Sankt Gilgen and Strobl
Sankt Gilgen is smaller than St Wolfgang. It is also more compact and so the impact of the frescoes, the colors of the buildings, their distinctive Austrian style is much stronger. There is German chorus music playing as we walk around. Everything is spotless and picture perfect – it feels almost like being in a fairy tale.
In front of the City Hall is a small glass enclosed building showing really exquisite Nativity scenes but with of course an Austrian feel as many have onion domed churches as part of the settings.
By this time we are again in need of some sustenance so stop into a konditorei for coffee and some pastries. One is a fruit filled pastry dough that was exceptionally good.
Then we happen upon a second hand shop and happily sort through their boxes to find some Austrian made glass Christmas tree ornaments. Finding a hidden “treasure” is always very satisfying and we are quite pleased with our purchases.
Then back onto the ferry to St Wolfgang and lunch and then off again to the ferry and Strobl. Strobl has a few areas discreetly fenced off for animals including reindeer munching on pine boughs, sheep and goats. There are also tiny nativity sets displayed in hollowed out tree trunks.
By this time we are again in need of a little sustenance. The tour company has given us two small gifts. One is a small wooden lantern with a votive candle, a replica of the Light of Peace lantern and the second a mug with the emblems of the three towns. The mug is to carry around with us and when we need to stop for some refreshments or we need to warm up we can use it to drink vin brule or Christkindlmarkt Punsch – environmentally correct, useful and pretty at the same time! We happily walk around with our mugs filled with kinderpunch and vin brule!
We go for a last walk to St Wolfgang. It is about 8:30 and Monday – the day after all the festivities of Sunday. It is as if there had been nobody in the town on Sunday. Everything is spotless. Despite all the food and drink that had been consumed on Sunday there was not a plastic cup, beer bottle or water bottle in sight. The cleaning crews are just finishing up and this very tiny dump truck – tiny because of the narrow streets – is driving away.
The last part of this visit to St Wolfgang is a train ride up to the first stop at about 1000 metres of Mt Schafberg – Lake Wolfgangsee is at 538 metres. Again the day is cloudy with a light drizzle. The webcam at the station shows 0 visibility so we are not optimistic that there will be any kind of view.
We head up through very green fields and I would say by about the 800 m mark there is the first sign of a light coating of snow on the side of the tracks . And then quite suddenly there are large flakes of snow falling and we are surrounded by pine trees covered with heavy white snow. It is quite remarkable this sudden arrival at the snow level.
We are the first run up for the day and when the train stops ours are the first footprints in the newly fallen snow. There is an old train car parked at the side of the rails and it is used as a small ‘rifugio’. There are a few tables the width of the train car and the main menu item is of course vin brule and punch.
We walk up the track a bit and it truly is a winter wonderland and it feels like Christmas.
We are a bit of a curiosity on this bus tour. The tour guide was the first to ask us where we were from. Her story is quite interesting. She was wearing motorcycle boots and had a Harley Davidson bag. On the walk to the ferry on Sunday morning she told us that she met her husband while accompanying a tour group to Las Vegas. She was married there and lived a few year in the USA. So of course her English is very good. She asked about us and the people around heard that we were Canadians with maternal family from Istria. The curiosity of course is that we do not speak Italian but do speak instead (a bit) the Triestine dialect.
Interestingly too, a lot of the people on the tour had been to either New York or Vancouver. They enjoyed sharing their experiences with us and to a person all commented on how horrendous those buckets of coffee are in America!
One last break for the bus driver on the way back and we are in an area with freshly fallen snow. The trees all around and even the parking lot is covered with heavy wet snow. As we get out of the bus one someone shouts out “Welcome to Canada”!