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Backpacking in Europe
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Dave Earhart
(Earmier_00) - F
Backpacking in Europe on 10/09/2009 08:51:25 MDT Print View

Gonna go backpacking in Europe for our honeymoon next year August 2010. Starting to plan now, any suggestions, places to visit, tips etc? We are not planning on camping - doing the hostel/hotel thing (occasional hotel as I'll be with the wife)

Roger B
(rogerb) - MLife

Locale: Here and there
Re: Backpacking in Europe on 10/09/2009 10:55:02 MDT Print View

Maybe you should consider joining Youth Hostels (YHA) or the equivalent in the USA try Youth Hostel International this will give you cheaper access to many places in Europe. By the way what do you mean by Europe? It is a big place.

Fred eric
(Fre49) - MLife

Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
Europe on 10/09/2009 11:02:02 MDT Print View

My two favourite places in Europe :
- Iceland

islande 2008 hornstrandir

islande 2008

- Scotland

Edited by Fre49 on 10/09/2009 23:30:46 MDT.

Dave Earhart
(Earmier_00) - F
Europe on 10/09/2009 16:32:50 MDT Print View

Well I mean Scotland, Ireland, Iceland, my wife thinks France, England, Greece.. So we have some planning to do, we are not going to eastern Europe or Italy but everything else is open. I will look into the hostels thanks!

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
British Mountain Club! on 10/09/2009 18:26:23 MDT Print View

Benefits galore. And info in English. Don't have to be British (though I am). The British Alpine Club reciprocal discount card can be purchased through the BMC. Includes many of Europe's hut systems -- discounts can be in the 50% range. Must purchase by calender year.

Never found YHA useful in huts. Only mountain club cards.

I love staying in mountain huts -- love the tightness, remoteness, new friends, etc. These aren't exactly what many Americans think of when they think of "hostels". They can be VERY limited in amenities (probably not the correct word) and they are NOT cheap for what you get -- remote huts are expensive to maintain! Since you say this is your honeymoon, thought I'd mention this -- you will NOT see ANY privacy.

Of course many of the classic walks take you through towns sometimes daily with the possibility of all sorts of lodging options.The TMB will offer you a town just about every night. With substantial refugios on the other nights. (I am assuming the Cicerone guide pace!) The Alpine Pass Route from Sargans to Montre/Montreux will allow lodging in a town/village each night.

Sorry to insult the OP if you have stayed in mountain huts and are familiar with the culture!

Edited by backpackerchick on 10/09/2009 18:55:03 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: British Mountain Club! on 10/09/2009 19:22:09 MDT Print View

The benefits of the British Mountain Club are really useful and if you can get the membership to work out right, it is a very good thing to have in the mountains in Europe.

Just be careful with the registration process. Two years ago before I visited the Alps I tried to get membership. Because my name is long the people in charge of the processing got my name on the card wrong. I contacted them about this and got a diatribe in response (still don't know why). When I wrote back that I needed to have the membership card fixed before I took off I was shunted to the manager at the place who also went on a whole diatribe about their having done their part and there was no need anymore for further talk on the subject. I just couldn't understand what all the fuss was about... I just needed the name on the card changed to the right one. Eventually it got all the way to the top of the chain and my card got issued... six months after I'd already returned from Europe.

James Patsalides
( - MLife

Locale: New England
Coast to Coast Walk? on 10/09/2009 19:35:15 MDT Print View

As another Brit on the forum, I think you should check into the coast to coast walk in England. Look up Wainwright's books on the topic (forget the name). He hiked, journaled and mapped a huge number of excellent trails in England. His descriptions are really like poetry and his hand drawn maps are beautiful.

The Coast to Coast Walk goes from St Bees on the East coast of England to Robin Hood's Bay on the West coast, passing through three of the most beautiful national parks in the UK and joining together lots of smaller trails. I've been researching it for a fast / stealth backpack for next year, but the traditional hike is about 10-14 days staying in B&Bs & hotels in small towns. I think it would be a great honeymoon if you're both into hiking. August would be a great time to do it, too.

