Dachstein Krippenstein and Hallstätt, Austria

Day 50, Tuesday, October 15, 2019

It is a 11/2 hour drive from Salzburg to the Dachstein Krigppenstein region.  The trees along the way are turning colour and the sun is shining. We pass many little farms and villages on the way. The Dachstein Krigppenstein area has three cable cars which take us from the base to the top of a mountain, at about 2000 m.   There is the base, way down there, and we aren’t even at the top of the first cable car. The second cable car takes us higher… and even higher. We walk from the second cable car to a viewpoint high above the valley lake below.  There are several arrows showing the distances to  places around the world.  We have visited Stonehenge (1200 km away) and the Drakenberg Mountains in South Africa (8,800 kms away).  We are surprised that Stonehenge is that close.  Here is a 360 degree video I took from this platform.
We have tea and rest on these curvy benches to enjoy the fantastic views and sunshine. This is called the Five Fingers.  Five viewing platforms at the very top of the mountain!  Bob goes ahead so I can get this photo.  This area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then I head out on one of the platforms.  It isn’t too bad…as long as I don’t look down! Bob has another turn on one of the fingers. A nice young man takes a photo of the two of us.  You could stand behind the picture frame but to do so your heels hang over the edge! There are sinkholes all over the mountain top.  These are formed by the collapse of underground caves.  There must be a lot of caves in this area because there are lots and lots of sinkholes.
As we take the third cable car down into a valley, our shadow follows us. We are headed way down to the building you can just see on the right side of the tower, about 2/3 of the way up.  The wind has picked up so we decided to eat our lunch down here where it isn’t quite so windy. Back at the top of the mountain I notice what looks like ghostly faces peering down at us from the cable car building!  So, are they ghosts? Here is a photo of the five fingers taken from a photo in the cable car building.  I realize that I forgot to look down when I was up there… I can’t believe I forgot to do that!On the way down from the mountain top we can see far up the valley.  We drive to Hallstätt, a town which exists because of the nearby salt mInes.  The town is squeezed between the mountain and the lake.  There is only room for espaliered trees, which are grown against the sides of houses. The setting sun lights up the yellow trees on the side of the lake.  Notice the middle mountain in the distance.  Then take a look at the top of that mountain…and the close up of the top of the mountain.  That is where we stood on the five fingers!  Maybe it is a good thing I forgot to look down! There are swans on the lake who are happy to share some of my dried fruit and nuts.  I give most of it to a young boy so he can feed them and I take photos.  I would have liked to sit and draw these beautiful birds but the sun is setting…and we are still far from home. The houses are piled one on top of the other, as there is not much land available between the lake and the mountain.  The flowers in the window boxes grow so big and lush.  I think it must be that the growing season here is so much longer than ours at home. I see this mask in a window and wonder out loud what it is.  A lady walking by stops to tell us it is a Krampus.  The Krampus shows up in towns the night of December 5, known as Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night to swat “wicked” children, stuff them in a sack, and take them away to his lair!  They look pretty terrifying to me.

The scenic town square with more flowers and espaliered trees… and one last view of the lake…  before we walk back to our car, parked way on the edge of the town, and head home.

Salzburg Fortress (Festung Hohensalzburg)

