Creative Travel in Carinthia: Painting, Cooking, Felting and more during a creative summer class!

It’s been a while since I’ve been off to doing some creative travel activities lately. Finally, Carinthia in the south of Austria and their recently developed creative summer class near the border with Slovenia offered another opportunity. A true “hidden place” to get lost in while indulging in learning something new.

I was able to get to know Gut Trögern in southern Carinthia quite recently, during an intensive writing workshop in the spring, which – like the creative summer week – was organised by my lovely writer’s friend Anita Arneitz. Anita describes herself as a true “writing nerd”, and it’s true that she is really skilled in conveying the craft of writing to others! Together with the leaseholder of Gut Trögern, Lydia Kienzer-Schwaiger, and her sister Dagmar, Anita created the creative summer week, which has taken place for the very first time in 2021. Anita and Dagmar, both experienced creative trainers, are the main course leaders. They skilfully entertain us to exciting creative workshops, such as the art of soap making, writing fairy tales or producing natural cosmetics, all of which I’ve experienced and loved!

 

Gut Trögern estate as a true “hotspot” for powerful creativity: The geological conflux of Africa and Europe, no less.

Even the first settlers in this part of the Southern Alps, the Karawanken mountains at the confluence of what is today Carinthia, Slovenia and Italy must have known or at least sensed it: There are incredible forces at work here. We see numerous trees for instance that catch our eye because of their special growth (or age). Noble larch and spruce wood from local forests have served for the (pile) construction of Venice – imagine! And almost every stone from the Trögern Gorge shows traces of fossils. The fracture in the earth’s crust, along which the African plate slides under the European plate, runs directly across the Trögern Gorge! We learn all this and more from our charming guide Antonia, who during one afternoon teaches us about the many fascinating, geological aspects of the transnational GeoPark Karawanken.

Die Trögener Klamm ...

The Trögern Gorge down in the valley is ideal for a swim, as well as shaped by powerful geological forces …

 

... Antonia vom "UNESCO Global Geopark" Karawanken erklärt uns alles, was wir zum Park wissen müssen ...

… Antonia (off to the right), who welcomes us to the “UNESCO Global Geopark” Karawanken, explains all there is to know about this area from a natural and scientific point of view …

 

... unter anderem erklärt sie ganz genau, wie wir die zahlreichen Fossilien finden ...

… she demonstrates how to find fossils in nearly every stone of the river bed …

 

... die buchstäblich "vor unseren Füßen liegen" ...

… and are you able to see the two tiny fossils (or rather, their imprint) on the stones directly in front of my toes?

 

Kreativ-Tipp: Die Steine aus dem Bachbett der Trögener Klamm eignen sich übrigens perfekt für den im Anschluss stattfindenden Workshop "Steine bemalen"!

We also get to choose some stones from the river bed for a later creative class in decorating and painting stones!

 

The creative hotspot continues in and around Gut Trögern estate: A peaceful place to get your creative juices flowing.

The large guest house and restaurant, which makes up the majority of Gut Trögern estate, have been built almost 200 years ago. All rooms are now carefully modernised, equipped with contemporary, comfortable furniture. There are small details everywhere that invite you to relax – including the extremely delicious breakfast buffet as well as other refreshing meals.

The highlight of the accommodation however is the surrounding natural landscape: A large garden invites us to linger, the mighty lime tree and the adjacent Trögern church provide a protective border against the rest of the mountain world. There are also numerous other “housemates”: hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, Mike the dwarf goat and Andi the sheep, plus Leo the tomcat and Kaya the dog. They delighted my little son Liam and my friend Irmie, especially the (inseparable) duo of sheep and goat!

Blick aus dem Gut Trögern auf die umliegende Bergwelt der Karawanken ganz im Süden Österreichs ...

View from the Gut Trögern guest house towards the southern-most part of Austria, along the border with Slovenia …

 

... ein echter Ort zum Verlieben ...

… a true haven to fall in love with …

 

... mit großzügigem Garten und viel Platz für Gemütlichkeit ...

… including a large garden that invites you to relax and linger …

 

... von morgens bis Mittags werden wir hier verwöhnt, unter anderem mit diesem zauberhaften Frühstücksbuffet ...

… and wouldn’t you, too, love a bite of that breakfast buffet?!

 

... der Jahreszeit entsprechend genießen wir hier auch die passende, sommerliche Küche ...

