For Germany, walk this way
Michael Schürmann aka Easy Hiker is a German born journalist who started travelling at an early age but discovered hiking much later in life.
I have probably said it before, but am willing to say it again – and again: Germany is a paradise for ‘easy hikers’. Easy hikers, since you ask, are people like me who love the great outdoors but who prefer the crisp linen of a hotel bedroom to leaking tents, and a restaurant dinner, rounded off with one or two glasses of wine, to a cold can of baked beans. You sympathize? Then you may read on.
For novice ‘easy hikers’, I strongly recommend a trip to the Rhine. In terms of sheer value, of bang for your buck, a two-day or three-day hike from Koblenz southwards past the Loreley is hard to beat. Castles, vineyards, postcard views – this part of Germany really has it all.
Afterwards, relax for a few days in picturesque Bingen or the old Nibelungen capital of Worms (young Siegfried, Götterdämmerung and all that).
If, after your week in Germany, you do not ask yourself why the place is not literally flooded with tourists from all over the world, you may return to your barren wasteland of a Mediterranean holiday resort and your overpriced steak au poivre.
Intermediate ‘easy hikers’ should try out the Malerweg, literally the ‘Painters’ Route‘, a trail which, unsurprisingly, is strong on picturesque views. It was a source of inspiration for the romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich – his best known work, The Wanderer Above The Mist, gives you a pretty good idea of what to expect.
It was also inspirational for Karl May, Germany’s 19th century ‘cowboy novelist’ who claimed to have been a famous trapper known as ‘Old Shatterhand’ all across North America. He was an impostor, of course: in truth, the cliffs and canyons of the local Elbsandsteingebirge (the so-called Saxon Switzerland) were the closest he ever got to the real Wild West.
Combine your trip with an excursion to Dresden, once the Florence of the Elbe, and reconstructed after the heavy bombings of WWII, or to Prague, little more than two hours away by train.
For the advanced ‘easy hiker’, I would suggest a trip to the Ruhr, Germany’s old industrial heartland north of Cologne. One word of warning, however: you will need to know where to go. If you simply walk up and down the high streets of the Ruhr’s major cities, chances are – let’s be honest – that you will not want to return, never ever.
Instead, you should leave the town centres behind you to stroll past amazingly picturesque industrial ruins, romantically dishevelled brownfield sites and landscapes that are slowly being reclaimed from man’s corrupting influence.
It’s nature – and Germany – but not as we know it.
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