Activities in the fresh air are ideal for balancing body and soul. It's good if there is also a special health claim.
- 1. Forest bathing in Vorarlberg: Health for all the senses
- 2. Cycling in the footsteps of Sebastian Kneipp and Ludwig II.
- 3. Healing climatic hiking on Usedom
- 4. Hiking in the tuberculosis cure area: around the highest mountain in Portugal
- 5. Hiking on the Vitalweg Holzgau
- 6. Healthy hiking and slowing down on the Upper Rhine
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1. Forest bathing in Vorarlberg: Health for all the senses
We are standing in a stone circle, actually it is a labyrinth, on the path of the senses, which belongs to the provost of St. Gerold. The Eyes Closed relaxed, we listen to our surroundings: the wind that gently brushes through the treetops, the crackling and rustling in the undergrowth, the chirping of the birds, the rushing of the stream. The forest is quiet and peaceful, it's not really quiet.
Forest bathing: Learning to feel yourself in nature again
It's about feeling yourself in nature again, listening carefully, recognizing how you stand there - in the forest and in life. And it's about getting involved in our hectic times with the heartbeat of the forest and its beneficial properties. This is how Dorothea Nachbauer explains it to me, who is a trained forest educator and hunter. The community of Fontanella here in the Grosses Walsertal in Vorarlberg, Austria, has also created the "Walser Wald Apotheke" deceleration path.
I've taken part in many forest bathing hikes over the past few years, but this one is particularly impressive. Because here it's not just about relaxing, but also about experiencing something and learning from the forest. Your own breath sets the pace. It is not important to exert yourself physically. Just be there in the here and now. Almost mindfulness training in the forest.
All senses are required
But you don't just stand or sit around in the forest. Mindfulness also has a lot to do with concentration. Nachbauer has developed various exercises to support the learning experience. For example, you can calmly put one foot in front of the other to find your own rhythm while walking. Or that you step barefoot into the stream and specifically perceive the sensory impressions. Or that you feel very carefully with your hands what the forest around you has to offer.
All senses are required. We not only look, listen and touch, we also smell tree resin and I learn a lot about its healing properties Effect, And at the end there is a kind of home-brewed mead made from pine needles and honey that tastes wonderfully of the forest. A thoroughly decelerating experience.
2. Cycling in the footsteps of Sebastian Kneipp and Ludwig II.
This comfortable tour in the footsteps of Sebastian Kneipp around Füssen has an eye on health, which is designed for bicycles, but with its 24,4 km can also be done on foot.
Discover the five pillars of Kneipp's teaching
From the tourist Information From Füssen you cycle down Sebastianstraße to the Lechbrücke. Directly before the bridge, turn right along the riverbank to Bad Faulenbach. Straight ahead through the Füssen district, the “Valley of the Senses” appears on the left of the route. This invites you to take a short break before moving on to the Kneipp pool and the herb garden.
Because that is the special feature of this tour: along the way, the five pillars of Kneipp's teachings, water, exercise, herbs, nutrition and inner Order discover, because for each of the pillars there are corresponding Kneipp stations at the edge of the route. The Idea behind it is to offer guests a low-threshold health offer on the go, with which one can slowly and casually approach the topic. There are also great views of the foothills of the Alps and the nearby mountains including Neuschwanstein Castle.
Ludwig II., Kneipp and Konrad Zuse
But Füssen is much more than Ludwig II: past the Lechfall, the terminus of the Lechweg trail of the same name, past the Mitter and Obersee lakes, the tour follows the road through the Faulenbacher Tal to the Alatsee, where the next refreshment awaits in the Kneipp basin . After a short ascent, it goes rapidly down to the Weißensee and on its north bank to the next Kneipp facility at the bathing area. Here the path branches off to the right, crosses the main road and leads on side roads via Schwarzenbach, Hubmannsegg, Hopferried to Lehern, where the dairy and refreshments invite you to take a break, then on to Hopferau, where Konrad Zuse developed the first computer.
From here it goes to the Hopfensee: In addition to the public bathing area Seepark Hopfensee and numerous rest stops on the "Allgäu Riviera" there are also several Kneipp facilities along the way. Especially for the benches, herb snails and Kneipp island on the waterfront invite you to work with Kneipp in the summer months. The last stretch leads through a slightly hilly landscape to Füssen. At the roundabout, head down towards the Festspielhaus, boat harbor and the Hotel Sonne, where you can not only spend the night comfortably, but also wonderfully healthy fresh bowls and similar healthy foods.
