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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Almabtrieb- Austrian Cattle Drive

My friend Stella, who has since PCSed (military speak for moved), had a "Germany Bucket List" and on that list was to attend an Alpine cattle drive. Since she knows I'm kinda into cows (just a bit...), she knew I'd be one of the few people that would love to go. It was really last minute. Meaning I got home from work at 10pm, she called me, I slept for about 2 hours, woke up at 3am, and met her in Stuttgart. 


I honestly don't know much about the history of this event. From what I know, during the summer, the farmers let their cattle graze in the mountains, and in the fall, they bring them down closer to the barn for the winter. Over the years, this has become quite an event, somewhat like a harvest festival.


Throughout the town of Reith, Austria, there were several old-fashioned craftsmen showing off their trade.  Woodworkers, weavers, leather craftmen, keg/barrel makers, and of course the guy making schnapps (I guess that would be a distiller). He let us stick our fingers right next to the spout of the still, getting a chance to try some of the fresh alcohol. It was so good! They had flavored schnapps to try. I should have bought some because I haven't found anything as good since.


This guy and his son were decorating Lederhosen side-by-side. One of the cutest things I've seen.... like ever. For a brief moment, it felt like we had traveled back in time. Then the guy preceded to take a beer and texting break. So much for that! 

Three times during the day, the farmers paradied the cattle through town. The cattle wore hand-made head dresses. I'm guess these days, the cattle aren't really coming down from the mountains. In fact, I spotted a cattle trailer being pulled by a pretty new and nice truck. But it was still a nice homage to the past. 


After each parade, the cattle were put in a holding pasture where the tourist could also go and get photos. I got this shot of the ag youth organization that was helping with the event. Aside from the hats, they could fit in with any cattle fitters back home... standing around, shootin' the shit with a few beers. It's universal really.


Lederhosen and Dirnls were the common attire of the day. In fact, at the after party, it seemed like you weren't part of the cool group if you weren't in traditional dress. This kid in the photo above is so cute!


Each head dress was different; some with the farm name, others with religious pictures, some with initials or other personal messages.


Some cows wore some really big bells. I'm told the better the producer, the bigger the bell.


We also visited the church cemetery in town. All of the headstone were fairly new- less than 50 years old. Turns out people rent the plots. I'm not sure what happens after that- I've heard from some people the grave gets moved, other people have said they just put the next casket on top of the older ones.


A peaceful spot in town, just a block away from the wild after party. We stayed out until about midnight, but I was so tired, I wasn't much into partying. Plus I wasn't wearing the obligatory Dirndl. 


The next day we took a ski lift to the top of the nearby peak. I don't take many pictures, so I thought I'd finally post one. Does anyone else notice that my boobs are like in the middle of my torso? Victoria, you're letting me down, girl!

The rest of the photos I posted on facebook this time. Hope it works. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Switzerland


Back in September (wow, was it really that long ago?!), we took a trip to Switzerland. We couldn't decide exactly where we wanted to go, so I relied on a Rick Steves' episode from PBS to give me some pointers. I'm not like a devote follower to Rick Steves, but figured I'd give it a shot, and head to Gimmelwald. In fact, Rick was staying there just a week before we got there.


Gimmelwald is a quaint little village that is only accessible by cable car. Since I worked the morning we left, when we arrived to the mountains, it was already dark, so it was a treat to wake up to the view we got from our window!


We spent the day hiking up to Murren, and then to the next station where we got a great view of Jungfrau. We grabbed a beer at the restaurant there and hiked back down. Going down was just as hard as going down! It was so steep and we really weren't dressed for hiking in the Alps. Luckily, I didn't slip and fall on my butt.


We also got to see a special treat in Murren, an Alpine Horn practice. It was so neat!

The next day, we went to Trummelbach Falls, where 10 waterfalls flow inside the mountains. The water was such a beautiful shade of blue, and it was so cold! We even saw signs warning how cold the water was.


Craig and I decided to have a quick picnic lunch on a grassy spot next to the parking lot of the falls area. Next to us, was a Muslim family in traditional dress having a picnic lunch as well. As we were eating, I was thinking that we really aren't much different.... sight-seeing, enjoying nature, being with family, eating a simple picnic lunch before heading home. Then I realized it was September 11th. Seems fitting on the 10th yeah anniversary, as if those feeling of that day have come full circle.


