I am sitting on the train from Munich to Nuremberg so it’s a perfect moment to sum up the events of the past 6 days in Austria and Germany. I’ve had the most amazing time and become a friend of Almdudler, Weisswurst und of course the heat of central Europe. German politeness and hospitality keeps astonishing me – I just struggled to this train with my heavy suitcase, rucksack and 2 massive plastic bags and was generously helped by an older German gentleman, who was well worried if I’ll be able to carry them all and if I’ll find a place to keep them during the journey.
My European adventures started when I left Stansted Airport on last Tuesday 14.6, which feels like it was centuries ago! I was pretty knackered after the restless night at the airport and slept all the way until we landed at the Salzburg Airport in Austria. As soon as I stepped off the plane the tropical heat and the beautiful snow-covered mountains welcomed me. The Salzburg Airport is amazingly located almost in the centre of the city and is surrounded by the Alps in every direction.
My cousin Riikka’s fiancée Flo picked me up from the airport. Flo is Austrian, and I got my first culture shock when trying to speak to him with my German, which had deteriorated considerably since my last visit in Austria.
Riikka and Flo live in a beautiful house right next to the airport. The whole Austrian architecture is incredibly different to English. The house was in 3 floors and had wooden stairs exterior to the walls. Flo’s cousin Markus lives upstairs in this house and Flo and Markus skillfully attached a hammock to Markus’s balcony on this first night when I was there. The experience on the balcony was breath-taking – firstly because the balcony was in the 2nd floor and really high but also because the view was really beautiful. You could see all the way to central Salzburg and also die Festung, the fortress, which is on one of the hills.
The city is really beautiful, if it was not for the immense amount of tourists it would have a lovely village-like atmosphere. There is a river, Salzach, in the middle and the houses are high and quite decorative. The gaps between the houses are absolutely tiny, and therefore the city feels more like a village than a metropol. Also there are numerous churches and an open-air market. Many stalls sell bakery products such as Brezeln, rolls, buns and cakes.
Tuesday went really quick as I was so exhausted from the trip to London. Me and Riikka started to watch a German talk-show and it took about 5 seconds for me to fall asleep.
On Wednesday 15.6
me and Riikka visited Europark, the shopping centre nearby the house. My camera decided to stop co-operation with me just when I left London – as a result I did not get any pics of Piccadilly Circus and some other places. While my camera was completely kaputt, we tried to get it fixed but we didn’t get far. Apparently it is dead and I’d have to get a new one. Luckily, the memory card was still fine, and I managed to save the pics from London. Bought some jeans as had to leave the old ones in London. We had a lunch in Ikea, which was positively really Scandinavian. They even had a shop where they sold Scandinavian food items, such as cloudberry and lingonberry jams and meatballs. And Princess tårta, princess cake. At lunch I also had an Austrian speciality, Almdudler, which is fizzy herbal drink – really really good. I tried to order it in Munich on day before yesterday but was laughed at. Almdudler is only sold in Austria.
In the evening we went to Biergarten called Augustiner Kloster-Bräuerei. Biergartens are really popular here. There are open-air “bars” – there are lots of tables typically under some trees and if you drink anything else than a beer-related drink, people look at you funny. In Austria and Germany there are numerous different variants of beer. I came to Europe thinking I hate beer and just discovered it is absolutely gorgeous! Especially Radler is good, it contains half a glass of beer and the other half is some type of pop(typically lemonade or Fanta). Also Cola-Bier is popular, that is Radler with coke. Kloster-Bräuerei is a name for a monastery where they brew beer. My friend from Munich, Raimund, gave me an explanation for this queer combination of religion and beer. Apparently the monks had to earn some money to maintain the monastery, and when in some countries herbs and medicines were produced and sold by monasteries, the Austrian and south-German monasteries brewed beer instead. Apparently it was drunk pretty much every day and during the fast before easter the monks obviously weren’t allowed to eat but they were still allowed beer. I just can imagine what went on in these monasteries, it must have been cheerful…
In the monastery Biergarten the drinks weren’t served to the tables but we had to go in. They only have 2 different sizes of glasses: 0.5 l and 1.0 l. The bigger one is what we call a jug in England! Also they don’t do smaller volumes of beer than half a liter, so when you want a Radler, you have to take the bigger one.
It was a really good night and we sat hours under the chestnut trees of this Biergarten drinking liters and liters of beer. However, I find the drinking habits here relatively sophisticated(if they can be that with several liters of beer…) while there were no drunken, aggressive or impolite people, which could be expected with this amount of alcohol. I think the beer is drunk so slow that people only get a bit tipsy and cheerful but not properly drunk.
Afterwards we went to Flo’s brother’s place for a chat and football match. This country is almost as crazy about football as England*huoh* I find the Austrian German at least twice as hard as the Bavarian dialect, which again is regarded as hard to understand. Luckily, I had my cousin Riikka around to explain the oddities of the language.
On Thursday 16.6
we went for a long nice walk with Pilvi, Flo’s mother’s dog. Again it was really boiling hot and we were trying to sunbathe in the garden which was full of ants. Eventually after a quarter of an hour we had to give up as we had the ants everywhere and Pilvi was constantly lifting its legs and managed to kick a bag of sweets all over the garden when trying to get rid of the ants.
We visited Germany in Freilassen, which is only about 10 minutes away from Salzburg. We went to another Biergarten, called Drei Hasen = Three Hares. I was really tired again and almost fell asleep at the Radler glass. And understood even less about Austrian German.
On Friday 17.6
we did some walking on the beautiful mountains of Salzburg and had a little picnic in Augustiner Biergarten. We are trying to stay away from the centre the best we can. The main road, Getreidegasse, is absolutely packed with tourists and Mozartkugels. It was cool when I visited Salzburg for the first time 2 years ago but this time I felt annoyed when walked over by the Japanese tourists. Getreidegasse is also expensive and I cant even imagine how much money they make with those Mozartkugels(Salzburg is the birth city of the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and they have created a big brand with his name. Nowadays everyone buys these chocolate-marzipan balls names after the composer)
Another thing I noticed is the Austrians’ obsession with the energy drink Red Bull. Apparently some rich dude has bought now the Salzburg ice hockey and football teams, which are called Red Bulls and they are promoting this drink everywhere. They even had Red Bull ice cream!
In the Saturday morning 18.6
we visited Das Museum der Moderne, the museum of contemporary art. They just opened a new exhibition that morning and it was really interest, though a bit surreal. After the exhibition we headed once more to the centre and had some Bosnas, really spicy and delicious hotdogs. Tasty