After resting with the spirits of old gold miners, we move on southwards. Our next stop was the little mountain town Franz-Josef. The town is named after the nearby glacier named Franz-Josef Glacier after the great Austrian emperor by the German explorer Julius von Haast in 1865.
Except for a supermarket, the i-Site and the glacier, there is not much to see or do in Franz-Josef. At the information centre you can get leaflets describing a couple of different walking tracks leading you to the foot of the glacier. If you want to ascent further unto the actual glacier ice, you'll have to book a guided tour, as it is too dangerous to proceed without proper experience and equipment.
We went for the easiest walking trail, because it takes you closest to the glacier. It was the first time for bilge rat to set eyes on a real glacier. It was none less spectacular for me. The last glacier I has seen in the Austrian alps as a little lad and even then it was a high mountain glacier seen from a distance. Franz-Josef on the other hand pushes down the mountain until he reaches the actual surface level. So you can get very close without climbing any mountains.
At the foot of the glacier you can see and hear a raging torrent of melted glacier ice, steadily supplied by new glacier ice. You can also tiny human specs actually walking on the glacier ice. Bilge Rat and I passed on the guided tour this time. If you want to do one, you can get information about the tours and do the booking at the information centre.
Oh I forgot one of the most amazing things about our little visit of the glacier. Well it's summer right? Sunshine and nice t-shirt weather and everything, right? Well but there we were, touching ice in the middle of summer. And the glacier ice survives the summer too.