Gams Strudel Parade
On our second day in Adriach, we started a hike that started in a pasture, moved onto a trail through the woods, around a mountain, with no idea where we were going. After and hour or so, we were tired and thirsty. And lost. When in doubt, just keep walking. I think I learned that in Boy Scouts. Or maybe it was turn around and go back the same way you came. Can’t remember.
Our trail through heavy woods gradually descended the mountain. Eventually, we glimpsed through trees and saw we were approaching a pasture and river valley. Civilization couldn’t be too far away.
When we reached a clearing, we saw a village about a half mile away and a road. On the road, we saw a sign with the name of the village, Vordere Gams.
The village was a few asphalt roads that branched off into cul de sacs with four of five homes along a heavily wooded river bank and hill. The homes were attractive, modern, with beautiful gardens, fruit trees, and over flowing flower boxes.
We strolled down a couple cul de sacs, but saw no one or a place to stop for a drink and to get out of the hot sun. We’d been hiking about two hours and needed a break.
We eventually found a young man shoveling at a construction site. In broken English and German, he told us we had to walk to the next village, Gams, to find a gasthaus. He pointed down the road and said, “The first building with the yellow roof is the Kainz Gasthaus. You can get a drink there.”
The Austrian’s have a nice tradition of also telling you when you leave a town. They put up a sign like this:
We walked another half mile to Gams and Gasthaus Kainz, the first building in a village of maybe twenty homes and a couple of farmhouses. Walk five minutes more, you’d be back in the woods.
We got out of the heat and sat in the pub, Marilyn drinking a homemade apple juice (apfelsaft) and Jack a refreshing weitzenbier. In our menu was a brochure promoting the Gams Strudel Parade on Sunday morning, July 17 at 10 a.m.
A strudel parade? We joked about a couple of guys dressed up like apple strudels (whatever that would look like!), followed by more guys playing accordions, tooting horns, banging drums, and yodeling. We laughed about it all the way back to Adriach. Marilyn said, “I want to go — just to see what a strudel parade is. I love strudel!”
When Sunday morning arrived, we were tired after a long hike the day before. Neither of us wanted to commit to another hike to Gams. But after a hearty breakfast of strong coffee, cereals, juice, yoghurt, and fresh rolls stuffed with cheese, tomatoes, and sliced meats, we decided to get some fresh air and stretch our legs.
Church bells were calling parishioners for Sunday mass at St. Georg Kirche. We stood in the back for a few minutes to see what a German mass was like, then started walking. It was another beautiful, sunny day, perfect for a hike, tired or not. It was our last day in Adriach. Why waste an opportunity for one last adventure? And what could more fun than a strudel parade?
We felt good getting back on the trail to Gams through pastures, woods, and in the mountains. We were familiar with the trail, and loved the solitude, fresh air, wildflowers, dense woods. The farther we got, the more excited we became about seeing what a strudel parade was all about. Just mentioning the name, ‘strudel parade,’ made us laugh.
When we arrived in Gams an hour later, we thought we’d missed the parade. We were so disappointed; no music, no crowds, no marching band, no balloons or people in funny hats. We’d missed the excitement.
But as we approached Gasthaus Kainz, we heard polka music! Maybe everyone had retired to the gasthaus for a post strudel parade party.
In the courtyard, three musicians wearing liederhosen, white shirts, and peaked Austrian hats were playing polkas on an accordion, clarinet, and valve trombone. And they were good! Not three guys playing “Beer Barrel Polka,” on squeeze boxes, these were professional musicians playing authentic Austrian traditional folk melodies. Lively, fun, with a steady beat. You wanted to tap your foot and sing along in German.
People on the patio were clapping and singing along. Gasthaus staff were carrying out metal trays wrapped in foil to a buffet table. The delicious aromas of warm cheese, grilled meats, and baked fruit were in the air.
We were all eager to find out what was in the steaming trays. At our table, Marilyn opened the menu that said, Strudel Parade. She read the selections and said excitedly, “Strudel parade means all foods today are strudel!”
Strudel, strudel, strudel
She read down the list — strudel soup, strudel fish, strudel spinach and cheese, strudel potatoes and mushrooms, strudel pork, strudel cabbage, strudel fruit, strudel cremes.
The Strudel Parade was about to begin! The musicians were singing, more guest were arriving – parents and children, babies in prams, grandparents with grandchildren, and a few ‘locals’ at the bar. The gasthaus staff peeled off the metal foil and everyone lined up to sample the delicious looking strudels.
It was a perfect way to celebrate a sunny Sunday summer afternoon. Plenty of singing, drinking, and eating warm strudel in Gams, population about 80. Including cows in barn next door.
Austrian wild flowers
Wildflowers bloom in fields, pastures, mountain sides, and trails all summer in Austria. Edelweiss, alpine paintbrush, monkey flowers, and many varieties we couldn’t name. They were like an artist’s palette of gold, red, orange, purple, and blue against a background of green pine forests, blue skies, and puffy white clouds.
Marilyn was so enthralled by the wildflowers and the beauty of Austria, that several times while hiking, she broke out in a few warbles of “Edelweiss” and “The Hills Are Alive” from her favorite musical, “The Sound of Music.” She’s rehearsing to record a few bars for a later post.
We were sad to see this sign.
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Next stop: Salzburg
In addition to writing this travel blog, I write fiction — thrillers, mysteries, and suspense novels. I’m currently writing a thriller series based in Milan featuring the anti-terrorism police, DIGOS, as they track down domestic and international terrorists.
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