A day off. Not a day off. My morning wander up the steep Uetliberg hill behind the house didn’t begin until dinner-time. The sun was lighting the gold coast of Lake Zürich by the time I’d reached the radio antenna, the silver coast side already in shadow. Above, paragliders rode the updrafts; to the south, mountains hung like billowing clouds, throwing shadows eastwards, slanting upwards into the sky from the sun already below them. I walked down and home in darkness.
When the weather forecast in Berlin says ‘Wolkig’, it means a certain overcast, not as thick and heavy as, say ‘Bedeckt’, which I think of as beneath a flooring of clouds in the same way one might be besieged in a crypt beneath a stone ceiling, but nonetheless, an absence of the blue stuff. Basically any forecast of clouds in Berlin is merely referring to how near the ground the blanketing is, and how grey, rather than any sky-to-cloud ratio one would expect in normal conversations about meteorology.
So today, on my day off and with plans once again to wander through Lainzer Tiergarten (I’d deserted my other hiking possibilities as I’m less than sure of the other forests girdling Vienna) and with the forecast being wolkig, I was expecting a nice, shady hike with perhaps some wild boars foraging, and to mostly follow the route I took while working with Hans, that cold, very rainy and windy day last time I was here. Lucky I slathered on the sunblock as the day was mostly absent from cloud, except for the half hour or so I spent reading and taking lunch at Hubertuswarte.
Last week, I cut my wandering short, feeling the onset of blisters, and spent the next two days hilariously sore in hamstrings from the ascent – that’s what happens when you live in a city where the slightest rise of say, half a metre in the length of a suburb is regarded as a serious hill-climbing challenge. This week, embracing the certainly foolish, “Yup, I got the soreness out last week,” I decided for a longer route, and discovered it’s definitely the easier way to get to the top of the hill, taking about three times as long to cover the same elevation. In turn, on the descent, I was passed in the opposite direction by a staggering bunch of individuals suffering their way upwards by running. Most amusing for me and I wondered how much enjoyment they got out of the actual forest, some with earbuds, and all with pasty and grimly ground-focussed expressions of “this is good for me,” in the high-twenties Vienna temperatures that are the equivalent of ten degrees warmer in Adelaide.
The less steep parts were thankfully depopulated of such stupidity, and I even got to see a family of five wild boars and their several piglets in the fields around Johannser Kogel, heard a couple of woodpeckers, and generally had a smashing time stumping around in my boots. Came home, promptly fell asleep.
A very late start, early afternoon I took off to Lainzer Tiergarten for my third visit in as many years. The last time I hiked my way through it was raining, cold, and seriously windy atop Hubertuswarte, some 300 meters above Vienna and the highest point in the forest. Today was quite the opposite, sunny to the point of distracting, pleasantly warm, and full of the type of people for whom mucking about in crappy weather holds no charm.
It’s a curious place, walled in and full of wild animals – I encountered two groups of foraging boars, mothers with a clutch of tiny spot-striped bairns – heavily cropped, indeed despite the mass of mature trees it’s equally a forest of chainsawed stumps and it’s rare to find a stretch without it being framed by some manner of arboreal butchery, and quite limited for proper hiking possibilities as all the attractive looking trails with plenty of vertical variation have signs saying, “Bitte niche betreten”. Whether this is to protect idiot people from being gored by the many horn-bearing beasts, or them from us is unclear, the result however is that almost all wandering is circumscribed to basically narrow dirt access trails.
Still, from Nikolaitor to Hubertuswarte is an enjoyable upward trek broken twice by stretches of downwardness, and both times then followed by more upwardness to regain what was just lost. Some people run it. They tended to be middle-aged or older and, like the 70-ish year old granny who nearly overtook me with her trekking poles, made me feel pathetic.
I made it as far as Hubertuswarte and sat on the top eating and reading Iain Banks. I could have stayed there all day, but it was as busy as a once-daily rural bus stop, so having aired and dried my feet, I retraced my steps. Originally I planned from there to continue a loop, coming back along the east side to arrive at Wiener Blick (a nice uphill stretch to there, having bled off all that altitude down to Hermesville), but having not worn my boots for a long while I could feel blisters would start appearing if there was much more walking up hills.
