Can those Germans party!

Thursday, June 21, 2018
Hermagor-Pressegger See, Carinthia, Austria
Today we had a choice between an 8 hour difficult hike, and a shorter one.  Give you 2 guesses as to which one we chose!  Now, I get that when you travel on one of these specialty group deals, there is a lot of socializing built into the schedule, but today was really a bit on the ridiculous side.  Not to mention that when you’re one of only 4 people that can speak English, there only so much socializing that can go on.
The start point of today’s hike was an hour from the hotel and people were expected to drive their own vehicles.  Fortunately our Swedish friends had a vehicle here and invited us along with them.  We drove up, and up, and up, and up on a very narrow dirty road until finally coming to the spot where the 8 hour hike had commenced.   Off we went in the opposite direction...for all of 15 minutes and then it was time to stop for a beverage.  We’re talking 10 am and most are ordering beer.  After about an hour of socializing, the Swede’s and us decide we’ve GOT to move around.  It is a hike after all.  And we did drive a whole hour to get to this area, so dammit, we’re gonna hike more than 15 minutes.  As we get up and gather our packs, some of the others get moving as well and we head out down a dirt path.  We go for what must be about 20 minutes or so and then we stop for a group photo at a wee little cottage in the middle of nowhere.  There’s a car parked in the yard and a rope across the drive.  
Someone drops the rope and into the yard everyone pours.  To say that getting answers to questions is difficult in a group of non-English speakers is an understatement, but we soon learn that the elderly gent who ‘guided’ us on this little walk-about owns the place and has invited us all in for...a drink.  We’re now about 11 am and people are on their 2nd drink, only this one is some weird liquor that you drink as a shot.  It’s Schnapps, or Grappa, or something this side of paint thinner.  ‘Prost’ they all yell and down it.  Socializing ensues.  We’ve now walked all of maybe a 1/2 hour.  Being that us and the Swedes have been socializing exclusively all week, we don’t need another hour to sit at this fella’s cottage, so we venture out on our own.  We complete the loop in about another 15 minutes and are back at the site of the first mornings drink.  It’s here we are having some snacks.  
We’re getting on to noon now and we’ve walked for less than an hour and consumed considerable amounts of various beverages.  I haven’t totally gotten used to the food options here in Austria, so when some Germans at our table order bread with raw meat and raw onions on it, you can well imagine my refusal to try it out.  We ordered something we considered ‘safe’, which was a plate of bread with mountain cheese and a bowl of frittata soup.  What that turns out to be is a couple of thin slices of some type of homemade, hard bread with several slices of a homemade cheese that has never seen a piece of cellophane so is harder than the knockers of hell and very dried out.  To put it bluntly, it’s the stuff I would throw out if it was in my house.  So I’m a cheese snob!  Live with it!
Our soup turned out to be very good and can best be described as chicken noodle soup, with no chicken and no noodles, but chalk full of pieces of pancake.  Yup, sounds odd, but was really quite tasty.  Kier and I had coke with our meals because we didn’t recognize anything else non-alcoholic on the menu.
So when our lunch is consumed, we and the Swedes are tired of sitting around, so decide to make our way back to the start point.  Just before we head out, one of the German’s tells us to wait at the car park because he has a keg of Black Forest Beer in his vehicle for us all to taste.  
What was first described as beer turns out to be beer AND shots of some sort.  Again, not sure if it’s Schnapps or Grappa or something this side of paint thinner, but I know that I’m giving it all a wide birth.  Luckily so did our Swedish friend who is used to very strict drink-driving laws in Sweden and not interested in taking any chances on the very rough and narrow road back down the mountain.
So, remember that 8 hour difficult hike I mentioned as one of the options for today?  Well, the small crew that did it arrived back at the hotel around 8:30.  They left at 6 am.  Like most everything else we’ve encountered this week, it wasn’t quite ‘as advertised’.  Good on them for finishing...but really, what choice did they have?  Once you’re up at the top of one of these behemoths you have no choice but to get back matter how long it takes.
We’ve also learned that the hiking portion of our holiday is now over.  Tomorrow is strictly a sightseeing and shopping day with a bit of strolling in between.
BTW - for those of you not on Facebook, I’ve attached the video of my Schuhplattler Dance debut below.  Turn up the sound, and the brightness on your device and get a chuckle!
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