And the food. And the wine. But, mostly the cows. All across the Alps, from Switzerland to Austria, the cattle (and sheep and goats) are brought down from their alpine summer grazing to winter in warm and cozy barns. Tradition holds that if no accidents occurred during the summer, the animals are to be decorated when driven down in the fall during “Almabtrieb” or “Almhoamfahr’n.”
So, when an article on the, “Ten Best Almabtrieb” in Tirol landed across my news feeds, the long school holiday weekend was the perfect occasion to take our new wagon on its first road trip.
The autobahn into the Tirol took us into Germany and then back into Austria. Given the migrant crisis and border closings in these parts, we weren’t sure what to expect. Indeed, we had about an hour delay approaching the German border as traffic was reduced to one lane for border checks (no passport checks, just a once-over by the authorities.) At the border there were several tents where, I presume, migrants were being processed.
Also near the border was a most interesting offering. A Spanish tapas bar between Germany and Austria? We didn’t stop.
The drive to our Tirolean chalet was like a route from a guide book.
And our village, something from a postcard.
The top apartment of this chalet was ours for three days. Two bedrooms, an up-to-my-standards kitchen, and a view we could not stop admiring. The weather was just mild enough to leave the windows open at night, and we fell asleep to the gentle sounds of our neighbor’s bells softly ringing…
(Clayton Theodore, on the other hand, was more interested in our other neighbors.)
…and we awoke to the village parish church bell echoing off the mountains each morning. Just lovely.
We ate well, too. Make that, very well. From bacon-wrapped pork medallions over spaetzle…
…to roast wild boar in mushroom sauce and sprinkled with meadow flowers…
…to bacon sandwiches to snack on while waiting for the cows.
And each evening, Almkäse and SüdTirolean wine before dinner. Such luxury.
On Saturday we (and just a few others) enjoyed the village festival, with food and music to keep us entertained while the cows were prepping for their big parade.
Alpine horn music!
The people watching was top-rate.
There was traditional Aperschnalzen (whip-cracking), too.
Then, the bovine celebrities!
Afterwards, making our way to one of the dozens of biergartens for brats and beer. We do not think it coincidence that these “Alpenburgers” were deposited across from this food stand!
Taking the scenic route back to our chalet, we passed through a small, small village holding its own Almabtrieb of sorts. How lucky were we! More cows!
To Almhoamfahr’n! To Tirol! Prost!