The way back, once I’d reached Nikolaitor was a most excellent, hilariously fast and smooth bike ride along the Wienfluß Radweg, getting spat out at Hietzing and deciding to go along whatever street took my fancy (Penzingerstr into Mariahilferstr) back to home. And the bike needs servicing again. By God does this one get dirty and whiney. Probably something to to with riding it in muddy rainstorms in the forest. And once again the infernal cantilever brake judder, which is so bad it feels like my forks are going to blow apart. I spent an hour or so reading on possible fixes for this, and besides swapping out the fork for a new one that can take discs, the only other option is a fork-mounted cable hanger. Cantilevers eh? This T-shirt is entirely accurate.
The S-Bahn detoured to Messe Sud, somewhere I’d never heard of before, then the ersatzverkehr bus dragged me the length of that absurd Autobahn cutting Grunewald, depositing me at the far south end – S-Bahn Nikolaisee. I decided to walk in the opposite direction to my usual.
My vague plan was to veer immediately towards the lake, then follow by or near the coast up till Havelchausee (another piece of tarmac through the forest), crossing over to continue by the lake and perhaps stumble by Kaiser-Wilhelm-Turm continuing up into the bulge of the forest between the north end of Großer Wannsee and Teufelsberg before heading east-ish to S-Bahn Grunewald. Mostly I managed that, though once past the Turm, having discovered blisters growing on blisters, curved more directly towards the finish.
The weather was close to perfect. Cold, grey occasionally split by shafts of turbulent sun, wet – not quite raining though – and tempestuously windy. As with my love of climbing, I don’t think too deeply about why my ideal hiking conditions verge on atrocious, and being wet, cold and suffering is sublime. Part of it is that there are simply less people, and so an according increase in wildlife activity.
I didn’t take many photos. These walks are in part just to enjoy the rhythm of moving across uneven ground surrounded by woods for hours on end until I ache a little, and so I only infrequently pause, though the idea of spending many hours photographing one small copse or gully is seductive. The light early on was beautiful, and most of the photos I took were in the first kilometer. They don’t capture though the ethereal glow beneath the turning leaves; at times it feels as though I am nowhere near a big city, and have arrived in some transcendental landscape.
How did that happen? A month and hot a single hike or walk. I thought perhaps it had been two weeks since my last journey down the S-Bahn but puh! not that long.
It was very warm and sun shining the whole day, enough so that Grunewald was awash in families, dogs, children, runners, cyclists, mushroom hunters and other despoilers of the autumn routine of the trees and animals. Woodpeckers were especially busy; mushrooms and other fungi not so as last time.
I decided to walk slightly further west before veering off south-ish, skirting one of the small lakes and wetlands before gently looping around to arrive at Dahlemer Feld. I was aiming for Havelgraben, the cleft on the east side of the small hill that is Haveltor or berg, and somehow in my successful wandering found myself after an hour exactly where I’d started. I think that’s the first time ever I’ve found myself turned around like that. I decided to head in the direction of Nikolaisee instead, not trusting that I wouldn’t do a silly repeat of my circular walking, and so veered off in the other direction.
Grunewald is ruined by a dead straight line that gouges from its north-east corner to the south-west tip. Almost the longest distance between any two borders of the forest is on one side the somewhat harmless Kronprinzessinnenweg, a sealed road for those not feeling like wandering in the muck of trees, on the other the venerable S-Bahn, raised on its pile of stones, and in-between the obnoxiously loud and very Roman sounding Avus. Otherwise known as the E51 / 115. An autobahn.
Not content to merely vandalise the centre of the forest, to make it impossible easy crossing from the heart of the woods to the lakes; being without noise barriers, it ceaselessly pollutes a kilometer-wide band on either side of its monument to personal selfishness with either a anxious, insistent rumble or unrestrained ear-tormenting blare, depending on one’s proximity.
Couldn’t they have at least buried it? As with all instances of trees coming into contact with urban planning though, nothing signals ‘coming in under budget’ like a single trunk, a copse or an entire Wald. Especially when the natives either side of said woods happen to of the class which approves such planning. (On that note, I can also happily say our Baum in Uferstrasse will remain. I wonder if anyone has told it the good news?)
Finding one way across, and with Schlachtensee in the unseen distance, I continued south with half-hearted attempts at wandering until being spat out at the S-Bahnhof. Not quite as enjoyable as last time, but utterly joyous in places. Nothing either rain or unfrolicsome cold wouldn’t fix. And I’ve barely begun to explore the whole forest. Some photos…
Schlachtensee, Krume Lanke and the lakes along the east side of Grunewald have been my favourite walks around Berlin since soon after I first came here. There not so long ago with Gala and again with Dy, I discovered new parts; further west but still bounded in that direction by the S-Bahn and highway.
