Austria/Slovakia/Hungary – Day 16 – Esztergom to Budapest

Michael rose early and headed back up to the basilica for early morning photos and the early morning mist assisted nicely. As we were only at the BnB for one night, we needed to move our car before exploring Esztergom for breakfast. We had ‘pizza danish’ and a cream cheese filled croissant and lattes. Derek and Marketa tried some different ones including a cone full of cheese. So many calories!!!

Then the drive to Budapest following the Danube before heading into the forest roads. Our plan was to mushroom gather for a meal in Budapest, so we stopped to explore But the forest here was very dry so not fungi friendly. So back to paralleling the river to a stop for lunch at a small town. Michael had marked on his map, he thinks from his conversation on the plane with the ‘Bratislava lady’ sitting beside him. It was a gem of a little town with a nice church atop the hill.

We ended up arriving in Budapest at rush hour but the drive along the Danube was so lovely that the snails pace crawl was just fine. We passed the Shoe Monument on the river wall with its 40 or so pairs of shoes as left by the Jewish women, children and men. They were forced to strip naked, march the river bank. They were then shot and killed and their bodies fell into the river. Very moving to see.

We were checked into our place by a very unfriendly Hungarian woman. The key situation is very bizarre – you need to lock yourself in and out of the apartment and we only had one key. Derek went to move the car to a better long term parking spot, and upon returning, he proceeded to try to use the apt key on the front main door. It jammed in the lock which required a call to the owner. So Michael, Marketa and I were locked in the apartment for a lengthy wait for someone to come and replace our key (and lighten Derek’s wallet by 30 Euro). So we snacked on what we had – wine and almonds. Luckily there was no fire alarm as we waited!

When we finally reconvened we headed off for a walk along the river esplanade and over the ‘green bridge’ to check out the Gellert Spa. Nearby the church built into the caves required a visit – where I wandered in not realizing it was actually closed for the day. It was quite unique and amazing. Then a walk along the other side of the river in Pest…..or was it Buda…..?

The moon was amazing – huge and orange. Then a bite to eat. Mike & I opted for a 2nd rate Hungarian food pub – which actually was very interesting with lots of music paraphernalia including the Stones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, a Dave Gilmour video playing and photos of Yes. Derek & Marketa chose Korean which looked much better than the 3.6 rating it scored on Google.

We continued walking to the chain bridge was was lit up red and then looped back to our apartment on the other side of the river. We briefly considered a late night visit to the Ruina Bar to hook up with Dan, Suz, Natalie and Duncan, but once back in the apt we decided that was enough walking for one day. And so to bed!

Austria/Slovakia/Hungary – Day 15 – Piestany to Esztergom

A small spattering of showers did not spoil the day. Mike & Derek were out by 8 am for their ‘hands in burning hot mud’ spa (7 Euros each) and were back by 9 am. After a cheese/toast & jam/ tea/fruit breakfast we headed back to the square for coffee when it started to rain. Saying goodbye to the gaudy apartment we had no regrets as we headed out on the drive to Esztergom.

The drive was through farmland, forests and small Slovakian towns. It is much like Czech but seems poorer, and certainly not as affluent as the Austrian countryside. As we approached the twin towns of Sturovo, Slovakia and Esztergom, Hungary the giant basilica on the hill greeted us. You could see it for miles along with its palace and fort. Crossing the Danube, we left Slovakia and headed to our final country, Hungary. Esztergom was the capital of Hungary from the 10th to mid 13th centuries which is apparent from the extravagance of the basilica.

We found our accommodation no problem and our hostess greeted us at the gate with private parking leading to the courtyard. We started our orientation tour there, framed by ivy crowding every wall and the fort and castle cliff wall rising behind the house. Next to the private wine cellar with foosball room, stocked cellar, and room with table and antique cabinet where we later played cards. Finally to the house with its 2 full baths, massive bedrooms and well supplied kitchen with nespresso maker and large common sitting/dining area. All very spacious, light and very tastefully decorated – a refreshing change! We are all very sorry that we are only here for 1 night :-(.

For dinner I jumped at the chance for Chicken Paprikas and spaetzle which brought back wonderful memories of my childhood friend Michele who would cook it for her Hungarian father. Mike had his favourite port knuckle with wine sauerkraut and potatoes w. onions. We all shared a smoked ox-tongue appetizer and of course a couple beers to complement. And our waiter was more than happy to help out with the photo taking…by filling in for Michael!