Day 50, Monday, October 14, 2019

On our way to the Salzburg Fortress we pass a Steiff Store with their famous stuffed animals.  They are expensive, the polar bear sitting in front of the big standing bear is ‘only’ 299 euros, about $440.00 Canadian! The funicular makes short work of the steep climb to the fortress. The Hohensalzburg Fortress (Salzburg Fortress) was built in the 11th century by Archbishop Gebhard and is the largest unconquered fortress in Europe. The castle is 150 meters wide and 250 meters long, and the oldest part is over 900 years old. First stop at the Fortress is the top of one of the guard towers for a great view towards the mountains… overlooking the fortress… and of the old town of Salzburg.  That big square is where the Bio Fest was held yesterday.  You can see the golden globe with the man standing on top.  Right behind the square is the Salzburg Cathedral with the big dome, where we went to hear the choir yesterday morning. There are lots of huge doors and interesting corridors in the fortress. This wheel was dropped on prisoners in order to break their bones and cause internal damage.  If it didn’t kill them they were tied to it until they died an agonizing death.
The Salzburg Steir, or Salzburg Bull is a giant mechanical organ built in 1502. It still plays twice a day and is the last example of a Gothic organ to survive. The Stier is the oldest daily played automated musical instrument in the world.  It plays melodies from Haydn and Mozart every day after the glockenspiel chimes.  St. George’s Chapel has reliefs of the Apostles, made from marble.  We find a bench and have our lunch in the courtyard by the chapel.The fortress served as a garrison for the Erzherzog Rainer Regiment in 1682.  Erzherzog Rainer had quite the moustache!
There were watercolour paintings of the regiment over the years which I quite liked, and I thought the paper twists which held a musket ball and gunpowder were interesting. War has always been brutal… Austrian painter Karl Reisenbichler painted his fellow soldiers and portrayed images of death and suffering in WWI. We have seen a lot about war and death and suffering on this trip.  I think that this cabinet is probably the best way to use rifles I have seen! This is a view of the fortress tower we climbed when we first arrived. These large fortress rooms with their huge timbered ceilings are now a museums for armour and other items used for fighting.
This kitchen was reserved for food preparation for the Archbishop.  Note the little round hole in the wall on the left that was used to throw out rubbish and drain water.Medieval furnishings and some arches uncovered during renovations in 1998.  The arches were originally in an outside wall. The fortress was renovated and added to many times over the centuries.
The Regency Rooms are spectacular.  This is the Golden Hall with its ceilings painted blue and studded with golden balls to represent the sky and stars.  It served as a ballroom and today is used for recitals.  The golden Chamber was a smaller sitting room with a small library behind the door in the corner. It has a magnificent medieval tiled stove that warmed this living space and reception room. Interestingly, the bedroom was not heated.  We also learned that during the Middle Ages people slept in a semi-sitting position with many pillows because they believed that if they lay down they could suffocate. This position allowed them to have their weapons ready and attack any nighttime intruders. The doors were also low so that anyone coming in had to bend down when entering. Behind this little door is the toilet, which was very modern for medieval times. As we leave the Fortress there is a small Marionette Museum.  I love this collection of  tiny feet and shoes, and thought that these two marionettes were the most beautiful, well crafted ones here. There is a wall of marionettes, and several dioramas… and of course, a Sound of Music scene.
I think this huge well was connected to the cistern that was built within the fortress walls.  Now it is a giant wishing well. This is the entrance to the oldest part of the fortress, adjacent to the newest addition, an elevator. As we exit the fortress beside the bell tower,  we have a view of the watch tower we climbed at the beginning of out visit.  From the top we could not look over the sides to see how high up we were. At the bottom of the funicular we take advantage of the Love Grotto to ensure our love is everlasting!We have seen these chalk markings on many houses, church doors, businesses and shops in Germany and Austria.  I wondered what they meant.  A quick search on my ‘magic library’ and I find this quote.

“On the evening before Three Kings, traditionally there were prayers, blessed dried herbs would be burnt and their aromatic smell would fill the house. Doorways would be sprinkled with holy water and the master of the house would write with chalk C + M + B and the year above the house and barn door and say: ‘Caspar, Melchior, Balthasar, protect us again this year from the dangers of fire and water.’ C + M + B has traditionally been translated as Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, however, according to the Church it stands for “Christus Mansionem Benedictat” (Christ bless this home).”   Now I know! On the bus home we can see the old medieval town walls. The ivy on a wall on our walk home looks like a giant red creature. 

Salzburg Cathedral and Bio Fest

Day 49, Sunday, October 13, 2019

This morning we attend a service at the Salzburg Cathedral.  There is a choir at this service and we thought it would be a nice way to see the church, and hear the choir at the same time.  The inside of the church is magnificent.  No matter how many churches we visit, we still wonder at their ornate interiors.This short video gives you look at the church while listening to the choir. I draw while we listen to the service and choir.  Of course we can’t understand any of it! I was tempted to finish this drawing of the altar from a photo but in the end decided to leave it just as it was. The cathedral was badly damaged during the Second World War. But today is beautifully restored.  The ceilings are particularly ornate, this is the ceiling of one of the small side chapels. In the basement is a crypt with a small chapel, and its very own ghostly apparition that flies around the room!  Tough to catch its likeness in a photo but there it is on the back wall.

