Away from the crowed Christmas markets but equally impressive Katcshberg Adventweg or Katschberg Advent Trail despite the cold offers a cosier Christmas feel. Though kids might need to be encouraged to feel it. Often.
In quest of the true Christmas spirit
December is crazy in our household. There are countless events in school, pre-school and work, dinners, shows, Christmas markets, cookies, mulled wine, cold weather and by the time holidays come I am exhausted and no longer in the mood.
But I want to be, I want that fuzzy feeling of comfort, of gratitude, of pure happiness. It seems that year after year we’ve been looking for it in the wrong place, since there was always more dizziness than fuzziness.
This year around we decided to break with tradition. Less is more. Less necessary events, less wine and less crowds.
We chose snow, in the mountains, bitting cold, 100 layers of clothes, tall spruce trees, walking, steaming cups of tea, snacks in the backpack, sleds… And kids chose whining about it all – most of the time.
Instead of visiting one of the Christmas markets, we decided to spend two weekends in the wilderness of Pokljuka and one weekend exploring the unique Katschberg Adventweg or trail in Austria.
I tell my kids as we walk on the snow covered trail and the sun is beginning its slow decent coloring the sky in a soft shade of red.
What I get back is: ‘Why couldn’t we have taken the horse-drawn sleigh instead of walking?’ Followed by: ‘I am tired, cold, hungry, thirsty. I can’t walk….’ Every possible excuses is thrown at me.
There’s walking involved if you decide to do this trail. To get to the start you have to walk from the parking lot to the Alpengasthof Bacher or take a bus ride (2,5 Euros per person). From there it’s around two km to the start of the trail. You either walk – it takes half an hour, with whining kids expect more. Or you can get a horse-drawn sleigh (11 Euros per person). We didn’t since there was a long queue.
We went walking. It was absolutely magical. At the first out of many small sheds you can buy a small thermos (8 Euros). With it you can get free tea on all the tea stations along the way. Perfect. And you get a lantern, ideal, if you are doing the trail at night. We were there past 2 pm and it’s open until 8.30 pm.
It’s about walking, enjoying the beauty of Nature and how people here manged to work with it to enhance it.
There are signs along the way, lanterns illuminating the path, wooden statues, labyrinth in the snow, tea… Then there are sheds where people sing carols,….’
Our kids were finally truly happy once we boarded the horse-drawn sleigh on our way back from the trail. As we were dashing through the snows I thought: ‘Oh what fun it is to ride… for the very first time in the one horse (actually two) open sleigh.’ But not to be a downer remember it can also be cold and windy – dress up.
What is Katschberg Advent Trail?
As the name suggests it’s a 6.8 kilometer circular trail, at 1,750 metres altitude in the mountains of Katschberg in the Austria’s region of Carinthia.
It’s open from the 29th November to 23rd December 2017, every Wednesday and from Friday to Sunday from 2 pm to 8:30 pm. Last chance to visit it this year is December 25th.
How to get here?
The best way is to drive to the ski center Katschberg – Katschberghohe. You’ll notice a big parking space once you get there. Leave your car, get dressed in the warmest clothes you own and start walking towards Alpengasthof Bacher.
You can’t miss it, there are ample signs and you get a map of the trail at the parking lot.
How long should does the visit take?
Plan at least a couple of hours. First you don’t want to rush it and second you want to be open to surprises. We found a great toboggan run on our way to the beginning of the trail. They offer sleds you can take, walk up the hill, ride down and then return the sled where you found them.
Is it worth it?
Absolutely, if you want to admire Nature and don’t mind the cold.
The kids might have a problem with all the walking. To make it more fun it’s not a bad idea to take your own sleds on the trail. They can have a respite, but sadly not you. Though that may be a small price to pay for enjoying the quiet.