|Morning view (7:37) from our balcony towards Kanisfluh...
|...and along the valley.
As is our habit when we arrive at a hiking/walking holiday, we pick up leaflets with suggestions for tours, preferably close enough to not make a car journey necessary. We found one that ticked all the boxes: The "Goßarweag" (German "Geißer-Weg", meaning "goat herders' path").
For centuries, many people kept goats, especially those who could not afford cows. In areas such as Bregenzerwald, where pastures are precious and first and foremost served to feed the cows and horses, herders were needed to make sure the largely free-roaming goats would not graze on the best pastures - and not invade people's vegetable patches and orchards.
Therefore, every year in the spring, the herding rights were auctioned, and the herders (usually one experienced man and several boys, often barely in their early teens, if that) took responsibility of the village's goats, making sure that they stuck to the rules (try that with any animal, especially one as inquisitive and adventurous as your regular goat!), did not come to any harm and were returned to their rightful owners in time.
The route follows some of the herders' most popular paths, and there are several stops with sculptures of goats and information boards along the way. Especially with the boys, herding often provided a small, but much needed income for their families, and that way of life (from spring all through the summer until autumn) was a mix of physical hardship, loneliness and freedom - those boys were officially exempt from school (which of course meant they had "freedom" but would never gain more than the most basic education during the winter months).
|climbing up from the village and looking back (yes, Kanisfluh again in the background)
|I had to!
|A glimpse of Bizau church from the woods
|view of Bizau (and - you guessed it - Kanisfluh)
|A sure sign of summer coming to its end: autumn crocus
|in the woods
|a clearing where goats may have been allowed in the past
|Can you imagine having to lead a herd of goats along a path like this (in all weather)?
|Farm at the end of Bizau
After having completed the tour, we took a bus into Bezau (where we'd been the day before to visit O.K.'s retired colleague) and took a stroll through the village (almost a small town), stopping to admire the church and then taking the funicular up to the mountain rising at the back of Bezau.
|Angel (nearly life-size) in Bezau church - this one is for my Mum.
|Quirky modern building in the centre of Bezau
The obligatory restaurant/beer garden at the top offered not only beautiful views, but also a refreshing shandy.
|View from the top
Back down to the bus station, the short bus ride to Bizau and our hotel, a shower and then dinner - not in the garden this time, as the rain and thunder that had been threatening during the afternoon arrived just then.
It did not last long but brought a freshness to the air that was quite welcome.