Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Austria in Postcards

I've been somewhat busy the last few days so apologies for the short break in service and my apparent laziness in posting this, which features some of my postcards from Austria with a few of my more bizarre personal memories...

We have been to Austria and the Tirol three times between 2000 and 2003 and I loved the place. Would like to go back in fact. Unfortunately though, I took most of my photos on an early digital camera in the days when computer screens at best were 800x600 pixels and most were only 640x480. The photos I have of those holidays are a tiny 320x240 pixels. I'll have to see if I can do some articles based on those holidays but for now, this is a typical Tirolean scene with a river of glacier water which has a wonderful turquoise colour. In the shadow behind you can see a waterfall.

Heiligenblut translates as "Holy Blood", the church here is one of those reported to have a phial of blood taken from the body of Jesus as it was on the cross. There was a huge market for such relics and no doubt many of them were faked, but some may be genuine. In any case, a belief that something may cure you is often enough to have an effect - the placebo effect. Most of the relics of England were lost during Henry VIII's Reformation. Very few survive now but every single cathedral and abbey would have had something - a bit of wood from the Cross, or the bones of some saint.

I remember Heiligenblut mainly for searching a menu for something I could recognise on our first visit to a German-speaking country, never having spoken the language before and seeing "pommes frites" which my smattering of the French language told me was chips - literally potato fries. However I asked for it using the French pronunciation which had two immediate effects. One: the bloke sitting on his own at the next table, who had been watching amused at our perusal of the menu, suddenly burst out laughing and choked on his own chips and Two: the waitress snorted "Pommuss frittuss!!!" in a disgusted voice. "Er... and some ketchup?" I called hopefully to her disappearing back.

The hills are alive... This scene serves to remind us of The Sound of Music even though we struggled to find much in the way of reminders or souvenirs even in Salzburg where the film was made. Liberties were taken with the actual events for the film (I mean to say - at the end they trog off heading straight for Hitler's Alpine Headquarters...) but from the Austrian point of view perhaps they were less the heroes and more the ones who scarpered at a time of crisis. (For the record, in real life the von Trapps escaped by catching the train...)

More glacial rivers. The towns of the Tirol are absolutely beautiful. In summer, balconies are alive with flowers with streets having co-ordinated with each other for a pleasing colour scheme. Even in winter the walls of buildings are decorated with painted scenes, little plaster sculptures of faces and the streets alive with fur-wrapped people glowing in the light of shop windows and from too much spiced wine!

Kitzbuhel is one of my favourite towns, with a row of colour-washed buildings, a vibrant shopping centre full of surprises. The first time we were there we came across a silver holder for a bottle of Heinz tomato ketchup! There was no other bottle it could have held! There are cable cars to take you up the mountain which we have done both in summer and in winter, though I draw the line at strapping planks to my feet and throwing myself down mountain sides...

It was summer time when we went to the Krimml waterfalls and we walked up the path alongside of them, climbing some 750 feet without reaching the topmost fall. We had a meal in a restaurant halfway down, the only two people in the entire place. The landlord was effusive in his welcome, despite us not having a clue what he was on about. He showed us to a table and we ordered wiener schnitzel and apfel tart to follow. He came in whilst we were making our way through the meal and fired off a short question in German, which I took to be "Is everything ok with your meal?" I waved a fork in acknowledgement and said "Ja, danke!". God know what he had actually asked but he immediately nodded in delight, shut the windows and turned the music down...

Salzburg. What a beautiful city it is. There are many sights familiar from The Sound of Music, some of them hidden away and some of them - perhaps most of them - set in a totally different setting or context than you see them in the film. Once they left that concert at the castle they had walked a blooming long way to hide behind those graves...

Mozart lived here and it is far easier to find his house than it is anything to do with - you know... that film they don't mention... His house faces onto a large square and there was a market on the square when we visited. A woman was using a mini battery vacuum cleaner - then a fairly new development - to suck wasps off her display of bread! (They are clean insects - it's ok to eat stuff after they have been removed...)

Wintertime changes everything in the Tirol. In England half an inch of snow brings everything to a stop but over there you could stand on someone else's shoulders and it would still cover your head. Well, providing you could find someone willing to let you stand on their shoulders and not move themselves until they were six feet under the surface themselves... I tried my best but no one seemed ready to let me have a go unless I was on the bottom...

We took a pony and sleigh ride in Westendorf in January 2002, but whilst there was some snow, there wasn't enough for the sleigh to need its runners and most of the time the wheels on the side of the runners were in contact with the ground. Obligingly they took us through a wood where there were piles of snow that looked as though it had been trucked in overnight and spread about hastily. There were ten of us to each sleigh and we were in a middle row. The row at the back got dribbled on by the horse behind and those on the front row had to endure something else altogether...

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments must be passed by moderator before appearing on this post.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...