After the service we find a Bio Fair (Organic Fair) right around the corner.  There are people everywhere enjoying the sunshine, food and drinks.  Great people watching today! We have lunch here but are too full to have one of these giant donut-like pastries, which are served either with sauerkraut or sprinkled with sugar and filled with jam.We sit for awhile to listen to a band, which sang in English, and I did a quick sketch of the bass player.

There is an area for the kids to play…I think they must be scratchy after jumping in all that hay! Nearby is St. Peter’s Cemetery.  Cemeteries in Austria are very neat and beautifully kept.We learned that plots are rented in Austria and if the rent is not paid the bones are dug up and the plot is rented out to someone else.  The remains are either moved to a mass gravesite or dug up and buried deeper in the same plot and the headstone removed so that the plot can be reused!  The headstones are on the wall of the church for exactly this reason.  The rent on the plot was not paid so the grave was reused and the headstones were placed here.  This explains the many headstones we have seen on cemetery walls and other churches.

The von Trapp family (The Sound of Music) hid in this cemetery, in one of these vaults just before they escaped from Austria.
Bob insisted we needed a photo of me hiding in the cemetery!We almost miss seeing the catacombs dating from the 12th century.  Can you see the windows high up in the cliff above the cemetery?  Pay particular attention to the little door below the windows.  This is where Saint Maximus and 50 of his followers were thrown to their death in 477AD, because of their faith.This is one of the chapels carved out of the rock high in the cliff. A view of the graveyard through one of the windows as we climbed down from the stone chapels. Bob has a few more places for us to visit.  The Church of Our Lady dates from 1221 AD.  It was very dark everywhere except for right around the altar where there are soaring pillars and arched ceilings. Next is the Horse Fountain.  This fountain has a ramp (the white area on the right side of the photo) so that horses could walk right into the fountain to cool off. This fountain is just a bit smaller! Notice the dates on these buildings…1360 on the apricot coloured one and 1258 on the brown one.  I am amazed that these houses are this old. We see a very long line up… it is people lining up for ice cream!  Soft ice cream in a cup with a choice of fresh fruit and other toppings. I see this curious ‘wand’ and wonder where it is from.This is a view of the side of the Salzburg Cathedral.
We walk back through the Bio-Fest on our way home and now I know where the wand comes from.  These look like such fun to make.Walking past this house we notice a sign saying that this is where the creator of the song “Silent Night’ was born.One more church!.. with lots of paintings and a pretty green and white ceiling.  The skull was on a plaque near the door, and the little bronze plaques were in the square outside.  They mark the location where a person was arrested and taken to a concentration camp.  We looked for these in other cities but couldn’t find any.  It has the person’s name, date of birth, date of arrest, the name of the camp and their date of death.  

This sculpture is a popular destination for Mozart fans. The horse fountain in the square near the Salzburg Cathedral glows in the late afternoon sun. I thought tying them up was a clever way to deal with unruly tall grasses. In a yard near our Airbnb I spot these little rock gardens.  I might have to make one of these in our garden at home.  I am always collecting stones! The fall colours are brilliant in the late afternoon sun as we arrive home.

The Grossglockner High-Alpine Road, Austria

Day 48, Saturday, October 12, 2019

We have a beautiful day for our drive on the Grossglockner High-Alpine Road located about an hour and a half south-west of Salzburg.   We drive through many tunnels on the way to the beginning of this highway.  There were several 2 and 2.5 km long tunnels.  On the way home we drive through a 5.5 km long tunnel!  The toll for the tunnel road is 12 euros!  Soon we are in the mountains.

