Highlights: Almdudler, Kaiserschmarrn, and Chairlifts
The next morning, a little groggier after our late night of jagertee and schnapps, we woke up for breakfast at the Pension, another plate of meats, cheeses, breads, and yogurt. We met Anja, our new guide for the day (well, really, Deb’s guide, who was gracious enough to take us along for the ride). A gregarious, body-building type,she may have had a bit too much gusto for our tired faces first thing that morning, but I’m definitely glad we had her. Our first ascent wasn’t too bad (not at all like the first day), and mostly took us through wooded paths and then into open alpine pastures. We did pass little huts selling fresh buttermilk and other fresh goods along the way, which was a nice change of pace from the first day where we didn’t pass anything open until our drink stop).
During the day, Anja regaled us with stories of how she goes up the mountain after work some days, the only woman of the group, to share drinks with friends up on the top and then bikes down with a headlamp.
She also never failed to remind us as we sweated on the way up that “this is just a hill, not a mountain. It doesn’t even have a name!” Thanks Anja.
As we started to go up again, we reached a summit (always marked by a cross), where a bunch of school kids crowded the landing. A teacher told us that all kids in Austria had to go on this trip at the start of the school year. Amazing – why don’t we have this?
After a good amount of walking, we stopped at the Kaindlhutte for drinks (this time for Almdudler, which is like an Austrian ginger ale – and fully non-alcoholic). It’s always fun to sit around with everyone, even though most people we met don’t speak any English, and even the Germans had a hard time understanding because of the thick, regional Tirolean dialect. Anja tempted us with lunch at the next hut, so we finished our drinks and set off again – this time mostly uphill but with great views.
Just before the chairlift, we stopped for lunch at the hut.
Great thinking by Anja, because this one also had ski-lodge-like views over the mountains, and the food was amazing. Deb and I had spinach knodel, a spinach dumpling covered in Parmesan, served with fresh green salad. Just what we needed after days of not having any greens. For dessert, we shared Kaiserschmarrn, this amazing fried pancake dough, cut up and served with powdered sugar and applesauce. I’m definitely going to need to find a way to make this back in the States… We miraculously avoided rolling down the hill and took the chairlift down instead. Warning: the chairlift does cost 10€, a bit pricy. It may be worth it if you haven’t ridden a chairlift in a while (yep, that’s me), or are really tired. Otherwise, the walk down is just relatively flat switchbacks all the way down. Boring, but easy. And cheaper.
We all stayed in Kufstein that night, and it was bittersweet to say goodbye to Deb. We shared one last drink in the center of town, explored the fortress area by night, and then wished her best of luck on her cycling trip the next 2 days, and a safe trip back home to California.