Walking the Pfänder
with Bowser's good friend Prinzessin Emma-Johanna

Near the border to Germany, above Bregenz and Lake Constance, lies probably the most famous lookout point of Vorarlberg. The Pfänder is almost 1100 meters high, which I think is quite a bit and definitely counts as a mountain. Anna insists that it’s just a hill, though. I’m from the Netherlands, where the highest point is 300 meters above sea level. We call that a mountain, so this Pfänder is definitely one too. Anna knows it is. She just likes to act tough and brag about things Austria has and the Netherlands don’t. Anyway, since we decided to do touristic stuff this year in Vorarlberg and not just sit around all day, we took a cable car up the Pfänder last Saturday with our Innsbruck-friends Kathrin and Daniel (who stayed over after the Festspiele the night before) and some kid called Prinzessin Emma-Johanna.

Now, you might wonder: who is this Prinzessin Emma-Johanna? Well, she’s the five-year-old daughter of a cousin of Anna. I guess that makes her a second cousins of Bowser, but I’m not sure. Bowser’s Austrian family members seem to be unnaturally close to each other: a phenomenon I’m not familiar with in the Netherlands. I barely know my cousins, let alone children of cousins. Here in Austria, however, they act like it’s completely normal to know grand-aunts by name and to even invite them for coffee. They also all live nearby and could just show up unannounced. It’s kind of nice – if you’re into that kind of stuff – but I like it better the way I’m used to: getting in contact with parents and siblings when I’m in need of something, shaking hands with some aunts and uncles on birthdays or funerals and being Facebook-friends with the rest of the extended family – I’m not a very social person.

Bowser and Prinzessin Emma-Johanna playing together.
Bowser and Prinzessin Emma-Johanna playing together.

Back to the story: Daniel, Kathrin, Prinzessin Emma-Johanna, Anna, Bowser and I took a cable car up the Pfänder. We arrived at the top around noon, where we were welcomed by a foggy sky. The view from up there is supposedly very nice, looking over Bregenz, Lake Constance, the Bregenzerwald and numerous Alpine peaks. You can see parts of Switzerland and Germany and look far into Vorarlberg. We didn’t see any of that. There was just a lot of fog. However, we did see some animals as we started to walk down the mountain in the direction of Bregenz.

We saw some animals, like Alpine ibexes, wild boars, dwarf goats and these things on the photo called mouflons.
We saw some animals, like Alpine ibexes, wild boars, dwarf goats and these things on the photo called mouflons.
So much fog…
So much fog…

The walk down was quite long, and after a while the sun started to come through. The clouds disappeared and it actually became a very nice day. I was happy I decided to wear shorts (when we left I was laughed at because it would ‘only’ be 23 degrees Celsius that day; in the Netherlands people go to the beach to swim with that kind of weather). I wanted to go back to the top to take a nice picture of the view – which would now be unveiled – but my legs told me no. So we kept going down, through woods, along streams, past meadows and farms.

Pregnant Anna trying to guide Bowser and Prinzessin Emma-Johanna down the mountain. I was busy taking photos.
Pregnant Anna trying to guide Bowser and Prinzessin Emma-Johanna down the mountain. I was busy taking photos.
Bowser as a backpack. Prinzessin Emma-Johanna was brave enough to walk the whole way (also, she didn’t have a choice).
Bowser as a backpack. Prinzessin Emma-Johanna was brave enough to walk the whole way (also, she didn’t have a choice).
Those people in the distance are Anna, Daniel, Kathrin and Prinzessin Emma-Johanna. Bowser is still on my back.
Those people in the distance are Anna, Daniel, Kathrin and Prinzessin Emma-Johanna. Bowser is still on my back.

It was a nice walk and Bowser was very happy that Prinzessin Emma-Johanna came along. Otherwise he’d have to deal with four grown-ups. Prinzessin Emma-Johanna probably understands him better in certain situations, like when walking is difficult with short legs and without farm animal biscuits. So instead of calling Prinzessin Emma-Johanna a second cousin or some other term people use for family that actually doesn’t count as family anymore, let’s just call her a friend of Bowser. I think she sees herself as one anyway, seeing how she always gets very excited when she can play with Bowser. And I’m pretty sure Bowser considers her a friend too – every time he sees her, he starts smiling and gives her a big hug. They also fight over toys and get upset when the other one does not play the way he or she is supposed to play. That should count as true friendship.

After hours of walking we finally reached Bregenz. Bowser and Prinzessin Emma-Johanna were very eager to have a good look over Lake Constance.
After hours of walking we finally reached Bregenz. Bowser and Prinzessin Emma-Johanna were very eager to have a good look over Lake Constance.
In this restaurant we ate our well-deserved lunch. We kept it Austrian and ordered Schnitzel and Käsknöpfle.
In this restaurant we ate our well-deserved lunch. We kept it Austrian and ordered Schnitzel and Käsknöpfle.

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