After yesterday’s demanding walk, we thought we’d rest the “uphill walking muscles” and do something different today: rent bikes, take the Penkenbahn gondola up to the top of the mountain right next to Mayrhofen, and then bike down back to the village.

Renting bikes took a fair bit of time, because it wasn’t easy to find a bike with back-pedal brakes for Adrian. But we found them in the end.

The gondola ride to the top was fast and smooth and we had nice views of Mayrhofen. The gondola was very spacious and we had no trouble at all fitting the bikes in there.

At the top, the bicycle path first went uphill for a while, to the ever-present huts at the top. The slope was quite gentle but on gravel roads it was too much for the kids, so we ended up walking the bikes up.

After lunch at one of the huts we were finally ready to start cycling down. Unfortunately Adrian took a bad fall already at the first descent, bloodying half his face and breaking off half of his new front tooth. So that was the end of that. After cleaning and bandaging his face, we walked the bikes back up and came down by gondola again.

All in all, not a great day.

Yesterday was warm-up day; today we were ready for a bigger hike. We picked one of the suggested walks from the Wanderkarte we got from the tourist information: a circular walk (the Neumarkter Runde) from the Schlegeis dam up to the Olperer Hütte and back again. 8.8 km and 675 metres of ascent.

The weather report promised clearer skies, and down in the valley it looked like the weather might actually clear up, but higher up in the mountains it was almost as foggy and cloudy as yesterday. We weren’t constantly wrapped in clouds, but the views were generally quite limited, except for the occasional moment when the clouds shifted away and we suddenly got a wide open view.

This was a beautiful walk despite the clouds. Or perhaps it was beautiful in part thanks to the clouds: because of the moisture, the mountains were lush and green. The lower slopes were thickly covered in pine and juniper. Rhododendrons flowered abundantly between the junipers as well as higher up above the tree line. There were plenty of little streams and waterfalls.

Higher up it got colder and we got some rain and wind. In places we even crossed some small patches of snow. We were quite glad to have packed fleece jackets and woolly hats (and in Adrian’s case, his beloved fingerless gloves).

The first half of the walk was basically all uphill, and by the end of it we were getting a bit fed up with the monotony of always going up. At the highest point we celebrated with a chilly lunch, perched on and between rocks, in the lee of yet more rocks. Another hour or so of walking got us to the Olperer Hütte for a late and well-deserved hot meal.

The path was very well marked, with red-white-red paint, and easy to walk. Well, the path was all uphill, but it was well built and stable. The steepest parts were almost staircases of large slabs of stone, no scrambling required. I had many occasions to wonder who had built these, and how – given the size of the stairs, it must have required a lot of lifting.

The kids enjoyed the stone cairns dotted along the path.

The way down was quite similar to the way up, but condensed and less varied. Downhill, gently at first and then more steeply, ziggy-zaggying alongside the same little stream almost all the way. Had we started out on this side (which I’m glad we didn’t, because of the steepness) then I would probably have found it beautiful, but after the first half of the walk the second didn’t impress quite so much. Our tiredness probably also played a part.

So apparently hiking here in Austria is all based on huts. You pick a hut you want to walk to, then find a suitable starting point, and walk from the starting point along a marked trail to the hut and back. Or maybe you do a circular walk, in which case the way back is not the same as the way there, but you will certainly have a hut somewhere on your route. In fact the starting point is quite likely to also be a hut.

The tourist information point here in Mayrhofen was staffed by a friendly lady who circled a bunch of suitable huts for us on a hiking map, and today we tried out the first of these – Steinerkogl, which lies basically straight above Mayrhofen, and on good days probably has beautiful views.

Today was not one of those days.

Today was foggy and wet. It was drizzling already when we got up, and continued that way all day. The valley was filled by a cloud that looked like it was touching the rooftops, and blocked all views.

We went out anyway, because the prospect of spending all day indoors was way worse than getting a bit wet. And while we did get a bit wet, because the wether didn’t get better, it didn’t get any worse either – it hovered in that strange no-mans-land between fog, cloud and light rain.

The views were absolutely non-existent when we got out of the forested lower slopes and onto the meadows. If we hadn’t had a clear path to follow, I would have been seriously worried about getting lost, or losing sight of each other.

It might not sound like fun but this was actually a pleasant hike, memorable rather than miserable. The fog was cool, and the endlessly ziggy-zaggy forest path was like nothing we’ve walked before. Would definitely do again.

Arriving in Mayrhofen in Austria, after a full day of travelling, for a week of hiking. We are surrounded by mountains, and picturesque houses that all have balconies dripping with flowers. And we have a car with a sun roof.

Picking this year’s puny strawberry harvest.

Southern Sweden is suffering from drought; it’s been hot and dry since early May with no change in sight. But we got one bowl of small strawberries at least, enough for one luxurious breakfast with yoghurt and cereal and fresh strawberries.

The Midsummer weekend contained too much eating and lounging around and not enough moving. I was itching to get out and walk, so here I am. Sörmlandsleden, stage 5:2. I like the stages that are easy to reach using public transport, and it doesn’t get much more convenient than this one: it effectively goes from Ösmo station to Hemfosa station.

Well, that’s what it does on paper. In reality the start is about a kilometre from the station, and the end likewise, so the 15 km becomes more like 17 and some. And then there’s the extra detour you can make to a hill with an ancient fort. That one is described as “might be worth making a detour for” and indeed I’m sure there are people for whom that is the case, but honestly I wouldn’t recommend it. I couldn’t see any signs of the fort itself, just a rocky hill with a view barely worth looking at, because whichever direction you look, it’s all the same forest. Or perhaps I was just getting too tired to appreciate it.

This part of Sormlandsleden itself was more varied than most. There were lakeside views, the usual Sörmland pine and blueberry forests, rough spruce forest with plenty of rocks and roots, and even a golf course with its manicured lawns and well-tended shrubberies.

Evening walk with pokemons.

Eggs, new potatoes and herring are givens for a Swedish midsummer. Devilled eggs are by far the most delicious, festive way to serve eggs, so we make them every year. New potatoes need no fancy preparations whatsoever to be delicious. Today we served them with a luxurious summer salad of avocados, asparagus, sugar snaps, pine nuts and strawberries.

Martagon lily.

Much of what I have planted, I have chosen for the plants’ ability to be green, fill space and survive without cosseting. There aren’t many with eye-catching flowers. The aquilegias and alliums that I did plant have basically disappeared. Surprisingly, martagon lilies seem to be among the survivors.

Earlier this year, new benches turned up in the schoolyard at Spånga gymnasium (high school). We pass through that yard quite often because it’s the shortest way to a nearby Pokemon Go gym.

The schoolyard has gotten a facelift in general, but the mosaic benches are in a class of their own. They are works of art, and I am curious to know who the artist might be. I sent photos to a local newspaper and hope that they might have resources to find out more about the benches.

Just look at the way the angular turquoise and white pieces evoke shimmering water, and the iridescence of the cat’s eye – or the way the bottom of a broken plate or bowl becomes a knothole.