Week 11

Who would have guessed that after 11 weeks of travelling in separate teams we’d have two of our groups finishing the week less than half a mile from each other. But there it is – the wee monkeys and the snow leopards end the week in the same place, the town of Wels in Austria. Either that’s a) very lucky, b) very good team work, or c) me making it up so there is less to have to write about this week! But yes, take a bow if you guessed a) just good fortune and luck that they’ve kept pace so closely that they are there together. One of those happy coincidences that life often throws up.

Mirabell Gardens, Salzburg

And what to do, I wonder, in sleepy Wels? No doubt you’ll meet up for a nice meal – probably sausages…! And you’ll wander round the town centre admiring the Gothic and Renaissance architecture. But if I was with you I hope to persuade you to take a wee side trip to…. Salzburg! It’s only and hour away by bus and it’s home, of course, to the cinematic icon that is the Sound of Music. I’ve been there myself and it’s like walking into the film – so much of what is in the film remains to this day. It’s lovely. As is the film. As are the songs. If the price is right I’ll sing them all for you when we finally meet for a party…  Anyway, congratulations to both teams for keeping pace and helping each other along.

Our tigers have also been busy this past week and are  making steady progress through Germany, where tonight, Sunday, they’ve reached the town of Limburg. The website ‘Culture Trip’ has some good advice for the tigers: “Limburg an der Lahn is a quaint, quiet town in the state of Hesse on the River Lahn. This is exactly what draws travelers to it – its apparent ability to slow time down when the world seems to be spinning out of control. With its beautiful half-timbered houses, cobbled lanes and a cathedral towering over the town, all of Limburg seems to be a page out of a story book. Give Limburg an der Lahn a chance and we are sure you will fall in love with it.”

So, tigers, give it a chance and let us know if it worked! You may choose to stay in what must be the most amazing youth hostel in Germany, in the nearby Grafenschloss castle, pictured at the top of the diary. 24 Euros for B&B – now being a Scotsman, that pleases me! You can even get married there, according to the website – but why I mention that I’ve no idea!! Maybe ‘Grafenschloss’ reminds me of the dance The Slosh, beloved at all parties and weddings in Scotland – England too? We’ll do that at our party as well…!

Balkan Mountains in Serbia

The peacocks have reached dizzying heights – literally. They’re now in the Balkan mountains, which look amazing – click the photo to the right to enlarge it. In fact they’re not unlike the hills that two peacocks are very used to climbing close to home in Argyll!  The peacocks have just passed through the town of Niš, a place of great historic significance and by all accounts an historians dream. It stands on the border of ‘East and West’. A Roman garrison town, it’s the birthplace of the Roman Emperor Constantine, who himself did much to bridge the divide of East and West. And where was Constantine when the Roman troops proclaimed him Emperor? Would you believe in York, where our Chaparda Challenge began all those weeks ago! Another of those amazing coincidences…! He was there fighting with his father, Emperor Constantius. What about Caesar, I hear you ask? Well, this is a diary, not a history lesson! But read this article and you’ll be enlightened…

Niš, then, is an important town and as you’d expect, its main features are mainly to do with battles and warfare. There’s the Niš Fortress, the Skull Tower, Crveni Krst Concentration Camp… but after last week I’m not going to dwell on any of THAT! Methinks the peacocks wouldn’t want to either and that they didn’t spend long there. Now, jealous perhaps of the wee monkeys and snow leopards, they’ve begun to ‘climb every mountain‘ and are no doubt this evening enjoying the beauty of the hills and the fresh highland air.

So another great week for our Chaparda Challengers. You’ve travelled a combined distance of 443 miles, and have added another £300 to the fundraising target, which now stands at £1,218. Thanks as ever to all our donors for their kindness.

Have a good week ahead…