In an attempt to walk it off, we headed up to the castle to take a peek. We started by taking the ‘outside’ route which was interesting but lead us to a locked back entry. So retracing our steps we headed back up the hill to the main entrance. There were many statues in interesting poses and styles, but no indication of what or who they were.

The light spattering of rain enabled a beautiful bright rainbow. We were almost alone for our exploring until peak sunset when massive tour groups suddenly appeared for the moment. That was our signal to head out.

After a bank machine visit for local currency we returned to our own castle for wine and cards and enjoyed the amazing space. Mike headed out in the dark of night to try to get some star shots from our courtyard – but the castle lighting was too bright, so no luck.

And then to bed where we encountered the only negative of the accommodation – the mattress left something to be desired. So one night may do just fine after all.

Austria/Slovakia/Hungary – Day 13/14 –Bratislava to Piestany

Having raved about Zeppelin, Marketa was keen to check out their chestnut sweets. So Monday morning we headed back for coffee and cake breakfast. This time we pared it back to one chestnut crescent for the 4 of us to share along with our coffees.

Mike & I headed back to pack up and clean up while D&M headed back to Roberts to pick up their bags and the car. After a bit of a delay we reconnected at the edge of the Stare Mesto (old city) near the US embassy – the only one caged and surrounded by armed guards! We were off to spa town of Piestany for some self indulgence.

We took a drive thru the ‘high’ part of Bratislava with its gorgeous mansions and views to match overlooking the river, city, and castle. En route to Piestany we stopped in Modra where we bought a piece of handmade pottery off a local at his workshop. We were on the hunt for halusky but after 3 failed attempts at finding a restaurant (closed on Monday….), we ended up back in Modra where we found a good cheap lunch. Mike splurged with sauerkraut soup and ribs (excellent), and the rest of us had the daily soup and pork dish special – a real deal at 5.8 Euro.

Our Piestany abode was decorated in what is best described as ‘Arte Grotesque’, or possibly ‘Arte Remnant’. The previous Arab owners seemed to enjoy gaudy in every shade of red with black and gold, including a full wall mural of Dubai. But there was lots of space which functioned well.

The spas in Piestany are mostly on the island section of town. We managed to get a same day 5:15 pm appt for the 4 of us at Spa Irma. Men and women are separate. So Marketa and I headed to our change room where you undress and wrap in a sheet to head to the first ‘mirror’ pool. Calm, clear, mineral water at 39C. We soaked there along with 3 other women for about 10 minutes in the mandatory silence. Unfortunately the boys on the other side were chatting annoyingly and we were forced to scold them. Next we were moved along to the even hotter mud pool with its bottom layer of several inches of rich mineral mud. We served ourselves mud facials as well as neck and shoulders. I took turns alternating my knees out of the water to allow the ‘healing muds’ to infuse my joints. Finally we headed to the beds where you are wrapped in dry warm sheets to rest before a final cleansing shower. A great way to spend 1 hour and 15 Euros.

We followed the spa with a walk to the end of the esplanade on the island. I experienced my first encounter with a female ginko tree – quite a stink and a very messy and slippery fruit.

Derek & Marketa supplied and prepared dinner of wild mushrooms, peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil with pasta and a side of fried green tomatoes. We finished off the borcak and then some white wine from the same vineyard. Very enjoyable.

After an exhausting evening for Marketa trying to learn euchre (it is quite complex when learning from scratch!), we all slept in. Marketa headed to the local shops and picked up yogurt, cheese, bread, apples, jams and tea which we shared for breakfast before heading out for coffee along the quaint main street.

We spent the day looking for bookings at the other spas, but they were all quite booked up. Back at Spa Irma, Marketa managed to get a Thai shoulder and neck appt, and I a Thai foot massage. The boys wanted a hand treatment, which they only managed to get for 8:30 the next morning. All else failing, we all decided to go back for another round of Irma spa cycle. No complaints 🙂

We headed to Slovensky Dvor for dinner where we finally found halusky (grated potato dumplings) with Bryndza cheese and bacon. We also tried fried cheese and the potato dumpling with sauerkraut. Dessert was poppy seed dumpling and chocolate brownie with raspberry (unfortunately they were out of chestnut cake). With beers, coffees, shots, and a kefir like drink, it was a great deal at 60 Euro all in for the 4 of us.

