Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jura is in Espresso Machine Krankenhaus

Schladming from the Hotel Schütterhof.

We had no idea that Schladming-Dachstein was so beautiful – or that the walks were so bloody hard.

Rozalin sent us there and we will be forever grateful. We are promoting her to the new position (as well as Kitten Acquisition Officer) of ‘Weekend Planner’. Clearly this girl can do anything.

There is a map here for those of you who have so little else going on in your lives that you would like to see the area in which we walked.


We went on two ‘intermediate’ walks. These were not ‘intermediate’ by our standards but the Austrians are clearly a lot tougher than we are when it comes to mountains.

The first day it was raining – all day – but we set off from the Steirischer Bodensee to the Hans Wὄdl Hut. The book says that the track ‘winds steeply uphill’ – and it certainly does that.

So we scrambled up the mountain side like (geriatric) Mountain Goats and – after contemplating on more than one occasion to throw in the towel – arrived shattered at the hut.

We went inside to find 23 middle-aged Austrians drinking beer and playing cards in front of a roaring wood fire. We received a brief round of applause for our effort in making it to the top.
The Austrians were staying in the hut and had planned on walking that day but it was too wet. They were having a great time and it was quite surreal to walk into a hut at the top of a mountain in our debilitated condition and see people having so much fun – and being dry at the same time.

I had a truly delicious Apple Strudel before we set off and plummeted down the mountain.

Fortunately we both have two walking sticks each because it would be immensely dangerous without these – give the overall state of our knees. Some of the steps were more than half a meter high and everything was very slippery.

We arrived back soaking wet and covered in mud – but fortunately just in time for Jause – after which we required a restorative nap before dinner.

Day two we planned a flat walk and set out on what was supposed to be one. We walked from the Kniepp spa in Grὄbming to Viehbergalm. It was easily the hardest walk either of us has ever done and many, many times we sank to the ground gasping and saying that we could not go on. I have never seen a ‘path’ that went on so steeply for so long.

But we did go on – inspired by the ancient gnome-like men and women who bounded past us and disappeared into the distance. We also kept coming across cow pats. We thought – hmm…if cows can get up here we should be able to.

(The cows cheated – there is a road on the other side of the mountain).

Eventually we stumbled out into sunlit meadows where there were lots of cows, huts and people. It was real ‘Sound of Music’ stuff – we haven’t seen anything quite like it before.

We stayed for quite a while and had refreshments - and were humiliated by the sight of families with young children and ancient grandparents arriving at the top of the climb – one man apparently carried a child all the way to the top.

We expected any moment to see a mother wheeling a pram.

The hotel was delightful – so much so that we have booked it again for when Liz and Darryl are here in three weeks.

I have much more to report but I have to prepare for the imminent arrival of Annie and Michael.

Also Jura has packed it in again and has had to go to the Espresso Machine Krankenhaus. Gaggia has been dragged spitting and snarling from the basement and is sitting sullenly in the kitchen – trying very hard not to make drinkable coffee (100% success rate so far).


  1. Did I miss something? Vienna for Dummies has, I believe, failed to clarify the meaning of 'jause'. Curiosity got the better of me and I googled to find it is either a snack or pastries or perhaps afternoon tea? My education is falling behind.

    For their sakes, I hope Liz and Darryl don't have geriatric knees. But the scenery is stunning:)

  2. V for D failed to clarify the meaning of Jause precisely because it wanted to titillate your curiosity and send you scurrying to Google.

    Liz and Darryl have indicated quite aggressively that they do not wish to climb any mountains and are happy with relaxing strolls - followed by Jause - which is in fact in this context - afternoon tea.