Sara Bawtinheimer Photography
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Passionate about both people and travel, this blog is where you will find my most recent weddings, portrait sessions, and adventures.  Happy browsing!

"We must take adventures in order to know where we truly belong." - Anonymous

Europe Trip: Day 6 {Grossglockner & Dolomites}

We had known from the very beginning stages of planning this trip that one of the adventures we were most definitely going to do was the High Alpine Road over Grossglockner, the tallest mountain in Austria.  Dad had been getting us excited for this for a while!  (He originally wanted to try to stay overnight at the top but there was still way too much snow for our liking) We knew it could be amazing if the weather cooperated so we tried to plan it as best we could.  Since it was early Spring, the likelihood of clouds, rain, snow were all very high so we knew we couldn't get our hopes up too high.  We set off from Lofer early in the morning, despite the forecast for clouds.  It didn't take long at all to get to the base of the mountain and much to our surprise it was nearly perfectly clear!  We were ecstatic.  We began our ascent - switchback after switchback.  I kept wanting to pull over at each amazing view I saw and everyone just kept saying wait wait were going higher, it will get better!  And it did!  So you'll notice how ridiculous we look, especially Mom and Dad in their shorts, but it was actually quite a warm day at the base and not really as cold as you would expect at the top.

At the very top we got out to snap a few group shots with Amy's gorilla pod and then we climbed the stairs of the lookout tower and we were truly at the highest spot in Austria! Super cool!

Below on the left is a picture of the road down we were going to take and you can see two tunnels that we had to go through! Super cool!

Take a good look at this next picture - it shows the road that we came up!!!!!

On our way down now!

As we headed down the other side of the mountain we planned to stop in the village of Heiligenblut to have some lunch and make a plan for the rest of the day.  There we found my favorite church of the entire trip which has an awesome story attached to it.

The picture right above shows an unusual sight in a church - a staircase right in front of the alter leading underneath.  Before we had the chance to research it, Nana was on top of it and figured it out.  The staircase leads to a crypt (seen below) which is said to contain the remains of a Holy Knight.  As legend goes, the knight, Briccius, was thought to have been carrying a vial of the blood of Jesus Christ home with him through the Alps when an avalanche fell on him.  The vial was preserved in one of his open wounds and was found on him when he was discovered.  Both Briccius and the vial were transported to this spot and were buried.  This is apparently how the town was named Heiligenblut, which translated means, Holy Blood.  The church was completed in 1490. 

We began our drive toward Italy shortly after lunch, and because we were deep in the heart of the Alps we were on fun mountain roads for quite a while.  Lots more switchbacks!

It seemed like the second we crossed over into Italy, we started seeing castles EVERYWHERE.  They were all over the sides of the roads.  It was incredible.  The mountains began to change as well....The lush greens of the Alps faded away a bit and the mountains became pointier, more jagged, and more desolate looking as they transitioned into the Italian Dolomites.  I had read during our trip planning about a mountain pass through the Dolomites called the Passo di Giau and that was one of the few things I had decided I really wanted to do.  Everyone, apart from Dad, was sick of the mountain roads at this point and just wanted find a hotel in Italy, but I knew we were only going to be here once and so I pushed for us to do it!  I sure was happy that we did, it was incredible.  The only way to describe these mountains would be to say that they looked like dragons should have been flying around them.  Incredible!  And like nothing I could have imagined.  

At the top of the pass we got out to look around.  We saw this half-buried church.  That's Brandon standing on the snow near it below.

As we continued through Italy we stopped at this small town that seemed to be hanging off the side of the cliff.  Some of the buildings were built literally on the side of the rock and this small church below seemed to have the best view of the valley.  We found an inn where an old Italian man answered the door.  We had trouble communicating with him but Dad was able to convey there were five of us looking for a room for the night.  He essentially told us he didn't have room for us, which was a bummer, so we carried on.

More switchbacks!

It started getting late and we began to panic about finding a place to spend the night at Seiser Alm.  We eventually got a place after walking around the cute town.  We found a great Italian restaurant for dinner and I ended up eating my first authentic Italian pizza! :)

It was an awesome day, filled with a ton of mountains!  Up next is our day in Italy exploring Seiser Alm!

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