On our way home, we stopped in Lucerne. We walked the Alte Brucke, enjoyed some gellato, and checked out a few other sights.

Switzerland is a beautiful, yet expensive place! Also, the cheese, is... well, interesting. It's a little too "farmy" for my taste. But I'm glad I got to try it. I'd like to head back in the winter to see how the snow has changed to views and feel of the Alps.

To see more pictures and get a little more history-- Switzerland Album.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dezember

I got a lovely birthday card from my Aunt Jean with a note, and she said she comes here every once in awhile to see what I'm up to. I feel like I've let her down since it's been for-EVER since I've posted. I must admit, the more bored I am, the more likely I am to blog.

Since I'm a working gal now (haha, so busy with my menial 24 hours a week job) I feel like it's hard to stay afloat with all the daily stuff I have to do. I honestly feel it's on my genetics to be slow and inefficient with my time. Oh, and being late, like all.the.time. Oh, and it's 3:15 AM and I'm putzing around on here and Pintrest, yeah another genetic thing.

I promise to get caught up. There's lots of things to share with you!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Too Much!

I somehow stumbled upon a new job. Well I guess it shouldn't come to a surprise, I mean I did attend a job fair and all. But I walked away with a job, which was surprising. Normally you get the, "oh let me look at your application," "stop in for an interview," thing. So now I'm cashier extraordinaire at the video store on base. Two days in and I already know I work with a bunch of characters. 


Here's a little preview of what I'm working on. This won't become a DYI blog; too much pressure to have to create things to put up here. Well, not like I was pressured to post things on a regular basis anyway... 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Disc Golf

Disc Golf is an American invented sport (it's been said that it was first played at Pendleton King Park in Augusta, GA, a course we have played on.... not quite as impressive as saying you've played at St. Andrews, but still neat nevertheless), so we are pretty excited that there are a few courses in the area. Well, kinda- the two closest courses are an hour away, but we don't mind the drive. 

We went to Mainer Volkspark, and it was quite apparent that disc golf isn't as well known in Germany. Take this photo for example:


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Verdun

The biggest advantage of only one of us having a job and not having kids is to do whatever we want on a whim. So one day last month, when Craig had two days off, we woke up and I said, "I want to go to France and learn about World War I history" And so we packed our bags and set off for an adventure.

One thing that I like about doing things on our own is stumbling upon things you didn't plan to. It kinda makes me feel like an explorer (I know, I'm sure thousands of people have seen the same stuff we have, don't burst my bubble.) For example, we were near Verdun and I really had to go to the bathroom. We pulled off onto a wayside/picnic area. I walked about 20 feet into the woods and I realized I was standing in a World War I era trench!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Heidelberg

I love how the Germans say the word "berg." Much more elegant than how the English say it. When you hear a them say "Heidelberg," the name sounds just like you would think the city looks like. With Heidelberg Castle overlooking a quaint old town, and it's iconic old stone bridge over the Neckar River, it's easy to see why this is a popular tourist destination. 


Over a month ago, we headed out on a day trip to check it out. Oh yeah, sorry for the delay- made a trip back to the states this month so things got put off posting-wise.

We walked around the castle grounds, but got there too late in the day to take the tour through. Ok, we got there with enough time, but not enough to get our 5 Euro worth, at least I thought. So we will return. We got primo parking near the castle for free (pretty unusual here)  and learned the secret to budget vacationing- buying your meal at the local grocery store and having a picnic lunch. 


It worked great for our little trip- we had some good Germany bread, ham, European cheese and chocolate, and some local wine. This was our view; not too shabby. Too bad it started to rain. 


So we decided to sit under the Alte Brucke (old bride) that Heidelberg is known for. Apparently some other people had the same idea. Pictured is the view of the second part of our romantic picnic. Next to us was some heavy metal teenagers and a couple making out. Craig said we should have started making out too and made it a contest. Eh, they were doing pretty good without competition.

Rest of the photos (only one awkward picnic lunch photo included).