Throughout the entire week, we get served refreshing summer meals …

 

... und lassen uns rundum verwöhnen: Vielen Dank für all das gute Essen und den schönen Aufenthalt bei Euch, liebe Dagmar, liebe Lydia und liebe Zali!

… and enjoy being spoiled: Thank you very much to our hosts, dear Dagmar, Lydia and Zali our chef!

 

Workshops offered during the Creative Summer Week.

So what has been offered in terms of creative travel activities at the Gut Trögern estate? We start our days with creative trainer Anita, who gives us a workshop in the art of soap making. Dagmar, then, provides us with countless tips on felting a small basket, while Anita inspires us to write little fairy tales, poems and other short text forms based on our experiences at Gut Trögern. She also encourages us to paint the stones we brought from the Trögener Gorge as colourfully and creatively as possible. There are templates, tools, colours and everything the creative heart desires to accomplish our tasks. Wonderful!

The finale is once again with Dagmar, who takes us into her “witch’s kitchen” to make natural cosmetics (lip balm, pourable lotion, day cream & bath salts) and then offers a workshop on natural cooking too – including homemade bread, crackers, spreads and muesli bars. Check this out.

Anita ist erfahren in der hohen Kunst des Seifen Siedens, welche auch

Anita shares her many years of experience in making soaps with us, parts of which require concentration and chemical processes.

 

Nach dem ersten "Trocknen" der noch flüssigen Seife, die wir in diesen Block gegossen haben ...

Once the liquid soap has been poured into this block for drying …

 

... kann sie geschnitten und mit nach Hause genommen werden, wo Anita empfiehlt sie weitere vier bis sechs Wochen trocknen zu lassen.

… it may be cut into pieces several days later, however Anita recommends we keep drying it out for at least another month.

 

Beim Filz-Workshop mit Dagmar (rechts im Bild) ...

Felting with Dagmar (on the right) …

 

... schaffen wir mit der Kunst des Nassfilzens kleine Körbchen ...

… is a merry, creative experience too …

 

... die sich denke ich sehen lassen können!

… in which we get to make little baskets for trinkets to take home with us! Quite proud of my own (in the middle).

 

Am nächsten Tag weiht uns Anita einmal mehr in die Kunst des Schreibens ein:

The following day, it’s time for another creative writing class with Anita.

 

Der letzte Kreativ-Tag steht im ganz im Zeichen der "Natur- und Hexenküche":

The last day keeps us busy measuring out ingredients for our own natural cosmetics …

 

Der Workshop mit Dagmar macht echt Spaß ...

… an activity me and my friends love …

 

... und am Ende steht diese fertige

… and in the end, we leave with our own natural cosmetics that will help us to extend the summer a little longer!

 

Vielen Dank für die zahlreichen Eindrücke und Werke, die wir hier im Rahmen der Kreativ-Woche gemeinsam schaffen durften!!

Thank you so much for everything we’ve been able to learn, see and do during our creative summer class at Gut Trögern estate in Carinthia!!

 

Around Trögern: Bad Eisenkappel and the mighty Obir stalactite caves.

As you might have guessed, everything you need in order to become creative can be found by looking at the natural environment. The Obir stalactite caves are a perfect place for this sort of inspiration. A guided tour through the lonely world of overwhelmingly beautiful stalactites, stalagmites and sinter “curtains” takes about one and a half hours. You can book it at the tourist information office in Bad Eisenkappel. Besides a few cafés and souvenir shops, the town also has a freely accessible public “library”!

Öffentliches Buchregal in Bad Eisenkappel ...

Open “library”, or rather, book case, in the town of Bad Eisenkappel.

 

Wenig später besuchen wir die eindrucksvollen Obir Tropfsteinhöhlen, die durch Zufall im Zuge des früheren Bergbaus hier in der Region entdeckt wurden ...

Check out the Obir stalactite caves during a guided tour …

 

... die Sinter-Formationen, die wie wallende Kleider von der Decke hängen, faszinieren mich dabei am meisten ...

… their sinter “curtains” (or layers of bacon, as you see fit!) are simply amazing …

 

... ich kann Euch den Besuch dieser Höhlen wirklich nur empfehlen.

… I can really recommend this place for its serenity and natural beauty.

 

Auch die Aussicht von hier oben, am Eingang zu den Höhlen Richtung

The view from up above the mountain, where the caves are located, all the way into the southern part of Carinthia, is stunning too.

 

Check out even more colourful images from our creative summer class at the Gut Trögern estate:

 

Disclaimer: I have been invited on this trip to Carinthia by the Gut Trögern estate. All opinions are my own.

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