The sixth week of this trip was the first I started alone. In the last seven days I pilgrimed around the valleys and villages of Sudtirol, and then I crossed the Alps trough Austria, into Munich, in my way to Lepzig.
In a gas station in the Milan-Venice highway it only took me 4’ to find Francesco, a psicodramatist who was going to Bolzano, in that province that italians cal Alto Adige and locals mora apropiately Sudtirol. At the foot of the Alps, this lands belongued for centuries to the Austrian Empire, who lost it to Italy in WWI. Three things took me to spend a few days in the region. The first: the european highways good quality conspire to conceal the fact that one is crossing mountains. To feel the distance I felt it necessary to spend some time in the mountains themselves. I decided that on the sport, in the car that could ‘ve taken me to Munich, my original destination. Secondly, I wanted to see myself that Sudtirolers didn’t speak italian but german as first tongue. And finally, I wanted to get lost in the mountains for a couple of days.
In this qway I took a laterals road and there I had the forst contact: the young guy who was driving the VW Golf didn’t speak italian at all, but german. He took me to his town, Muhlbach, whose name indicates to whom this lands should belong… There I realised it was Sunday and all the shops were closed, so I had to pay E5 for a plate of pasta!! In a 3 star “Gasthof”. I camped near town.
The next day I bought a trekking map of the Pfunders valley at Mulhbach Tourist Office and I sit there to update last weeks reports to the newspaper which Sasha (thank you) kindly sent for me. I left some lulggage in the T.O and set for the “remote” Pfunders valley. My destination was the Eisebregsee , a lake at 2500 m in the Dolomitian Alps. Pfunders is a typic alpine village with calssic german houses, with fowered balconies and gothic writing signs. Trafic signs are bilingual, but commmercial ones rarey are. Each house is twin: at the side there is a giant wooden store house which looks like a inhabited chalet from the distance but is only used to store wood and tools. In the supermarket they spoke ti me first in italian for courtesy, but then thy repeat in german, it’s clear who is in charge. When Sudtirolers speak in italian they innocently transport their accent and the result is a pace marked italian, in which each word seems to be individualy kicked into the air. But I couldn’t complain: I had learnt german thanks to the weirf combinationof a philatelic catalogue and the CDs of Lacrimosa, a german gothic metal band, which left me in better conditions to discuss philosophy than to ask where the WC was.
From Pfunders I walked to next village, Dun, where italian miners left their tools and there’s no more road. I camped that night in the towns parking place, and eat sandwiches. Following morning I started my trekking to Eisebrugsee. Zigzaging among huts and cows and following a fiere stream that descended from unreachable heights. Soon the mountains loose their pines and the valley opens into high pastures, from where the first snow surfaces are visible. Two hours later I was in the lake, sumissed in an artic sleep. Being only two hours from the glaciars where Oetzi was found I had to go back: the ice started suddenly to cever many meters of the footpath, and I didn’t have any special boots to walk in the ice. When I went back to town I was soacked, but sudtirolers are hospitable. A asked a young woman and she seemed happy that I took a shower in her very nice house. That night I put up the tent iside an alpine storehouse, and used the camping kitchen to cook some spaghettis with sweetcorn, cheese and ham.
On Wednesday I went back to the motorway and headed for Munich, where I got in 4 lifts. First a girls from Sudtirol who didn’t feel herself italian or austrian, but whose father was a fanatic pro-austrian, to Innsbruck, then a electromechanic technic in overall to Garmisch Partenkirchen and then a lawyer to Munich. I was dropped off in a petrol station near Westendst where Christian from HospitalityClub.org collected me. Christian was a french guy studying chemics in Germany.
Munich produced in the last century a millon BMWs, a Pope (the last one) and infinite liters of good beer. Some weakness of the flesh makes me more grateful for the third thing. Soon Christian and his friends, a bunch of french students, took to my first Biergarten. These are a victory of the superlative. Far from the tiny spaces of british pubs the german alcoholic culture estipulates big open spaces for 2000 people, with tables all over and where the empty pints are collected in a little truck… Does the drinking manners of germans and british mirror their personality or even political ideas? Could be. British victorian ethics of private actions are still visible in the facts that no serious pub has windows showing the inside, while german collective spirit finds expressions in biergartens. On thurdsay I visited the Hofbrauhaus, a beer hall for the last 500 years. I took sit, but when I saw the price (E6,20 for a liter of beer!!) I reconsidered the idea, and started looking in the menu in search of a compromise between decorum and affordability. Decorum mean that mustard and ketchup were out of the question. I will start saying that I am deeply proud of the soup of the day that I had. Any tourist can say he has had a beer in Hofbrauhaus, but anecdotes consist of the contrary, they are deviations from the average. I paid th E2 of the bill and went away happy with my class…
To Leipzig I arrived in two lifts. First just from one part of Munich to the other, in a very nice sport car, a Smart Bravus, his owner, Kai, was very kind and even if it was not his way took me to right place to hh. There a czech girl who worked in Munich as a waitress, and who had a very particular dilema: a man who attended the restaurant wanted to present her with a Porsche in order to win her favours. “Yesterday he phoned me and asked what colour did I want. What should I answer?” “Naturaly, black!” – I replied. In such a relax way we entered the ex- DDR, with no walls or Stasi agents checking our passports.
In Lepzig I was waited by Clemens and Katahrina, who I had met in Pueblo Tomado 2002, one of the Southmerican hitch hikers meetings (http://www.autostopargentina.com.ar/), in Orense. He is a psichiatrist and she is an architect, and the have tiny Franz too! One year and a half old. They showed me around town, a mix of barroque buildings and functionalist communist era buildings which Katharin thinks are in any case better in style than the new shopping malls. We saw St Nikolai church, where the peaceful demostrations that culminated with the dimision of the DDR government started. Also, close by, the church where Bach used to perform. We had a BBQ on the last night, and the folllowing morning I left for Dresden, with a new European road map, present from my friends! (thank you!)