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


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


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!