I’ve been to enough gyms to be used to the nakedness one often encounters in changing rooms. I have also been to enough gyms to know that it is always the old ladies who have their boobs out. I have been living in the Austrian countryside long enough to know that people will say hello to you all the time – on the street, when you enter a shop, when you get on the bus. What I am not used to, however, is walking into the changing rooms at the gym and ten topless pensioners looking up and simultaneously greeting you in Austrian dialect with a unanimous ‘Griaßdi!’.
Instead of heading to Linz like I usually do, this weekend it was time to welcome the Squad to Rohrbach! On Friday afternoon, Emma, Bryony, Charlotte and Martha descended on Rohrbach, thereby increasing its population by around 15%.
I cooked dinner in the evening which I was proud of not because it was an especially good or fancy meal (it wasn’t), but more because I actually succeeded in cooking for 5 people in an oven in which I have previously only been able to bake one bread roll at a time in because it’s so tiny. We ate, talked, laughed, drank, put our dirndls on and played games that I’d originally bought to play with my students in school, like Taboo. We also played Consequences which I think we’ve played every single time we’ve started drinking together and it just never gets old – if anything, it gets funnier.
In the morning, I got made fun of because I’ve managed to buy herb flavoured toothpaste, which is something that happens if you don’t speak German and like to live on the edge by never looking up the meanings of words. Look, I’d seen the word Krauter on tea before, so when I saw it on toothpaste I assumed it meant peppermint or something similar. In my defence, why does this exist? In my second defence, it’s actually really not that bad, despite what the girls said.
We went on a little expedition up the hill in the snow to Maria Trost, which is the first place I explored when I arrived in Rohrbach. This time, though, after climbing up the hill past the photos explaining Jesus’ whole cross-carrying/crucifixion debacle, we actually went inside the church. It was tiny, silent, very beautiful and very creepy, and I was more grateful than I’d like to admit for the presence of the rest of the girls. I would have spent significantly less time there if I had been alone due to the unnecessary amount of creepy figurines and statues. We did manage to find Rohrbach post cards though, so a few of you lucky people can expect a little souvenir on your doormats sometime soon.
(Maybe. The postal system is a bit… temperamental.)
We wandered back down ‘into town’ (lol) to find a café for lunch, but unfortunately the one I really wanted to try closed at 12pm on Saturday until Monday. On closer inspection, so do most things in Rohrbach – but I hadn’t known this, as I barely ever spend the weekend here. We found a café that was open and had coffee and lunch there, which was also great as it was just within reach of the Snapchat filter.
Bryony and Martha caught the bus after lunch to go home for more Maturaballs (I’m very jealous) while we went into another church in Rohrbach (the one you can see in most of my photos). We wanted to climb the spire, but unfortunately it was locked. There was a woman inside who spoke to us in very fast, very thick dialect who may have been explaining why it was locked and when it would be open – but we were none the wiser, mumbling an embarrassed genau in her direction and swiftly making for the exit like the true Brits we are.
Then we went to Villa Sinnenreich, a museum I’d heard about before but wasn’t really sure what to expect there. To be honest, I probably would never have bothered to visit had I been alone, but there really is nothing else to do in Rohbach, so we decided to check it out – and we were so glad we did. It exceeded all expectations, which was probably aided by the fact that our expectations were about -5 to begin with, but that’s besides the point.
We were greeted by the friendliest woman in the world, who explained a bit about the museum and gave us an edible ticket, which is approximately the time we decided we had made the right decision.
Inside, we found a statue of a man covered in ears who would echo your heartbeat back to you when you held his hands, a perspective room, a swing, lots and lots of optical illusions and mirrors, UV light, vibrations that smelled like lemons and a giant, hollow coconut which you could climb inside, seal so that it was pitch black, and use for ‘meditation’ (hmm, yeah, ok… that’s what people have been using it for).
We had so. Much. Fun.
Back to my flat and we chatted over Bad Ischler Lebkuchen from Charlotte (WHICH IS AMAZING) and tea. We also went through all of the other games that were originally intended for my students, namely British trivia (we got an embarrassing amount of questions wrong) and dad jokes (we laughed at an embarrassing number of them – I actually ended up crying with laugher, again).
For dinner, we went to inspect the Chinese Buffet that had been recommended to me – and it wasn’t bad, which is high praise for a Chinese restaurant in rural Austria. Then we had a craving for cocktails, and went on a hunt for a bar with extremely low expectations. Imagine my delight, then, when we found a bar that not only served cocktails (and a gin fizz, no less) but that had a nice atmosphere, was not too busy or too quiet and DIDN’T CONTAIN ANY OF MY STUDENTS*. I mean, I won’t get the smell of cigarettes out of my coat and scarf until at least 2020, but it was worth it.
*that I’m aware of
We had another Likör at the bar and then decided that rather than buying more alcohol, we’d go home and finish what Willig had made. We proceeded to consume three bottles of Likör between us – but the strangest thing of all was that none of us were drunk and none of us woke up with a hangover, though I can tell you for 100% certain that those things were strong. Willig may have invented the world’s first hangover-free Likör.
We went for brunch on Sunday at the one café that was actually open (that is to say, the same one we’d had lunch at the day before). Then, because it was Sunday in Rohrbach and trains only run every five hours, we went home and hung out in my kitchen, getting some lesson planning done for the week ahead and bitching about Donald Trump.
The last thing I have to say about our weekend was that it was a fun day.
Until next time, Wiederschauen!