The Drink at The End of A Walk
When I look at my watch and see that it is past 4pm and I have been wiping the sweat from my face since the morning, I start hoping that the end of my walking day is in sight.
I can almost taste the cold pint waiting for me in the beer garden.
I’m already picturing it: the weight of the glass in my hand, the tickle of the foam on my lip, and the refreshing first gulp.
It’s a signal to my brain that I have made it the length of the walk, that I did what I started out to do that morning.
CHEERS! We did it!
Or shouts of Prost! Salut! Salud!
On the Via Alpina, even after feeling hot all day, I would cool down enough to need another layer, especially because I was still outside, always outside…on a veranda, a porch, an overhanging balcony or simply spread out in a field of picnic tables with umbrellas.
Of course it goes without saying that this tradition is even better with friends, everyone sighing with relief and laughing about the events that have unfolded along the way.
Countless trail tales have been told around the drinks at the end of the day.
No one saw me, but I fell on that last set of rock steps down the hill.
Did you see the lady with the cows?
What about the refrigerator in the middle of nowhere selling cheese?
Wait! I missed a cheese fridge?
On a cold hike in England, I have my end-of-day lager while sitting as close to the heat of a pub fire as possible.
Or on a winter hike in Germany, the smell cinnamon and cloves, the tell-tale sign that gluhwein is on offer, will often hit your senses as soon as you walk into a bar. I love to warm up with a mug of gluhwein when it’s been a cold hike, but I will forever associate mulled wine with walking around Christmas Markets in Tübingen, where you can bring your own mug to fill it at different stands as you wander from stall to stall admiring all the treasures on offer. Strolling through a German Christmas Market is a different kind of walk, but no less pleasurable than a wander in the woods.
But in my humble opinion, no winter warm up can beat a Weissbier outside an Alpine hut on a hot summer’s day.
However, not everyone shares my love for a beer at the end of a walk, so it’s been fun for me to discover what other folks like. I’ve introduced beer-averse walkers to ciders with success. On the Camino, lots of the ladies opted for sangria. My friend Diane likes a Nestea, Simon enjoys a ginger beer and my dad will never say no to a sparkling lemonade.
It really doesn’t matter what the beverage is–sometimes it can even be finishing the tea flask in the car on the way home–but much like the picnic lunch, sitting down for a drink at the end of a long ramble is a necessary component of a great day out walking.