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You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

A spiritual type of travel in Carinthia: Wernberg Monastery and its herbal garden paradise.

Wernberg Monastery in Carinthia, the south of Austria. Thinking back about my recent trip, I think of one thing in particular: The genuine, radiant smile of Sister Monika-Maria Pfaffenlehner. She is a true force of nature, and one welcoming spirit to our community of guests. Lucky, though, if you can spot her, as she is often away on a mountain climb or ski tour.

A Sister with athletic ambitions?!

“Well, yes”, she grins, and her smile widens, pointing to the surrounding mountain landscape of Wernberg Monastery, “our natural surroundings just shape who we are and how we live as a community, both spiritually and physically. My Sisters and me also take care of a small farm that is part of the monastery, a herbal garden, a kindergarten, a seminar centre, a bakery as well as a guesthouse for our visitors. It’s what keeps us healthy, keeps us going”, she laughs now.

 

Truly, a Sisterhood of a kind. Wernberg Monastery is close enough to the rather famous Carinthian town of Villach, yet does promote its very own vibe of openness, welcome and kindness.

Despite or perhaps because of their busy lives at the former Renaissance palace, all employees and Sisters at Wernberg Monastery are truly taking their time for welcoming guests. There is even one lady employed by the monastery only for guest comfort, a sort of “concierge” if you wish: Karin Hermann, in charge of educational and marketing activities at Wernberg Monastery. Together with Sister Monika, they both happily show us around and let us feel what it is like to be wrapped up in the atmosphere of a true, living monastery. Go check this out.

Ankommen und aufatmen: Zum Beispiel beim Blick auf die Berge vom "Turmzimmer" im Kloster aus ...

Arrive and revive: What a view over the surrounding Carinthian mountains from my “tower room” …

 

... der Weg ins Kloster Wernberg ...

… making our way to Wernberg Monastery …

 

... führt an IHR nicht vorbei: Klosterschwester

… you cannot miss meeting HER: Sister Monika-Maria Pfaffenlehner who is always there to help and show us around …

 

... selbiger ist übrigens mehrere Hektar groß und erfordert viele fleißige Hände: Hier werden zudem Langzeitarbeitslose der Berufseinstieg möglich gemacht ...

… for instance through the herbal garden, which apart from the Sisters is farmed by several local ladies, who have been long-term unemployed and are now able to regain a regular lifestyle, and income …

 

... und so hat das Kloster Wernberg auch einen starken sozialen wie progressiven Charakter, der sich nicht zuletzt in der neu installierten Photovoltaikanlage hier am Dach der Gerätescheune im Kräutergarten zeigt.

… this social practice is matched by the convent’s ecological efforts, having installed solar panels on top of their little hay barn.

 

Smelling all the fresh herbs and recently baked bread, I am quite happy I didn’t choose a fasting retreat here this time …!

Although you may also choose to go on a fasting retreat, I must recommend you to eat and drink while visiting Wernberg Monastery. Their fresh farm & garden produce is just delicious, and includes herbal liqueurs just as much as freshly baked bread, vegetables, meat and dairy products. I still crave a taste of the homemade lemonade that is served during the summer months. Yum! Take me back, please …!

Die frischen Brote von Klosterbäcker Jens ...

Jens’ is the monastery’s baker, and his bread …

 

... werden gleich nebenan im Klosterladen "serviert" und verkauft.

… is sold fresh each day at the adjoining monastery shop.

 

Auch ein "Kräuter-Reich" besitzt das Kloster Wernberg ...

Herbs, too, are being harvested and dried right here at Wernberg Monastery …

 

... und nicht selten findet man die Klosterschwestern direkt bei der Arbeit ...

… and quite often, you can find the Sisters at work in the garden …

 

... mitten im Kräutergarten!

… explaining a thing or two about the herbs around!

 

Schwester Monika nimmt uns mit zur jungen Bauernfamilie, die gleich neben dem Kloster die Milch- und Viehwirtschaft betreibt ...

Sister Monika then takes us out visiting the young farmers’ family, responsible for about 70 cows …

 

... auch hier ist das Kloster betont offen beim "Blick hinter die Kulissen" ...

… love how relaxed everyone is around here, including the cows, during our visit “behind the scenes” …

 

... verkosten wir die hiesigen Milch- und Molkereiprodukte und stellen fest, wie himmlisch diese schmecken!

… the animals’ happiness translates to the fresh dairy products we are able to savour during a small tasting !

 

Apropos himmlisch: Die Klosterkirche müsst Ihr natürlich auch kennenlernen - betont weiblich, wie ich finde ...

Just as heavenly as the dairy products’ taste, is the local monastery church: A true hint of female rule, don’t you think …

 

... neben der Möglichkeit, die Schwestern beim Gebet zu begleiten, gibt es auch einen eigenen Meditationsraum, um sich zurück zu ziehen ..

… and if you wish to retreat completely, there is also a mediation centre you may use …

 

... vielen Dank, Kloster Wernberg ...

… thank you so much for welcoming us to such delicacies, and local life, at Wernberg Monastery ..

 

... vielen Dank, Kloster Wernberg ...

… Claudius Rajchl (far right in this photograph) has also produced two travel videos about the monastery, which you can watch here:

 

 

 

 

Monika & Petar Fuchs, who post on TravelWorldOnline.de, have also shared about their “monastery retreat” here (including videos!).

 

Disclaimer: We have been invited by “Klösterreich” to explore the Austrian monasteries in Carinthia. All opinions are my own.

Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
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