Sunday, May 9, 2010

Gorging and Spelunking in Austria

By Claire
We've been putting off a planned bike ride to some interesting sights 6 km away. With the rain coming and going we were hoping for a sunny day. Today was clear and sunny and warm. We hurried to get ready, hopped on our bikes and rode into town (across the road to St. Martin bei Lofer) for the start of the Tauernradweg bike trail to our first stop, the Vorderkaser Gorge.

Biking out of the campground

Water fountain in town with yellow trail signs

Tauernradweg bike trail next to the river

Six kilometers later, after a mostly uphill climb, we came to the entrance to the Gorge. At the Kasse (ticket sales) the woman asked me if I was a mother. When I answered yes she happily told me mothers are free today! I didn't know they celebrated Mother's Day on the same day here. In England it is called Mothering Sunday and was celebrated on March 14. I guess our planning paid off once again!

The Vorderkaser Gorge roars with water falls. We had to shout to hear each other. We were impressed! The hike up was a bit steep but it was beautiful and green and the duff gave off the scents of the forest. Not only that, we had the trail almost to ourselves. The Gorge itself has a wooden walkway throughout.

Coming out we decided to look for a picnic spot. We considered several nicely placed benches but decided to ride our bikes further down the road and there we found a wonderful picnic area with tables and the rushing Saalach River, the same one next to our camping spot. A dog was really getting into the pleasure of the day.

What impressed us the most was the provided umbrellas, stored in a hut next to the WC. How civilized is that? There were two families enjoying the day, cooking up sausages on the grill.

Biking on a further 2 km. we came to the Lamprechts Cave, one of the most extensive cave systems in Europe, 35 km. of passageways and at the same time the world's largest continuous cave with an entrance and an exit. We climbed up and up and up some very steep stairs, taking in the rushing water, the many side caves, and stalactites.

Entrance to the cave

The Gorger and the Spelunker

On one wall in the cave we found some old 19th century graffiti. I wish we could translate the German informational signs that probably had lots of historical information.

Stepping into daylight, we felt we deserved some coffee and cake in the sunshine. Unfortunately, the clouds were coming in and we hoped we had time to relax before our ride home. But, the cake was free for me--Mother's Day again.

Cappuccino, Austrian style

Much as we would like to have lingered, it was time to go if we were going to beat the rain. The view on the way back was wonderful and passing a couple sitting at picnic tables I waved and he raised his hand to wave back and just beamed. I must say, the people here are friendly, smiling and seem very content. We rolled into the campground as the drops began to fall. Are we lucky or what?

We're back inside Homer, cozy and comfortable. Our Kindles await. Is there any way to really express how incredible this trip is to us?

Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia. ~ H.G. Wells


Diane said...

Even in retirement, I could never be as relaxed as that dog, probably because he doesn't listen to national and international news! What a beautiful day you had, although the thought of spelunking makes me hyperventilate. Happy trails!

Anonymous said...

Claire! Check out the cave graffiti again! Is that not the UCDavis bicycle? Small world!

Chuck and Claire said...

Yep, it sure looks like a UC Davis bicycle logo. The wall was covered in old graffiti but I thought that particular section was pretty interesting, including the bike.