I hadn’t actually intended to go walking amongst the clouds. When I set out for a mornings hiking, through one corner of the snowy Ramsau, there was even some blue sky above my head, while the clouds attracting my attention were visible not above the mountains but below in the Enns valley. However, I’m one of those strange people who actually enjoys strolling through a misty landscape with its ever changing patterns so when the clouds came racing towards me I embraced them with some enthusiasm.
Ramsau am Dachstein is situated on a plateau between the Dachstein range and the Enns valley in the Austrian state of Steiermark (close to the border with Austrian states of Salzburg and Oberösterreich). It scores highly as a winter playground for families but that’s a story for another post. The area is also noted as one of the few Protestant enclaves in heavily Roman Catholic Austria.
Walking amongst the clouds turns the world into a place in which the day to day suddenly becomes anything but mundane and normally. With ever changing patterns a path, a wood or a hut in a field each becomes new objects of curiosity.
The day had started with further snow……
…but it did add to the attractiveness of our surroundings….
..there really had been a lot of snow in 24 hours….
…but then the sun broke through….
…to my left the sky above the nearest peaks cleared..
- ….but maybe I should have paid more attention to the picture on my right and below…
- ….one minutes I’m walking in a landscape of bright whites and sharp colours, the next it’s a landscape of ink and shifting shapes..
….but black on silvery grey can be beautiful….
…back on the farm road the clouds swirled around. In one moment I can’t see (but can guess) what’s making the jingling noise and then suddenly the horses and their sleigh are easily visible already well up the track….
….its only the passing of a few seconds before they begin to disappear back into the enclosing clouds…
…with the clouds came the return of the snow. I decided that digging the car out could wait till the next day.
Tempted as I was by the thought of another coffee sitting by the warm fire, I couldn’t resist the urge to take a walk the other morning in the frozen countryside between Ehrenhausen and Gamlitz in Sudsteiermark. We were staying at a Wine Spa in the town of Ehrenhausen and I knew that my time by the fire would not last and I would be expected to pay a second visit to the gym, so I opted for the more interesting experience of a deep frozen walk.
Naturally I took my camera.
The newly planted vines outside the hotel were the first things to catch my interest….
As we walked towards the town, through the mist, we gained an improved view of the local castle (a closer view was afforded from the hotel itself but was somewhat spoilt by the new apartments being built next door)….
It was only a few minutes walking beyond the town when I encountered this rather lovely creature and its friends grazing in a coppice……
The countryside here is very much a working area filled with orchards, vineyards, fields, woods, homes and farm buildings dotted across roll hillsides…..
Walking along a ridge I was able to take this shot of the church in Gamlitz……
I noticed that new houses were being added along the path of our walk but it was the older buildings that attracted my greatest interest. This one dates back to 1894….
Eventually the sun managed to breakthrough and the world around us began to emerge from its frozen sleep….
Well we got fed-up waiting for the snow to arrive in Vienna during the Christmas/New Year break, so we jumped in the car last Tuesday and headed down the A2 motorway. Our destination was the town of Semmering which sits on the border of the Austrian states of Lower Austria and Steiermark (Google map).
This really was a case of travelling literally to the snow line. Looking along the upper valley into Steiermark presented me with a winter picture of snow and low cloud.
But as I turned back towards Lower Austria the view became one of snow on peaks bathed in sunshine and then replaced with the green and browns of the lower hills and valley.
Whilst R & H went sledging I took a more leisurely (if somewhat of the slipping and sliding variety) walk down the mountain. This rather less bumpy approach gave me the chance to take a few snaps as I descended. Skiing venues always leave me with the feeling of something rather industrial but they can be fun.
A friend of mine recently returned from a week’s hiking in the Steiermark. They brought back the news that this year’s grape crop is particularly good and that the wine it will provide next year will be of exceptionally high quality and quality (as good as 2003).
So this is all good news for the local wine producers?
Well for most a very definite yes. But alas for a few an event in recent weeks has deprived them of the chance to benefit from this bounty. It seems that there was a long narrow weather corridor across Steiermark which produced an
intensive hail storm and the hailstones destroyed most of the grapes in their path. This would be a sad story in any year for those affected but when it occurs in an exceptional growing year I think this would drive me crazy.
I really need to buy a few books to read in the down time I’m going to have as I play chauffeur to my daughter and her friends. Amongst the growing list of places I seem to have promised to take them are:
The rather enjoyable water park in St. Gallen, Steiermark:
A return trip to the excellent Carnuntum Roman Archaeological site:
The Marchenpark, Neusiedlersee, Burgenland:
It’s one of those things about certain stories they’re a bit like a London bus, you don’t see one for hours and then two turn up within minutes of each other – unlike Vienna trams which just keep turning up J
Anyway, it was only a day or so ago that R was telling me the story of the Lower Austria resident who is desperate to find a way to stop his garden being dug up by visiting wild boar. Now, today, the Austrian Times has an article about wild boar being on the rampage in Steiermark. Austria has a very activate range of wildlife and occasionally I’m lucky enough to see the Pine Martin who makes regular visits to our garden. A lovely animal but it can do damage to the car – oh well.
I’m never really sure what to expect when taking a cable car with the skiers to the top of a mountain. My previous experiences have included finding myself with no choice other than to slide down a ski slope to get to the walking path half a mile away, standing in a blizzard dodging snowboarders or more often finding myself sitting in a hut with a coffee whilst looking out upon the landscape below. However, the Dachstein glacier provided the family with the chance to enjoy a walk across some truly beautiful scenery.
It took a little while for me to drive the car up the icy road to the cable car station. Whilst the locals and regular skiers negotiated the mountain road with skill and speed, our car ascended with the speed of an ancient tortoise. The ease with which I could observe the views below and the way in which the wheels of my car kept sliding towards the outer edge of the road produced an endless commentary from yours truly and a driving technique reminiscent of a newly qualified driver. From the way most other vehicles were taking the road my inexperience in such conditions was probably making hard work of the drive but at least I felt better doing it my way and reaching our destination in one piece.
After leaving the cable car station and negotiating our way past the ski slopes, we found ourselves able to walk across the glacier and enjoying a landscape of snow, mountain tops and below us the ever shifting clouds.
On returning to the cable car station we quickly found a seat in the restaurant for the obligatory coffee and strudel.