We have just returned from a week in Austria and a most enjoyable week it was indeed. I have never been anywhere that is so universally beautiful and clean. It seems that the whole country comprises stunning scenery and culture and is, furthermore, litter free. Perhaps there is a justifiable national pride in keeping what is naturally breathtaking just so. Yes, there are still the youngsters who drive around in their convertibles, or with windows open, blasting dubious throbbing music to unwary pedestrians, but what they don’t do, it would appear, is toss their used fast food containers from McFasties or KFC out of the window into the gutter. As they do, I’m ashamed to say, in England. It strikes me that it clearly is a matter of attitude and national pride, and thus, is taught and observed as good examples. Something for young Brits to learn, I think.
We based ourselves in Kitzbuhel for most of the week, after a brief and fun stay in Salzburg, exploring, getting lost, walking or driving up mountains and painting the views, and coming down again.
…early morning Kitzbuhel …
But, to my point, we decided to take the Cable Car up the Kitzbuheler Horn (6500 feet ! ) to visit an alpine garden and enjoy the views over Kitzbuhel and the valleys. The cable car stops half way and due to some unclear signage took the shorter of the two additional rides up to the top of the mountain. This left us with the last 200 metres or so (in height – not distance) to walk, which at this altitude and incline, took us about an hour and a half.
By now it was mid-morning, the sun was high in the sky and it was warming up nicely. Several other visitors had made the same mistake that we had and were now shuffling gaspingly up the last stretch to the top.
After about an hour we reached the alpine garden nestling below the summit, the attainment of which promised strudel and beer. Mrs. Monkey and her Mum lingered in the garden whilst her Dad and I stayed on the roadway winding our way to the top. Taking the next hairpin curve at a snail’s pace we found ourselves on a stretch entirely silent for a while – we were the only people for about 150 yards either way.
And then suddenly, there he was, popping his head out of his rock-home, checking out the sunshine and his neighbourhood, a marmot. I froze so as not to frighten him and watched in wonder of this wildlife in front of me. He was only about 10 feet away. And there we were, watching each other for what seemed like ages. I was sure he would dart and hide again and this magical encounter would be over.
I suddenly became nerdy. I immediately thought that no-one was going to believe us as Peter and I just stood there so I reached for my camera. I was convinced that the ripping of the Velcro fastener would scare him away, but it didn’t. And so he watched and posed, and here he is.
We slowly edged away to leave him to his morning routine knowing that we had been extremely lucky to witness such a thing. After just a few strides I turned around to see – but he was gone.
(And if you are wondering who Alan the Marmot is…….