The Grossglockner High-Alpine Road has an altitude of 2,504 meters at the highest point and it is the highest surfaced mountain road in Austria. The 48 kilometre road has 36 hairpin curves and two side roads to spectacular vantage points. There is a 36 euro fee to drive this road. At one of the first stops along the road I find this water trough that reminds me of the one my grandfather made years ago. The views are amazing. We see a couple gathering something. When I ask them what they are picking they give me a handful of tiny tart cranberries to taste. The road winds steeply upwards.  We are amazed at how fast we are climbing. We stop at what looks like a giant stone table and seats. A composite view showing the beginnings of fall colours. Looking far down to a deep valley. There is fresh snow up here. These devices point to and give the names of the mountain peaks.
There is a little museum with a great film about marmots and some of the other animals that live at these high elevations.  Take a look at the Snowshoe Hair’s feet! There is also a display that lets you see what it feels like to be a small creature on a mountain hillside.These are a bit hard to see, but there are cyclists on this road, lots of them!  Because we stop so often we pass the same bikers several times.  They don’t stop and just keep climbing.  I am in awe! We take one of the side roads to the very top of the mountain.  If you look carefully you can make out the narrow steep road that winds back and forth to the top. Getting close to the top!  The road continues up by that blue railing! The view from the top.  See that road way down there? Here is a close up, that shows the road climbing again up into the snow covered pass. More hair pin turns on the way down from the viewpoint at the mountain top.
We stop at the parking lot at the bottom of the side road to the summit viewpoint… where we have our lunch in the sunshine. Here is the road just below our picnic spot.There is a big valley on our way to the snow covered pass…
and a giant marmot!This tunnel is at the top of the road. There are large chunks of ice forming on the inside of the tunnel, and some workmen busy breaking them off. This is a view of the road on other side of the tunnel. Before long we are back in the trees.  These larch trees are starting to turn colour and glowed in the sun. We take the second side road up to the Pasterze Glacier. A jet stream makes it look like the mountain is smoking! We see some tunnel-like construction on the hillside but can’t figure out what they are, as there is no path to reach them. We then discover there is a tunnel that enables hikers to walk to the glacier. Those tunnel-like constructions we saw are viewpoints along the way.Here is our view from one of the viewpoints looking back to the glacier information centre.  We only walk 500 metres into the tunnel. Walking back to the car we see these stairs that lead way down to the lake at the base of the glacier. The sun is starting to set as we start our drive home, which is still 2 1/2 hours away.  The alpine highway is only 48 kms long but it took us five hours to go those 48 kms! We have never seen a hay ride like this going down a highway back home!

Salzburg, Austria

Day 46, Thursday, October 10, 2019

Today was a quiet day.  Bob went for a walk to check out the transit system and neighbourhood and I worked on my blog, caught up on some emails and took it easy.  The big excursion for the day was going for a few groceries before dinner.

Day 47, Friday, October 11, 2019

Walking to the bus I notice many houses have very attractive front entries. We can see Hohensalzburg Fortress high on the hill above Salzburg.  Tour guide Bob informs me we will visit there on Tuesday. We can see beautiful green alpine meadows in the hills above Salzburg. We pass dairy cows right in town just a couple blocks from the train and bus station.  The advertisement above the cows gave me a chuckle.  We pop into a downtown church when we get off the bus.  It looks like a community church from the outside, with big cheery murals on either side of the door.  The inside is much less ornate than many of the churches we have visited and there is lots of information on community programs and events.  Nice to see. We stop at some  food stands selling wine and beer, and have a bit to eat.  These giant doughnuts look interesting but we pass.  They are as big as small plates! The gardens around the Mirabell Palace are beautiful.  In the movie ‘The Sound of Music’ Maria and the children dance around this Pegasus fountain and sing ‘Do Re Mi’. The grass contains elaborate knot patterns decorated with flowers.  These are freshly planted pansies, hundred of dozens of them! The Zwergerigarten is a surprise.  It is the oldest ‘Dwarf Garden’ in Europe and was built in 1695.  Yes, a Dwarf Garden!  We had no idea there was such a thing.    This fellow insisted on trying on Bob’s baseball cap! The collection of 28 marble dwarf sculptures was sold at auction in 1811.  17 of the sculptures have been recovered and put back into the park in their original positions.   Here are some of these curious sculptures. We have tea and cookies in the garden and then I draw for a while. I used a new brush pen that I got just before we left for holidays.  I think it is going to take a while to get used to.  I used a water brush to create value with the water based ink in the pen.

