A(nother) day in the Alps

One of the (many) great things about living in Vienna is that when it’s really hot out and it seems like the best solution is a day in the mountains, you go to the Alps.  We hadn’t been in the mountains for a while, and I thought it would be fun to try something new, so today, we went up the Schneeberg.

It took us forever to get out of the house, and even longer to sort out some train confusion, but we eventually arrived at Puchberg to begin the final leg of journey.  You know it’s going to be an interesting ride when the track your train will run on has little teeth running down the middle . . . like the ones they have on roller coaster tracks.  The train that brought us up the mountain ascends 4000 feet and took us nearly to the summit (to 5900 feet of the 6800 foot mountain — not bad for less than an hour’s ride).

We admired the amazing view, ate a very Austrian lunch and played at the playground.  The playground had a zip line, which B bravely climbed on, and rode over and over again, taking breaks only because there were eventually other kids who wanted to play, too.  He loved it.  He was completely fearless about it.

Liam, on the other hand, didn’t care about the playground AT ALL.  All he wanted to do was hike, and he didn’t want any help.  At the first opportunity, he took off on the trail to the summit, with me scrambling behind.  He didn’t want to be carried, and he didn’t want to hold my hand.  I kept thinking he’d get tired and want to turn back, but he didn’t.  I eventually had to drag him, kicking and screaming (literally) back down to find Dan and Benjamin who were looking for us (and were never going to find us — because who takes a not-yet-two-year-old on a hike like that?) only to turn right around and hike back up, all together.  We went for an hour and a half, with Liam wanting to do it on his own the whole way.  On the way back, he kept pointing out new trails and crying and flailing when we said no.  That kid likes to hike.

The hiking was my favorite part of the day, too.  We were up above the treeline, where only the scrubby little pine bushes grow, and the views, in every direction, were in turns beautiful, impressive and forbidding.  There’s a lot of wilderness up there, and some truly amazing scenery.  We saw gliders, parachuters (I don’t think they came from a plane, I think they jumped off the mountain) and, as we came over the ridge of our own personal summit (higher than the visitors center, but not nearly all the way to the top) we suddenly found ourselves looking at what I think was a couple of small glaciers and a herd of free range cattle, completely unfenced, and each wearing a cowbell.

I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like it before in my entire life.  It was fantastic.

On our way back, we capped our day by being startled by the volume of the sound of a bird’s wings in flight as it passed by us.  What a great day.

It was a really long day too, though.  We expected to be out of the house for 6-7 hours.  We were away for over 12.  We are all completely exhausted and spent way too much time on trains today.  It was a great day, though.  Always fun in the Alps.

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