Live like heidi grandpa almoehi in the salzburger saalachtal
Alpine adventure in the mountains
Enjoy the alm summer in the Salzburger Saalachtal, up close and personal, on a hut holiday with the whole family.
Live like Heidi and Grandpa Almöhi
I can still vividly remember the children’s series “Heidi“ where the little protagonist ran barefoot over alpine pastures and thirstly drank clear water from the spring. Ever since then I have always felt a yearning for the mountains; the rustling of fir trees in the wind and cowbells. I have often been on holiday to the Salzburger Saalachtal with my family and taken trips to the Almenwelt Lofer or the Kallbrunnalm. Even so, that hasn’t been enough to silence my longing.
However this time I hope to have a close encounter with that “Heidi Feeling“! Together with my husband, our two children and a couple of friends, we are heading up to a self-catering hut. The rucksacks are bursting with equipment for mountain tours, wet weather strolls and lively hut evenings. We have filled up the boot of the car in the supermarket in the village because fresh mountain air is guaranteed to make you hungry! Gerhard and Karin are real sporting aces and hire e-mountain bikes in the village for a week. They set off straightaway on the steep mountain and forest roads to the hut. We are happy not to have to carry our luggage on our backs as our friendly landlord brings us and all our stuff to the hut door in his off-road vehicle.
Arrival in hut heaven
As we step out of the car we are speechless – the children are too and that means something! A fabulous view of the Salzburger Saalachtal opens up in front of us and the Steinberge seem close enough to touch. Spring water bubbles in a water trough in front of the hut and a real Pinzgauer fence separates the little hut garden from the pastures. Peaceful brown and white cows are grazing there and moo a friendly welcome. The children have pulled themselves together quickly and gleefully jump around the corner of the hut to explore the area. We glance after them, smiling, and unload the car. We receive training in lighting a fire in the hut stove. “Up here it is cool in the evening, even in the summer. And when it rains, you’ll be glad of a crackling fire in the stove“, our host says, winking. We bid farewell to the owner of this little hut who will collect us in a couple of days time. While we put our groceries away in the very simple kitchen – thanks to solar energy there is a fridge and light – Karin and Gerhard also arrive on their bikes. With a hearty snack and coffee we settle down around the big table in front of the hut and enjoy the peace and quiet.
There is no stopping our children. At home it is almost impossible to drag them away from the computer and television but here they haven’t even noticed that the hut doesn’t have a TV or Wi-Fi. “Offline at last!“, I think and put my mobile phone on silent: no unwanted calls will be allowed to disturb our alm idyll. While the children build a mini farmhouse out of pine cones and twigs, deeply involved in their game; my husband discovers wood chopping is a great daily workout and Karin and Gerhard explore the nearby mountainsides, I settle down barefoot in the fragrant grass of the alm. I just want to listen to the buzzing of the bees and observe the clouds. I hear the wind rustling through the nearby pines and smile silently to myself.
Dam walls and stick bread
Early the next morning we crawl out from under the red and white checked feather duvets. The sun and the jingling of the cow bells has woken us. We wanted to get up early in any case as a summit tour is planned for today. We lace up our hiking boots, shoulder our rucksacks and are happy that our hut up here is situated in an ideal starting position. The way up to the summit cross is just a stone’s throw away.
Karin and Gerhard make use of the day for more peak victories while we return to the hut where we build a dam wall in the little stream nearby. Time races by and when Karin and Gerhard return we decide to fire up the barbecue. Meat and sausages sizzle aromatically over the flames and my husband shows the children how to make stick bread on the open fire. It is a long time since we have had quality time with each other like this. The tired children clear off to bed voluntarily – this must be the fresh country air because it is impossible to get them to go to bed at home. We enjoy the starry night – how close the mountains seem to be to the sky. Up here, where no light pollution encroaches on the darkness, the milky way seems to be so near that we cannot tear our eyes away.
A cosy rainy day
The next day the rain taps quietly on the window and thick wisps of mist hang between the pines. The air is cold and clean, as though freshly washed. After a particularly extensive breakfast we fire up the stove and decide to go for a gentle stroll in the rain all together. We pull on thick jumpers, raincoats and wellies so that the rain can’t touch us. Laughing we jump through the puddles on the way and breathe in the spicy scent of the forest. I am the first to discover the little yellow caps and shout out joyfully, “Mushrooms!“ Here in the Salzburger Saalachtal these are known as ‘Eierschwammerl’ and we eagerly pick a couple of handfuls from the wet moss. Now nothing can beat returning to the warm hut, washing the mushrooms and cooking! We relish the mushrooms in sauce with dumplings and in the afternoon we return to bed with our books. The rain still drums quietly on the roof and the regular sound makes us sleepy. A rainy day can only be so snug and cozy in a hut!
The next day the sun shines down on us again and Karin and Gerhard ride down into the valley on the e-mountain bikes to collect fresh bread and to recharge the batteries. The children have already been outside in front of the hut for a while and are playing with my husband in the neighbouring forest. I use the time to be alone and sit down on the hut bench in the sun. I close my eyes, sighing, and notice how quickly I have adjusted to the rhythm of alm life: getting up at first light; being active in the sunshine; resting when it rains and going to bed as night falls. The day is truly relaxing without a clock or alarm! I only wake up from my peaceful daydream when Karin and Gerhard cheerfully arrive at the hut again, ringing the bell. The sound draws the rest of the family back and we decide to visit a nearby managed hut for hearty alm refreshments.
Simple but good
Farmer’s bread, butter, bacon, cheese and milk – the proprietor of the hut places all of this on the table. Fresh chives, which he has picked from the herb bed behind the hut, complete the meal. With satisfied lip-smacking we all pitch into the homemade products. How good simple food tastes! The host sits down next to us and tells the children stories of the many summers which he has spent on the alm. Only as dusk falls do we set off on the short way back to our hut. It is our last evening in our alm summer hut in the Salzburger Saalachtal. Before the children scamper into bed yawning, they want to know whether we can spend our next holiday in the hut. Laughing, I glance at my husband and say “The word ‘boring’ has never crossed your lips once; you’ve never asked about Wi-Fi or television and you’ve collapsed into bed every day happy and tired. I think we should definitely spend our next summer holiday in a hut high above the Salzburger Saalachtal so we can feel like Heidi and her Grandpa “Almöhi“ again.