Cheers, James.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: British Mountain Club! on 10/09/2009 19:50:22 MDT Print View

The YHA won't be any use in Europe in the mountains.

> Mountain Huts ... can be VERY limited in amenities
Showers? Only sometimes. May be 2 minute jobs too.
Toilets? Yes, but may be squat toilets and/or long drops.
Food? If catered (some are not), the food is GOOD.
Privacy? Dormitories!

> The Alpine Pass Route from Sargans to Montre/Montreux will allow lodging in a town/village each night.
But you sleep at 500 - 1,000 m each night, and cross a 2,500 m pass each day. (Metres, not feet.) You had better be FIT! (We did it this year.)


Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Alpine Pass Route -- CLASSIC on 10/09/2009 20:18:08 MDT Print View

CLASSIC means anyone reasonably athletically inclined can do it, IMO. This was my first multi-day hike! I think it was a good choice. No planning necessary and a VERY light load. Bed, restaurant and a hot shower every night if you follow Cicerone. I did it alone and in September with some sketchy weather. Didn't train. I'm a runner, walker, swimmer, diver, yoga freak, etc but not some uber-fit specimen.

I do think the Cicerone book (at least the the edition available 7 years ago) does UNDER-state the effort a bit. I'm new on this forum and I HATE it when people OVER-state difficulty. But this gives me some context in which to regard the posts! Thanks!

This would be the perfect 2-3 week walk for a newbie with a bit of athleticism. Don't really need any specific training. Nothing remotely technical in summer. Yeah, it's hills -- passes! I believe 16 size-able passes. Walked from Sargans, you get some of the harder days first. But it's just walking between population centers each day!

A few years ago, me and my Dad (75 years old at the time) did the TMB on the Cicerone plan/timing. It was his first such walk. He did just fine. He runs, ellipticals and does some light weights. I snuck some stuff from his pack when he was in the toilet at lunch. We met a wonderful Dutch couple that we walked along with from time to time. The guy was lean and long-legged the girl small and powerful -- they were doing some camping and she was carrying all that stuff. So my dad got over it pretty fast. The race came through at the time so there was plenty of entertainment for a weekend. We were afraid some of the resting people were dead. I ran along with a racer for a couple hours. The whole experience is a blast. These are classic walks. Well marked and done by a huge number of people. Don't be intimidated. Order the Cicerone guides and follow the cookbook.

I've done a bunch of these classics. They are basically back to back day walks.

If you want shorter and less strenuous hike of a week you can do the hiker's HIgh Route between Chamonix and Zermatt. On the Zermatt side of this walk, the newish Europaweg displays some incredible engineering. Simply gorgeous.

If you are looking for just a couple days out, you can do just the Europaweg from Zermatt and land at a train station and take a short ride back to Zermatt. Lodging on this 2 day walk is a DELUXE refugio.

One more thing August in the Alps can be VERY crowded on the popular trails. This is not an excuse not to go but just to make reservations before you arrive at the hut! That is unless you plan to camp -- I will admit, these walks would become a different beast in that case.

Edited by backpackerchick on 10/09/2009 20:51:47 MDT.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Deleted -- found answer elsewhere. on 10/09/2009 21:10:14 MDT Print View


Edited by backpackerchick on 10/09/2009 21:39:55 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Alpine Pass Route -- CLASSIC on 10/09/2009 23:53:18 MDT Print View

Hi Hartley

> the newish Europaweg displays some incredible engineering
Ahhhh... when did you do it? We did it in Aug-2009.
Bear in mind this track was created by bureaucrats at their desk; it is not a old established reliable track used by the farmers.

