Thursday, June 29, 2006

An Alpine Adventure

From June 22 - 27 we were invited to explore the real mountains in the West of Austria. Jakob, who sings in David's chorus, is from Osttirol. He & Andrea invited Ingrid, Alois, David and I to escape from the heat of the city and relax in the mountains. We stayed in the village of Heinfels in the Pustertal valley, which is where Jakob grew up, and his mother and siblings still live. It is very close to the border of Italy.We stayed in a Pension (a bed & breakfast), Anton & Antonia were our hosts/caretakers.
This is the view out our window.
Breakfast on the terrace is a fabulous way to start the day.

Every morning jugs of milk are sent down from the top of the hill where the cows are. The house in the background is Jakob's mother's house.

Foggy Mountain Top

On Friday we drove into Sudtirol, which was once part of Austria, but was given to Italy after WWI. All of the signs are in both Italian and German. In Sexton/Sesto, we took a gondola up the Helm mountain to a lookout point to see the Dolomites, but unfortunately it was too cloudy. The gondola was very crowded, and we soon learned why- an entire chorus was on vacation together and they sang songs the whole way up!
We ate lunch at the Hahnspiel Hütte. Left to right: Alois, Andrea, Jakob, Ingrid, and David.
We were treated to a concert by the Italian chorus.

This is what the view is when it's not cloudy:
For dinner we all went to Jakob's mother house and she made "Schlipfkrapfen." They are potato dumplings sprinkled with a local cheese, Kasebolla, and pork fat. This makes them slippery, which is where the name comes from ("slippery dumpling").

The Dolomites

On Saturday we went for a hike up the Helm from the Austrian side to the Sillianer Hütte. Along the top of the mountain is the border between Austria and Italy. It was a beautiful day, and this time we had a fantastic view of the Dolomites.

Cheers! I'm sitting in Austria taking the photo, and David & Jakob are in Italy.
Since Jakob knows everybody out here, he asked his friend, the waiter at the hut, to play us some traditional songs on his accordian. We all listened and danced.

The hut in the distance is right on the border.
This side is looking into Austria.
And this side is looking into Italy.
This is the cross at the top which was built to honor all the soldiers that returned from WWII.

That evening was a local concert in Heinfels, there was a band and tables set up for eating and drinking.

On the hillsides surrounding the village were bonfires, some in the shape of a cross for The Sacred Heart of Jesus Sunday.

Herz-Jesu Sonntag

On Sunday morning there was a religious procession in Sillian to celebrate The Sacred Heart of Jesus. It started from the church after mass, and wound through the town stopping at several stations for prayer, and then back to the church. There were soldiers, firemen, a band, and townspeople dressed in traditional Austrian Tracht (Lederhosen and Dirndeln). They carried several statues of the Virgin Mary & Jesus and banners. It was interresting to watch such an old tradition.