At the beginning of September, I started hearing all about these festivals in Austria, Germany and Switzerland to celebrate cows being brought back from Alpine meadows for the winter. Normally, I would think this is odd, but in the land of onion and sauerkraut festivals – OF COURSE cows coming back to the barns for the winter is cause for celebration. The festivals are known as “Almatrieb,” meaning drive from the mountain pasture. There are apparently hundreds around this area.
And because a chance to watch such a spectacle in the Swiss Alps was not something I was going to pass up, John and I made an overnight trip to experience it for ourselves. I will admit this now – it was AWESOME! A bit surreal, but so much fun and definitely worth the 3-hour drive it took to get there. (And come on, Switzerland is spectacular…driving there and back alone is worth it because of the view!)
We stayed in Chur (pronounced like Cure), a cute little town with a cobble-stone innerstadt (inner city). We stayed at a great little hotel, the Ambiente Hotel Freieck and spent the first night exploring and sitting outside at cute cafe.
The next morning – because driving to the town wasn’t an option – we hopped a train to the fest. We had brought our dog Caesar with us, and I was a little nervous about how he would do – he acted like an old pro! He’s adjusting quite well to his new European adventure!
It was a bit of an adventure once we got off the train as the station is down the mountain from the town so John, Caesar and I loaded into the van and took the steep ride up. I was worried that we had missed the cows because we missed our first train…but the sound of bells echoing off the mountain as we got out of the van was our indication that we were right on time!
Honestly, I should not have been as surprised as I was at how much I enjoyed this festival – as I’ve said many times, Europeans do festivals right. It was a perfect one night getaway – from the quaint town of Chur to the beautiful Swiss Alps setting.
And the best piece of news? In the spring, the town holds a festival sending the cows off to the pastures for the summer! I’m all in! 🙂