A couple of weeks ago we really slowed down from our already pretty slow lifestyle. We went to visit our good friends Anna and Lukas in their family holiday home in Alsace – a green and hilly French region close to the German border.
This house is a real hidden gem. Nestled in the midst of a thick forest, it is only accessible via a narrow and bumpy dirt track, on which our Ford Transit nearly bottomed out. The building is off the grid. It is powered by batteries and a generator, with a boiler heating up the water, but has no central heating or electricity. Which meant fires every night for warmth and small battery powered lights to get around at night.
New Zealand is not one of those destinations you usually go
to solely for the rock climbing, not unless you’re Chris Sharma. That’s partly
because it’s so damn far away and expensive to get to from most parts of the
world. There are many far cheaper and closer climbing destinations for most of
us, and climbers are a famously dirtbag bunch.
But more importantly, New Zealand is far too breath-taking and
offers so much for the outdoorsy adventure lover, that to come here for the
climbing alone would be worse than sacrilege. So of course, in the four months
that my partner and I spent in NZ, climbing was not at the top of our agenda.
Rather, it was dominated by catching up with his family and
friends, all of whom hadn’t seen him in years; eating and drinking a lot at
these gatherings; and trying to fit in all the sights and do all the activities
we could afford (which was sadly a small minority of what’s out there).
Nevertheless, no self-respecting climber would go to a new
destination and…not climb at all! Plus, NZ was the old stomping ground of my
partner and I was eager to see where he cut his teeth on the rock.