Travel in 2017 ended not with wistful excursions to Nice and Riffelsee but rather with the standard home trip to the US. After a month without much snowfall, I left the Allgäu in the middle of a snowstorm and left myself plenty of time to get to Zurich Airport. It turns out I planned in too much time, as I arrived before the parking garage opened. I decided to circle the arrivals area, but I forgot I was in Switzerland; of course they would charge drivers to pick up arriving passengers. I drove to the garage after 5 CHF paid for my fifteen minutes of shame, turned on my blinkers, and stubbornly blocked one entrance to the parking garage until I could enter, thinking I had left the snow behind until I got back to the Allgäu in January. Boy, was I wrong.
2017 has been a varied year for travel. Although I ventured as far away as New Zealand, I didn’t wander far often, and I certainly didn’t feel like I was all that active at home, either. But there is a huge expanse behind where I live, and though I can’t see it from my windows or when the weather turns moodily misty, there is plenty to be photographed in my increasingly-native Allgäu, too.
I have a bit of a confession: my motivation to visit Nice was perhaps not just based on practicing French. I could have gone somewhere remote and unfamiliar with the English language to force myself into one week of intense immersion. I am maybe just a bit amorous with another country that borders Germany, though, and it just so happened to work out that flights to Nice were cheapest from Zurich (parking, however, was not — shhh!). After touching down in Zurich, I popped in the arrivals lounge for a quick lunch and an espresso, and headed south. The next morning, I was once again alone at The Lake, watching dawn break to a blue-grey sky and a frozen lake against a backdrop I’ve come to know all too well.
After experiencing Verdon earlier in the year, I thought a long road trip through l’Hexagone would be a good test of whether my rusting French was loitering in the background or if it could be restored to its former sheen simply through daily usage. To my luck, Germany decided this year to observe both the last day of October and the first of November, so I took bridge days on both sides and rolled up my sleeves in preparation for practicing my first foreign language again. Only… like my London photos, I never got around to planning any such road trip, so a couple weeks before I was due to leave I started looking at how else I might get in a dose of French before the calendar flipped to 2018. It turns out flying to Nice on Swiss was cheaper booked on Lufthansa’s website than on Swiss’ own (for the same booking class, even), so I ended up with a road trip through Germanic countries into the German-speaking region of another. But a short flight over cloudy Alps later, I was where I could practice French at long last.
If a holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday in Germany, or at least in Bavaria, there is a tendency to use the day between the holiday and the previous or following weekend as a “bridge” day in order to create a four-day weekend with just one vacation day. Normally, such a weekend is spent in the Allgäu, storming summits and chasing contrails. This year seemed wetter and most weekends were busier than normal, so a good number of trips fell over those deceptively-short weekends. On one such weekend, maybe the warmest one this year, I ended up in England instead of the Allgäu.
Thirty days of vacation sounds like — and is — a lot of time off, and to prevent everyone from requesting the same thirty days we need to plan our vacation for the year by January 31. It’s no surprise that planning this far out means the weather doesn’t cooperate with intention, so fittingly despite my wishes to go visit that wily alpine lake on a long weekend in late September, the forecast just days before the approaching time off didn’t look so positive. I was stuck between expensive airplane tickets to somewhere in Europe or sitting still and using the long weekend for rest. I probably should have chosen the second. As it turns out, I wanted rather neither, and ended up driving ten hours to Croatia and its deep turquoise lakes instead.
Since November last year, I’ve been wanting to re-re-re-re-re-re-re-revisit Zermatt and get a panorama of that special lake. I print my photos periodically, and since discovering alu-dibond as a terrific material for displaying images (far better, in my opinion, than on photo paper) I’ve been craving a large format with this lake on it; I have a few walls where a nice 2 m wide print would fit beautifully. I was thwarted last year, so with a fair amount of stubbornness on making this photo myself I started the hike up after an extremely short sleep a few Fridays ago, arriving at the lake as the moonless night began to lighten into a blue wonder. It was my ninth visit to the touristic village.
I thought that I would be writing this post in June, drafting my first paragraph before I processed photos that chronologically were taken before ones posted two moths ago. But it’s been a hectic summer, and so China — or more precisely the photos I took while there — has had to wait. My first stop on a warm but windy Sunday to start the trip, however, was the airport, a place I’ve become all too familiar with. Ironically, I was there to learn even more about it: MUC offers various tours of its grounds operations, and despite having lived here for two years this was the first chance I could experience one.