I didn't always love nature or the outdoors. Before meeting my husband I was somewhere inbetween a city-girl and a nature-girl. I loved to shop and wear makeup and dreamed of the day that I would live on a beautiful property with lots of trees and land. But the outdoors, the actual outdoors? Not for me. I loved to look at nature, but I didn't enjoy being a part of nature. I didn't enjoy getting dirty, doing work, or sleeping anywhere other than my own bed. On the other hand, cities have always overwhelmed me. I love light and trees and silence when I go to sleep at night.
Now, nearly a decade since meeting my husband, my opinion of the outdoors has changed a little. I have camped, trekked in nearly every climate and terrain, traveled using every mode of transportation, lasted two weeks without washing my hair, love freeze dried food and have pushed myself further than I ever thought I could go. Opening myself up to nature makes my heart feel full (would I like some wine with this cheese? yes, please). Unlike before, I need nature in my life. Being outdoors reminds me that there is so much more to living than all the little things I find myself complaining about. Nature keeps me grounded.
So, why am I rambling about nature? Let me explain...
Bavaria is paradise for anyone who loves the outdoors (me me me!). For 5 months, I lived in Benediktbeuern, a small village of about 3500 people. Located at the foot of the Alps, living in this tiny German village was like living in a postcard. Everywhere you turn, you can see towering mountains, bike and hiking trails, rivers and lakes and ponds. But, more than the nature itself, Bavarian's celebrate and appreciate nature. They respect nature. It is normal for families to go on walks, ride their bikes and spend time outdoors. People don't spend their evenings or weekends in front of the television- they just don't. They go outside and hike up a mountain to a little mountain hut that serves drinks and food. Time moves slows as they enjoy the mountain views, sip refreshing shandy and eat fresh baked pretzels.
I know this because this is exactly what I did when I had free time; and although even the best outdoor spots were never crowded, I never felt alone. The trails were always alive with other Bavarian outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. Young, old, singles, families, Bavarian's just know they hit the outdoor jackpot.
One afternoon, the husband (then fiance) and I were out riding bikes with no destination in mind. Sunny with some scattered clouds, the day was beautiful. We packed a little lunch of pretzels and cheese (very German) and were on our way. While I was off in some bushes taking photos, Aaron stumbled upon a blue sign that read, Hochmoorpfad. Thankfully my photo break gave him a moment to notice the sign, otherwise we would have passed right by this hidden "Bog Path". Neither of us could read German, but we decided to go explore anyway.
Tucked away in the trees was an adventure area for both kids AND adults! There was a raft with a pully, swings, a little zipline, and other less photo-friendly obstacles. Nature was not destroyed or obstructed to make this "bog path". Nature was respected and everyone was happy.
This outdoor find was one of my favorite German surprises. To some people, it would seem so little and insignificant, perhaps even silly. However, to me, it was the best thing ever. Such a beautiful way to teach children to enjoy and have fun outdoors, while also respecting nature.