I sketched the mountain this morning waiting for the bus.  Drawing these dwarves I was starting to get a feel for how to use this pen.  A water brush and white crayon were used to add some value.Walking through the garden there are some more knot designs created with flowers in the grass. There is a small Orangerie…with some goldfish, a turtle and a few birds. Looking back towards the Mirabelle Palace. The two towers in the background belong to the church we visited earlier. These young girls were enjoying the Pegasus Fountain, and I enjoyed watching them. There seems to be several unicorns here in Salzburg. I have time for a quick sketch of a beautiful enormous tree while waiting for Bob. There are a lot of big trees here. We have never seen a giraffe quite like this before! We walk along the river heading towards the Old Town. The Old Town and the Castle on the hill make a striking view.
People are out enjoying the warm weather. This is the house that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived in with his family until he moved to Vienna in 1781. His family occupied the entire top floor.  We were looking for a free film and somehow ended up in the museum instead, so we had a quick look around. This street was the inspiration for the song ‘Silent Night’.  It is a long street so no idea exactly where this inspiration transpired.
This door had interesting marks scratched on it that looks very old.Here is the entrance to the “Silent Night’ street.
As we explore some of the side streets, we pass this ‘House of Pleasure’, and yes, it seems to be that kind of pleasure! We also see some graffiti that I quite like.  Note how the little ledge is incorporated into the image.  Very clever!This little sidewalk fountain had red roses stuck in small holes in the paving.  I wonder why? We check out the Marionette Theatre, but unfortunately there are no performances while we are here. While we wait for the bus home I notice an empty store front where someone has written on the glass windows with a black felt pen.  It is an interesting different sort of graffiti.

St. Florian Monastery, Austria

Day 45, Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Time to move on to our next destination.  I took this picture because I know my mom will recognize the pot with blue designs beside the flowers.  She has one just like it.

Bob closes the door as we leave.  It is hard to see, but the picture on the wall is of the two old aunties who used to live here. I was going to take a close up of it and somehow forgot.
On the way to say goodbye to my friends the sheep I snapped a few more photos of the farm buildings.  There were certainly lots of interesting things to see here. Only the young fellow destined for the table came up to see me today.  The other two were playing shy. This shows how long the front of the house is.  The attic full of stuff ran almost the whole length of it.  On the far end was the smaller attic above the two bedrooms in the auntie’s house. Part of the route to St. Florian Monastery, which is our next stop, is a very narrow road through some woods.
The monastery is very large.  The stretch of red roof from the church to the front corner is 200 metres long.  It covers a corridor that runs its length. This is the fountain in the middle of the large courtyard. I am so excited…we actually get to go into a library.  This library has 150,000 books, 35,000 of which are in this one room. They are mainly books on Religion and History. You can see the bookcase door that opens to another room.  The spiral staircase to the second floor is in that room.  There are many more rooms full of books but we only get to visit this one.  We are told that this library is available for the public to use.  Wish I lived closer! I love the library ‘ladders’ used ot reach books on high shelves.  Heck, I pretty much love everything about this library! Later on during the tour we see this photo of Adolph Hiltler standing in the same place we had just stood.  It is a strange thought…that we were someplace that he was.Of course this library also has a magnificent ceiling.
Next we visit the Marble Ballroom which represents the colours of the Habsburg Monarchy, red, white and yellow. This is why I end up with a sore neck after sightseeing! Our guide pointed out some of the many fossils that are in the marble on the floors and walls.  I never thought of marble as being a stone the came from ancient oceans. The big ammonite was on the fireplace hearth, notice the toe of a shoe in the corner for scale. One of the many very ornate carved wooden doors in the monastery. The Monastery church is grand.  Lots of carved white stone and dark carved woodwork. The altar is decorated with bouquets of sunflowers. We have never seen drapery carved in stone in a church before.  Everything in this church looks so very well preserved, there are no broken or dirty bits.  In fact everywhere in this monastery is very well taken care of.  We wonder where the money to maintain a place this large comes from.  The church organ was built in 1774 and it is one of the largest working organs in Austria.  It is known as the Bruckner Organ as it was played by composer and organist Anton Bruckner. He had been a choir boy at the monastery, and he was the church organist, between 1848 and 1855. I do not know much about classical music so did not know anything about Anton Bruckner. He was a famous Austrian composer, organist, and music theorist best known for his symphonies and masses. On the floor directly below the organ is a memorial plaque and …in the crypt directly below this plaque is his sarcophagus.  His wish was to be buried here at St. Florian Monastery even though he lived and died in Vienna. Yes, those are bones behind the sarcophagus, the bones of over 6,000 people, dating back to the 4th century.  It is thought that the bones of St. Florian could possibly be in here.  A few more pictures of the 700 year old crypt which is still used today as a burial place for the monastery monks. The windows open to outside, there is no glass.  I wonder if this was so decomposing bodies were ventilated?We visit twelve guest rooms in the monastery.  These rooms have not been used since the mid 18th century and have been preserved as a museum.  These elaborately decorated rooms were reserved for royalty who might visit the monastery.  These doorways connect all the rooms. The red bedroom was reserved for Pope Pius VI, although he only spent one night here. The walls and chairs in this room are covered in matching tapestries.  There is a big masonry stove in each of these rooms.Each room is lavishly decorated.  The last two rooms are a shrine to Anton Bruckner. The photo shows him in his bed in his Vienna apartment.  He died in this bed, which is now on display here along with his other furniture.Remember those big masonry stoves in the royal apartments?  These metal doors in the hallway open to the inside of the stoves.  This is how the fires in the stoves were cared for by servants without bothering the apartment occupants. There are thirty monks at this monastery.  Only thirteen live here full time, the rest live in neighbouring parishes.  Over the last 950 years the monastery had 108 monks at its peak and only three at its lowest.  I am told that thirty monks is quite good ‘these days’.  There is one young monk, several in their fifties and sixties and the rest are older.  We see this monk as we are leaving and assume he is the one young one. The cemetery beside the church is the prettiest, most well cared for one we have ever visited. As we drive towards Salzburg we pass several huge piles of sugar beets in the fields.  Austria grows more than 3 million tonnes of sugar beets every year. Finally we find a safe place to pull off the road so I can get a photo of one of the fields of pumpkins we have seen along the way. We make a quick stop at Kremsmunster Monastery but it can only be visited by guided tours and we don’t have time.  The church is open and it is the only one we have seen that has tapestries wrapped around its pillars.Back on the road, from a distance, I thought this was another field of pumpkins or maybe squash, but they are sunflowers. Good thing the sun wasn’t shining or I would have wanted to stay much longer and take many more photos.  What a beautiful sight it was to see so many gorgeous sunflowers.

