‘Could the winter start any better?!’

In the last days of 2021 we used our chance to bring international talents together at our Winter Wonderwalk – a hike through the beautiful scenery of Altenberg in Saxony. A chance to network, reflect and take a look ahead. Sai Pranavi is an Indian living in Dresden and wrote about her experience at the event.

A Day Full of Wonder

As a person from the hottest part of India, I have never seen snow. Now I got to not just experience it – but also live with it since winter started in Germany! So guess how excited I was when I heard intap was taking us on a Winter Wonderwalk hike. It was my first winter hike. I hit ‘register’ as soon as the notification popped on my screen. Some of my friends were also excited to come along. After waiting and carefully planning what to do (and what not to) on the hike with them the day finally arrived. I jumped out of bed and headed directly to the Hauptbahnhof (mainstation) where the train took us to the stop where we started trekking.

We were about 15-20 people joining in – a group small enough to feel personal and close but not as small that it could ever get boring. The first hour was naturally the time for introduction among ourselves and our fellow hikers. We switched places, disrupted conversations between people, mingled in discussions and got to know each other. After a fierce and spontaneous – yet expected – snow fight, we slowly started noticing things that were veiled in the excitement at first. Things like snow everywhere (duh!), the peaceful environment, lush trees, perfect pathways, frozen lakes, fellow hikers. All colourful and at the same time colourless. The farther we got in the hike, the calmer and more reminiscent we got. Some behind, some catching up, some clicking photos, while some diving into side routes. We sure were not a group that was easy to always keep a watchful eye on.

Strolling through the nature –  there was even  more snow  in other parts of the hike!

“It’s amazing how much in common we can have with each other without realizing it.”

About halfway we saw a van halted in the middle of the road. I honestly thought someone ran out of gas and had to leave their car behind to get help. I almost shrieked (in happiness) when I learned it was snacking time! God, was I hungry!! We all had hot Glühwein (mulled wine) with a yummy traditional German Stollen in our lovely gift mugs. I started to feel human again while warming up from the inside. Why did I ever take heat for granted!? Then came the game where we split into groups according to ages and united in the circle in the front if we had something in common that was proclaimed. It’s amazing how much in common we can have with each other without realizing it. After the heartful munch we waved Janett (the nice cake lady) goodbye and with new energy wandered on to the other half of the hike. A huge frozen beach with dive boards at the shore, many small bridges with tiny streams flowing below them, bulky dogs with fur so thick they may be mistaken for sheep are only some of the things that caught my attention.

Hitting a homerun on the road
Hot Glühwein warms from the inside

In the end we all wrote down one thing we were thankful for this year and one thing we wish for in 2022 on two little wooden hearts and dropped them into a frame. The atmosphere felt like hope while the frame slowly filled up. Oh by the way: Did I tell you what was the cherry on the cake!? Our memories were captured by the professional and fun-loving photographer/hiking expert Tommy. Made the whole event all the more special! Intap took care of everything we needed and could have wished for. Connecting with fellow internationals and experiencing the nature of beautiful Saxony was heartwarming – even outside the Glühwein – and reassuring that there is a together. I did not realize how tired I was until I sat back on the train. The day ended but the impact it left still holds up. While not every day can be that adventurous, one like this can really refresh and reset you.

I, for one, can’t wait for the Winter Wonderwalk next year. 

Group picture! Tommy made sure everyone had not only their memories but also some beautiful photos from the event.
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Sai Pranavi Kasichainula took part in our Winter Wonderwalk. For intap, she wrote about her experience.

All pictures © Tommy Halfter

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