Back for more euchre to help ingrain it into Marketa’s memory. Tomorrow morn would see an earlier rise for the boys to get their hand treatment and to fill our water jug with stinky, but supposedly curing, sulphur spa water.

Austria/Slovakia/Hungary – Day 12 –Bratislava

Cake for breakfast? Absolutely when on vacation in Slovakia! What better way to energize for a full day ahead? Thanks again to Michael and Google we found Zeppelin – a charming bakery and coffee shop run by an equally charming lady. Michael had chocolate, I the walnut creme and we shared traditional poppy seed and walnut cookies with our breakfast coffees. A bit of a splurge at 20Euro but worth every cent.

We walked to the palace but found it was closed to the public. We toured the lovely grounds and gardens then ventured to a nearby neighbourhood. It housed a mix of renovated and run down buildings with every corner capturing our interest. Even gargoyles taking selfies ;-). Bratislava has quite a mix of architectures all jumbled together – more of a mix than in Czech from what we have seen.

We also passed the Czech embassy where flowers and candles were laid out for Karel Gott – a famous singer who died earlier in the week. Apparently Prague was overrun with people and flowers for the funeral.

We stopped for our second coffee at Tesla where we found some interesting ideas. They had recipes for mixed drinks made with Tatratea. One with tea, another with wine. Note to self to follow up when we get home to find new creative ways to enjoy!

Next was a walk over the Danube on the most SNP, aka UFO bridge, where the pedestrian walkway ran under the highway. Across the river is the lookout tower which is shaped like a UFO – but we didn’t go up. The walkway was apparently the primary focus of the cleaning staff in Bratislava. The workers were cleaning off the graffiti which appeared overnight – an endless job I expect.

Then off to the EURO mall – the largest on the Danube – which the river cruise ships seemed to appreciate. A mall is mall nowadays – many of the stores identical to Canadian malls – but with different merchandise and higher prices. We met up with Derek & Marketa as planned about 2:15 pm. On the walk back to their car we passed the Church of St. Elizabeth – or better known as the Blue Church, a very nice chance happening! After a quick stop at our apt, we headed for a much awaited dinner. But not before sampling the burcak D&M brought; they had bought it from a friend of Marketas. Burcak is a very fresh wine only available for a short time – and we lucked out on our timing.

Once again we ate far too much – but we couldn’t resist! Gurmansky Grob was our destination for a royal goose feast. We had soup with goose neck, carrots & parsnips and noodles. Next goose liver with apples and bread and a pickle plate. Then the main attraction of goose with red cabbage and potato crepes – all with beers and a shot of slivovitz (pear). Finally all topped off with poppy-seed strudel. We rolled out much heavier – although our wallets were much lighter after a 205 Euro dinner!

We decided that Derek & Marketa would stay at our apt to allow Derek to have a couple of drinks with us (0 tolerance for drink driving here). So we dropped the car their intended sleep spot and walked back to our place for the night where the burcak was waiting patiently for us.

 

Austria/Slovakia/Hungary – Day 11 – Salzburg to Bratislava

We headed early to the train station for our trip to Vienna and then on to Bratislava where we had a rare day to ourselves. By chance we ran into Dan at the station and so were able to wish him a happy 60th in person. They were headed to Vienna to hook up with Natalie & Duncan, but on a different train.

We arrived in Bratislava to much nicer weather, but to discover that our Austrian SIM card doesn’t work here for data, but we can at least phone. So we managed to contact our airBnB host and arranged to meet him at the apartment following a taxi ride from the train station. We had expected about 10 Euro for the trip, but it was 20 which seems a lot for what could have been a 25 minute walk – so no tip this time.

Our James Bond 007 apt was in a great location and very ‘IKEA’lly perfect with several James Bond accessories (nothing as exciting as a dart gun pen, but several pieces of art). Everything was brand new and the apt seems designed straight out of the catalogue. And I can’t help mentioning … the flat iron was the best I’ve ever used – a Remington – may need to try to find one back home!

We walked up to the Bratislavský Hrad (castle) which offered marvelous views of the city. It is the site of significant buildings dating back to about 700 AD, Celtic/Roman times, and has had very many changes over the centuries. The first actual hrad was probably built in the late 1200’s.

