Thursday, January 24, 2013 (Day 15)
A sunny day really makes a huge difference! Today was another fantastic day and a great last day in Zell Am See. I took hundreds and hundreds of photos and I think I’ve narrowed it down to about 50 you must see. Sadly, I don’t think you want to see 50 photos, nor do I think I want to upload 50 photos. So, you’ll get just a few.
The day started out a little gloomy as we looked outside our hotel room and saw a thick cloud of fog making the world a gray place. Today is the day of our guided snowshoe hike up on too of Schmitten somewhere, and we really were looking forward to being able to have some views. We got up to our meeting point and easily found our snowshoe guide and her father who both did the tour in German. I wasn’t really expecting anything else and it didn’t matter since we just wanted to go snowshoeing. I’d say there were about 14 of us on the tour and we all bought our hiker’s lift tickets and road one of the gondolas up the mountain. Then, we got to ride the chairlift without skis on! This was a bit of an adventure, but they slowed the chairlift down for us. It was super easy to get one of course, but it was getting off that bothered me. It turns out that it wasn’t so bad….we just kinda hopped off before the snow embankment that the skiers would get off on and hurried out of the way of the chairs coming up behind us.
As it turned out, once we cleared the lake area (where our hotel is) the sky was nearly clear and the sun was out and it was a fantabulous day! We could look down at the lake and see the fog still covering the entire lake making for neat views down.
At the top of the mountain, we were disappointed to see that we were taking a 10-minute coffee break. What was there to take a break from? We hadn’t even done anything yet. But we used the opportunity to take photos and warm up a bit inside. The day started off chilly on the chairlift, but once we got hiking, I got rather warm.
Anyway, so finally we were issued snowshoes and started off on our tour. We started off on a groomed and very packed trail to start so we really didn’t need our snowshoes. And boy were these shoes noisy on the packed trail!!!! Crunch, crunch, crunch; the sound was deafening. Then we stopped and the guide’s father motioned us to gather round him in a circle. Then he started going on and on in German. All of a sudden, everyone partnered up, so Mark and I scooted next to each other. The older Austrian gentleman grabbed a partner, lifted his foot and demonstrated some kind of circle dance! Okay, this is now getting quite interesting! To our absolutely joy and amusement, we then learned some kind of Austrian snowshoe dance!!!
The snowshoe dance required our older gentleman in the middle to play his harmonica, giving us a beat, and then we crunched around him in a circle to his beat. Then we stopped, touched foreheads, turned around (not easy in snowshoes) and touched bums, and then did our circle dance again. HILARIOUS, I tell you. We had such fun and all of a sudden our snowshoe tour was totally worth it.
After dancing, we were off again, and eventually went more off-trail so that we could actually use our snowshoes on the unpacked, loose snow. However, Mark and I ended up way far behind because we had to keep stopping to take photos of the absolutely gorgeous view every which way we looked. So the path ended up being a bit packed for us after all. Still……great fun was had. Oh, and tons of photos were taking.
I am so happy that it is a sunny day and I don’t have to worry about getting snow on my DSLR camera. I could hang it around my neck with no worries and hike along and take photos. This is probably the first time this trip that I didn’t have to worry about snow and ice on the camera and taking it in and out of my bag all the time. =)
We didn’t go very far….just a bit down the trail and then we turned around and headed back to turn in our snowshoes. Mark and I had more plans for the day, so we headed down the mountain on the chairlift and gondola. The plan was to try and get to a toboggan place so we could go sledding and tubing. However, it turns out that most of the places are only accessible by car, and the one or two that was accessible by bus wouldn’t even be worth going. By the time we got there, we’d only have an hour or so until closing.
Short days and lack of good public transport ion were kind of putting us in a foul mood. We walked the 2km back to town and at lunch at an Italian/Indian restaurant. Mark’s chicken marsala was good, but my lasagna was more of a gloppy cheese and meat soup without any noodles.
New plan! It is super nice outside, so we are going to walk around the Zeller See lake. I’ve been wanting to do it and kept forgetting about it. The path around the lake is almost cleared of snow, but there were definitely still some snowy and icy patches. I heard that the lake will completely freeze in the winter, but it definitely is not frozen now. I wonder if it freezes every year or if maybe this year is just a warm one or what. I can’t imagine a lake this large freezing over. In little harbor areas there was some very thin frozen patches. One patch was frozen enough for the ducks to walk on, but other patches had ice so thin that a piece of snow broke through.
When we first went down to the lake, we found all kinds of ducks and swans begging for food. They even followed us around the perimeter of the lake as we walked around. I also managed to find a nice slippery piece of ice that took my feet out from under me in what I’m sure was a classic cartoon slip and must have been hilarious to watch. I saved the camera, but I was a bit sore after that. Don’t worry, I’m fine….just mostly embarrassed. =)
As we walked away from Zell Am See, I was delightfully surprised to see the water reflecting back the ring of snow-covered mountains all around the lake. I took hundreds of photos of these reflections! I just could not get enough of it. So beautiful and gorgeous! I wish I could have taken you all with me. I love natural beauty to the point of being speechless. Sometimes I wish I was better with words, but for now you’ll have to settle with some un-edited photos.
We walked until the sun went down around 4:30 and came back into town to a cafe for some hot chocolate (heisse schkolade) and cake treats. It was very nice to warm up after walking in the shade and getting quite cool. How do I keep forgetting to take photos of our desserts? =) Then, sadly, it was back to the hotel to pack up as tomorrow we fly to Paris, then the next day on to home.
We went by reception to pay and check out and they offered to pack a breakfast for us since we were leaving before breakfast was served. Well, that was a nice surprise. They packed 4 yogurts and 7 pieces of fruit for us!
Dinner was at a place called the Crazy Daisy which had really good food actually. At least I really enjoyed my salad there. And now completes our vacation, though there are still 2 more travel days until we are back at home. Thanks for reading my blog and patiently waiting while I got so far behind this past week. =) Thanks also for all the comments!