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Seefeld, Austria near Munich
Hiking in the Alps
Living a short
hour’s drive from the Alps does have its advantages. While my husband
and I were sipping our morning coffee on the balcony, we decided to take
advantage of the last of the warm days and go hiking.
We took our time getting ready (our
little boy, Marc, was still recovering from last night’s dinner party that had
kept him awake long after his normal bedtime). At around nine o’clock,
Marc reared his sleepy head and stumbled on to my lap to enjoy
his “good morning cuddle.”
Now, nine o’clock may not seem like a
late start to you (it certainly never was to me – until I met my
husband, that is!) but Matthias, was born and breed in the green valleys
of Germany and instilled with the idea that anything worth doing must
be started before six a.m.
So, after quickly feeding Marc his
breakfast we were on the road and headed south towards Tirol, an
absolutely stunning region nestled between Austria and Italy in the
Tyrolean Alps. As we drove through Garmisch, (which is the epicenter of
Germany’s highest mountain peak called Zug Spitze) we saw a sign for a
summer rod´l bahn, (which is something like a toboggan but it runs on
a track instead of snow), and impulsively decided to take a short
detour. Needless, to say, Marc thought this was a terrific idea and
hopped from one foot to the other with excitement while we bought our
The scariest part was riding the track
UP the hill (very much like sitting in a roller coaster car and being
pulled up to the top of the first crest). The toboggan itself sits right
on the ground and is pulled up at an almost 80 degree angle - at least that's what it felt like to me. The entire
time, I had the feeling that I would tip backwards and go tumbling down
the hill like poor Jill. But, I kept up a brave front (you have to with
my two guys!).
Of course, as with most things, it’s
always much scarier in your head than it is in reality and in a whoosh
we were down the hill and standing in line again for another go. In the
time it took me to finish my diet coke Marc and Matthias had already
raced down the hill another three times and it was time to get back on
We arrived in Seefeld around noon and
our stomachs were rumbling. At the base of the mountain we planned to
hike was a typical hütte. Basically, a very rustic lodge or cabin with
equally rustic fare. We sat down at the huge, hand carved picnic tables
and waited for our lunch to arrive. I enjoyed a smoked ham and mountain
cheese plate with black bread while Matthias ate geröst´l - Fried
potatoes with bits of pork and a scrambled egg on top. Marc flittered
back and forth between our plates and washed it all down with a huge
glass of fresh milk.
After being properly fortified it was
time to begin our hike. Marc and I were in luck. Because we started out
so late in the day, Matthias choose a more “gentle” path up the
mountain. (Normally, I feel like I should have strapped on a pair a
spikes and a restraining halter.) It only took us an hour to make it up
to the mountain’s highest point where we had a glorious view of the
picture perfect town below.
On our way down we came across a field
of blueberries and Marc ate so many his lips turned purple. Matthias and
I spent most of our time searching for the ever elusive porcini
mushroom (to no avail… sigh).
Marc is absolutely fascinated with
rocks, (yup, just plain old rocks), and by the time we were half way
down the mountain he had filled his shirt like a peasant woman’s market
basket. He held up one that had an interesting pattern and asked me what
he could buy with it. I laughed, and said he could buy anything on the
mountain that he could pick up and carry. Well, it wasn’t long before
Marc spotted what he wanted. A huge granite stone that had been broken
in half and where it was broken it glittered like a thousand blinking
stars. That thing easily weighed 10 pounds (which is one quarter of
Marc´s body weight) but he dutifully laid his “money stone” next to the
coveted rock and picked up his prize.
At first we tried to discourage him but
he was determined to have it. “I paid for it,” he said. “It’s mine.” As
he stumbled and staggered under its ever increasing weight we had to
marvel at his resolve. He did eventually put it in his backpack but you
should have seen the glares we got from people passing us. They
probably thought we were making our little boy carry our water for us or
something. Marc carried that stone almost all the way
down to our car without complaint. I only helped him the last kilometer
or so. It now sits in his room as a small monument to his determination
(where it will eventually get buried under a mountain of toys).
As wonderful as hiking in the Alps is
for body and soul, the real motive behind the excursion was to have
dinner at Kracherle Moos, a restaurant in the town of Seefeld. The chef,
Balthasar Thaler, has received well deserved international acclaim for
his cooking. The restaurant itself is very cozy and small. I don’t think
they had room for more than 40 guests. It’s typically decorated with
rustic wood tables and chairs, wood paneling and hand painted pictures
the surrounding country side.
Matthias and I both ordered appetizers
and split them so we could taste as much as possible. Between the two of
us we had a marinated mushroom salad served with thinly sliced smoked
mountain ham and cold marinated beef served with salad and roast
potatoes. Marc had a mouth-watering kaiserschmarm, which is something
like a cross between a pancake and French toast served with
preiselberren compote (which is similar to cranberry sauce).
For the main course, I had one of the
most scrumptious roast duck plates ever! (And I love roast duck, so I
eat it a lot.) It was served au jus with greens, sweet red kraut and
hand made noodles that were so thick they were more like long gnocchi.
Matthias had Gescnitzeledes, which was sliced veal served in a wild
mushroom cream sauce with fresh made hash browns on the side. Yum! A
local wine from the vineyard “Toppf” made everything go down a little
Desert was vanilla ice cream with
pumpkin seed oil. Sounds disgusting but it’s actually delicious. The oil
is as black as chocolate and, mixed with the ice cream, has a similar
taste only naturally nuttier.
All in all, we enjoyed ourselves so much that we booked a room for next weekend so we can do it all again.
To the good life!
Article by Anne Alexander Sieder