19 October 2014

A Sea of Clouds

A sea of clouds
The last couple of days I've had the luxury of visiting friends of mine who live outside of Vienna, Austria. Their town, Wiener Neustadt, is located near the easternmost range of the Alps. Nearby, the highest mountain in the region, at 2076m, Schneeberg, looks down on the valley below and provides opportunities for visitors, young and old alike. Although the name means "snow mountain", it was a beautiful, sunny day on the mountain. The weather was spring-like and much nicer than the fog in the valley below. It was a perfect day to be up high.

A visit to Schneeberg could be quite a costly endeavor, it costs 35 € to take the cog wheel train up to the top. The food at the restaurant averages about 8€ a plate and 2€ a drink. But we were in luck. My friends had been given a free family day up top at the courtesy of the Austrian government, and when they showed up with me in tow, a fifth ticket was produced. Thank you Austria for my ticket AND my lunch! That was quite generous! 

We took the cog rail train up the mountain. The ride took about 45 minutes and the views were stunning. As we climbed higher, we could see the fog blanketing the valley below. 

Once we arrived at the summit, there was a free family fest to enjoy. The kids had a lot of fun trying out the games and playing with the free balls they were given. 

Then we sat down to enjoy both the view and a free lunch. I had a wonderful dish of lentils with knödel. I drank elderberry juice with it and it was delicious and filling. The cafe was known for a dish called "Schneebergkrapfen" which is a pastry that is made to resemble a mountain top. It has cream and red berries within and atop it. This dessert is advertised as big enough for two, we shared it as a group of 5 and still ended up with some leftovers - although, not many! 

If you are ever up on Schneeberg, I'd highly recommend it! 

After eating such a rich lunch, we burned off energy on the playground. The kids had a lot of fun, it was a great playground. I also took the opportunity to snap a few photos of the view. The sky was clear, but in the distance I could see clouds and the valley below was still covered in fog. I had the feeling that I stood on the edge of the land, overlooking a sea. 

At the top of Schneeberg was a tiny chapel. The chapel was called the "Kaiserin Elisabeth Gedächtniskirche" (Empress Elisabeth Memorial church) and was built at an altitude of 1800m between the years 1899 and 1901, opening not long after her death. Although tiny, the chapel has a beautiful domed roof. 

Before our return trip on the cog railway, we hiked a bit around the summit. We saw paragliders taking off and could see the clouds rolling in closer. Overall one could not have wished for a better day. Schneeberg was perfect. 

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