While it is quite a trek to make it to Wildalpen, wherever you start, we highly recommend it as a place to visit and relax. T had been to this tiny town on a kayaking trip nearly 12 years ago and was excited to show me his old stomping grounds. It is a sleepy little village best known as a whitewater base. We stayed at the village campground situated on the riverbanks next to a set of slalom rapids. The melodious sound of water envigorates me by day and soothes me to sleep at night.
Campgrounds in these parts are luxurious with endless hot water showers and even wifi. But the best part is the bread guy. T has been telling me the story for years. In fact, whenever he mentions staying in some little aplen village in Austria, it is always followed by the story of how the bread guy pulls into the campground each morning with his bread truck, honks his horn, and the campers emerge from their dew-misted tents like zombies to answer the bread call. I am quite sure that he drug me all the way up here just to witness the bread guy.
The Bread Guy
In our usual morning routine, we woke around 6am. The bread guy was early, but not this early. T was worried that things had changed in 14
years and the bread guy was no longer. He tried to stay awake, like a kid waiting for Santa Claus, but fell back asleep. Then, he heard the beeps. <beep. beeep. beeeeep.> Like he did the first time he heard it so many years ago, his first half-conscious thought was, “who the hell is honking their horn this early in the morning?” It hit him as he shouted “it’s the bread guy!” He fumbled out of his sleeping bag, anxiously reaching for the tent zipper and fumbling with that, as he tore out of the tent, only to see the bread van driving away from him. His trip out of the tent turned into a jog and then a run towards the bread truck, frantically waving to let him know that someone in this campground wanted bread. Suddenly, he saw other people starting to mill about, but the only other person running from the opposite direction was a four-year-old little girl, who was almost as excited as he was for the bread guy.
As he realized the bread truck wasn’t leaving, but just turning around to park, and he was the only grown adult chasing after it, his run turned into a jog, and back into a brisk walk. It’s still best to be first in line for fresh bread
After enjoying our morning bread, we took a relaxing day off, which for most people, would probably be how they spend their entire vacation. First, was our morning nap. Then some writing and picture editing. We walked up into town for groceries, but it was closed so we decided to eat lunch in the café. We also decided the hot weather called for a swim in the river.
Its funny that when you experience certain places, they conjure up memories and comparisons to other places. This part of Austria reminded us both of the forested mountains and river valleys outside of Arcata, California where we first met. Except this area was steeper and rockier. And they speak German. A summer pastime in Northern California is to cool off from the hot sun in the rivers. This river water was as crystal clean as the pristine Smith river near the border of Oregon. We hiked up stream for a swim, noticing that we hadn’t seen any swimmers in the river yesterday or today. When our toes hit the water, we knew why. It was probably the coldest water I have ever dunked my body in. Its not called swimming, just dunking. It was also like a baptismal rite, the cleansing, cold, pure snowmelt that literally took my breath away.
After a brief and bone chilling dip in the Salzatal we strolled back into the center of town to hit the one and only food store/bank/postoffice and stock up for the evening meal and our next day on the bikes.
We enjoy traveling by bicycle and finding ourselves in these places where time moves slowly. Enjoying the remainder of the day sitting by the river. Reading, napping and relaxing. More tomorrow from the road.