Tuesday, September 29, 2015

We started out near that tiny village waaaay down there

Barenschutzklamm (photo)


Tuesday, 9/29
Barenschutzklamm gorge - as I write this I am so exhausted from hiking this gorge that I can barely think straight. I had heard about this hike, and the website made it sound so cool, that we just had to do it!

The Graz tourism website says "The exciting ascent involves 164 wooden bridges and ladders along 1300 meters. This involves conquering 350 meters of altitude". By the time we hit number 135, it was no longer exciting.

First, you climb pretty steeply on a hike over very rocky terrain just to reach the beginning of the gorge from the parking lot.  Stop at the little kiosk and pay your €3,50. Then another hour or so climbing all these steps and ladders. Around every corner you think "surely that must be the last one"! Only to see another set of steeply climbing stairs and ladders to conquer. Add again at the next corner, and again, etc. Some parts were so narrow, we almost had to turn sideways.  Finally  you make it to top and you get to hike another 10-15 minutes to a small cafe/hut at the top,where you can sit and gather your wits as well as have a snack before starting down the mountain. We could not believe how high we had climbed, but it was literally from the base to the top of the mountain.

The return trip is on a different path because the ascent is basically a one-way deal as there is absolutely no room to pass people on most of the trail.  And I think it would be really scary going down some of those ladders, especially the really steep sections. The trip back down takes 1-1/2 to 2 hours and is a steep angle down almost the entire way, over uneven, very rocky ground.

We did the whole thing in 5 hours, which is about average I think. We were glad we managed to accomplish it, but it definitely was a difficult hike and my knees and my pinky toe (large blister) are definitely unhappy about it tonight.

Hochosterwitz Castle. (photo)

Castle Hochosterwitz

Monday, 9/28
Hochosterwitz Castle sits 172 meters high on a dolomite hill just outside Klagenfurt. First mentioned in an 860AD deed, it's most impressive features are the 14 gates guarding the approach to the castle which were built in the 1500's. Each gate had its own treacherous means of repelling invaders, but the gates were such an obstacle that no forces ever invaded beyond the 4th gate.

The most enjoyable part of the visit is the walk up the hill and through each of the gates. Each gate has its own name and means of defense.  Climbing ever higher, the view from the castle is astounding as you can see for miles into the surrounding countryside.  Clearly an advantage if one was anticipating invaders!

Once at the top, there is a small museum about the family who owns the castle and a restaurant. There is also a lovely flower garden and the castle church.

There is a funicular you can  ride up to the castle but it was not running the day we were there, somethings about a replacement part that was coming all the way from the U.S.  We took one look at the rail for the funicular and its sloping, steep ascent path and decided we wouldn't take it even if it were working!