The first major gully (Grosse Graben) has avalanched and the makeshift track across it is a bit ... worrying. It goes across the middle of this photo.
Further on the hillside itself has slipped away, taking the track with it. There is a high zigzag bypass, but it is right over the avalanche stuff, and will collapse soon.
Then there is the section straight after the Europaweghutte, in full view of the balcony. This is where they built avalanche roofs over the track and even put in a tunnel, with solar panels for lighting. But Nature sneezed at the bureaucrats' efforts.
What you can see is the twisted remains of the avy roofs. There is a big puff of dust near the big boulder in the middle of the pic: that was a huge rock falling from above and hitting while we watched from the hut balcony. Rocks were coming down at about 10-15 minute intervals.

A great track? From Tasch to Zermatt maybe.


Edited by rcaffin on 10/09/2009 23:54:16 MDT.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Re: Re: Alpine Pass Route -- CLASSIC on 10/10/2009 00:13:35 MDT Print View

Roger, thanks for the update! Nice Photo. Jives nicely with my comment, doesn't it? Do you know when the slide occurred? How much did it take out -- how long was the walk across the "damage". I guess I can google all this. Good point about the bureaucrats vs the shepherds.

When did I do it? Various trips to that area. Think I did the C-Z walk before Europaweg was finished. Walked the Europaweg from Zermatt shortly after it opened -- 4 years ago maybe? There was a lot of fanfare related to this little trail. And it WAS splendid. I have some photos I think. Some groovy bridges and cables, I remember. And the tunnel -- don't think the solar lights were working or certainly didn't shine very bright. Had a torch.

Edited by backpackerchick on 10/10/2009 00:21:24 MDT.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Alpine Pass Route -- CLASSIC on 10/10/2009 01:51:48 MDT Print View

As we did the Chamonix-Zermatt trail last year en part of the Alpine Pass route (from Sargans to Lauterbrunen) this year, I guess it's nice to see the experience of others.
From both routes I definitely prefer the C-Z trail as it is more spectaculair in its entirety and it's more remote.
The Europaweg is indeed a bit delicate in places. If I look at the pictures, I think most of the avalanches already occured before august 2008 when we were there because the trails seem awfully familiar. As a result, some parts took much longer than exspected. The trail needs constant maintenance because it is so fragile. Buth it does make for a spectaculair trail. For those who can suffer from vertigo (like myself), it can be a bit frightening at times but I'm glad we did it. An we found a beautifull spot to camp just before the Europahut with both sunset and sunrise spectaculaur with all those 4000m mountains in the back.

I did notice the last picture from Roger with the avalanched trail but I do seem to remember that you're not supposed to take that part anymore. The trail goes down from there, circumvents the problematic part and goes up furtheron to meet the original trail. Still taking the old trail cannot be done by mistake since all the signs are very clear.

The Alpine Pass route is of a different quality. It does take you more through cultural Switzerland but as a result it's sometimes difficult to find remote places. Since we decided to camp all the way to Lauterbrunen, we did nearly every stage in 2 times. Ending each day in a village is not exactly what we preferred. Especially given the size of some of villages. We also took some buses. Ending each day in a village below 1000 meters and as low as 500 meters not only means a long climb up to reach the 2000 meters + passes but also that the first few hours of the day, you spend your time in the woods where you don't have much vision of the mountains all around. so from Sargans, we did the first part by bys. From Elm tot Altdorf, we did most by bus because there's a big road running through the same valley you have to walk through (except a few hours walking from the Klaussenpass). End from Meiringen we also did part by bus because my wife saw up against all those climbing in the woods.
Although it is a nice route, the first days, untill you reach the Berner Oberland, are just that: nice moments in the mountains but nothing spectaculair. From the Grosse Scheidegg, you get your first spectacular view when you first can see the Eiger in its full glory. Especially nice if you now all the background history about the mountain. I guess from there on it should be spectacular beyond Lauterbrunen just to Kandersteg and Gsteig but I can't comment on that since we havent done that part (yet).

