Go to the Austria photo album if you want to see the pictures.
In the early morning of Thursday 29th of September Sisi, the dogs Loeki and Kino, and I left Breda to stay for 9 days in a nice holiday apartment in farm stay Klampererhof in Virgen, Eastern Tirol, Austria. Due to all the road works on the German highways we arrived around 16:30 at our destination in Virgen. Agnes gave us a warm welcome and after some introduction she already helped Sisi by giving her a small jar with Propolis cream to put on her 2 infected fingers.
Loeki and Kino made friends with Krümml, the dog that belonged to the daughter of Agnes. Krümml was a nice friendly dog with a lot of energy, but did not listen to any order. He came out of an animal shelter and still had to get some proper training. He spent the weeks at the farm and the weekends at the daughter's place.
The farm stay was beautifully located in the Virgen valley, situated in the middle of the Hohe Tauern National park. From the balcony we had magnificent views on the mountains. Some of them had already some snow on their tops.
The next morning I took the 3 dogs out for a long walk, down to the Isel river and back through Mitteldorf. It was a nice walk with beautiful views on the mountains.
In the afternoon we visited the market in Lienz, a nice little town. On the way back we visited the Kalser valley with the Haslacher Schleier waterfall.
Saturday morning I walked, together with Loeki and Kino, a part of the Route of the Senses trail. This is a beautiful route through the open fields and pastures of Virgen, with at certain places information boards that tells all about the plant and animal life in the Virgen valley.
After lunch we drove to the end of the Virgen valley, parked the car at the parking place in Ströden and walked up the trail to the spectacular Umbal waterfalls. We spent a few nice hours walking to the waterfalls and back, through the forests and always the mountains of the Hohe Tauern in sight.
Sunday it rained all day, so it was a nice day to relax, watch movies and read books.
On Monday the sun shone again. It was a perfect day for a ride through the Dolomites in Northern Italy. The road led us through the Defereggen valley up to the Obersee at the border with Italy. It was still cold up here, but what a beautiful view on the lake and the surrounding mountains. The road over the Staller Pass into Italy was a one way road. The road is so narrow that cars cannot pass. So with intervals of 30 minutes the traffic is allowed to go up or down the road on the Italian side.
We were the only ones going down, so we could really enjoy the ride and the views. The road was really narrow and steep, but what an experience.
Driving through the Dolomites is an very exciting experience, due to very different rock formations, not to be seen elsewhere in the world. I was here twice in the late eighties on a ski holiday, which was also a very nice experience. I always wanted to come back here in the summer to see how beautiful the mountains then are.
Sisi was also very thrilled to see these mountains, so we made many photo stops. We kept on driving and it was already getting late by the time we finally reached Arabba. From here we drove straight to Cortina d'Ampezzo, a famous holiday resort. But on a Monday afternoon in the off season it was pretty quiet, with most of the shops and restaurants closed. We found a pizzeria, that was open, where we had huge pizza's, served by unfriendly waiters.
Somehow I managed to take another and much longer road than planned back to Virgen. But it was worth all these extra kilometers. One valley was even more beautiful than the other. Via the Sexten Valley, with a nice stop at the Pissandolo waterfall, we drove back into Austria.
After another morning walk with the dogs around Virgen we went back to the Kalser valley. Agnes had told us there was a nice walk through the forest where you also had to cross a suspension bridge.
In a small village above Kals we parked the car and found the bridge. It was a nice walk, although the mountain tops were hidden in the clouds. Loeki had problems crossing the bridge, while Kino, as usual, found it a nice challenge.
Via the Kalser Glockner panorama road we reached the parking place at the Lucknerhaus,the starting place for treks into the mountains. We walked around for a while, enjoying the scenery. Too bad that the Grossglockner was hidden in the clouds.
Wednesday started out sunny, so it was time to do the Grossglockner Hochalpen panorama road to see Austria's highest mountains.
We arrived early at the tollgate, but since we had no winter tyres we were not allowed to continue. There were too many icy patches on the road and nowadays they do not take any risks anymore. In a few hours the road should be open again for cars without winter tyres.
We went back to visit Heiligenblut. It was still sunny, so we had magnificent views on the Grossglockner, Austria's highest mountain. After a few hours we tried again. This time we could continue and went first to Franz Jozef's Höhe. The weather was already worsening and in places we rode through patches of snow. After parking the car we walked around for a while. The Grossglockner was still visible, but the surrounding mountains were already hidden behind clouds. The wind was too cold up here, so after making some photos we went back to the car and continued the trip. The weather was now really getting worse and the rest of the panorama road we rode in the mist and snow. We skipped other panorama views at the Hochtor and the Edelweisspitze and went straight to Zell am See, another holiday resort.
Sisi was a bit tired of looking all day at mountains, so we planned to visit Villach, the nearest big city at a 2-hour drive. I found a nice road, the Karnische Dolomiten road, that would lead us to Villach. The road led us through the Lesach valley. The road was, especially in little villages, so narrow, that it was difficult for cars to pass. And again the views on the mountains were spectacular. On the map I saw that we were close to Italy and even to Slovenia. I had never been to Slovenia, so why not go there? Well, I have been to former Yugoslavia, but that was more than 40 years ago and Slovenia was then a part of Yugoslavia.
So we continued to follow the Karnische Dolomiten road over the Nassfeld pass and into Italy. The road became very narrow now and in places it was impossible to pass a car. Luckily the only car we had to pass was at a place where the road was wide enough. Via Pontebba and the highway to Tarvisio we reached the border at Slovenia.
We had pizza in Kransjka Gora, a nice little holiday resort in Slovenia, with nice views on the surrounding mountains. Here the waiter was very friendly and did everything to make us and the dogs happy.
By the time we left Kransjka Gora it was already too late to visit Villach. At the Austrian border we were checked by the customs. And as it turned out Sisi had left her passport in our apartment. I explained to the customs lady that we did not plan to visit Slovenia, but since it was so close to Villach, our intentional place to visit, we had changed our plans. After her warning not to leave passports at home we were allowed to continue. After the steep descent of the infamous Würzen pass we drove straight back to Virgen.
Friday was our last day in Austria. Sisi was too tired to do much anymore. I made a morning final walk with the 3 dogs. Again I did the Route of the Senses trail, but this time I started from different point.
In the afternoon we did shopping in the local farm store and at the market in Lienz to buy big jars of honey and little jars of Propolis cream for Sisi's nailstudio.
On Saturday, after thanking Agnes for her hospitality, kindness and great tips for visiting the area, it was time to return to Breda.
Click here for a very nice interactive website of Eastern Tirol where you can plan your holiday.
On the map you can see all the places we have visited.