 

 

Biking Along the Danube

Day44, Tuesday October 8, 2019

Our little apartment has a masonry stove that keeps us toasty warm.  One box of wood keeps us warm for 24 hours. On our way in to Linz we see this ‘green’ apartment.  Lots of gardeners must live here. It took some time to find the bike rental company.  They weren’t easy to locate.  We pass this big mural during our search. I thought these bikes were quite interesting.  They fold up compactly.We start out on our bike trip along the Danube. Bob wants dot take my photo while I was still in one piece! There are some great views along the way… and some wooded trails.  I did quite well until the killer hedge tried to get me…and then there was the vortex railing!  If I got too close it tried to suck me in! Bob left me at a coffee shop to rest and sketch and he went a bit further down the river, crossed a bridge, and then returned on this strange looking ferry.  These flowers are much like the anenomes we grow at home only much larger. We see the long barge steaming down the river. This curious mural is on a building near the café where I waited for Bob.The trees here are so big.  I found out that the average temperature here in January and February is -3 Celcius and -4 Celcius.  So much warmer than our winters, no wonder the trees grow so large.
Our selfie along the Danube. I need a few breaks on the ride home, so a photo is a good excuse for little rest 😉 These river cruise boats remind us of our cruise on the Nile, where the cruise ships were lined up 6 or 7 deep along the shore.  Passengers had to walk through all the ships, sometimes walking across the water on a narrow board between the ships, to get to shore. This wasp was really big! We take our bikes back.  They are in a building which is an incubation centre for start-ups.  Looks like these steps are a place to relax, or even snooze.  We see two souped up go-carts being wheeled into the building. I am happily surprised to discover Gerstäcker, a huge art store, in this building.  After our ride I spend at least an hour exploring and find some new drawing pencils, and two really nice hardcover Hahnemühle Sketchbooks, a 10″ square and a 8.5″ x 12″ rectangular one.  They were really reasonably priced too!  I couldn’t resist even though my suitcase will be a lot heavier.Nearby is  an industrial area called Mural Harbor.  Artists from over 25 nations created more than 100 works of art on warehouse buildings.

