Paradise Found: My Fourth of July in the Austrian Alps

Paradise Found: St. Gilgen, Austria and the Zwolferhorn

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Poet, 1803-1882

Paradise Found: St. Gilgen, Austria and the Zwolferhorn
Paradise Found: St. Gilgen, Austria and the Zwolferhorn

When I was a girl, I read all the time, and the first book I remember wanting to reread was Johanna Spyri’s HEIDI. If you aren’t familiar with the children’s classic book, HEIDI is about an orphaned girl who comes to live in the Alps with her reclusive grandfather. Like most fans of Heidi, I relished the notion of finding hope in the face of hopelessness, but I also loved the setting of HEIDI: the rugged and beautiful mountains of Europe where man and mountain thrive together. There is something about being in the mountains that connects with who I am. Whether it is in the Tetons or Rockies of the Western United States, the coastal mountains of Maine, or the Alps of Austria, Switzerland, or Italy, my heart sings when I am in the mountains. Luckily for me, my family feels the same way …

A View from the Top of the Austrian Alps
A View from the Top of the Austrian Alps

Over the fourth of July, my family and I along with some visiting guests ventured down to one of our favorite spots in the Austrian Alps, the “Sound of Music” country near St. Gilgen, Austria, east of Salzburg. We left Prague in torrential rain and continued through it as we entered Austria, and though the rain tapered off as we neared St. Gilgen, the wind was strong. I could sit for hours in quaint St. Gilgen along its glassy Lake Wolfgang. But on that day, the storm that had followed us from Prague stirred the air and water—the storm was coming. To get to Franzl’s Hutte at the top of the Zwolferhorn, where we were to spend the night, we were to take the cable car from St. Gilgen up the mountain. But, they had shut the cable car down hours earlier because of the high winds. Instead, we were to drive up the Zwolferhorn, with Franzl, the owner of the hutte.

me, Jennifer Lyn King, in the Alps
me, Jennifer Lyn King, in the Alps

It promised to be an adventure.

Lake Wolfgang on a Clear Day
Lake Wolfgang on a Clear Day

Armed with directions in German of where to meet Franzl, we set off to beat the storm to the top of the mountain.

And it turned out to be WAY more of an adventure than I imagined.

A View from the Top of the Austrian Alps
A View from the Top of the Austrian Alps

Where the cable car ride takes little more than fifteen minutes to rise to the top of the Zwolferhorn, driving the windy rocky road to the top took almost an hour. My youngest son and I rode with Franzl, a tiny Austrian with eyes that sparkled like the mountain lakes, in his Nissan pickup. We opened heavy farm gates in the mud and rock trail, teetered on the edge of the trail he’d driven countless times, waited for massive dairy cows to move from the rocky road, and heard firsthand stories in broken English and German of life on the mountain.

Dairy Cows on the Slopes of the Alps
Dairy Cows on the Slopes of the Alps

Though we had been to Franzl’s Hutte many times, everything about the experience surpassed everything we thought before: the detailed and spotless rooms done in red gingham, the incredible hearty Austrian meals, and the fact that we were the only ones at the top of the mountain.

Local Brew and Fruity Schnapps, Alpine Specialties
Local Brew and Fruity Schnapps, Alpine Specialties

As the storm blew in, we watched in awe as the usual view of aquamarine Lake Wolfgang turned to a wild and blowing cauldron of clouds.

After the Storm: the View from Franzl's Hutte
After the Storm: the View from Franzl's Hutte

The next day, as the storm moved out and the beloved views and hiking returned, I had to marvel at the beauty of the mountain peak in both weather conditions.

Alps in Austria, the Sound of Music Region
Alps in Austria, the Sound of Music Region

I had never experienced anything like it.

Lake Wolfgang (Wolfgangsee)
Lake Wolfgang (Wolfgangsee)

And I can’t wait to do it again.

What did you do for the Fourth of July? Mountains, barbeques, fireworks, beach and ocean? Fun times with family?

Published by Jennifer Lyn Art

About Jennifer Writer Author Photographer Artist Corporate Marketer Happy Wife & Mom World Traveler Grateful.

12 thoughts on “Paradise Found: My Fourth of July in the Austrian Alps

    1. Thank you, Erika! With all that we’ve seen here in Europe, we have to constantly pinch ourselves and ask, “Is this really real? Do we really get to see this? Are we really here with our family?” Truly, it’s all a dream come true, and more. So glad and grateful to be able to share it. -Jennifer

  1. Thank you for posting this. It tells me dreams still can come true.

    My dream is to go to the Alps, maybe Switzerland, with Mike. I’d love to go hiking. He’d probably love to go sailing.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Abbb sooo luuuute lyyyyy Goooooor geousssss!!!

    1. Oh, Wow! Thank YOU, Gail, for taking time to stop and take a peek.

      I definitely think that dream of going to the Alps will come true, for you and Mike. Let me know if I can help!

      Thank you, again! -Jennifer

  2. I’ve been to the Alps several times. To the French Alps and the Austrian Alps. And I lived in the Swiss Alps for four months in college. But, all were before Mike and I were married. I know he loves me and will take me there so I can experience that beauty with him.

    I’ve never been to Prague, though. It’s definitely on my “bucket list.” Will keep you posted. 🙂

  3. Wow Jennifer, my 4th was no where near as exciting as yours. The view from the top of Zwolferhorn looks like it came right out of a children’s storybook. Just glorious.

  4. hi Jennifer,
    love your post I have been to these places- St.Gilgen Mozarts mothers hometown is awesome – also St.Gilgen great for swimming !
    would you agree that the Salzkammergut is reflected in his music- was he really a beach boy of his time?

    Where you up the Schaffberg- if you remember the steam train from the
    Sound of Music intro. Gmunden and Hallstatt are also worth visiting
    austria-attractions

  5. hi Jennifer,
    love your post I have been to these places

    St.Gilgen is truly beautiful- great for swimming
    also his mothers hometown
    where you up the Schaffberg? from the Sound of Music
    Gmunden and Hallstatt are also great
    austria-attraction

    1. Thank you, Paul. We’ve traveled quite a bit around the region, because we love it — but, we haven’t taken the official tours. :o) Thank you for the tips. -Jennifer

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