We paid to enter the castle but there were only limited exhibits open and many rooms had not been staged. The best was that of the Slovak painter Martin Benka who died in 1971 at the age of 80. His early painting style was reminiscent of the Group of 7, but then his work evolved and you could clearly see the Russian influence during / post WWII. We had hoped for the furniture exhibit, but alas it was not open.

Next off to St. Nicholas church which was associated with the hrad. It was shockingly small and very run down with a group of youth hanging out in the yard smoking and drinking. Much more impressive was the nearby St. Martin Cathedral.

Once back at our apt with wifi we connected with Derek & Marketa to plan our meeting the next day and then we 2 headed for a pub dinner at Mestianski Pivovar. Michael had his beloved pig knuckle, I had Moravian Sparrow (pork pieces with creamed spinach – actually very good) both with potato dumplings. We shared a starter of grilled local cheese and had 2 beers each – turns out eating out here is not the absolute bargain we had hope for, but still not outrageous.

Austria/Slovakia/Hungary – Day 10 – Salzburg

It was now Friday, Oct 11 and it was very nostaligic!

We spent the day reliving our honeymoon journey up to the castle. We passed the Jesus statue Michael are rediscovered earlier, retraced our steps on the steep walk up to the castle even passing a few of the ‘doors’ Michael had captured on film in 1983. Some memories were fresh, but many more have faded over the years. Some things are the same, but mostly I feel like the whole route was much cleaner.

At the castle, we visited the ‘gold rooms’ with the ceilings designed to be the night sky. The models showing the evolution of the building of the castle were still very much as we remembered them. The armoury museum had many of the same exhibits (Michael remembers them better than I), but also several newer ones. The marionette museum seemed familiar to me, but not to Michael – I still need to check out my old trip diary to confirm whether we visited it back then!

Down from the castle, we stopped into the church in the Dom Quartier square before heading to a great coffee stop Michael found called ‘220 degrees’. We had amazing Brazilian coffees and potato soup with bread – appropriately salted for ‘Salt’zburg. We followed that up with an audio tour of the Dom Quartier where the Archbishop residences demonstrated their clear opulence.

The Prince / Archbishop had many rooms to hold audience. The rooms decreased in size but increased in decadence as you progress in importance. Only the special office of the Archbishop / Prince was simpler in decoration. Every ceiling fresco had a story – usually with subtle (or not so subtle) references to the Prince himself. One depicted the leader holding a globe/ball over a metal bowl. If he fell asleep, he would drop the ball which would awaken him. It was believed that he needed to be constantly awake to protect his people. I’m not sure how well a sleep deprived leader can function!

I was interested to learn that the short beds of the time were not due to the height of the inhabitants. It was believed that it was unhealthy to sleep lying down since you could suffocate, so they slept prone in a semi-seated position. The tour of Dom Quartier also included the gallery where many impressive paintings were on display. But in the day, the walls would have been packed with art – not to appreciate the art, but to highlight the wealth of the crown/church.

Then back home to change and head off to the party! We picked up a couple of small gifts for Sue (bath salts and chocolates) and some Sport Gummies as a placeholder birthday gift for Dan – and the shop even had a wrapping station!

Dinner was a great success with all 10 of us standing around the table and rotating to take turns at each food station. We all crowded around Suz’s Ipad to see her trip photos (we need special cables next time), and checked out a couple of Michaels other videos. And then dancing – lots of fun ending with a rousing round of “Auf Wiedersehen Good Night” from the Sound of Music.

And so phase one of our trip is over as we have said good bye to the gang till next time. Off to Bratislava….

Austria/Slovakia/Hungary – Day 9 – Fuschl am See back to Salzburg

We shared our final group breakfast in Fuschl am See, one final decadent spread. Having all paid our 2 Euro per person per night standard Austrian visitor fee, we caught the 10:16 am bus to Salzburg.

Once in Salzburg we all split our separate ways to our accommodations. While I knew our B&B had some character based on the photos on airbnb, it more than impressed us. Every room was an experience – and the artwork was spectacular!

Quite fortunately it was once again market Thursday at the local square – but it shut down by 1 pm so we scrambled around. We managed to pick up a nice selection of homemade food for the birthday potluck party on Friday night – hummus, spiced cheeses, breads and olives. And for ourselves we picked up fruit, cheese, buns and breads along with a quick stop at the SPAR to round it out with yogurt and some danish.

