Travelling Back in Time

Stories from the Alps, 23.09.2020, Astrid Steinbrecher-Raitmayer

Rub the sleep from your eyes with the chilly spring water at sunrise and light a fire in the wood-fired stove to make some coffee. Decorate your slice of bread with butter and daisies from the garden and cuddle up in the candlelit cabin in the evening. Holidays in a mountain cabin or chalet in Austria is a luxury.

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Die Almhütte scheint im Morgenlicht bei der aufgehenden Sonne in Kärnten | © Urlaub am Bauernhof Kärnten / Daniel Gollner

In Some Places... seems as if time has stopped. At the Buchegger family’s mountain cabin “Unterrannerreith” in the Kalkalpen National Park, for example. A picturesque log cabin on the edge of the forest, shutters, a small garden. A fountain and a wooden bench next to the cabin. Surrounded by meadows, forests, mountains. If you’re lucky, you might spot a deer passing by. Inside, you can hear the fire crackling. It smells of warm wood. The water on the wood-fired stove is boiling, ready for making coffee

Do it yourself!

In order to bring the water on the stove to the boil, you need to get some wood from the nearby barn first. It’s a self-catering holiday, after all. The barn is a storage room and a shelter for the calves. “Those who dare can also grab their sleeping bags and sleep there, in the hay”, the host smiles. But let’s focus on lighting the wood-burning stove. Place small logs in the stove, light a fire (fingers crossed), place the kettle on the iron top, bring the water to the boil and enjoy your first cup of home-made coffee in the mountains. Let’s play cards! It reminds us of our childhood when we were playing with grandma... That’s some quality time with your loved ones. Without neck pain.

“Oh yes, there’s no electricity in our cabin”, Edith, the host, tells us. “There is light, however, since we’ve installed two solar panels. If all else fails, phones can be charged in our farmhouse which is two kilometres from the cabin.” It won’t be necessary, though. You won’t think of it much. There’s simply too many wonders and distractions to be found here, at an altitude of roughly 1,000m. 

“There’s no electricity in our mountain cabin. If all else fails, phones can be charged in our farmhouse which is two kilometres from the cabin.”

Edith Buchegger

Deeply Rooted in Nature

The Buchegger family has a private spring, by the way. The water in the fountain or from the kitchen tap is refreshingly cold. There’s no need for a fridge. You can simply place drinks in the fountain and store veggies and fruit in the root cellar. Collect chives for a sauce and rocket, daisies and raspberries for a salad. Both goes well with sausages which you can grill around the campfire. Directly from the garden, it tastes a whole lot better than bought in the supermarket. Believe us.

Enjoying Food from Local Farmers and Floating above the Clouds

Johanna and Manuel Haaser’s Highland cattle is also a delicacy. “Our cattle is very calm. They are friendly animals and gain weight very slowly”, Johanna tells us. “This type of beef is the lowest in cholesterol.” In summer, the cattle grazes on the pastures surrounding the mountain farm Pumphaus in the Alpbachtal Valley, Tyrol. Every once in a while, they pay the guests at the 300 year-old farmhouse a visit. Here, at an altitude of 1,100m, a lot of things remind us of the past: the wooden fountain in front of the farmhouse, the old wood-fired stove, traditional wood panelling, timberwork and wooden chests of drawers. The fresh spring water is sourced from the mountain. Would you like to collect oregano and chives for dinner? Gooseberries and blackcurrants for dessert? Just go ahead! On request, the Haaser family orders cheese and other dairy products, vegetables and fruit from local farmers for you. Would you like to sleep in the hay? Your hosts will prepare a fine bed for you. In the morning, you’ll wake up to the sun caressing your skin. After all, the mountain farm “Pumphaus” is usually floating above the clouds. You’re very likely to hear the birds sing, perhaps even a cuckoo.

Walking on Air

From the mountain cabin Wallner Kasa, you usually look at the clouds from above. It’s set at an altitude of 1,600m, on the alpine pastures of the Gipperalm right in the Hohe Tauern National Park.  In the western part of Carinthia, the mountain cabins or “Alm” as they’re called in Austria are sometimes known as “Kasa”. The term is probably derived from the word “Käse” which means cheese in German. The dairywomen used to make cheese there. Today, the Wallner Kasa is a rustic mountain cabin including a living room, a wood-fired stove, interiors made of old timber and fire wood in the old barn. There’s even a sauna where you can warm yourselves up and get cosy on cold autumn or winter days. A small stream runs right next to the cabin. A great place to build bridges and dams. Benches invite you to daydream and walk on air. The chapel, just a few metres from here, is a great place to meditate and find inner peace. At this altitude, that’s quite extraordinary! The Rindler family’s mountain cabin Untergrechenighütte is also located in the Hohe Tauern range. Set right above the tree line, it boasts a stunning view of the Mölltal valley.  It was originally used by dairymen. Today, you can spend your holiday here: in the mattress room (or double room) including solar-powered lighting and water from the fountain, chopping wood and an outhouse. The mountains are simply a place that makes everyone’s heart rejoice!

Astrid Steinbrecher-Raitmayer
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