Saturday, August 18, 2012

Dobratsch: Natural Park

Tuesday August 7th, 2012

My austrian father decided in the morning that we should head to Dobratsch , a natural park in the area. So we bundled up in the car and headed out to drive to the park. On the way there we stopped by a bakery in Villach and picked up something to eat.

Mmmm. Lots of cakes and pastries. You can also see the cremeschnitte in the middle of the display.

As always with the bakeries here my austrian father asks me what I want and I usually point to something that looks good (since most of the pastries are unfamiliar to me). I picked something that looked like it was sweet (as opposed to savory).

My mystery pastry. Could there be something inside?

Why of course! Chocolate filling!

The park Dobratsch ( is just outside Villach and is actually a mountain . You have to pay a park fee to get in (there is an office on the road, somewhat similar to U.S. national parks). You then can drive up all the way to the top with various sightseeing stops on the way (w/ parking lots). 

Dobratsch is approximately marked with the arrow.

 At our first stop up the mountain we had a view to the South/Southwest. There were even some telescope goggles you could use to look around (for free).

View, you can see some red rock where more recent slides have happened.

Climbing back up to the parking lot.

Closer to the top of the mountain we stopped at a parking lot to cross the road to stand on a viewing platform. We made some paper airplanes to throw into the air and see how long they would fly. Surprisingly my paper airplane flew the longest and actually hovered in the air for a few seconds before diving down on the mountainside. There was also some interesting history of the mountain listed in English at this stop.

"The Landslide of 1348

Floods and extreme periods of cold prevailed from 1342 in Europe. In 1348 the first severe thrust of a series of earthquakes led to the breaking down of the sodden and rugged heights, which at that time rose up in place of the niches of the Roten Wand. The bed of the River Gail was filled in. A reservoir of about six square kilometres was formed. Over 500 people died, but hardly anyone died in the landslide because it took place in unsettled terrain. Villach suffered most deaths through fire, which started from open fireplaces.

A document from 1491 reports that Arnoldstein Monastery lost 17 hamlets and nine parish churches, that were all mentioned by name. This was by no means the truth, but brought numerous privileges for the Arnoldstein Monastery from the responsible Patriarch of Aquileia. To pay for the emergency, the large parish of Hermagor was also ascribed to the monastery"

Wait, shouldn't emergency be in quotes? Since the Arnoldstein Monastery was lying? O_o I asked my austrian father about it.

Me: "Wait, they lied about having damage during a large earthquake to get more money."
Austrian father: "Yes. Pretty smart actually."

The view

Can see how part of the mountain just sheared off. The rock is quite poor.

More explanation on the landslide.
Apparently at this stop there is a wildflower walk/tour you can take at the same parking lot you park in for the viewing platform (parking lot 6). I was told that you have to have a couple hours to do it though. We continued driving until we reached the 'top' of the mountain (i.e. the farthest we could go by car). We got out and took a break.

Apparently Milka makes muffins?

Looks good but I think the actual muffin part left something to be desired. Tasted more like a dry cake.
We started walking up a path that leads to a higher peak but took a left turn into a cow pasture after a 5-10 minutes walk.  It is not necessarily obvious that you can take a left turn onto the cow pasture. All you really see is a 'gate' of three barbed wires (w/ red markers). You can unhook the wires individually and step in the field, and then re-hook the wires back into the fence. I asked my austrian father if many people visited this area and he said 'no, mostly only specialists and hunters' (the hunters have a private hut in the area; specialists referring to geologists or people familiar with the mountain).

It was actually quite a beautiful area and you really only needed to mind where you stepped occasionally to avoid the presents left by the cows. You can walk out to where the ridge of the mountain is and look out. It was probably about a 15-20 min walk but we spent some time sitting in the pasture area.

I was told the trees are small because the rock is poor (mostly gravel) and a lot of the water drains away before the trees can use it.

View from ridge

Sitting in the pasture

Some sort of mountain goat?

Heading back

Going back through the fence on our way back. The kids would unhook two of the barbed wires and then we would step over the lower barbed wire to get back on the main path.
Me petting a cow. Actually quiet friendly (courtesy of my austrian father).

We went into Villach for some lunch at Rainer Cafe (quite popular with my austrian father). I ordered a version of Frittatensuppe which wasn't quite good as in the mountains (probably because boullion cubes were used in the broth).

Hot day for soup but it was a small serving.

My austrian father had to go to a meeting so I spent some time with the kids in Villach. We decided to climb St. Jakob's tower. For some reason the spiral stairs seemed even smaller than last time. Perhaps it was because I was carrying a bigger bag.

View of St. Nicholas Church from the top of St. Jakob's Church.

The rest of the day was pretty quiet and I spent some time with the kids.

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