Weissensee

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Every year the alpine lake of Weissensee freezes solid.  I’ve been hearing about from my Austrian friend Ralph for years, who ice-skates there every winter with his wife and his dog.  They show me videos of nestling their precious pup into a baby sled, and gliding with him over the ice.  It is enough to convince me that I should do this with my precious pups, too.

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So we packed our sleds and bundled ourselves up for a Winter Wonderland.

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This church loomed in the parking lot right next to our Pension, and kept us company in the morning while we shoveled the car out from a huge dumping of snow.  Jake and Eli thought it was fun!

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The owners of the Pension were thrilled that the boys thought shoveling snow was fun :).

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They rewarded us in the morning with a beautiful breakfast, and crepes made special for Jake and Eli because it was their birthday!  That’s when we realized there was something oddly familiar going on…

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The owners were Dutch, and had moved to Austria a few years ago to start a new life running this hotel in the mountains.  There was stroop syrup and hagelslag for breakfast, and spoonfuls of speculaas butter for an afternoon treat.  We were so excited to be with Dutch people and really missed our Dutch family!  This pension was just perfect for us.

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In the morning we woke up to a bucolic view of farmhouses with dark wooden beams, and smoke drifting from chimneys over frosted piles of wood.  It was cold and cozy and wonderful.

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What we didn’t know was that Weissensee was also a yearly destination for 6,000 Dutch speedskaters, who come to Austria every year to skate 200km in one day and recreate a famous race that can’t happen in the Netherlands anymore, because the weather isn’t cold enough to freeze the canals.  That would explain the speculaas and all the Dutch flags flying from the windows.  This makes Weissensee even better!

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The snowfall from the night before made skating on the lake impossible, but fortunately Jake and Eli found a lot of other ways to keep themselves busy in the snow.

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We threw snowballs and hiked through snowy woods, and recited Robert Frost.  A ski resort called Nassfeld sits on the border between Austria and Italy, where we dug deep snow forts, went sledding, and discovered the Germ Knödel.  “Germ” is the German word for poppy seed.  A “germ knödel” is an Austrian treat that we always see people eating at ski resorts, but have not yet been brave enough to try.  This time we were brave enough to try it.  It’s basically a huge steamed dumpling filled with plum jam, doused in vanilla custard, and covered with sugar and poppy seeds.

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Oh, what fools we’ve been.

Not as foolish as these guys though!

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Are they really scuba diving in the ice?

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That sounds a little cold.  I think I would prefer another glass of Italian wine…

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A Birthday Trip has become a bit of a tradition for us, starting way back with Williamsburg for Birthday Number One.

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Now they are two Ones, side by side.

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Back home there was more birthday waiting, with presents, cupcakes, and two birthday parties!

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And of course, Gussy Cat.  Gussy is going to help Eli with his Legos.

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Happy Birthday, my little Knödels.

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