I won’t pretend we are not lucky. For the next six weeks, the Sunshine Gypsies are travelling around Europe. One tent and a carful of gear.
Stop one. Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany.
We enter the green valley by train. The surrounding mountains are not imposing or intimidating. They seem kind, like a protective force around the valley.
Our sunshine tent has already been set up for us by loving family. It looks over the kind mountains, and we look over them.
Our first morning camping, the sun blazes. We dress and do a little walk among the pine trees. My daughter calls it fairy land and it is. The sun glints through the trees, sparkling on moss covered ground. We want to creep off the path and be part of it all. Fairy land. Red Riding Hood’s forest. Cottages made of wood remind us of the little piggy’s house. Sheep tinkle, bells around their neck as they graze. The music of grazing.
From the top the view is clear and perfect.
We meet granny Annie at the play park by the lake. We leave the children with her, and Greg and I go for our first run together in months. Up the mountain. Down. Around the lake. The day is so warm and I’m worried about my heart and blood pressure. But I don’t need to be. I feel amazing.
Like my daughter does most of the day, I tell a story in my head as we run. The lake is bright blue. Bright pink umbrellas and tanned German holiday goers line the shores.
Later, all of us leap in the lake. It is unbelievably cold but once you get used to it, bearable. This mountain lake has a slide going into the water! One by one we pop out into the water. I’ve never seen little Rosie’s eyes so huge!
Walking back Gregor and I realise how amazingly relaxed we feel. Thank you mountains for your kindness and your protection.
‘Do you love them yet?’ asks Greg who is from a long lineage of mountain loving people. I think I do.
The next day, we leave Garmisch, but not before stopping off at the cable car. We ride up within the incredible cliff, and reach the pinnacle. Well, there is climbing to be done first. One child on the back, and the other one – a self-proclaimed mountaineer, heading up the mountain. One wears her Peppa Pig tutu swimmers and sandals. The other wears a skirt and gold sandals. None of us have jackets.
‘What would my Austrian grandfather be thinking, his grandson taking his children up the mountain dressed like this?’ says my husband, slapping his forehead.
We walk through a tunnel in the mountains, then stand with one foot in Germany and the other in Austria. The air is cool, but it’s bearable, as the day is stunning.
We leave late afternoon for the Wolfgangsee, just beyond of Salzburg. Driving in a hot car with two little kids isn’t ideal, but if that’s as bad as it gets, we aren’t complaining.