I had such a wonderful time in the village of Kelchsau with the lovely Fohringer family. Oma Fohringer was kind enough to let me use an apartment in her Gästehaus located right next to the Fohringer family house, so I was always close to action 🙂
The patriarch of the family is Opa Fohringer, who had his 80th birthday party while I was visiting. Opa is doing extremely well for being 80 (I’m sure my dad would be jealous of his mobility), taking daily walks around the village, tending to his bee hives, brewing schnapps, and hanging with friends and family. He’s a pretty cool guy who really loves his family. People came from all around Tyrol to his birthday party at a nice restaurant in the village. Reinhard’s dad and uncle played some pre dinner tunes on their flugelhorns, and Reinhard had one of his musical ensembles play for dinnertime entertainment (they’re a musical family). I enjoyed chatting with Reini’s sister Kathrin and cousin Eva (both excellent English speakers) as we sipped Austrian wine and were serenaded with traditional music.
It was really nice getting to meet Reinhard’s family. Even though we struggled a bit with communication, they really did their best to make me feel welcomed.
The next day Reinhard took me to his Opa’s cows’ summer vacation home, the alm. His Opa has 5 brown and white spotted milking cows that he sends to the mountains with their friends from other small farms during the summer months so they can be outside and eat all the grass they want. They were in the barn when we visited, but they looked very happy with their jingling bells on as we peeped inside.
We walked down to the bottom of the hill and bumped into his parents who were on a walk and stopped at the same outdoor restaurant where Reini and I planned on having lunch. We sat with them and a couple of their friends until they left to continue their walk.
This post concludes the documentation of my Austria trip. I really had a wonderful time visiting the Fohringer family and am very grateful for their hospitality. Hopefully it won’t be too long before there are more posts on this blog. I would like to get back as soon as my bank account allows for it (and if anyone would like to fund a return trip, I would gladly discuss sponsorship terms!) 🙂
I had been begging to visit Salzburg with Reinhard even before I actually bought my plane tickets to Austria. The plan was to visit our friend Patrick (Reini’s roommate in Tallinn) and his girlfriend Linda, who live in Salzburg, and have them show us around their city. However, the flooding rain caused us to push pack our Salzburg day and Patrick and Linda were not able to be our personal tour guides anymore because they were busy with school and work. They were able, though, to type up a guide for Reinhard to follow as he led me through the city. Linda’s family was nice enough to let us park at her house. Her mom came out and greeted us as we drove in then we followed our instructions into the city. We stopped at a cafe for a light lunch before heading through the historic city.
On our way to the Hohensalzburg Castle, we made a pitstop at the Salzburg dome cathedral. It was very impressive inside with its Baroque architecture. This cathedral is apparently where Mozart was baptized (fun fact). We then walked through a part of Salzburg where there are street vendors selling crafts and food and musicians serenade visitors.
We enjoyed the sounds of the city below as we took the footpath up the hill to the Hohensalzburg Castle. We explored the cannon rooms, galleries displaying the castle’s military history, and an odd puppet exhibit (a little creepy). But the medieval castle that peers down on Salzburg was a really cool visit.
After pretending to be a princess and showing Reinhard which castle spire I live in, it was time to make our way back down into the city to meet Patrick for a trip to his favorite biergarten at the Augustiner Bräu. Thankfully, Patrick was able to meet with us for a little after he got off of work that Friday afternoon. We got our beers (ours were considered small at a half-liter) and then shared stories and chit chatted under the big shady trees. It was a nice break from walking around Salzburg.
Reinhard and I said bye to Patrick and headed back to Kelchsau. We had hoped to make a stop to the Hellbrunn castle, but we ran out of time (rain seemed to beat us there). Instead, Reini convinced me to visit Hangar-7, an airplane hanger at the Salzburg airport. It ended up being way cooler than I imagined in my head. This was the Redbull founder’s museum of all his big toys (race cars, airplanes, helicopters, etc.) in a really cool glass bubble. The women were especially impressed by the bathrooms of this place (gigantic fresh flower displays and cloth hand towels did the trick). Hangar-7 was an unexpected fun pitstop on our way back home for the day.
The first sign that this would be a special trip was Oma Fohringer’s reaction to Reinhard telling her our plans for the following day. Even though I could not understand exactly what she said, but I would tell she wanted to go with us on our adventure through the Großglocknerstraße (Grossglockner High Alpine Road)!
I knew what I was about to witness would be spectacular. Even the road to get to our destination road offered stunning views. We climbed through the Alpine landscape, passing brave bicyclers along the way. Though temperatures were comfortable (light jacket weather), there was still snow blanketing the mountain peaks. Reinhard wound his car through the mountains along narrow and curvy road. The road seemed to be especially loved by motorcyclers who outnumbered the amount of passenger cars driving through.
The end of the road led us to a museum and a terrace overlooking the Großglockner mountain, the highest mountain in Austria. There were also views of the Pasterze glacier on the Großglockner’s eastern side. Down below the terrace there were signs pointing to marmot habitat. Though I did not see any, I heard them whistle to each other.
We really had great weather that day. Opa Fohringer said that in his 10 trips to the Großglockner, he never had clear enough weather to actually see the top of the mountain. We, however, were lucky enough to have blue skies and few fluffy clouds which only served to enhance our view of the mountain.
With the weather improving from its perpetual rain/flooding state, Reinhard wanted to show me the great Austrian outdoors. We headed to one of his favorite nature trails and promised we’d be able to have a nice lunch once we got to the top of the mountain. We took the picturesque Wolfsklamm trail up through waterfall gorges. I’ll admit it, I struggled a bit, but the beautiful sights made up for it. Apparently, this route serves/d as a pilgrimage site for people, concluding with the St. Georgenberg Abbey at the top. I was happiest to get to the top of the mountain for lunch and a rest!
