Dear Readers, yesterday we went for a walk in the Ferwalltaller, the last of the four valleys that lay directly above Obergurgl. Suffice to say that it was very, very hot, and very steep, and we both drank a pint of Applesaft gespritz (apple juice with soda water) when we finished. But look what has arrived, in the last few days – a brand new lamb, with umbilical cord still attached. She is much smaller than all the other young sheep, so I think she was born up here.
One of the sheep has found the perfect answer to overheating – try laying down in a patch of snow.
But, that was yesterday. Today, we decided to take it a bit easier and get the bus up to the Tiefenbach glacier. The road climbs up to 2820 metres above sea level, and passes through a tunnel blasted out of the mountain which is nearly 2 miles long. When you get there, there is a very fine carpark, and restaurant, and cable car (as usual). At this time of year, the glacier itself looks a bit exhausted and grimy. It’s the only spot in the Oetzal valley where you could still do a spot of skiing if the urge came upon you.
We board a cable car, and head up to the top. While all these ski slopes and restaurants and car parks feel like a desecration of the mountains, you don’t have to look far to see what a tiny proportion of the Austrian Alps are used for these purposes, and how much remains untouched.
And for any cable car enthusiasts, here is the Top Station
So, once we’d wandered round and admired the scenery, we headed back down for lunch. I ended up with Germknodel mit vanille sauce – in other words, an enormous dumpling filled with prune puree, with poppyseeds on the top and some custard. Well, as I’m vegetarian, it was that or chips. And look at these very fine curtains, showing Alpine scenes!
So, we headed back down into the village of Solden, or ‘Sin City’ as it’s known in these parts due to its Table Dancing establishments (two, open only in winter) and its bars. These are something of a shock after Obergurgl, which prides itself on its clean and healthy living. Having said which, this is still rural Austria. I imagine that the goings-on are relatively tame.
As we sit sipping a coffee, we notice a cortage of Porsches parked up opposite.
The drivers get out for a chat. From here, there are only two routes – into Obergurgl (and then out again because that’s where the road runs out) or over the Timmelsjoch pass, with its 28 hairpin bends, into Italy. I imagine that they’ll be off for a pasta lunch.
I wish them luck with trying to keep their yellow/black/white/black/yellow colour order when they have to get past buses/cyclists/motorbikes on those twisty roads. Oh, and yesterday a lorry got stuck going over the Timmelsjoch so no-one could get past in either direction for six hours. The idea of driving a convertible, with the wind in your hair, and the reality of being stuck behind an articulated lorry round 28 hairpins is something to consider.
So, we head for home, and pass this sculpture, made entirely out of bits of scrap metal, outside one of the hotels.
Tomorrow is our last day in Obergurgl. How can two weeks have past so quickly?