The title of this blog post is how Bryony described the station at Werfen this week, but we liked it so much because it is actually a fairly apt description of all of Austria.
After a tiring week of four lessons, this week’s travel saw me heading to Linz for the third time for a weekend of shenanigans. I was raring to go. Eva bid me ‘so long!’ in English (bless her), and I hopped onto one of Austria’s many luxurious buses that always remind me of school trips.
First on the agenda was tea. (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, stereotypes exist for a reason). We went to the cosiest tearoom I have ever been to called Madame Wu’s. To get to it, you have to walk through a gorgeous-smelling shop selling every kind of loose-leaf tea imaginable before you get to the ‘tea cave’ (our words, not theirs) at the back, complete with bare brick walls, soft warm lighting, sheep skin blankets, pillows, and a selection of teas with names like ‘Princess Tea’ and ‘Mango Number 5’. We all chose our preferred flavour (I went for apricot and peach, if you’re interested) and the teapots arrived on individual trays with an egg timer (for optimum brewing), a sweet biscuit, a cup and another dish whose purpose remains a mystery. With ten minutes’ brewing time and a whole pot of tea each (ideal for sharing), it was the perfect setting for a proper good chinwag. If Heaven exists, I imagine it’s something like Madame Wu’s.
Afterwards we went in search of dirndls at Linz’s huge shopping centre. The centre was decorated inside to look like a kind of ancient Roman square, but with the addition of dragons and unicorns. I looked like what I imagine it would look like if you let an 11-year-old boy watch Game of Thrones and then told him to design a shopping centre. McDonald’s had an ivy-covered balcony, for God’s sake. Though we didn’t find dirndls there, we did find a Mexican place that sold burritos which was amazing because that’s the only thing I’ve really been craving since arriving in Austria (slightly odd as I don’t eat that many burritos at home, but there you go). I have no photo evidence of this because the burrito didn’t hang around long enough for its close-up.
The evening involved the world’s weirdest pub quiz in the world’s quietest bar, followed by much traipsing all over town and drinking disgusting wine from the bottle – we’d bought the 5€ wine instead of the 2€ bottle thinking we were fancy, but let this be a lesson to you: if you’re going to be cheap, just be properly cheap because it’s going to taste pretty much the same unless you move up a price bracket.
Eventually, and now with more Americans in tow, we settled on a boat/bar on the Danube to drink and chat – two of my favourite pastimes. The owners either didn’t notice or didn’t care that we were drinking our own wine, which, it has to be said, tasted better and better the more we drank. This was the first time I had one of those ‘OMG I LIVE IN AUSTRIA’ moments, when I looked across the river and realised – we are sitting on a boat on the actual DANUBE right now. Pretty cool. Obviously, the night finished on a Maccies, which is now becoming a staple food group in my horrendous diet.
Saturday morning saw us waking up early and heading to Werfen (via Salzburg and collecting Martha) to visit the world’s biggest ice caves at Eisrisenwelt. This is one of those things that is better described in pictures, so here you go…
Unfortunately, we didn’t get many photos inside the ice cave. Photography inside was actually forbidden, but being the rebels that we are, we took a few anyway, but they mostly came out like this due to the complete lack of light inside…
Here’s one I stole off Google though.
Inside the first kilometer of the 40+ inside the mountain was incredible, completely covered in ice and so beautiful. We climbed up a steep staircase for half a kilometer and then climbed back down – after already having hiked part way up the mountain to get there, our legs were truly shaking by the time we got out! In a classic disregard for health and safety, the Austrian tour guide gave random members of the group lanterns with open flames to light the way, leaving those poor people with just one free hand to clutch at the (worryingly shaky) railings as we made our way up. Open flames turned out to be perhaps not the best idea (who knew!?) – on smelling burning at one point, we all worriedly checked our coats and hair but everything seemed fine. It was only on getting back to the daylight that we discovered that one member of our group had melted a hole right through the inside of her coat.
We arrived home late to Linz and knackered, and despite our enthusiastically optimistic plans to cook dinner, we predictably ended up in McDonald’s for the third time in 8 days… I’m not proud.
As is now routine, I caught the train back home to Rohrbach early on Sunday morning and spent the day planning lessons for the week, catching up with friends (and by friends I mean my mum) on the phone, doing my washing and practicing my new hobby, murdering flies.
Until next time, Wiederschauen!