Tirol Fashion Week!

Old Sep 24th, 2018, 05:14 AM
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Tirol Fashion Week!

Or, as the locals are wont to call it, Almabtrieb.

I have a fondness for the Moo, and most thankfully DH indulges me. He knows how to stop the wagon safely on a €0,10 piece because I have spotted the bovine beauties against a gorgeous alpine backdrop and must take a snap whenever we are out in cow territory. This being September, the two main activities across much of western Austria are harvest festivals (translation: wine-drinking ops) and Almabtrieb, the festivals celebrating a safe livestock summer in the high alpine pastures. The livestock, mainly cows are richly decorated and driven down through their home villages. In the villages there is food, entertainment, and always, beer and wine, to keep the cow-watchers content until the catwalks begin. To not indulge in one or the other; or both, in our cases while we live in Austria would just be wrong.

This was our third Almabtrieb, and I have to write that like fine wine, these events just become more enjoyable with time. Like one might stake out a prime space for the American Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, we DH held a spot in Reith in Alpbachtal for our first event while DD and I roamed about the extensive farmers and artisans markets until the cows came home. Spectacular!, we declared it. A couple of years later we hiked up to an Alm in St. Wolfgang to wait for the cows, who brushed my Dirndl as they passed like the celebrities they are, and the paparazzi I was with my Canon clicking away. DDog came along for this event, and sang along in his Foxhound voice while the cowbells clanged. We did not think we could top that sunny Saturday in the Salzkammergut.

Fast forward to this past weekend. DD was not even hiding her excitement that DH and I would leave her (and her study-buddy DDog) in peace and quiet for three entire days to stay afloat of the senior year IB workload and college application crush while we pointed the wagon west toward Tirol. And the cows.

The Friday departure dawned sunny, but we watched the Tirol forecast with consternation. At our destination, sun and 25C for our arrival was the forecast; the overnight forecast, though, loomed ominous with a drop to 6C overnight and RAIN for Saturday, when the 150+ cows would come home. Our Gasthaus apartment paid for and non-cancellable we headed out, fingers crossed.

DH and I stopped for a longer-than-we-should-have lunch at the Mondsee rest station, soaking in the sun and the alpine air, and reached our cuter-than-cute apartment in the Gasthaus in the mid-afternoon. The proprietor, upon welcoming us cautioned, “I know you’re here to see the cows, but the rain may come tomorrow and ruin the decorations.” She hastily checked us in and printed our access cards to the gondola so we could enjoy an hour or so atop the local mountain before the rain came, and reminded us that the grocer in this town of 950 closed at 1800. Needless to write, the views from atop the local mountain were spectacular, though we could see the clouds forming in the near. We caught one of the last gondolas down to the valley and hurried to the grocer for a few breakfast provisions, picking up a 2-CD set of “Deutsch Cowboy and Trucker Music” (impulse purchase at the checkout) along the way to entertain the family at Christmas.

Dinner on this evening was at the hotel restaurant adjacent to our apartment, and it was the place to be. Except, not after 2000. While we had been faffing about the mountain top several tour buses had arrived into the village, disgorging their older charges who more than doubled the town population at said hotel. We arrived for dinner around 1930 and the salad bar was in the process of being closed for the evening! The staff though, I will write, did not rush us through our evening of an entire bottle of wine (!); amazing grilled Forelle; and a shared Mohn Germknodel, though we were among the last guests to depart the restaurant. At 2100.

Perhaps it was the wine, but I decided we should sleep with both balcony doors entirely open for the night. My rationale was that the tinkling of the goat’s bells from the farm across the street would be a lullaby. Around 0230 I woke up convinced I had frozen to death, and subsequently woke DH to Close. The. Damned. Doors. The next thing we knew it was 0700. The rain had fallen overnight. And the morning skies were dry!

We lounged over breakfast in the apartment, watching tour bus after tour bus after tour bus drop more and more people into the town. Our proprietor was excited, “Go enjoy the festival and we will keep a space for you!” as the cow parade would pass right along the Gasthaus. So we donned our Trachten and indulged in a little Frühshoppen and some market shopping before taking our reserved, front row seats for Fashion Week.

Like the divas and divos they are, the cows strutted their stuff along our street. For nearly two hours, families drove their more than 150+ cattle into the village every 20 minutes or so. Little girls as herders! Bulls trying to get it on with lady cows! So much nature. To keep us all entertained and amused in between, the adjacent hotel had set up the bratwurst grills and the beer taps, and awesome accordion music.

