Almabtrieb in Mayrhofen, Austria

October 1, 2011 - Mayrhofen, Austria


cow Almabtrieb, MayrhofenI had seen photos of cows in beautiful headdresses.  Couldn’t even say where I first saw them but I remember thinking, “Hey, what’s up with that?”  Well, the Almabtrieb is up with that.  Almabtriebs are held all over the Tirol region as a celebration of the time cows or other livestock are brought down from the high pastures for the winter.  They are a great excuse to gather in celebration, featuring local foods and beverages, and of course the cows.we found them!

                Our friends from the night before had told Bill where they would be hanging out so we eventually made our way up to the place.  There they were, dressed in traditional costume and dancing on the table benches.  We were all happy to see each other and a place was immediately made available for us to stand on the benches as well.  I will gladly share some of my observations from this great vantage point.  First of all, there were really a lot of people dressed in traditional costume.  In fact, a guy in back of us was dressed in what he said was a traditional Holland outfit complete with wooden shoes.guy from the Netherlands wooden shoes  There were folks there from Switzerland and of course our pals from Germany.  We were parked outside a bar where there was a lovely young couple playing guitar, accordion, and singing; very well.  Bill2, his wife, and BillThrongs of people gathered around; some dancing, most singing along with the band, and many taking pictures of our table.  almost dancing on the tableThere was even a guy with what looked like a TV camera that was rolling on our table.  Now, I have a sneaking suspicion that all of those picture takers would have been much happier had Bill and I not cluttered their pictures but, oh well; there we were.

               complete set of whiskers Almabtrieb We were so embraced and included it was crazy.  At one point Jimmy’s wife removed a heart from her dirndl and tied it around my neck.  She said she wanted me to keep it to remind me of her and of this great time we were having.  I explained to her that when Bill and I travel we generally do not spend money on buying things.  Our one exception is to always try to bring back something to hang on our Christmas tree.  I told her that she had given me the “one thing”.  She shared with me that she absolutely loved Christmas and that she still had one heart left.  She said she’d hang hers on their tree this year in remembrance of us.  You know, no amount of money could have purchased this experience for us.  We were so blessed that we “connected”.boys and their cows

                And another observation:  Just like the night before, lots of the songs the little band performed were known and sung by all around.  We got pretty good at faking it and when they’d call for a cheer, Jimmy and/or his wife would yell to me for one of my whoops.  Yes, I can whoop it up with the best of them.  Not a single song was for the benefit of foreigners; these folks were celebrating their own culture.  What would that look like for us Americans I wonder?

                Where are the cows?  I thought the cows would parade once through town and that would be it.  Fear not; they keep coming back.  In fact, no less than 5 or 6 passes through town during the entire day.  Unfortunately for me, I was up dancing and clapping on the table bench their first time through.  Since this is what I had been looking forward to I had to just trust that they would return.  The festivities beginSure enough, not too much time later it was announced that the cows were coming.  This time I grabbed my camera and pushed through the throngs for some pictures of my own; at a price.  The cows do not care if you are in their way.  In fact, they do not care whether or not they shit on your leg.  I am living proof.  It did give folks a chuckle to point to the splat of recently digested pasture running down my right leg.  Ah, so special.  Throughout the day I took more pictures of cows.  I also thought they’d sure look a lot more picturesque if I hoofed it to their pasture or somewhere other than where we were, but the fellowship came to mean more than cow pictures.

                guy with a clapperHere’s some fair warning: One of the things that might happen at an Almabtrieb is that schnapps could be generously shared with you.   All different kinds of schnapps.  And it’s not sweet nor is it particularly tasty.  Speaking from experience, one does not want to be unappreciative but schnapps does make for an early end to the day; at least for some people.  Bill and I headed back to our room around 3:30 p.m. for what we thought would be a quick lay down.  Not quite.  We napped and eventually got up in time for dinner.  We took advantage of the 11 Euro each, 4 course meal prepared at the hotel.  The cream of mushroom soup really hit the spot for me (Bill hates mushrooms).  Next a little puffed pastry with creamed vegetables was served.  (Bill hates creamed anything.)  I then had venison and Bill had a delicious pork steak.  The venison was served with pickled hot red cabbage; not my favorite; and what I’d describe as several pieces of sliced dressing.  It was okay.  Dessert was some fruity kind of concoction served with cream and almost warm vanilla ice cream.  It was all okay but nothing I’d necessarily rave about.  cow3 Almabtrieb, Mayrhofen

                After dinner we took a very long walk around; hoping to run into our friends again but also accepting that we probably wouldn’t.  Finally we stopped at an Irish Pub (yes) where Bill had a Guinness and I had an orange juice.  At this stop it was suggested that Bill looked like, “one of those guys from ZZ Top”.  Bill has heard throughout the last two days that he looked like Alfred Hitchcock; (that was a mistake - the guy actually meant Wild Bill Hickok); and then Buffalo Bill.  Not quite sure who he looks like but he sure is snoring while I finish this up.  It’s been a grand adventure here at the Almabtrieb.  I’d encourage anyone to give it a try.  Whether or not you dance, sing, and/or party with the locals; everyone is happy to be here.  You would be too.



a girl and her cows
almost dancing on the table
complete set of whiskers Almabtrieb
cow Almabtrieb, Mayrhofen


Paul and Diane:
October 2, 2011
Hi Kelly and Bill,

So glad the Dolomites didn't dissapoint. Looks like the weather's been great and it certainly seems like you're having a wonderful time creating new life long memories.

Paul and Diane
October 2, 2011
You are right. Austria is beautiful. What a fantastic trip it looks like!!!
Ellen (Carnesecchi)Porter:
October 4, 2011
What a great trip. It's wonderful and I'm sure time consuming for you to journal all of your experiences. Great for everyone to read as well!
When are you and Bill headed home?

October 4, 2011
so much to see within so little time.
Visiting friends make your trip more enjoyable and memorable. Oh, life is beautiful!
Thanks for the beautiful postcard!
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