It is getting dark and it is raining so we drive around and see what we can from the car before heading home.  There are some pretty impressive works here.  These are all at least 10-12′ tall or larger.  I particularly liked the cat and mice.

When we get home Bob tells me that I rode 24 km. and he rode 38 km.  No wonder I am tired!  Good thing he didn’t tell me how far we were going to ride before we started.

Hörshching, Austria

Day 43, Monday, October 7, 2019

Here are the drawings I did yesterday.  I found these sheep quite a challenge to draw.  They move around a lot and they have quite a different shape from other animals I have drawn. There are none of the usual landmarks to use when drawing an animal, as their boney bits don’t show at all. Even their faces are soft with few angle changes to define their shape. I did really enjoy the afternoon with them and by the end of the afternoon I felt I was starting to figure out how to approach drawing them.

I asked our host, Peter, about the history of the  house so he takes us on a tour.  This is the old living quarters, where his wive’s two aunties lived.  They didn’t have much money so they never renovated, like so many of the other houses in the neighbourhood. The door leads to two bedrooms and the stairs to the attic.  These rooms are not being used now. The date 1705 is carved in the ceiling beam, but Peter tells us that the cottage is actually 400 years old and was originally a fisherman’s cottage.  He says this is a typical farmhouse.  I never got a chance to ask him if the original fisherman’s  house was always this big, or was it added on to over the years? I would love to be able to poke about in this attic!  There are spinning wheels, a sewing machine, old chests and trunks, baskets, containers of all sorts, and lots of boxes filled with who knows what? The entry area between our apartment (which used to be a stable), and the living quarters has this big metal door behind the stool.  Upstairs is another  enormous attic that runs the length of the building.
Here there are even more interesting things: old fishing nets, more chests and trunks, old baskets and wooden buckets and vats, and all sorts of interesting things that have probably been there many years.  Now I look at all the houses we drive by and wonder what is up in those attics!  I wonder what treasures might be hidden away in all these old houses?This is only some of the huge woodpile Peter has cut and stacked, ready for the winter.  We think that the air quality here must be very poor in the winter with all the wood burning that takes place.  Most of the houses around here have enormous piles of stacked wood just like this. I went out to pick a few apples to cook for dessert and noticed a pear tree. Most of the pears had fallen and weren’t good to eat but this one pear had landed on a branch and was sitting balanced there, just out of my reach!. One more view out a pretty window.  Bob went for another bike ride this afternoon and I did a bit of blogging and relaxing.  We are both finding it a nice change staying in the country.  It is so quiet and peaceful.  We have enjoyed our time in the cities, but this is a relaxing break from that routine.

Schwechat to Hörsching, Austria

Day 41, Saturday, October 5

We planned some sightseeing along the way to our next destination.  First stop is the town of Krems.  We walk the old town, looking for a place to have our picnic lunch, but when we finally find a bench it starts to rain.  We eat our lunch under our umbrella and then it clears up enough for a little stroll down the main street of old town. It is a long street lined with mostly modern shops.  Not really what we were expecting. This is the gate that leads onto the shop lined street.  I do wonder why the geraniums grow so well here,  Everywhere in Germany and Austria there are window boxes spilling over with blossoms.  Mine at home don’t do nearly as well! We wander through the gate, and decide it is time to leave. I do see these lovely prints in a little window inside the gate.

Next stop is the Dürnstein Castle.  The castle was built between 1140-1145 and in 1645 it was demolished by Swedish troops.

The castle became famous through the legend of Richard the Lionheart. The legend of Richard the Lionheart says that when he returned from the Crusades, the English King tore up the Austrian flag and refused to share his spoils of war with Leopold V.  As a consequence, Leopold V held King Richard prisoner in the castle from 1192 – 1193.

