Saturday, June 25, 2005

Austria=gooden

Wowie wow wow wow. Just when I thought my weekends couldn't get any better, this trip comes along.

So Stephen and I headed out to St. Johann, a seemingly small, in the middle of nowhere village in Austria. Barabara's sister, Monica runs a bed and breakfast, and we set up a time to meet her there. So we started out in Aachen, Germany, cause that's where we had a mandatory tour of Sharlamane (spelling is probably totally wrong). Any way, Mrs. Fry really wanted us to go, and honestly, I hate museums, so I just gritted my teeth and went. The only thing I really like about the tour in Aachen was the fact that it was airconditioned. Sharlamane's throne looked like a freakin toilet. Anyway, evening finally came and we headed out on a night train to Munich. On Friday we eventually made it to St. Johann. The train ride there was spectacular, and at every train stop, we grew further and further away from tourist Europe. By the time we got to St. Johann, I felt like we were the only Americans within miles. (And that would be a good assumption). At one stop, I bought what I thought was whole milk. It was extremely thick and sweet, and I could't take more than a few sips. Turns out, it was creamer for coffee. No wonder the ladies at the store were cracking smiles when I bought it from them.

So we finally found the place were Monica lives. I walked in and saw an elderly man. I asked for Dr. Mueller, gave me a look and asked me to wait just a minute. Soon thereafter, an old lady walked down some stairs and had the resemblance of Ingrid. She presented her stiff hand and said, "Monica" is a very proprietary way. But soon enough, the initial barrier of uncertaineness soon collapsed, and she turned extremely hospitable. In fact, this stay so far has been the most hospitable experience ever. She and her husband Sigi are some of the most generous and caring people I've ever met. It truly feels like family.

So on Friday, we decided to venture off to do a climb, and Monica packed us some sandwhiches. During the packing, we had a nice conversation with her, and during the entire talk she kept giving us German lessons. Initially, I didn't know why she kept counting the 4 sandwhiches, but I soon realized she wanted us to actually learn how to count. So far I've learned to count to about 7, how to thank and say please, how to greet, and a few more random words. We asked her where we should go, and she directed us to a alp that was near the train station.

So found our way to this alp, and it was a pretty intense climb. It was hot out, and we drank soooo much water. Luckily on the way up, we found a resteraunt, and the bar tender was nice enough to fill our bottles with water for free. He actually took Steven's bottle, looked and the label, scoffed at the brand, emptied it out, and filled it with Austrian spring water. I suppose he thought no brand of bottled water compared, but I would probably agree with him.

So on our way, we cut through a forrest, and Steven goes, "Hey, is that a skunk?". I look up at a tree, and there's this squirrel that's totally black. I was in disbelief. It was a black squirrel with pointy ears. I managed to take a picture, so hopefully it will turn out.

So we finally got about half way up with alp, and found a lake. It was a beautiful clear lake and I decided to make the most of it and jump in. It was a bit chilly, but I soon forgot that and swam back and forth across it. I also nearly got mauled by a Rottweiler and a Newfoundland/Labrador at one point, but the owners soon tied them up.

When we got back, they had dinner ready for us, and I was properly introduced to Sigi, Arnol and his wife and kids. The kids had names that I'm not even going to try to spell out. Arnol was extremely nice and had lots of question for us about where we were from and such. He was like super freaking buff, and it turns out he majored in Sports Medicine (and Economics). During dinner, I asked where we could meet Arnold Schwartzeneggar, and Arnol told us a funny story of how he met him once. Arnol and a friend where in this other town in Austria (which I can't) rember the name) and where in a shoe store where the shoes are hand made. Apparently the cheapest pair you can find are about 5000 dollars. So he's in there with his friend, and Arnold walks in. He asks if he can see a pair, and the owner, not knowing who Arnold is, asks him to come back tomorrow as the shop is getting ready to close. This totally amuses Arnol and his friend as Arnold just got dissed. Funny stuff.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Barbara' mother. She is a very old, but extremely coherent lady. She caught everything during the dinner talk. When she first arrived, she started talking to me in Italian. I suppose she thought I was, but it impressed me so much that she could switch from Italian to German to English.

Dinner itself was amazing. The Austrians love the meat, and I for one am glad they do. I was sick of getting pasta with measly sprinkles of chicken at Italians places. They cooked up some serious sausages and pork patties. Also had some stellar potatoe salad. They just piled the food on my plate, sometimes not even asking if I wanted more. (I LOVE THESE PEOPLE). Also to boot it off, they served some beer that comes from a local brewery that tastes fan-freaking-tastic.

When dinner was over, Steve and I wandered in the village a bit, and found a dance show in the town square. A ballet group from USA was touring and there was a huge gathering there. At one point, they played "Firestarter" by Prodigy, and I thought, there's no way thez can do ballet to this. I was wrong though. They were good.

So we wandered around a bit more and finally went to bed. . . IN THE MOST COMFORTABLE BEDS EVER. I am not exaggerating . These beds felt like they were made of that NASA memory foam and the pillows were full of down. Ever time I layed down, I cracked a smile involuntarily. I felt like all the pain in my body was being exhorsized. I could't help it. Steven did too. We both laughed when we realized this.

Day two was even greater. We woke up and ate some serious breakfast that consisted of cheese, bread, rye bread, butter, jam, honey, coffee, and water. Monica then helped us pack a lunch, and Sigi asked what we wanted to do. We told him we were planning on hiking some more, and he told us, with a glitter in his eye, that he would drive us to the best place for that. So we soon went with him through a very scenic route to the base of some Alps. This was around this giants ridge facing the city, so we were on the other side. He told us this was the best walk and gave us some directions to get to a peak. He also left with us a cell phone to call him when we were ready. So flippin nice.

And he was 100% right. This was the best, most scenic, walk thus far. He said that most walks take you through the forrest and you can't actually see anything. This walk we could see the mountains, natural creeks, and wildlife. It was unbelievable. We got up to a point, and found some snow, and proceeded to throw it at each other. The walk up took us about 3 hours, and the view on the peek was indescribable. While there, these funky black birds landed not 3 feet away from us while we were eating and were like "Alright, we're here. Feed us" So we did for a bit. These guys could fly too. They'd take off cliffs and just glide and made it look like cake. I threw a peice of bread down a cliff, and the bird swoopped down and caught it. Amazing. And on our way down, we ran into what looked like a dear. We tried getting closer and closer, but it just went higher and higher into the mountain.

At the base, we met up with Sigi, and he bought us a round of more local beer. It was delish. I felt really tipsy afterwards. I guess after all that exercise, my body was really processing anything I put in it.

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