30. November 2015 | categories: Travel

It is August 4th, in the morning at 4:30 a. m. The bus from Tuzla arrives in Ljubljana. I have to wait at the station until the first train leaves for Villach at 7:00. At nine o’ clock I reach Villach, where the waiting starts again. At eleven o’ clock a train finally takes me to the Gailtal valley. In Hermagor I get off the train and am already expected by Armin, a cousin of my mother. Together we drive to his and his wife Gabi’s home in Rattendorf.

I’ll stay with them for the next few days. I visit some relatives (who still give me some bacon, sausages or cheese), I am spoiled by Gabi, take a walk around the area and help Armin to stow away the boards.

On Thursday Armin takes me up to the Rattendorferalm by motorbike. From there I hike up to the summit. Passing the Italian border, I see marmots and many cows.

Shortly after the summit I see two hikers at a bank just above the path. I run up to them and find out that they are not hikers but shepherds. They’re up here all summer herding sheep. He’s a farmer himself and has cows. However, he finds sheep more interesting for herding. She studied sociology and worked at the university. However, she has had enough of the university and sociology and is looking for a new challenge.

He tells me that his main task is to count the sheep and to find and document dead sheep so that the owner receives money from the insurance company. A year ago, a bear would have ripped some. After a long interesting conversation with the two of them, I make my way down to the valley.

In the late afternoon I arrive at Armin and Gabi’s house, where I have my own holiday apartment (this is called hospitality). The apartment used to be permanently rented and is now ready for use as a holiday home.

On Friday evening the forest festival takes place in Rattendorf. Since it is only 200 to 300 meters away, we go there and find half of our relatives. I don’t have to worry about drinks, they are offered to me on the treadmill of relatives and friends (from Armin and Gabi). The Austrians definitely know something about hospitality.

After my last family visits, I am heading home on Monday. I travel together with the Coucousine Anna Maria, who wants to explore the village of a possible employer with her boyfriend near Innsbruck. So her mother (and my mother’s cousin) drives us to Lienz, where we take the train to Franzenfeste in Italy. There her boyfriend picks us up and we drive over the Brenner together. At Innsbruck railway station I say goodbye and drive home with the Railjet to Switzerland. With a lot of impressions and experiences in my backpack I reach St. Gallen during the day.