Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Highline179, Austria

The World's largest Pedestrian Suspension bridge is in...Austria? What? 

I first heard about Highline179 from a post on GermanyJa. I thought it was pretty awesome and since we were looking for things to do while in the Garmisch area. What is even better is that it was only 30 minutes away from Garmisch and 30 minutes away from Neuschwanstein Castle, it was the perfect middle point for our day trip!
We actually passed under Highline 179 on our way to Neuschwanstein castle, but since it was open later, we decided to hit it up on our way back to the hotel.

 The Highline179 is a pedestrian - suspension bridge over the Fernpassstraße B 179 south of Reutte, Austria. It extends at an altitude of 114 meters above the castle Ehrenberg and combines the ruins of Ehrenberg with the Fort Claudia.
The 1.20 m wide pedestrian walkway consists of a grate, which rests on crossbars, the vertical hangers on at the four suspension ropes are attached with a diameter of 60 mm. On both sides of the tread is a 1.35 m high handrail mounted which is connected to the grid through a wire mesh. The suspension cables are on both sides of the bridge with a total of 16 anchors attached, which extend to a depth of 17 meters into the rock. The dead weight of the bridge is about 70 tonnes. Highline179 is included in the Guinness Book of Records as the "longest pedestrian suspension bridge in Tibet Style".

Once you get to the parking area, it is pretty easy to find parking. I wouldn't park at the first parking area, keep going inside, park next to the info center. There is a little playground area for little and big kids. From the parking area it is a 15-20 minute hike up to the entrance of Highline 179. I was not expecting a hike. So just for future reference... be prepared for a brisk hike!
 There's a sign at the beginning of the hike that says you can buy your tickets at the top of the bridge. They suggest buying it up there unless you're in a group, then go into the info center.

You could spend the whole day there if you wanted, from the Ehrenberg ruins, there is also another set of ruins you could hike to. We didn't, since we weren't prepared for hiking, and we had already spent the first half of the day at Neuschwantstein castle.

It was super easy to purchase your ticket at the top. Make sure to bring Euro, as the machine takes both coins and bills. Once you get to the top you can purchase tickets from a little machine, you need to scan your ticket to enter the gate, it's good for entrance on both sides!

Funny thing was that I was the one who suggested checking this out. Although it didn't hit me until we were there, I forgot that I'm terrified of heights. My heart was pounding the whole time! I got about 10 feet in and tried to turn around. Drew wouldn't let me. I was terrified the whole time though. I don't even remember the walk across. I do remember this Italian group, who stopped in front of me when we were almost to the other side. I was not happy. I shared some dirty looks and rude gestures. Not really my finest moment, but damn was I scared. Drew is Airborne, so he didn't have any problem with the height. He was snapping pictures and guiding me across the bridge. Of course, he was also laughing and making fun of me the whole time. Some way to show his love, huh? haha

You can see DiDi! She's the first car on the left.
Once we made it to the other side, we got a beautiful view of Ehrenberg castle ruins. The other side is where Fort Claudia is located. It is comprised of a very small ruin of an old Fort that was used as a garrison from Ehrenberg Castle. There is not much left of Fort Claudia now. The best part about crossing the bridge was for the great views of Ehrenberg Castle.

Since we crossed the bridge first, we had to cross the bridge again to check out the castle ruins. I put up a big fight about crossing the bridge again. Instead of the 5 minute walk across the bridge, I tried to convince Drew to take the 45 minute detour. Needless to say, it was a no go. Drew convinced me to go back across the bridge. This time, Drew took my hand and led me across at a quick pace... I practically ran across it!

For those interested, there are many more hiking trails all over the mountain. In fact, there is a 45 minute hike that goes from Ehrenberg Castle to the ruins of another hilltop fort. We definitely didn't do that hike. The trail map made it look like it was a much more difficult hike, so we decided to pass. But just know, if you want to see the ruins atop that hilltop, it is going to take a hike.

We checked out the Ehrenberg ruins, Ehrenberg Castle offers an interesting perspective on the history of the area and now-a-days is run as a European Castle Museum. The buildings are being renovated by the historical association and offer many walking trails from one set of fortifications to another. I love that you get to explore every inch of the ruin.

On our way back to our hotel, since we were in Austria, Drew stopped off at the border sign so we could stop off and take a picture! We're such tourist sometimes, but it was the perfect end to our great day. Who doesn't want a "Welcome to Deutschland" picture?

It was such a great day, the weather was beautiful, and the leaves were just the perfect color. I think that's why I love travelling in October! Seriously, it really is the best month to travel in Europe!