Austrian Alps – 5

This was exactly my kind of day!

The castle ruins we saw this morning were at the top of my must-do list.  Ehrenberg Castle is just over the border near Reutte, Austria.  When we came in 2017 it was an early evening.  We hiked to the ruins and only saw a couple other people and felt like we had it all to ourselves.  We were a bit surprised this time to see so many cars as well as plenty of parking spaces to be filled.  People everywhere!  Perhaps one of the reasons is that there is now a funicular to take you to the top (almost the top).  We certainly bought tickets rather than walk up another castle hill!

The other public draw to this place is the suspension bridge – Highline 179.  The website (click here) says that, “With its stately 406 meters in length, the highline179 can officially be named the world’s longest pedestrian bridge in the Tibet style.”

Apparently it can hold 500 people along with its 70 tons of weight – and that is with winds of 60 kmh.  It was completed in 2014 so perhaps it has just had time to be more popular.  Last time it was rather terrifying and a few other people on the bridge made it even more so.  Therefore I was worried when I saw dozens of people crossing in both directions – but it seemed to keep it more steady.  I barely needed to hang up – but when it crosses over the freeway it can definitely make you dizzy!  Jackie chose to watch from a distance.  She had a lot of company.

The ruins of the castle are very cool – it is so old and so high up on that mountain.  I think it is a 12th century castle – and its location right at the steep valley was to help protect the salt trade (think Salzburg).  There is a fort across the way (Fort CLaudia – the bridge connects them) which I think was built in the 17th century.

Our day was then spent driving through the Austrian Alps – they never end and every moment is as beautiful as the moment before.  I could scarcely believe it.  This is my kind of travel!  Did I mention that the rain had stopped?  But not before leaving just the right amount of snow to accent the rocky crags of the mountains.  Magnificent!

We skipped Innsbruck and got off the freeway in Hall.  We drove through town and beyond to the mountain.  We tried to pay a toll to drive up the next leg of our journey but the machine was broken so we just trudged ahead.  Wow!  This road was extremely narrow, winding, steep and long.  Even Mark was getting nervous. Tight turns and steep slopes. What a blessing that we didn’t meet any other vehicle!  We drove up beyond the snowline and parked at a place called Hinderhornalm.  There was only one other car.  We then walked a mile on the snowy road to Walderalm – a working dairy farm up in the tops of the mountains.  

Turning the corner and seeing this old farm staged by the most wondrous mountains I have ever seen… how can I describe the thrill?  I know that the photo does not begin to do it justice!  This place is supposed to have a kitchen open during the day.  It didn’t seem realistic but we went to the likely door and knocked.  Feeling quite self conscious we entered and were shown a table.  They weren’t too crazy about us not speaking German, but served us steaming bowls of soup with a cheese dumpling.  So far this has been my favorite food of the trip.  I was kind of hoping for some fresh milk – fortunately we didn’t ask for anything extra because it took almost all of our cash to pay the bill.  It wasn’t expensive, we were just out of euros! Soon after we arrived some young German speakers came – did they hike?? Anyway, everyone was friendly and chatty and they actually received menus. That’s ok – the soup was great!! By the end of our meal we had charmed our hostess and she was friendly with us as well.

I would love to come up again and experience this place on a clear summer day, though I don’t know that I would want to take that drive.  To us it was strange to see people biking this road!  They are in amazing shape!

A few more hours drive to our hotel tucked into a sweet valley in the Alps just outside of Golling, Austria.    I have been a little bummed at not being able to go to Switzerland but I think that Austria is just as beautiful and the cows even have bells!  Don’t tell my Swiss friends!

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