Thursday, October 10, 2019

Austria Trip 2019: The Cows

I didn't realize it before this trip but I sure do now:  the cows are very much a part of the Austrian way of life...and landscape.  They deserve a post all on their own!

You can start with the view just outside of Ehrwald, our home base for the week.

As far as I'm concerned, this would have been more than enough.
Talk about the "sound of music!"

However, long before our trip, Astrid had specifically earmarked a day to drive to Au, near the western border of Austria, to watch the cows being brought down the alpine mountains for their winter pasture.  We were like little kids, full of excitement.

As you know, the journey is every bit as important as the destination.
THIS is Austria...chalets, flower boxes and trompe l'oeil.
Almost every building we saw had paintings on them.

We were driving into the alpine skiing area of Austria,
some of which reminded me of places I have seen in Colorado?

Like I said, the journey really was as important as the destination.

I was particularly charmed by the overpasses and tunnels, covered with vegetation.
Many are there to keep avalanching snow from blocking the roadways.

How fun is that...flying off into the wild-blue yonder!

By the time we made it to Au, 104 km from Ehrwald, it was time to eat.
That was when everything was coming up cows!

That includes the cow-herder lederhosen at the bar,
which I made Astrid try out for size.  HA!

Now, then...the cows.
Unbeknownst to us, they had come down the mountain on the roads during the night,
not through the town, ringing their bells, as we had been told (as seen here).
[It was our only disappointment of the day.]

My guess is that it was a hard day's night!  Poor thing.

But lucky for us, we did get to see a roundup!

Maybe it made up for not seeing them come down the mountain like we had expected?

Actually, as we left to return home, we did see these stragglers.

Let's hear it for the cows!

As we drove back, we saw stragglers still waiting their turn, I guess?
Some of them looked like skin and bones, and we wondered why???

At one point, near Lech, we stopped to view this canyon.
In Austria!  Who knew?!

But it was scenes like this that totally made my day.
The hills really ARE alive with music...and with Austria!

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Austria Trip 2019: The Zugspitze

Astrid knew from the very beginning, when we knew we'd go to Austria for her 65th birthday, that we'd get to the top of the Zugspitze by hook or by crook.  And we did.

The Zugspitze is Germany's tallest mountain at 2,962 meters (9,718 ft) above sea level.

Here's what it looks like from below in one of our many views of it on the Austrian side.
Remember that our home base for the week was in Ehrwald, in the valley/shadow of the mountain.

There are two cable car stations for going up, in Ehrwald and in Germany at the Eibsee Lake.
We obviously chose the one in Ehrwald, Austria, only 4 km from our guesthouse.
The ride up took all of 10 minutes...on a gorgeous day!
We purposely sat in the back to take pics looking down instead of up,
knowing we'd do the the same on our way back, looking up.

We arrived at the top on the Austrian side of the mountain, which is at only 2,950 meters.
Later you'll see how the extra 12 meters/34 ft get you to the top on Germany's side.

So, yes, you heard me...there are two sides at the top because this mountain belongs to both.
It's a huge complex of levels with restaurants, cafes, museum, platforms, etc.
[Wikimedia photo]

The first thing we did was look out at the views of the Austrian mountain/countryside.

From there we walked to the German side for our hot chocolate break,
with apple strudel soaked in warm vanilla Austrian delicacy, in Germany!

These were the views we had right outside the cafe's terrace.

Going down from that level we caught another cable car taking us to a part of the mountain
just below the top of the mountain (are you following me?).

Not everyone at the top opts for this added cost but we decided to do it all, our only chance!

We especially enjoyed seeing the chapel, where a service was taking place.
I was able to grab the inside views through the outside door windows.

And yes, there was enough (dirty) snow for Astrid to make a snowball for Chris' birthday!
(Happy Birthday, Chris!)

Even enough snow for modern rodel sleds!

And while we were there, a helicopter made a drop-off of supplies.
Thankfully, it was not a rescue stop.

Going back up by cable car, we saw the full breadth of the top,
with the gold cross marking the tallest point of the mountain/Germany (bottom, right side).

THAT gold cross!

This is where those extra 12 meters come in.
A tourist guide in Ehrwald told us to not even think about climbing it,
though Astrid was sorely tempted the longer we stood there and watched.  HA!

At least we got to see it...Germany's tallest point.

If that doesn't make you hungry, what will?
Flanked by the cross outside on our right, we looked out over the countryside below...

where Germany's Eibsee Lake graces the landscape
(from where the other cable car takes you up and down the mountain).

After eating lunch, we walked back to the Tyrol/Austrian side for our descent down the mountain.

Once again, we sat in the back and looked up to see from whence we came.

Ha Ha.  We did it, thanks to all of Astrid's careful planning.
From going up to coming down, we were there for 6 glorious hours!