3. Healing climatic hiking on Usedom
On the other hand, you can also enjoy excellent hiking by the sea on Usedom - and not just on Europe's longest beach promenade.
Forest bathing in Europe's first spa and medicinal forest
Europe's first designated spa and medicinal forest is located in the seaside resort of Heringsdorf. The 187 hectare forest area on the Baltic Sea in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is located on the Bansiner Landweg. Since the end of 2016, the Kur- und Heilwald Usedom with its therapy equipment, climbing parcours and picturesque resting places has been a place for those seeking relaxation and those suffering from stress, who can enjoy the silence here and feel the healing power of the trees: between beeches and pines you can recharge your batteries.
Forest therapy or forest bathing is a recognized healing method that was introduced in Japan in the early 1980s under the name "Shinrin-yoku". As the largest living thing on the planet, the tree has been mankind's constant companion from the start. Research results today show that trees in the forest can even communicate with each other and exchange information. The healing power of trees helps us get back in Balance to come to heal the soul and relieve physical ailments. The refreshing forest therapy is used as a therapeutic, preventive or rehabilitative measure, for example for high blood pressure, respiratory problems, allergies or psychosomatic illnesses.
Healthy food included
The wellness hotel of the same name, DAS AHLBECK, is ideal for overnight stays in Ahlbeck, with a great sauna and infinity pool with a sea view. Right on the Ahlbeck promenade, Uwes Fischerhütte conveys the flair of the fishing environment.
Here the Krüger family, fishermen in the 6th generation, offers freshly caught fish from the Baltic Sea, oven-fresh smoked fish and fish rolls in various variations. You can also eat very well in the Fischkopp restaurant, which is about halfway in Bansin ways between the beach and the train station, or in the well-known Kosserower salt huts.
4. Hiking in the tuberculosis cure area: around the highest mountain in Portugal
Hiking in Portugal surprised me in several positive ways: On the one hand, the rugged mountains of the Serra da Estrela have a unique beauty, on the other hand, the barren, lonely landscape is rich in history and culture - even former sanatoriums can be found here.
Healing region for tuberculosis sufferers
The Serra da Estrela is the westernmost part of the Iberian Divisional Mountains and with a height of up to 1993 m the highest mountain range on the Portuguese mainland. The core area of the mountains today forms the Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela, covering an area of around 1.000 km². In 2020 the mountain range was named a UNESCO Global Geopark - as one of 124 places of geological interest. But their tourist development began as early as the 19th century.
The Portuguese doctor José Tomás de Sousa Martins played a decisive role in this. In Switzerland he experienced how beneficial the mountain climate is People who suffered from tuberculosis, which at the time was one of the biggest health problems not only in Portugal. And so he looked for and found a place in his home country that also offered ideal conditions for treating tuberculosis patients. Numerous sanatoriums and holiday homes soon emerged in the region as domiciles for patients, even directly in the rock like the Casa da Fragas. Some are still in use today, others have become hotels like the Casa das Penhas Douradas, built on the ruins of a sanatorium.
Hiking in the Serra da Estrela Natural Park
The Casa das Penhas Douradas, located at an altitude of 1500 meters, is also the perfect starting point for numerous hikes in the region. Because in the Serra da Estrela you can do long hikes without extreme differences in altitude. The nature park has a network of more or less well-developed and marked hiking trails of around 357 kilometers. Under the label Caminhos de Montanha there are 15 different routes that lead through the Serra da Estrela in different degrees of difficulty. The probability of finding a route that suits your physical condition is high.
If you like, you can only hike through the high plateau, including magnificent views: rocks, heather and juniper bushes alternate here. The bizarre mountain landscape with its stone peaks, scree fields and heathland was formed by glaciers 20.000 years ago. But there are also forest paths and idyllic clearings with picnic areas.
Swimming and skiing in the outdoor paradise
The region is a real outdoor paradise: the rivers Mondego, Zêzere and Ceira have their source in the Serra da Estrela. Again and again so-called fluvial beaches invite you to refresh yourself in the rather cool water. The river baths are public bathing facilities with partly natural, partly artificial pools and a pool-like infrastructure. There are also numerous reservoirs and smaller lakes that are suitable for water sports and swimming. The only drawback: the crystal clear water is ice cold.
