12.09.2016 - 14.09.2016 24 °C
Nothing says happy Monday like a pre-breakfast swim, right? We got our week off to a good start in the hotel pool and then did some post-breakfast Mittenwalding (with a special focus on the bakery). Unfortunately all the hairdressers seemed to be closed so there was no opportunity for Simon to spruce himself up, but we still agreed to walk with him for the day. We walked through the Leutasch Gorge (not as gorgeous as the gorge the day before, but still very impressive) and confirmed our suspicions that none of us are particularly afraid of heights. We stopped for our bakery products along the way - the randomly chosen epfelplunder was delicious, thanks Simon! On we went, crossing into Austria at some point with not a flag or a welcome sign to mark the occasion. Not a stamp in the passport either, boo. Lunch was our first meal in Austria and set the bar high - partly because we had a hilarious waiter who responded with "mamma mia!" and "mon dieu!" when Belinda ordered a beer.
On we went, stopping to admire the forest and mountain scenery when instructed, and also taking the opportunity to consume Haribo lollies and reapply sunscreen as needed. Most of the walk was quite flat, but the sun was out and we were still adjusting to having temperatures above twenty degrees!
We arrived in Weidach, met our piggy neighbour from our joint balcony, cleaned ourselves up and went for dinner that seemed to be included as part of the package. We honestly weren't expecting much - usually a set menu is of a fairly average standard - but our own expectations were well and truly exceeded! Our new best friend behind the bar introduced us to special Austrian herb lemonade (served with beer) and then presented us with a four course meal of such deliciousness it brings tears of happiness to my eyes just thinking about it. Salad bar with the best bacon we've had since leaving Australia, spinach strudel soup and the most scrumdiddlyumptious beef stroganoff. The highlight of the night was when I stopped the waiter from taking Simon's plate so that he could mop up the sauces with some bread, and the waiter then returned with a bowl of stroganoff sauce and a basket of bread just for Simon. Oh the happiness! Oh the joy! Never had Simon looked so delighted! Oh and then there was kaiserschmarrn mit apfelmus for dessert. Well done Austria, you excelled on your first evening.
I upset the locals the next morning at breakfast when I politely declined both tea AND coffee - apparently orange juice is just not an acceptable alternative. So I tried the carrot & pineapple juice as well, to make it look like I was making an effort, and it was surprisingly good. Vitamin C intake for the day - sorted.
After breakfast, we discovered that somebody had made a mistake on our paperwork and last night's dinner was not, in fact, included - but at 17 euro per person for a four course meal we were more than happy to pay it, and to book in again for the next meal!
We started our walk by going in the wrong direction (intentionally) and checking out the nearby toboggan run, which was MASSIVE. The boys decided they would take on the challenge, while Belinda and I assigned ourselves to photo duties. We watched Simon and Pat ride the chairlift up and over the hill, and then we waited. And waited some more. And just a little bit more. And then we were presented with free tickets because the track was wet and we were going to have to wait for the boys so we may as well be waiting up on the mountain with them. So up we chairlifted (very 'belaxing'!) and then we waited up the top. At 11am, when there was still no sign of tobogganning, Belinda and I gave up waiting and chairlifted back down, enjoyed the views of the Leutasch valley and commenced the days anticipated 6 hour walk, figuring the boys would catch us up.
And they did - with tales of near death toboggan experiences and dodgy brakes and adrenalin rushes and high speed shenanigans. Happy boys.
On we went to Seefeld, through the forest full of fungi and the sounds of cow bells ringing in the distance and sometimes in our immediate vicinity. We made it to Seefeld in about half the expected time, and spent the afternoon wandering about town, eating gelati, and making Simon look less homeless. Belinda found a 'gentleman's salon', and Peter took one look at Simon and vowed to 'make him beautiful'. Turned out Peter was a man of his word, as Simon emerged from the friseur 45 minutes later looking about ten years younger and ten kilos lighter. He looked as if somebody actually loved him!
The rest of us felt slightly inadequate walking next to him, but we made it back to Wadeich in record time, then cleaned ourselves up for dinner back at Hotel Tirolerhof. This time it was actually a FIVE course dinner, with a sneaky palate cleansing sorbet thrown in to make things really fancy. The meal was just as good - if not better - than the night before, and the service was just so friendly, so helpful. Plus our mate Christoph gave us free strawberry schnapps as a gift. And somewhere in all the excitement and happenings of the day, Simon and I BOTH managed to lose our hats. Consider it our way of giving something of ourselves back to the Leutasch valley.
Except that when we went to the bus stop the next morning, who should be waiting there for us but my trusty Corangamite hat? It had obviously had a night out on the town but was now ready to resume the walk with us. Simon's hat remained missing, much to our dismay. Probably the world's way of telling him not to cover up his beautiful new hair.
The bus took us to Gaistal, and from there we walked through some spectacular mountainous countryside, stopping at Tillfuss Alm for refreshments, but only when the small blonde girl called Anna-Maria deigned to let us in. It seemed she was running the place, and she decided who was allowed to enter her parents' establishment.
Belinda made friends with a dog who had the saddest face when we made to leave, but we had to continue through the forest, past the cows with bells on and up towards the cablecar. The cablecar took us back down the mountain and into Ehrwald, which had an interesting array of sculptures, excellent views across the valley and a bar that had discovered and replicated chicken wings with the colonel's secret herbs and spices. We explored town before reconvening for an average feed of pizza and pasta, followed by a much better dessert. It was just a shame that the wine and schnapps boutique was closed...