Europe 2018- #7- Alpsee

Having visited the amazing attractions of Hohenschwangau castle and the magical Neuschwanstein Castle, we decided to spend a day chilling out on the beautiful shores of the nearby lake.

Both these magnificent castles looked over not only the shrivelled Forgensee that we originally planned on having a paddle in but also the even more spectacular Alpensee which is nestled between them in the mountain. The crystal clear mountain waters not only offered a refreshing swim and paddle board at the foot of the iconic castles, but also the chance for a wash in the clean waters.

Cycling around the waters edge with the paddleboard and a picnic we set ourselves up on the pebble beach looking back into the staggering mountains and fairy tale structures. Leaving Bani to enjoy his rediscovered love for books I paddled out across the lake in search of something to jump into the water off. Having claimed to not have read a book for a few years, Bani is now loving getting his head down in the sun and stimulating his mind with chronicled works such as “Sapiens” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”.

Leaving the relatively quiet morning shores as well as an insect mesmerised Bani I paddled out across the lake. Furiously splashing on the board as fast as I could it seemed that it would only take a few moments to cross the lake to the steeper rocky side but I was disappointed to turn around and be close enough to my friend that I could still see the smiling six legged creature on his book cover. It took a long glide out, and a few sit downs, to reach my destinations where I gladly jumped into the beautifully reinvigorating water.

After tying up the SUP to a fallen tree on the side I began my ascent up the sharp bank with a promising looking edge to jump off. Grabbing rocks, branches and grass, I stumbled up, occasionally having to dance around the broken twigs and loose rubble I unintentionally sent at my feet. I eventually pulled myself up to the rock and sat down to enjoy the view. With both castles towering over the lake on one side, a forest mountain face in front and the backdrop of the German alps to my right, it seemed like the perfect view out across the lake. The crystal clear waters below could wait to be disturbed as I sat down and chilled out, taking in the scenery. A single rowing boat glided across the normally busy lake but other than that I felt alone.

“Are you going to jump?” Yelled a Chinese accent. My short solitude had been interrupted by the only people on the lake. Camera ready at the foot of the cliff, a man from Shanghai urged me to make splash for his camera roll. Wherever you go in a tourist spot, even if you climb away from the beaten path, eventually, the peace will be ruined. The jump was why I climbed but the quiet view was there to be enjoyed. I could always climb back up and he said he’d send the photos to me on Facebook, as well as impatient children expecting a bellyflop, I made the leap down to their boat.

I never got the photos.

Elsewhere on the lake, my mate was intrigued by the diet of a very hungry caterpillar.

Returning to him with a chicken schnitzel and chips we relaxed under the midday sun until it became unbearably hot. This summers heatwave has been unexpectedly hot and long and over the past month has slowly tried to drain me. Walks and cycles are exhausting, the van is an oven in the day and a sauna to cook in. The constant battle for hydration and a shower is still ongoing, but at least our clothes dry out quickly and Bani’s getting a tan.

More tourist shenanigans occurred in the afternoon. As I was messing about on the paddleboard I heard a cry for help on the other side. Naturally, I paddled over to investigate. A man and his daughter were stood on the shore seemingly unphased. I asked if they were okay and for some reason the panic scream had been a joke. A weird thing to do. Conversation ensued and somehow it led to me giving the dad a paddleboard lesson. He said he’s always wanted to try it so I thought I’d let him have a go. The bloke was an Iranian living in Amsterdam and had taken his family on holiday to alps, travelling all the way to the Dolomites. His wife returned from her swim but spoke no English so between giving tips to my new student, I spoke to his young daughter about school and the Netherlands. All the while, he shook about on the inflateable.

Occasionally dropping unstably to his knees he carried on. And on and on. If I charged the same price as the hire shop I could’ve afforded a new board by the time he came back. He did manage to avoid falling in so I counted my first lesson as a success and returned to Bani to let him know of my teaching abilities.

Before I reached him, I could see the excitement sprawling from his face. Something so drastic had happened he’d even put his book down before the butterfly finale. I couldn’t even begin to tell him about my rescue mission turned private lesson as he was so excited to share his story. It’s important to note that Bani loves American tourists, almost as much as he loves trams. He always finds a few rare ones with overly patriotic t-shirts, or overly hanging bellies to laugh at. Whenever one is near he will leave our conversation and ignore me in hope of a snippet of wise philosophy from one passing by. As I was building up hopes for Iran’s sup team, he had encountered a group of Americans who jumped down next to him on the shore. Alpsee isn’t a huge lake but does still have a five kilometre shore. According to Bani, one enthusiastic holiday goer, who was no Michael Phelps, was keen for a swim. Jumping into the lake he yelled to his crew in all seriousness to wait up as he was just going to do “a quick lap”. World champion swimmers take an hour to do such a length, so a “quick” one for a more buoyant male was certainly out the question. Especially considering his lap began by attempting to cross the width rather than follow the perimeter. The thing that tickles Bani the most was the sincerity with which he set out his aim, before he got no further than twenty metres out, turned around and paddled back.

Bani still laughs at this spectacle each time he’s reminded of it and still can’t process the honest hopes of the paddling tourist who barely covered a single percent of his goal.

• Disclaimer- Bani is really intrigued by the works of Yuval Noah Harari in “Sapiens” and not the child’s animation “The Very Hungry Catapullar”. He’s fed up of my depreciating humour and feels his immense intelligence and wit are undersold. I need to keep him happy as when he soon becomes successful he’ll take me out for a few beers.

Whilst you’re here please help out a good causes, the oddballs foundation, to help raise some money for testicular cancer!

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