From Manteigas, the central town at 720 meters above sea level, a paved road leads to Torre, the highest peak. Access to most of the other peaks is by hikers easy possible, to others, such as the Cantaro Magro, lead climbing routes with different levels of difficulty. Ice and mixed climbing is even possible here in winter. In general, the area around the Torre is the only place in Portugal where you can ski. A total of four ski lifts are located here and there are nine ski slopes with a total length of about eight kilometers.
5. Hiking on the Vitalweg Holzgau
Health is also the topic of the "Vitalweg Holzgau" in the Lechtal in Tyrol, which with its 3,9 km and 198 meters of altitude is also one of the easier routes.
Discover Kneipp with a suspension bridge
Visitors follow the signs “Vitalweg Holzgau” from the center of Holzgau / Tiroler Lechtal to a hillside meadow. From there it goes past the info point with Kneipp exhibition and flax garden to the pleasure house viewpoint. A short section of the Lechweg long-distance hiking route takes you to the spectacular Holzgau suspension bridge. After crossing it, the course continues uphill to the forest. The panoramic route finally runs downhill along a nature trail and ends back at the starting point.
With its eleven stations and information boards, the path invites you to experience Kneipp's health teaching in the Tyrolean Lechtal up close. Health-conscious people can try out treading water in three places in the natural stream. Tin cans are also waiting there so that you can try your hand at the invigorating Kneipp baths. A herbal educational trail is intended to provide background information on Kneipp medicinal plants and provide information about their beneficial effects directly on the smartphone using QR codes and short spots.
Healthy competence on site
The power of nature can then be felt directly on the barefoot path and the balance course. Wooden massage trees and forest bathing areas equipped with hammocks and a floating net are good for body, mind and soul. In a typical hay barn with a small flax garden, visitors can expect not only the information point with modern media technology for the “Vitalweg Holzgau” but also a small competence center for nature-based health holidays in the Tyrolean Lech Valley.
There, in an interactive exhibition with videos by various local experts, the visitor learns interesting facts about the subjects of "Herbs and Medicinal Plants", "Kneipp Health Teaching" and "Historical Flax Cultivation", for which the Tyrolean Lech Valley was particularly known in the 17th and 18th centuries was. Several panoramic loungers also invite you to linger, and a riddle rally for children, a free information folder and guided tours with Kneipp experts are also offered. For the overnight stay, for example, the Alpenperle guesthouse is recommended, which also offers rooms for allergy sufferers and studios with kitchens for self-sufficiency. If you want to eat well and healthy, you should stop in the Dorfstube Holzgau.
6. Healthy hiking and slowing down on the Upper Rhine
After all, you can also hike well in Gailingen am Hochrhein, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful rivers in Europe.
Wildlife and viewpoints
On the Rauhenberg, with a bit of luck, you can even observe rare bird species such as the red and black kites. The panorama path with a distance of 20 km and an altitude difference of 350 m is particularly recommended here. The path leads past nine viewpoints and sights.
If the weather is good, you can enjoy an impressive panorama of the Alpine chain. There is also the 12,6 km long premium hiking trail “Grenzgänger”, which starts at the parking lot of the Rheinuferpark in Gailingen, then climbs gently through the vineyards and leads past several viewpoints.
Health location Gailingen
In general, the state-approved resort town of Gailingen offers a wide range of opportunities to do something for your health thanks to the good infrastructure. Even the journey, for example with the URh ship, is pure deceleration, among other things because there is no WiFi here. Leading neurological rehabilitation facilities, the Schmieder clinics and the Hegau-Jugendwerk as well as numerous outpatient providers in the health sector are located in Gailingen.
I had the opportunity to take part in a company activity unit to relax during work. The Rheinuferpark invites you to relax in summer, spend the night relaxed and eat healthy in the beautifully furnished Hotel Rheingold.
Jewish history and viticulture
But Gailingen also has a very exciting history: in 1655 the town developed into a large Jewish rural community. An old covered wooden bridge, which was destroyed several times in various wars, spans the Rhine to the neighboring Swiss town of Diessenhofen. The Jewish community is partly still reminiscent of multi-storey houses with urban Character shaped townscape, the Jewish cemetery laid out around 1655, the synagogue memorial and the former Jewish school and community center (today a community center), in which the Jewish Museum Gailingen is housed on the first floor.
Viticulture also has a long history in the region: a decree by Charlemagne allowed the winegrowers in the year 800 to serve a part of their wine in their house. The time you indicated by hanging out a broom, as it is still custom today. The winery Zolg therefore maintains a Besenwirtschaft with traditional food and drink and organizes covered wagon tours for groups to 30 people through the vineyards - wine tasting included.
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