It was time for laundry and organizing and mundane tasks like paying bills back home. Michael went off on a photo expedition while I did the chores. He came across the lecture hall where Einstein delivered his first public presentation of his Theory of Special Relativity.

It was a miserable day again, so we passed on the ‘view hike’ and instead invited D&S over for cards. Post euchre we headed to Alter Fuchs for dinner. We shared a table with a wonderful family from Perth. The couple, along with their 2 teen-aged sons just returned from hiking the Dolomites and were continuing travelling around Europe for a total of 4 weeks. She is a music teacher and was exposing her kids to many musical experiences.

Then back ‘home’ for a final laundry swap (which includes creative hanging of clothes around radiators for drying) and to bed to ready for one last day with our whole entourage.

Austria/Slovakia/Hungary – Day 8 – Hallstatt back to Fuschl am See

🎵🎶”Oh Yeah, It’s Raining Again” 🎵🎶 I suppose a suitable way to end the trekking experience this time in keeping with the theme of the week. But we did manage to complete our days trek before the rain set in😊. Today we hiked over 22 km along a well maintained gravel path with very little elevation change. I feel great – no knee issues and no plantar fasciitis pain, so I’m very pleased.

We were meant to follow the salt water pipeline today, but it was under repair. Fortunately the alternate route was easily accessible and followed a similar path.

We have all started to mull over our next excursion. Ideas include Japan, Nova Scotia / Maritime provinces in Canada, Madagascar, Sicily (with cooking school intertwined as a consideration), and Alaska. Research is needed on cost and availability. Biking was also put forth as an option – everything on the table right now.

By 9 pm most had packed it in but D&S and Michael & I stayed playing cards and drinking a schnapps and beer till about 10:30.

And so the formal trekking is over 😢. Tomorrow we head to Salzburg where Mike & I have our own spot, D&S have theirs and the others have a shared B&B, but all are reasonably nearby accommodations. It will be Dan’s 60th birthday on Oct 12, and Sue has hers the next day so we will all get together at the Aussie/American abode for a potluck party.

Austria/Slovakia/Hungary – Day 7 – Lake Ausseer to Hallstatt

We hiked in a beautiful rain free, partly sunny day. We started the day with yet another scrumptious breakfast. We had arrived on Sunday evening, and the place was deserted – we had to let ourselves into our rooms. So we were not quite sure whether breakfast would even be served. But the hotel was well populated when we came down – complete with 3 Austrians having their breakfast beer in the bar lobby. Although Michael & I didn’t partake, there were custom prepared bacon and egg options. There was even a champagne option with your orange juice. We all packed a bit of fruit and/or bun with meat and cheese for our lunch. I am quite certain that one of the waitresses spotted me however and I don’t think she was too pleased. She didn’t say a word, but kept a close eye on me. I’m still feeling guilty!

We started the day by retracing our steps back to Bad Aussee – although this time we all traveled together and we took the riverside route the girls had found. We hiked along the path which ran between the River Ischl and the back yards of many lovely homes with manicured plants and odd chicken coops and more horses. The river had many sets of rapids, and there were fish ladders for the spawning trout along side the damns.

Past Bad Aussee we encountered a section of the trail which was closed due to bridge reconstruction. We were directed to hike up to the main road for 2 km and then follow the bike trail to come past the construction. Our attempt to follow an alternate trail which appeared on our trail map apps failed when an older couple caught us and wouldn’t let us pass on their private land. So we took the longer route without any further issues. At the end of the detour was a rustic riverside stop. Unfortunately it is the end of the season and it has closed during the construction, but we stopped and had our makeshift lunch.

The walk for the rest of the day was still beautiful with breathtaking cliffs along the river and then onto Lake Hallstatt. The recent rains filled the mountainside waterfalls and rivulets everywhere and the snow peaked mountains in the distance enhanced the views. We came to Obertraun where the River Ischl meets Lake Hallstatt and there were more densely space lovely homes and boat houses along the shore. The lake was again the unique grayish colour here and clear enough to see to the bottom.