We can see the castle high above the town. While we are getting information on how to hike to the castle the clouds get very dark and threatening. But just as quickly they start to blow over and in less than ten minutes the sky is relatively clear. On the path towards town from the carpark we pass vineyards with lots of green grapes.  They look ready to pick. We find the path and start our climb…and it is definitely a climb!  I am so glad I have our hiking poles, they really help climbing these big uneven steps that seem to go on forever. A view of the town from a much needed little rest stop.These little blue bells are the same kind that I have growing at home. My oldest daughter brought me seeds from Dawson City many years ago and they grow quite happily in our flower garden.  This gorgeous blue beetle glistened indigo and cobalt with touches of turquoise. He, or perhaps she, was about the size of my thumbnail and paused in its travels long enough to let me take its photo.It is hard to see, but this old gentleman and his wife (you can just make out her bandaged leg and green skirt), were being helped down the trail by some kind hikers who stopped to help them.  We have no idea how they managed to get this far, as they were having difficulty walking here where the ground was fairly flat.  Someone at the bottom of the trail had told us to “Look out for two old Brits on the trail…I don’t think they are going to be able to get down and will need to stay up there!”  They were very fortunate that kind strangers stopped and came to their aid.  I think they will be exhausted by the time they make it down, or maybe they will need even more assistance? This sign explains what the castle used to look like.  We are able to make out a few of the areas but most of the castle has been destroyed. Some views of the castle.The views from the top are wonderful and well worth the climb.
We see a riverboat cruising by on the Danube far below. It is starting to get very windy up here. The valley is dotted with village after village as far as we can see.I was looking for Bob and couldn’t find him… till I looked up.
We wonder if this is where king Richard was kept prisoner?

No one knew where Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned. It is believed that Richard’s faithful minstrel, Blondel, travelled from castle to castle looking for his king. Richard was a poet and he wrote some of his own songs.  Blondel found King Richard in Dürnstein by singing a refrain from a song Richard had written which the prisoner then sang back.

Richard the Lionheart was finally released after the payment of a ransom of 150,000 silver marks.  Hmm, I wonder how much I need to pay to get this prisoner released? You can see the castle walls stretching all the way down to the town.

We are lucky enough to have a little impromptu concert.  I really need to learn how to edit video so these are raw footage, but you will hear a bit of what we heard. Here is another short clip. We head down to town on a different path, one which is a bit easier than the one we climbed up.  There are displays along the path explaining about the history of the Castle and King Richard the Lionheart. The path ends back in town. We see black grapes growing along the road and hanging on houses.  They are quite tasty. The castle walls go through the town all the way down to the river!
As we make our way towards Hörsching and our next Airbnb we pass lots of terraced hillsides where grapes are grown. Then we see a very large chair! The sky is quite dramatic and it is getting dark by the time we arrive in Hörsching, our home for the next three days.

Schwechat, Austria

Day 40, Friday, October 4, 2019

This is the view from our apartment window.  It is a fairly busy street but as long as our windows are closed the apartment is very quiet. Austria has a “vignette’ sticker for travel on their highways.  It costs 24 euros, instead of charging tolls on each highway.. So, we went to put it on our car and surprise, we have a parking ticket! No one else parked on the same street has a ticket and it is where our host told us to park!  We can’t figure out why we got the ticket.  We contact our host and he says we are legally parked.  He thinks that maybe whoever issued the tickets doesn’t ‘like’ our Slovakian rental car and gave us a ticket!

We try to go to the Council office to fight the ticket but it closed at noon, and it is already 12:30, so we decide to just pay the ticket and not worry about it.  These things can happen on holidays and it isn’t worth getting upset over.

After we sorted all that out, Bob went for a walk to the Danube River and I stayed home and do a bit of my blog and just take it easy.

It is about an hour walk to the Danube river.  There is a hydro-electric dam across the Danube.  Bob was able to walk onto the dam see some of downtown Vienna in the distance.  He also watched a ship go through the locks beside the dam.  It took about 20 minutes for the water to fill the lock so the ship could pass upstream.

I have mentioned before that this blog is a great souvenir for us as well as a way to keep in touch with family and friends.

I have a favour to ask.  If you enjoyed reading a post could you ‘Like’ it or perhaps post a comment?  It is kind of nice to know others are enjoying our blog too.  Thanks so much to the people who have taken the time to comment.  I  really appreciate it.