Into the valley below
The main tourist season finishes in mid-September so there are fewer buses, which meant we decided to go down to Birnbaum rather than the Plockenpass, where the buses don’t run on Sunday. Sadly the bus from Birnbaum doesn’t go all the way to Sillian as last October there were terrible floods and high winds in this part of Austria and also northern Italy and washed part of the road away. As a result you get a bus to one place, ring for an emergency bus (a taxi) to take you to Maria Luggau, where the buses run normally. We reckoned it would take about 3 hours to walk the 9 miles down to get the bus so set off in plenty of time. However having reached a decision point (after nearly 2 hours), where you could walk either side of a river the signposts said we were still 2.5 hours away. That was sad, but we took the east variation as it was shorter and hurried on as it really wasn’t that far. We reached a wee village and were dismayed to find the path to Birnbaum was closed. S went into a hotel nearby and I tried to surf the web to see why. S was soon back, saying the storm had blown trees down but we still should be able to get through. We had an easy walk down to the river and then it was hellish up the other side crawling through fallen trees and over general debris. We got to the village in time for the bus and managed to clean most of the debris away before a minibus arrived. It cost 2.60 euros each for the ride and he dropped us in the village and told us to phone the emergency bus. He went for a coffee and we phoned up to be told the emergency bus didn’t run on a Sunday. As we were contemplating another hour’s walk he came back and asked how we had got on; fortunately he said he give us a lift as far as he could. We were dropped just before the road works and ignored all the keep out signs to get to the bus stop in Maria Lugau. We had a couple of hours to wait for the next bus so sat in the sun eating our lunch and having a drink from an unexpectedly open Spar. We thought the bus was at 14:30 but before it left the village brass band marched by in national costume so that made a good blip. The extra is the view from the hut, the Wolayerseehütte itself and a waterfall we saw as we came down the track. The bus was good value at 7.50 euros and we were glad to get back to the van and got to a campsite for a shower.