Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mallnitz: Mountain, Food, & Camp

Today started out with driving towards Mallnitz (temp around 80 (F) for the day) to drop the kids (in my car was only austrian brother, cousin, and father) off at camp. My austrian father described the areas up north, where the mountains are very populous, as pretty, but because the mountains are so close leaving almost no valleys that it is very inconvenient.

We were getting to Mallnitz a little earlier to walk around. At least, that is what I initially thought my austrian father meant.....

Mallnitz is the red marker, Villach circled (courtesy of google maps)

Turns out my austrian father planned to tackle the Groppenstein Gorge followed by a hike up to the Himmelbauer (rough translation heaven farmer, since the farmer was at the top of the mountain close to the heavens).

Himmelbauer is the red marker. I think we parked near Raufen above Obervellach. Initially I though it was Obervellach-West but that is too far away from the water.

We initially started out with him showing us a map saying we would take a half hour hike through the gorge and then a 55 min hike up to Himmelbauer. There was a little office where we got tickets and we started to head up a trail next to a river.

My austrian brother getting alpine mountain water before we head up
Artwork next to the stream my austrian brother was getting water from

Sign as we entered the area known as Groppenstein Gorge

The Groppenstein Gorge turned out to be a gorge that followed a river up until the river turned into waterfalls. At certain places you would have pools of water before the waterfalls that people would sit at and cool there feet off. My austrian father said that you can both swim in the water and drink it (thats alpine water for you). However the water was very very cold.

Some falls

Very clear water in the pools

We then turned away from the falls to head up a mountain path to start our 55 min hike. The path was marked by austrian flags painted on to trees (sometimes rocks). The trails reminded me a lot of the northwest (U.S.) trails back home however the trail became notably steeper as time continued.

Hello tree stump!
 About 20 mins into our 55 min hike we ran into a crossroads with one direction having the time as 35 mins to travel and the other as 60 mins.

My austrian brother and cousin: "Nein, nein, nein!"
My austrian father: *starts walking up the 60 min trail*
Me: *wait, this isn't what we discussed down below*

I think my thighs died on the way up. My feet had gotten used to walking from my Salzburg trip but Salzburg had been relatively flat. It was really my first time climbing a alpine mountain.

View (maybe 1/3-1/2 of the way up?). The town you see is Obervellach.

Half way up (my austrian father in the lead)

At the top! Obervellach below us.
 I don't think I have ever been so happy to see building. We reached the Himmelbauer which serves both as a place to stay and as a restaurant.

Guest house part of Himmelbauer

Can see the restaurant to the right

We ordered drinks first and of course my austrian father and I got some limetten radler. I ordered something called 'kaspressknodelsuppe' which is basically a type of cheese dumpling (not like kasnocken) in a broth.

My Kaspressknodelsuppe

My austrian brother ordered 'Knoblauchsuppe' which is a garlic soup. It came in a 'brottopf' (bread bowl) 

When ordering my soup though my austrian father looked at me and asked me what else I wanted.

Austrian father: "Soup is good but it is just soup. Do you like mushrooms?"

He ordered a dish for us to split which included fried eggs, potatoes w/ mushrooms, and pork (I think it was pork, I'm not an expert on meat).

Big dish for my austrian father and I to share.
The kids ordered pasta of some sort and when waiting for their food went off to find some kittens (apparently cats hanging out in the alps around farms is quite common; I was told once that they had 20 kittens at one time).

Inside of the restaurant part of Himmelbauer. I was told it was rebuilt 70-80 years ago?  There are modern bathrooms though so do not fear. I was told that a farm as been up on this mountain for hundreds of years.

Elevation. I think 1281 meters equals 4202 feet.

What the tourists take as transportation up and down the mountain. Unless they choose to walk up like we did.

Once up though we must come down. Our trip down was faster but was still a strain on my knees to keep from running down the slope. Once we got to the car we packed ourselves back in to take the kids to Mallnitz.

Red marker is Himmelbauer. Once we got back to the car we drove from Obervellach to Mallnitz (which is circled). The arrow is pointing to some very sharp switchbacks that we had to take on the road.

We stopped by a Billa (like a grocery store, not quite on the scale of a Spar though; a little more like a 7-11) to pick up some drinks.

Got my first coca-cola in Austria. It was a good time to have it.

We reached Mallnitz and just traveled slightly north to reach the kids' camp.

Hello cows!

Area where we dropped off the kids.

The view.

The house the kids are staying in for camp.

After dropping the kids off my austrian father and I hopped back in the car to go back to Sattendorf. We drove through old town Mallnitz but didn't stop so all I have to offer you of Mallnitz is some photos taken through the front window of a car. Mallnitz comes off more 'folksy' then other towns I have visited (Salzburg and Villach have more medieval feels). They fit the alpine small town image and I'm sure what most people think of when they think of stereotypical Austria (we are in the alps after all).

Entering old town Mallnitz

Hey its a maypole (I think they call them that?)!

All in all it was a good day but I am very tired. I am planning a trip to Slovenia on tuesday-thursday so most of tomorrow will be planning the fine details for that. Ciao!

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