After the steep climb back down the mountain, we decided to head over to the outdoor Tyrolean farmer’s museum. There were farmhouses nestled in the rolling hills of the “museum.” Reini said that one of them reminded him of his great-grandmother’s house. It was nice getting to learn a little more about Austria and spend time outside, appreciating the much deserved good weather.
I think Reinhard was the most excited to introduce me to his favorite city, Innsbruck. Described as “the jewel of Tyrol” by my guidebook, Innsbruck lies between tall Alpine mountains, providing its historic buildings a beautiful backdrop. Unfortunately, we caught Innsbruck on a cloudy day, so the mountains were mostly hidden.
Reinhard lived in Innsbruck for a few years and now commutes there for his job, so he was an excellent guide. We first made our way through the historic old town streets to walk along the river and into a beautiful park. The park was excellently decorated and had a building in the middle, I’m sure which serves to house bands for summer performances. Just outside was a giant chess board and trees perfect for sitting upon.
We decided to make a visit to the Hofkirche, home to the cenotaph of Emperor Maximillian and a tomb containing Andreas Hofer (who Reinhard raved as Tyrol’s hero against the Bavarians to the north). Hungry, we walked through the old town again (making a necessary stop at a chocolate stop for a few truffles) and went to one of Reini’s favorite lunch spots.
By then it was time to make our way up what would have been my dad’s favorite spot, the Bergisel ski jump. Innsbruck has been the home to 2 winter Olympic games which utilized the Bergisel with its excellent views of the city. Reinhard pointed out that at the bottom of the ski jump was a cemetery, probably not providing much comfort to the skiers as they look down the jump.
We ended our Innsbruck day with a visit to Schloss Ambras, a beautiful Renaissance castle built in the 16th century. We quickly made friends with the castle’s mascot (a peacock) who proudly strutted around around the grounds.
Innsbruck really was a cool place to visit. It’s definitely a bigger city than the other places we went to and had a lot to offer!
This little Tyrolean town was definitely one of my favorite places to visit. Our trip there began with a drive up a winding mountain road to the Alpenhaus at the top of the Kitzbüheler Horn where snow and a live band greeted us. Never having seen snow in June before, I was perplexed as to how it was possible. But there it was. Snow. This Georgia girl has seen way more than her fair share of snow in the past 10 months (see October Snow). It is fun though that the top of the mountain is snowy, then travel down and be in a comfortable temperature. The Alpenhaus was a lovely visit. I tried to order traditional Tyrolean Austrian food for my whole visit, so I opted for some knödel soup while Reini happily munched on his wurst.
After throwing a few snowballs, we descended the mountain and went into the BEAUTIFUL town. We explored the old church and made stories of who we thought the people depicted by the intricately decorated grave markers were.
We wandered down into the Altstadt with its colorful buildings and stream running alongside old stone Main Street. Reinhard pointed to a pink sweets shop and sort of jokingly said he bet I’d want to go in there. I beelined my way to the Schatzi Cafe as fast as humanly possible. Inside was a pink (with sage accents) wonderland. I fit right in with my pink jacket and purse. With my cappuccino topped with fluffy cream, I had something called a snow mouse (according to Reinhard’s translation) and it was absolutely heavenly! Merengue cream, whipped cream, and fresh strawberries all piled atop a thin chocolate cake bottom made a dessert that melted in my mouth. I implored Reini to take a photo of me outside the shop (holding my pink bag with a souvenir I just had to buy inside) so I could remember that magical moment. If you ever happen to be in Kitzbühel, you absolutely HAVE to visit the Schatzi Cafe.
Though Reinhard attends school in the medieval town of Kufstein, just across the German border, he had not spent much time exploring the “touristy” things the city has to offer. We decided make a trip up there to see the beautiful fortress up on a tall hill as well as walk through the Altstadt (Old Town). We got a little rained upon, but the trip was marvelous.
Kufstein is such a beautiful, old city. The fortess offered us great views of the town below which it used to supervise. As always in the Austrian region of Tyrol, there was a bit of a hike up to our destination, but we were able to listen to ringing church bell towers and chirping birds, which made the trek better.
Reini was kind enough to invite me to dinner at a really nice place in the nearby town of Hopfgarten called Zeitlos. It reminded me of being in the Old Town of Tallinn with its stone walls and arches.
As my graduation gift to myself, I bought myself a plane ticket to visit Reinhard in Austria. I’m there now and really enjoying it! I’m staying in Reinhard’s grandmother’s inn. She has been a lovely host. It’s been nice getting to meet Reini’s friends and family. Even though there is a language barrier, they’ve been nothing but kind to me.
As my luck would have it, however, Austria has been having some pretty historic flooding just for me. Yesterday we were stuck in the village because the roads out were all blocked, but we were the lucky ones. Some of Reini’s friend were trapped out of their homes because they didn’t make it back in time to beat the flooded streets. So, as you can infer, there has been tons of rain lately (again, I should never play the lottery with my terrible luck) and we’ve had to adjust our schedule some (haven’t been able to visit our friend in Salzburg yet), but we have still done plenty of exploring.
Friday we took a trip to the Swarovski Crystal world! It really was magnificant. We walked through the giant’s head to enter the sparkly wonderland. We wandered through various chambers (my favorite made us feel as though we were inside a super-sized crystal) and then we, of course, ended up in their gift shop (complete with a 7,000 euro gleaming Hello Kitty). I got a couple of sparkling bobbles for my mom and I before Reini and I headed home. I have tons more stories to share, and I plan on rolling them out as I get time!