Austria

Switzerland and Austria, two peas in the pod. Yet one is sleek, shining, perfect. The other, a little wooly around the edges, more human??? Certainly more like home!

We have been dawdling downstream on the Danube since arriving.  Our first night spent freeparking on the river in the center of Salzburg.  Following the river to Linz to meet our friends from our 2nd Wwoof in Italy, Magdalena and Reinhard.

Magdalena and Reinhard's "kitchen clock!"

Antonio and I have nearly decided, to come back to Linz, to settle in an apartment next to Magdalena and Reinhard and take up a course at the University.  Such is the wonderful life they lead.  Living right in the center of this small but extremely well resourced and cultural city, M&R do not need a car, they walk and ride a bicycle everywhere.  They are part of a community of neighbours, friends, fellow students, and you do not walk far anywhere without meeting another friend and stopping for a chat.  Reinhard, a superb photographer, also helped me buy a NEW CAMERA!!!  Watch out Vienna!

Linz is an interesting city, first mentioned in literature in 799 and notorious as the childhood city of Hitler, his favourite, and one he wished to make the cultural center of his Reich.  The past has moved on, the city is vibrant and young, and certainly a cultural center.  It is a textured city, a steel works and a university, two of the largest employers.

It was inspiring to spend time with these young Austrians and we hope to see them with us, one day in Australia.

The dawdle continued along the Austrian Romantic Road, a name, perhaps a little grandiose for this pretty drive, but the “Team Mazzon” driver, Antonio, appreciated the relaxed pace. First stop into Vienna, a camping ground just 8 kms from the city center, and a visit from our Viennese friend, Franz.

We met Franz on the Camino. I was full of energy on my second day and clipped past him at a cracking pace. I heard a muffled “Speedy Gonzalos” and a question as to whether I hoped to reach Santiago that day!  I looked behind, scowled a little, and kept cracking!  Many days and problematic shins later I learned that “Franz” was on his 9th Camino, and I humbly admit, he knew what he was talking about.  We kept crossing paths, even to the end, and maintained a friendship since.

He was delighted to show us his Vienna. First a Turkish market on the way to the stately city center. He led us through divine interior design shops, designer jewellery, stunningly decorative arcades and coffee at a traditional Viennese Coffee House.

Franz had Antonio pegged!! He suggested dinner at a restaurant that offered boiled meats.  Antonios eyes lit up.  10 years ago, he had mentioned to me numerous times, he went to this restaurant and had not expected to find again. The Plachutta is so popular even mid week the only sitting we can get is in at 6, out by 7.30.  We took it.  Our butcher, Antonio, selected the cuts of meat, they are taken and cooked in a broth, bought back to the table and served first, the broth as soup, and then the meats with a delicious selection of side dishes including an apple and horseradish puree. Brilliant and a must for any visit to Vienna.  www.plachutta.at

Before we left we visited Franz and his lovely wife Eva in their home in a smaller village just out of Vienna.  Perchtoldsdorf, www.perchtoldsdorf.at, is the cool and leafy village the Viennese come to in the hot weather.  Historic and charming where local business hang a collection of fluffly twigs and leaves on the end of a stick, to indicate they are open. The church has the oldest tower in Europe – north of Italy Franz was quick to add!! A brief walk around the village helped settle contented tummies after a delicious brunch in the sunny dining room of Franz and Evas home, and it was back in the cubby for our journey to Czech Republic.

We have such wonderful memories with friends to take from Austria and really appreciate the kindness shown to two mobile Aussies.

In between visits with Franz, Antonio and I spent a day in Vienna.  Franz says nothing under 2 weeks can do Vienna justice and I’m inclined to agree.  But even in one day, I had one of the most beautiful days of my life.

Stunning, classy, romantic, Vienna………………………………

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