the van down the road a bit and spent the night in a parking lot next to a church in the hills above the lake.
Mon 17/8: Was kicked out of the parking lot in the morning by someone from the church. Drove towards Austria and stopped a couple hours later at a big hypermarket to do our first shopping. Got takeaway Asian veggie stir fry which we ate for lunch later on down the road at a rest stop. Drove into Austria that afternoon, into the Stubai valley south of Innsbruck. Found a nice camping area, Camping Edelweiss. Spent the evening organizing the van.
Tue 18/8: Had relaxed morning cooking breakfast and figuring out what our plan was. Morning was a bit rainy. Went for a short hike that afternoon to a mountain farm (Mischbachalm) where we had some bread with excellent Speck, cheese, and schnaps. Farm was run by older man and his grandaughter. Had cows, chickens, sheep, and pigs. Cows had impressive hair with long bangs. Camped @ Edelweiss camping.
Wed 19/8: Long day hike out of Fulpmes, followed similar track (at first) to 2-day hike described below. Went to the top of Kreuzjochbahn cable car from Fulpmes. Hiked over Burgstall Mtn peak towards Starkenburger Hutte. Didn’t take the path towards hut, but instead headed north, eventually all the way to Adolf Pichler Hutte, where we had a short dinner/snack around 5pm. Had to take long walk/hike back to Fulpmes from there, approx. 5 hrs total. From Adolf Pichler Hutte hiked SE over sharp ridgeline towards Schlickerlalm hotel. There we stopped for a snack, the kitchen was closed but a nice waiter was able to get us some hot chocolate and a piece of plum cake. From there we walked back down into Fulpmes, got back to the car around 10pm, and went back to campsite for Ramen noodles and sleep. Camped @ Edelweiss camping.
Thurs 20/8: Had slow morning recovering from previous day’s hike. Around midday drove out of Stubai valley, N to Innsbruck, then E/SE to Brandberg. From there we did an afternoon hike up to another farm/hut. Hike was very steep and hot at the start, passing through steep fields before moving into forest. Had goulash soup w/sausage at the hut. Camped back @ Edelweiss camping.
Fri 21/8: Full day hike up the WildeWasserWeg trail back in Stubai valley. Very nice hike. Stopped at Sulzenauhütte for Wienerschnitzel & fries. From there hiked to Blaue Lake instead of going up to the glacier. Had very nice views all around. Passed lots of goats on the trail both up and down. Camped @ Edelweiss camping.
Sat 22/8: Rainy day. Slow/lazy morning having breakfast and organizing stuff in the van. Early afternoon took bus into Fulpmes for grocery shopping. Started raining very heavily just before the bus ride back to camping Edelweiss. Spent afternoon hanging out in van, playing cards, etc.
Sun 23/8: Relaxed morning. Went for afternoon hike up the Halltal valley just NE of Innsbruck. First part of hike was quite nice as we took a steep forest trail over a small peak. Pass by Gasthof St. Magdalena, then hiked along asphalt / dirt road for some ways which was not as nice. Made it to the top of the Issjöchl ridge and then descended the other side into a beautiful valley. Took very nice thin dirt path back to St. Magdalena where we had excellent snack/early dinner. (Sausage/ kraut/ bread/ sweetbread with vanilla sauce.) Hiked back to car. Camped @ Campingplatz Judenstein.
Mon 24/8: Breakfast & relaxed morning at camping. Went into Innsbruck around midday @ spent around 3 hrs there. Bianca went to several 2nd hand stores, Matt walked around. Got Bianca’s glasses fixed. Bianca found good hiking shirt. Then drove to Italy / Dolomites. Adventure navigating on the highway. Eventually made it safe to International Camping Olympia, just N of Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Tue 25/8: Hike in to Tre Cime di Lavaredo area of Dolomites. Tried to start at most popular loop/hike for this area but was packed with hundreds/thousand people in cars parked on side of road etc. Instead started from main road next to (Lake) Lago di Landro, and hiked in to the Rifugio Locatelli hut. From there hiked N over Sasso di Sesto Mtn, then looped back S to go out along the same trail we hiked in on. Spend the night back at Camping Olympia.
Wed 26/8: Drove to Selva di Val Gardena in the morning, thinking that we would do a hike from the top of the Dantercepies cable car. Had difficulty figuring out where to go for cable car, and where to park. Ended up in a parking lot at the start of the Vallunga Langental valley where there was the start of a nice hiking trail and a small cafe/burger restaurant. We had lunch there (Matt/burger, Bianca/polenta w/mushrooms), then went hiking up the valley for the afternoon and evening. Hiked up out of the valley to the Rifugio Puez hut where we got a snack from the hut. Lots of sheep hanging out right around the hut. From there we took a different trail back, hiking along the upper rim of the valley for a bit before descending back to it’s floor. Passed several rams along the way who made loud noises at us and questioned what we were doing on their land. Spent the night in the van in a parking lot at the top of the Sella pass.
Thurs 27/8: Woke up to beautiful views of mountains in all directions from Sella pass. Drove to Malga Ciapela and did nice hike along the base of the S. wall of Mt Marmolada (highest peak in the Dolomites). Hiked past Malga Ombretta hut (stopped for big plate of bread / cheese / Speck) and then past Rifugio Falier up towards nearby saddle / pass on the ridge-line. Did not make it all the way up to the ridge-line, decided not to push ourselves and enjoy the afternoon instead. Saw quite a few Marmots, including one which was near to us and speaking quite loudly. Bianca got this on video. On our way back down past the Rigufio Falier we stopped for a short break, Bianca got a coffee & Matt got a tea. There were lots of chickens running around the Rifugio, many of which were busy trying to burrow into large piles of coffee grounds. There was also a small/young goat that was being kept by the hut owner as a pet. After hike down, we drove to Canazei and spent the night at Camping Marmolada.
Fri 29/8: Expected the day to be quite rainy so did not make any big plans. However, rain never came until late in the afternoon / evening. Lazy morning having a nice breakfast. Called IndieCamper roadside support to diagnose issue with camper van water pump. Electronics were bad, water pump out of commission for remainder of trip. Then went into town for some groceries and to check out the area. Got a snack from a fast food stand: Matt/ currywurst, Bianca/ wurst sandwich. Went back to campsite, then went for short hike up forested hillside behind camping area. Returned to camp for evening, cooked dinner and hung out.
Sat 30/8: Relaxed morning before starting the drive back to Belgium. Rainy day. Started driving a bit after noon. Stopped for mid-afternoon snack / late lunch somewhere in Germany next to a small lake. Cooked lunch in the van. Drove for remainder of afternoon and evening. Did not stop until ~10pm, then spent the night in a very crowded truckstop parked between two noisy trucks because Matt was reluctant to stop earlier and insisted on finding the best spot to stop, passing on several good options earlier in the evening. Eventually it was ok, night was uneventful.
Sun 31/8: Drove out of truckstop first thing, drove for ~2hr into Belgium, then stopped at a nice rest area to cook our final breakfast and organize the van. Spent several hours doing this. Then drove into Antwerp early afternoon and left all our gear at home before taking the van back down to Brussels to drop it off. Took train back to Antwerp from Brussels.
Good vacation :).