Day 35 – Over the Arlberg Pass

St Anton am Arlberg to Wald am Arlberg, 26Km

Hotel Sonnblick, 61 euros

I won’t complain about the Camino signage out of St Anton. It was probably fine if you were sleeping on one of the town’s benches but they weren’t expecting pilgrims to be staying at the Hotel Rundeck, even at the exceptionally low rates on offer in this lowest of low seasons. “Help yourself to a picnic from the breakfast buffet”, they said, “otherwise it’s only going to waste”. I loaded up a roll with every type of Alpine cheese and grabbed a few Werthers sweets from the desk. And an apple.

I eventually found Jakobsweg and the climb up the Arlberg massif started immediately. It was a superb walk through typical Alpine scenery. Several little chapels and stations of the cross kept me company and there was lots of information about the flora around me. No mention of Edelweiss but perhaps that’s more Switzerland. I’ve seen Edelweiss in flower in Switzerland but it’s quite difficult to find and of course it’s protected. Death to anyone who picks it.

I’ve got some pressed Edelweiss at home. My grandmother gave it to me. She was born just up the road in Bregenz so it makes me a little bit Austrian although she was actually Swiss. Back in those days, a boy would give Edelweiss to a girl to declare his love but now a bunch of tulips from Spar has to do.

I climbed the Arlberg Pass. In addition to the flora and fauna information boards there were some interesting old folklore notices to stir the imagination. A particularly poignant one depicted a young single mum whose baby was snatched by a witch and crushed in a rock. You can see the rock and apparently it always holds water which is said to represent the blood of this poor infant. They have made a big effort with witches broom sticks etc. to dramatise the location but there is probably some sad truth in the legend. Regardless of your views on the solution to this age old problem, it’s a sad place and I was keen to move on.

I climbed on dirt tracks. The sun was shining and eventually I reached the highest point, of the Austrian Camino at 1860m. From then on, it was downhill all the way to Wald am Arlberg. It’s so exciting, Switzerland is coming soon.

I’m the little blue dot in the middle
Dramatic scenery on the climb up the Arlberg
Note the broom sticks leading the way to the tragedy
The witch of Stiegenegg
Is it too late for some Julie Andrews?
The church in Stuben
Stuben, waiting for the snow and the ski parties
Horse photo
A charming Alpine garden out in the real thing
Stuben’s beautiful little Alpine garden
Yes! Switzerland is coming
Had I taken the train I might have jumped off the train here, although the station is derelict

6 comments on “Day 35 – Over the Arlberg Pass

  1. I’m sure I have skied through Stüben as a young man. By the way, Mandy will now expect nothing less than a fresh Edelweiss, a pressed tulip won’t cut it. The avalanche barriers are even scarier though.

    • This is a big area for skiing but all very quiet now. Absolutely no one around but July and August will be busier

  2. Kia ora, Tim, well, it was worth getting out of bed this morning because I have learned something new! Your photo of the horses (thank you) prompted me to check out Austrian horse breeds – the palomino is a Halflinger and the spotted one a Noriker. I wondered what all the parallel lines at the top of the mountain were and Tim has educated me on their use but do you have any idea what the are constructed from (yes, I know – split infinitive!)? I am impressed by your achievements and love the photos. Kia kaha, Vicky

    • Glad you liked the horses- I took the photo especially for you. I think the avalanche barriers are probably wooden but I’ve not been close enough to check. I thought you had to be a Star Trek fan to know a split infinitive: to boldly go…

  3. Tassie Kaz

    Congratulations on the high point of your walk Tim 🎉
    I gather the quality of the path itself made the traverse less difficult than a shaley-strewn or rock-hopping scramble?
    Gorgeous photos…perhaps a chocolate box gig could be in your future?

    Vicky…no split infinitives in your comment…I made sure ‘to really look’! 😆

    • Thanks I guess the chocolate box people come here for a reason

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