Oh yes, in general the Benrer Oberland sees a lot of rain as it forms part of the northern range and as such is he first to meet the wet weather coming from over the Atlanctic. Wallis (C-Z route) is considered drier. However, this year, on the Alpine Pass route we havent spent more than 5 minutes walking in the rain so we can't complain about that.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Re: Re: Re: Re: Alpine Pass Route -- CLASSIC on 10/10/2009 02:29:21 MDT Print View

Tom and Roger, enjoyed reading about your experiences. The buses! This is a great point in that you can enjoy more scenic sections and cut out the road walking. I've had a hard time getting my head around the bus! Hard-headed. Interesting when I did TMB with my 75 year old Dad, there were a couple times when I thought he might want to take the bus instead of pound pavement. He was very adamant about this -- NOT possible. It's an excellent point to make for the OP. With experience, I suspect I'll get my head around this.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Kungsleden on 10/10/2009 02:36:09 MDT Print View

Haven't done it. Another one that's on my list. Sounds like a pretty mellow hike and and a real cultural experience. Logistics tolerable. There's also a mini version with no logistics. Or ski it -- guess that's when you get more of the cultural element.

John Frederick Anderson
(fredfoto) - F

Locale: Spain
Europe- why not Spain? on 10/10/2009 02:47:02 MDT Print View

Shame you are not thinking of putting Spain on that list- great hiking and routes in various mountain ranges- Picos de Europa, Pyrenees, Camino de Santiago etc.
Great thing about Spain is you can have a week at the beach after you've hiked high in the mountians for a while.
Have a great holiday wherever you go!!

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Europe- why not Spain? on 10/10/2009 02:56:52 MDT Print View

Spot on Fred, there is some great walking and climbing to be had in Spain. I have put up a few trip reports here in the past. Not many people look at or comment on them. Not sure why.

sierra nevada

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Camino, HRP on 10/10/2009 02:59:50 MDT Print View

I've done the Camino de Santiago -- hesitated to put it up here since it's not really backpacking. It is a fantastic experience! Another one you can do with ZERO planning. It is good if you need "to find yourself" or are feeling lonely. Like therapy. For the OPs honeymoon???

Going to do the HRP SOON. Was on my list for this summer and missed the window. Then considered a later season hike of the GR11. Just something about walking from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean really intrigues me.

Rog, gorgeous photo. Only really been hanging out here a couple weeks. Haven't taken in the whole product yet. Time to check out the trips!

Edited by backpackerchick on 10/10/2009 03:04:13 MDT.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Coast to Coast Walk? on 10/10/2009 03:08:22 MDT Print View

"The Coast to Coast Walk goes from St Bees on the East coast of England to Robin Hood's Bay on the West coast, passing through three of the most beautiful national parks in the UK and joining together lots of smaller trails. I've been researching it"

Keep up the research James, and turn the map the right way up!

St bees - West coast : RHB east coast. ;-)

Wainright called the book "A coast to coast walk" because there are many routes you could choose. As James says, they are beautiful books. His Guides of the Lake District are still the de facto standard 50 years after he wrote them.

Be sure to let us know if you come to North England, we'll join you for a day or dtwo.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Camino, HRP on 10/10/2009 03:24:32 MDT Print View

Thanks Hartleyf, I've got hundreds of photos from Spain, I'll get them all online someday. That one was up in the high Sierra Nevada at about 9000 feet. In the background is Mulhacen, Southern Spain's highest mountain. That sunset was one of the highlights of my backpacking life. Next day I climbed the Pico Valeta.

pico valetta

Did a bit on the GR11 a couple of years ago, before hitching up into Andorra. Great place by the way Dave for summer hikers, hotels are cheap pre ski season.

Here's a trip report from the Costa Blance from January.

Dave and his Lady could do a lot worse than the area north of Alicante, great beaches, great mountains, great food. August is hot in Spain though, if you are not used to it.

Edited by tallbloke on 10/10/2009 05:57:50 MDT.