Hallstatt, in CHINA

At the very end of this long day of trekking (over 22km), we took the ferry across to the Unesco site of Hallstatt. Our hotel met us dockside at this beautiful town where the houses are built into the hillside. As Michael had warned us, it was overrun with tourists. The Chinese especially love it as it is the real-life version of the town which has been replicated in China. Unfortunately the town has become over run with kitschy tourist stands from end to end (think Niagara Falls). I did splurge and buy some scented bath salts for a nice soak in the tub – I went with Sisi’s (the wife of emperor Franz Joseph) favourite blend of roses and lavender.

Dan & Suz were on dinner duty and they wandered the town and also up the hill to the church overlooking town. Michael went wandering to photo and I caught up with the other ladies who had gone out for a wine. After 3 or 4 failed attempts at getting served, we gave up and headed back to our hotel where a wonderful waiter from Croatia served us and even rustled up some grilled fresh bread with olive oil despite the kitchen being closed. He spoke many languages; English fluently and he had learnt German in just 3 months. He left Croatia due to extensive Mafia type extortion and taxes. So he no longer works in IT – he is now a waiter but much happier.

After another fine dinner, we all decided to pack it in a bit early. Tomorrow is our last day of trekking, and this was our last new town as we return to Fuschl am See tomorrow.

Austria/Slovakia/Hungary – Day 6 – Bad Ischl to Lake Ausseer See

The weather once again played havoc with our hiking. We awoke to rain and decided to skip the formal trek.

We took the train to Bad Aussee – another quaint little town with interesting shops. Dan picked up some dried sausages and later we stopped in a bakery for some cakes and breads. Sue, Kaylon and Lucy decided to stay in Bad Aussee to shop and tour the town and to hike to our destination at Aultersee later. The rest of us headed straight there. The 3 girls lucked out by finding the riverside path, but our group took the roadside path. Not really much of a disadvantage as it was raining the whole time anyway. As we left Bad Aussee, we couldn’t resist photoing the ‘not Bad Aussie’s of the group.

Again we passed many typical Austrian homes and farmsteads – all beautiful and well manicured. Our transferred bags again greeted us at our hotel where we had a great snack of our purchases along with schnapps and TimTams. Mick, Doug, Dan, Suz, Michael & I headed to the salt mine (after all, we are in Saltzkammergut) while Paul went to search for our evening dinner venue and to pick up some beer for 500.

We took the ‘new road’ to the mine which ended up being about 5km all uphill rather than the quoted 3.5 km on the road signs. But it was a great walk at any rate and combined with our hike to the town made for a full day of hiking in the end. We arrived at the mine for 2pm, but the next tour wasn’t until 3pm. So time for a beer while we waited. In the end, Doug and Mick decided to head back to PK but D&S, M& I stayed for the tour – which was well worth the wait. Too bad for them as they missed out on sporting the very trendy outfits for touring the mine (to protect your clothing)


Altaussee, May 1945 after the removal of the eight 500 kg bombs at the Nazi stolen art repository.

The salt mine here is still active, and most interestingly it was used by the Nazis to store their plundered treasures during WWII. When it was realized that the artwork in the underground chapel was in pristine condition, they knew they had found the ideal spot to store the stolen artwork and other artifacts. In the end over 6000 paintings, plus tapestries, statues, sculptures and other craftworks were stored here and were well catalogued. At wars end, the German army were to blow it all up rather than relinquish. But miners and army collaborated and they smuggled the bombs out overnight and all was saved. Still, much has gone missing as there were many hands involved.

There is very much interesting history to the mine which has been active since the 14th century. The chapel for St. Barbara is a highlight, as was sliding down the miners route to enter the lower sections of the mine. It is still an active salt mine where blasted caverns are filled with water, then after the salt has dissolved, the brine is pumped out and the salt extracted. Much is used for road salt, some for medical, some for smelting and about 10% for the food industry.

For the trek back to our hotel we followed the ‘old road’ which was much shorter and steeper but much faster and prettier as it was through the forest…. but still through the rain of course.

We all reconnected back at the hotel and after admiring Lucy’s new shoes (worthy of hiking yet stylish and multi-purposed) and Sue’s swanky new backpack purse (very nice handmade unique style), we headed for dinner. Another great meal but once again we were perhaps (no, definitely) too rambunctious and loud. At least by the time we left the restaurant it was finally not raining.

Fingers crossed that we can get the last 2 days of hiking in. We need it – I think I’ve gained 5 lbs with all the wine, beer and amazing food!