HuaShan – the Steepest Mountain in China

I told myself that I needed a break.

Mom has passed away for over two months; I need to get away so that I won’t just sit here mourning over her passing.

My wife has arranged this somewhat difficult trip for the two of us.

We were to fly to Xi’an, China.

The two main destinations that we were to visit included the Terracotta Army and the HuaShan mountains.

The HuaShan mountains are very steep with several of its peaks at over 2000 metres above sea level.

The lowest Northern peak reaches a level of over 1600 m.

The trails mainly consist of very steep and narrow stairways.

The tread widths are very small, many visitors have to ascend / descend in a side way manner while holding onto steel chains mounted on the side.

These endless steps continues for hours, overstressing the leg muscles.

When we reached the mountains, the temperature was less than 10 degrees Celsius.

It rained in the last few days and when we started the sky was overcast.

The rain has made the steps and the narrow mountain rocky ridges slippery and very difficult to negotiate.

What we didn’t expect was that the sky gradually cleared up and what appeared before our eyes was a sea of clouds penetrated by the mountains.

We were there at the right place and the right time.

The above is one of the many pictures with fascinating clouds I have taken; please enjoy.





Hvar – A Walk up to the Spanish Fortress

Looking up from the seaside promenade, the Spanish Fortress appeared to be perched high up on top of the hill, as if it were a sentry guarding the Hvar town. The shortest and direct path from the town to the fortress is very steep with long flights of steps.

This 16th  century fortress, built by Spanish military engineers, was  constructed on the site of a medieval castle built to withstand attacks by the Turks. The fortress  and the 13th century city walls were constructed  soon after the islanders requested Venetian protection in 1278.  It was enlarged in 1557 by the Venetians and after more remodeling by the French in 1811, it was again restored in the 19th Century by the Austrians. In 1579 , a thunderbolt struck gunpowder store, causing devastating explosion and major damage to the fortress . In the following centuries the fortress underwent repairs and adaptations.   In 1971  the fortress was restored to the present form.

While my father-in-law (age 80+) travelling with us was able to complete the walks up to the top of the Plitvice lakes, on seeing the steep steps from Hvar town up the Spanish Fortress (Fortress Spanjol Citadel), he was determined not to give it a try. No amount of enticement would change his mind. Leaving him in a cafe,  we climbed up hundreds of polished stone steps through  the old town, then through an iron gateway, and up a zig-zag path lined  with shrubs and agaves.

The view just got better and better as we gradually ascended higher and higher. The hike was not an easy climb, the consolation was that we were rewarded with a breathtaking view.

When we reached the base  of the fortress, we were stunned by the beauty of the  poppies, agaves and shrubs at the base of the walls.

Up on the fort, we were offered a perfect panoramic view of the whole Hvar town, the port, Riva and the wooded islands of Paklinski Archipelago. From the turrets and main walls the views reach past the Pakleni islands, where you get a perfect view of the arrangement of the islands and their proximity to Hvar Town. The view of the marina and surrounded hillsides are amazing.

Inside the fortress, we noted the massive walls and the old cannons which still guard the fortress. The day was so hot that we decided to have an ice cream up in the fortress cafe.

Many structures including armory, crew quarters, prison and hallways were built on the irregular terrain. We explored the interior walls and made our way   down the stairway to the basement and had a good look at the prison cell.

Hvar Town is encircled on its land-side by protective walls. On our way down the fortress, we came across this wall which separated houses from the fort.

We made our way down the steep steps. Passing through more stones houses on either side of the narrow steps, we came across these flowers which looked so beautiful.

The descent was relatively easy. We walked down more steps, reached the seafront and found our way back to the town square.

We have seen the “must-see” fortress and  strolled happily back to the hotel.