Herbert loves to joke and spoil us to the magic of the alpine discovery all around. Jürgen has just recently earned himself the title “Top Gourmet Chef” of the year and owns a very large, impressive mushroom indeed! Peter & Sandra are “happily divorced” while running the cute little forest lodge Waldhaus by the Breitach river together. Florian is just so relaxed – barefoot on his “Ways to Be – Wegen zum Sein“. Lydia has this thing with harvesting the most wonderful herbs. And what about … Elmi?
Elmar Müller is our creative host and local “Chääs-Chnöpfle” chef in Kleinwalsertal. He just loves showing us what he calls, the “real Kleinwalsertal”, a mountain valley full of local characters and the sweetest of people.
“He is a real character, isn’t he …” I share with my newfound friends on our hiking tour across a very pretty part of the Kleinwalsertal valley, right here in the very northwest of Austria located at the border with Switzerland and Germany. Herbert, our guide in question, turns around with a bemused smile. I think he heard me. “Well, yes! But so are you, aren’t you? You are the bloggers, right …? Mind making my fancy mustard dip a bit more well-known in the world wide web?!”
We continue our tasty exploration of the “real characters” from Kleinwalsertal as we visit Jürgen Denk, who has just been awarded as “Top Gourmet Chef” of the year for his care and commitment to local quality cuisine. At the Wirtshaus Hoheneck restaurant, he finally unveils his … mighty mushroom, weighing just under a kilogram! Who would have thought? Another real character indeed.
Besides, there are Sandra & Peter welcoming you to their Waldhaus forest lodge, a true culinary hideaway by the Breitach river: Snow in winter, storm in summer, but both stay strong and calm in the face of adversaries. “Are you married?” – “No! We are happily divorced! Both of us, I mean …”, Peter laughs and shoots his Sandra a warmhearted look. Peter really loves to tell a story or two, and his round the world trip adventures serve to add an interesting twist to the meals he serves here at Waldhaus in Riezlern.
It does turn into something like a fairy tale, when you start listening to Lydia Fritz who calls herself “the lady of herbs”. Be aware: She does know a story or two about herbs that may well turn your life for the better!
Lydia is a lady who wins your heart almost instantly. She talks of being happy, and ever so grateful, for living in the year 2015 and not “300 years ago … because back then, they would have just arrested and burned me, what with my flaring red hair as well as all the knowledge about plants & herbs”, she laughs. Everything that Lydia does, she does with a lot of care and commitment. It is important to her to pass on the knowledge of the healing powers of herbs. Really and truly important. When she talks, she loves to get lost in fascinating details: Treasure-hunting healing herbs in a dry riverbed on more than 1.400 metres above sea-level, making sure the temperature for distilling our herbal wine (!) is kept stable, showing us how to pick only the finest nettle sprouts for our herbal buttermilk smoothie: Lydia is a real character from Kleinwalsertal. Through and through. Lydia, we love you!
Last but not least, we are settling for peace. Florian Geis has become known for offering to do short hikes barefoot, thereby “feeling the land” – an exciting way to connect with the place you are visiting.
“I know a spot that is particularly beautiful … Especially if you love taking pictures or making films.” Florian nods at us with a wink. It is him who made us get up early so that we are able to feel & breathe the fresh nature in the morning hours. Deep breaths is literally what we need, as we attempt to cross a riverbed barefoot, feeling not only the smooth rocks with our feet, but also the temperature of the water at slightly above 10°C … However walking in the morning grass is a wonderful feeling I shall always treasure. Bit by bit, my feet wake up my whole body, as the tingling sensation of walking over stones, wood, grass and through water spreads through me. Walking or indeed hiking barefoot is an experience I can only recommend to you. Especially with dear local guide Florian!
Check out even more impressions about exploring Kleinwalsertal valley on my friends’ travel blogs:
- FeeIstMeinName.de: “KleinFeeKleinwalsertal: Das Video zur Reise“
- TravelWorldOnline.de/Traveller: “Reiseblogger-WG im Berghaus Anna Lisa im Kleinwalsertal” & “Gut essen im Kleinwalsertal: Zwei Wirtshäuser“
- CitySeaCountry.com: “Unterwegs im Kleinwalsertal: Von grünen Daumen und (buchstäblich) grünen Füßen” & “Kleinwalsertal: Unusual hiking ideas“
Disclaimer: We have been invited by Kleinwalsertal Tourism Board to travel to Kleinwalsertal mountain food district. All opinions are my own.