Spätzle-Country 4: Cheese Mats

Today’s hike: a round trip of about 12 km through a beautiful summer landscape in the Swabian Alps, with forests, meadows, steep cliffs and spectacular views.


 
Our destination for the hiking round trip was the Hohenneuffen Castle, a fortress ruin on top of a mountain in the Swabian Alps, just a few miles north of our temporary home. We could see it from the first vista point, up on the hill, looking like a huge rock, still far away …


 
We found a couple of plants on the way that I had never seen before, such as these … our biologist friends Niele & Günther (who we will meet tomorrow) probably know them …

 
The castle is nearer already …


 
On top of a hillside, a surprise find: a small pond, a biotope, full of water lilies and other plants …


 
… more unknown plants, and lots of them! the meadows were full of flowers, but for some reason (the long cold winter, I guess) not many bees or butterflies.



 
Halfway to the castle, we found a little meadow with large rocks on the edge of a cliff … we could sit on a rock above the abyss, hundreds of meters above the valley … I did not exactly feel very comfortable there but the view was spectacular!

This small place is often used as a launch pad for paragliders … two young men with paraglider equipment were there, waiting for better wind conditions … the thought of jumping into that abyss, hanging just on a thin kite, makes me dizzy – I could never do that in a hundred years. But then, friends of mine do it and tell me how wonderful it is …


 
Half an hour later, we finally reached the castle. Usually, this place is full of tourists, but it was Monday, and we were almost the only visitors. The restaurant was closed but there was a little shop with a very friendly man who sold us coffee, and gave us some recommendations for more walks we could take.


 
The view from the castle was even more spectacular, and with a thick stone wall between us and the abyss, we felt a little more comfortable and could enjoy the view more …


 
Of course this castle has a long history of wars and cruelties … underneath the castle, the casemates (a word that in German sounds a bit like “cheese mats”) were dark, wet, and eerie caves … I don’t want to know how much suffering has taken place here …


 
Back towards where we had parked the car … a summer landscape.



 
We got sunburned and we came home quite exhausted … but this was a good day.