And then it was over, save for the cow patty-marred street. The cows had come safely home. That evening DH and I settled in to our cozy apartment (I insisted we close the doors) with provisions from the market for dinner and watched our alma mater wallop their opponent in college football (the Apple TV travels with us…) with the tinkling of goat's bells in the background. On Sunday morning the brooding skies bid us Auf Wiedersehen as we pointed the wagon home.

I have appended just three photos of the decorated cows, but you'll get the idea of how much fun this event is.

Thank you for reading.

Last edited by fourfortravel; Sep 24th, 2018 at 05:18 AM.
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Old Sep 24th, 2018, 07:02 AM
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How wonderful, love the festivities associated with the descent. So much tradition.

I hear you about the 9pm closing, we were at a restaurant on Saturday night - they advised that the kitchen closes early, and we were the stragglers leaving at 8:45 pm.
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Old Sep 24th, 2018, 07:56 AM
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You had me at Mohn Germknodel.
I loved this, and need to add it to my list of things I must see.
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Old Sep 24th, 2018, 10:14 AM
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Thanks very much for your report!

I attended the descent in Kerns. What a fun day! Loved it!
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Old Sep 24th, 2018, 10:35 AM
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Looks fab!
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Old Sep 24th, 2018, 03:08 PM
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looks great to me. Such sweet looking ladies there, and i love their hats.

I fancy the Forelle myself, preferably with Dampfkartoffeln. I never understand why people complain about German [or Austrian] food. Bread, eggs and cold cuts for breakfast, Schwartzwaelderkirschtorte for lunch, and meat or fish for supper or venison if you're lucky. What's not to like???
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Old Sep 24th, 2018, 04:20 PM
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I have nothing to add to this except to say that I love the cow pictures and every time I see the thread title my eyes play tricks on me and I see "Troll Fashion Week."
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Old Sep 24th, 2018, 10:15 PM
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Thank you, I just love this! Need to add to my “must see list.”
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Old Sep 24th, 2018, 11:30 PM
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Thank you, everyone for your kind words.

annhig, I prefer Zander to Forelle, but will never turn away either, especially with the only proper side of Petersile Kartoffeln. We're not the biggest fans of Viennese cuisine; when out in "the provinces," though we get excited about the food. DH began dinner on Friday with Kaspressknodelsuppe that was incredible; the Knodel was light and melted into the Rindsuppe perfectly. I rarely turn down Schlutzkrapfen or Backhendl, especially with Kürbiskernöl, either. On our return home we stopped in the Wachau Valley for lunch and roast duck with red cabbage was on the menu; since it was officially autumn I indulged. Mmmm. My butcher said she'll have fresh Hirsch in a couple of weeks, so there will be a Ragu on our table to kick off seasonal eating, to be followed by Wildschwein Goulash. So much Yum. 'Tis a good thing we hike just about every weekend!
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Old Sep 25th, 2018, 05:16 AM
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oh dear, fourfor, you are torturing me. I don't think I ever found a "german" menu on which there wasn't something that I really liked, though I suppose it helps if you like schnitzel.

And that talk of red cabbage reminds me that we found some in the freezer when we were clearing it out earlier in the week and as we are about to have some oxtail, it would go very well with it and the spaetzle.

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Old Sep 25th, 2018, 09:36 PM
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How much fun to see the cows meandering down the street in their fashionable hats. Looks like great fun. Definitely something to add to my list. Thanks for the pictures and your report.
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Old Sep 26th, 2018, 06:22 AM
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Paqngo, thank you, Almabtreib really is a great deal of fun!

annhig, it's Mexican tonight for us. Since I am home today waiting on a service person (1000 appointment and he showed at 1440. Ugh.) I agreed to make the enchilada sauce from scratch and had begun soaking the beans a day ago. This weekend is the Wien Weinwandertag, so DH and I will need something hearty after 10km of tippling our way through the vines, so perhaps I'll pick up some oxtail for dinner then. Yum.
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Old Sep 27th, 2018, 12:54 PM
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What a wonderful trip report. I also love cows, and to think there is a cow parade that I didn't know about!
This is one of the reasons I love Fodor's site; it expands our view of the world, and the we can share experiences with each other.
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