Rainy, cold, grey and peopleless, today was a typically perfect day for me to go further that way, cross over the dividing rails to see what the great body of Grunewald might have. My method of navigation, which often I find eerily accurate in a I’m-not-paying-attention kind of way, still got me going in an approximately desired direction as opposed to mired in a hopeless gyre; in this case mostly south-ish with west-ish tendencies.
It is mushroom season and the last few warm days met at their end with today’s rain found the forest erupting from all damp, moist, earthy orifices in a beautiful diversity of fungi. I was hoping the path I planned to wander wouldn’t be either too occupied by others nor too obviously a path, so I could feel at least a little as though I wasn’t surrounded by a city and it’s periphery. Lucky then my crypto-navigation also is accompanied by, “That path is sort-of in the direction I think I am to go, furthermore it is small, mostly overgrown and unused. Also wet. Perfect!”
After some time where I felt much the same as I did on my cold and wet circumnavigation of Lainzer Tiergarten in Wien, I found myself on a small bluff overlooking Havelsee. Much walking later, now thinking I needed to continue south-ish but east-ish also, I fell out at the furthest south-east corner possible, by S-Bahn Nicolaisee; just where I’d hoped.
Some photos of mushrooms and trees…
Raining in steady endless sheets, grey and the faint sense of autumn already. While hiking around Vienna I thought I should continue this now back in Berlin, and so went for a short walk with Dasniya along one of my favourite places nearby, Grunewald and Schlachtensee. The inclement day kept most people away and getting turned around in the forest added to the feeling of directionlessness. Some ducks on the lake…
We opened. Friday. Yes, is now Monday and half-way through. Two shows a day in Café Prückel, and so I drink much coffee and spend the remainder of the day blllrrrblllrrr…
Opening found us later at the ImPulsTanz lounge. I seem to have been not so social this festival, and this was my first visit there. I expect likely to have one more, though am more excited about returning to Lainzer Tiergarten, where I went on Saturday, our day off.
Also a day of cold, grey rain and wind. I decided some 20km of walking up and down and back up again might be perfect, and standing atop the tower at Hubertuswarte, above the crowns of the forest, belted by the inclement storm and near swept off and become airborne myself … mmm perfect way to spend a day.
Café Prückel is going rather well, somewhat chaotic each time in different ways, and becoming more a bacchanalia each time also. Four more to go, then back to Berlin on Wednesday — it’s been a while since I was properly there.
Back to opening night, Lewis — who has absconded from Wellington — and I practice our feast and the beast scene. I haven’t been taking any other photos lately (even missing the families of wild boars in the Tiergarten), and anyway… he’s been an avid stalker of supernaut for years, so it’s only fitting he finds his way into here now.
I took off away from the city yesterday, as I’d been planning since before I arrived, remembering wandering in the hills around Vienna during DanceWEB and needing some noise of forests and trees. Much looking on maps and planning where to go took me along the U4 from Stadtpark to Lainzer Tiergarten, the 500 year old hunting ground of the Ferdinand I.
First walking from Nikolaitor upwards until arriving at Wiener Blick, much like Waterfall Gully, but Eucalyptus replaced by Walnut, Ash, Plane, Furs and others, not a few close to the age of the park itself. Then I got a bit lost. Somehow I’d decided I’d started from Lainzer Tor and had the idea I’d walk to Rohrhaus then circle back around via Hubertuswarte. Instead, finding myself approaching the end far too early, I discovered I’d in fact begun from Nikolaitor and was now at … Lainzer Tor. Lucky my idea of a good time is 5 hours by foot.
Considering it’s only been the last couple of weeks my hip and knee have calmed down (thanks to a rather good physio in Wedding) enough to cycle, yoga, and walk for hours after months of annoyance, a gentle walk of this long in rolling hills was enough to make me moan with pleasure at aching hips and legs. I really want to be enjoying days on my own in the mountains again, and soon.
Returning via St. Veiter Tor, I saw first a wild boar cross my path, silhouetted by a gash in the forest at the apex of a small rise. We were both as shocked as each other and tottered off with a bit of a gallop. Later, a pair of Fallow Deer, much less interested in humans than the ones behind the fence near Hermesvilla.
Only a bit of it, really. From Annaplatz out and left to the end of the street, past the Turkish grocery store, a trestle covered in fruit, Johannisbeere, which we all seem to recall no one knows the english word for, (so I spent some time on wiki and found it’s red currant…), and then up the hill into the forest, much cooler than on the streets, walking always choosing up, up is the best option, smaller paths and up… and then after a time down, and then to Oma’s Küche for coffee and Johannisbeerensaft.