Posted in Canada, English, Europe

The road not taken


We are people who love to travel but hate crowds.  Of course, now and again, we will find ourselves in the midst of a horde, when a destination or, local attraction is too good to pass up.  We’ve found though, that no matter how busy a place is, there is always a path that veers away from the main road.  These paths usually require a little more effort then the carefully crafted board walks and stairs, but the trade off is worth it.  On these secondary trails there are far less people, usually only locals, which results in less safety barriers and restrictions separating you from the surrounding nature.

Last year we spent a weekend in Jasper, and though it was the off season, we still felt the need to get off the main path while walking the Maligne Canyon trail.  The main ‘trail’ was nice but the moment we climbed off it and onto the non-engineered, unplanned foot path of the locals, we felt free and that we were really experiencing what Jasper had to offer.

We thought that we were just lucky that day by not crossing a single person on this beautiful trail.  The next day we tried our luck again on a different trail, and came across a local who was taken aback a little when he saw us tourists out exploring trails that took more then 20 minutes to do.  Even in a place like Jasper, where people come for the beauty of the outdoors, the majority tends to stay within the confines of the overused cramped walkways even if all the smaller trails are well marked on the map. From then on we decided to search out these unused gems whenever possible during our travels.

While in Fussen, Germany, we visited Neuschwanstein Castle. The roads and walkways were packed full of tourists. A brochure stated that over one and half million people visit this castle every year! We made our way through the castle amongst the crowds and the followed a road up a hill where  there was a bridge with a beautiful view of the castle.


 It is hard to enjoy a view though when you’re fighting for space and if this bridge had a max capacity, the number of people on it at that moment would have well exceeded it.

Just past the bridge, where few ventured, a path continued up into the hills behind the castle.  We hiked up and in not even 5 minutes came across a spectacular view of the castle with almost no one around.  We followed the path further up a steep slope and came across another even more amazing view.  It’s surprising that 1.5 million people stand on that bridge every year and few ever cross it…..their loss.

Near the lookout was another trail that supposedly snaked up the mountain and linked up with a Gondola.   We made a last minute decision to spend the night in Fussen, even though all our gear was in  hostel in Munich, and climb the mountain trail the following day.  To this day, it was the best spontaneous decision I have ever made.  The hike took us about 3 1/2 hours from the bottom to the top and along the way only saw two old, but fit local german ladies who had hiked over the mountain from another trail deep in the woods.  We made it to the top and blended in with the other tourists who had taken the gondola up, but I guarantee that our beer tasted better, and our views much more breathtaking (no pun intended) after making the accent on foot.
 Two roads diverge in a wood, and we took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

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