Austria

My  notes to self – not for public consumption yet: then decided to cross into Austria but ended op having a hard time finding a ple to camp = forget stresses and machinery logging 4at 10p? So I backed up the logging road after waiting 20 minutes and still hearing engines and trucks working and seeing lights and ripped off the heat shield from under the car = it ripped in half and I pulled the part I could off then drove on and found another place but it was muddy and I almost got stuck and a farm was right above so I hid from view and had to cross a stream = w;et cold and didn’t sleep well = then next day I went to find a citroen dealer, driove along a pretty forested valley (it turns out the Bohemian forest ends just north of Linz so I was driving through that forest without knowing it) – stopped at a schloss that is now a rehabitation facility typical fro Austria and Germany and then found a small town where I could buy bread which was 4 days because I couldn’t find anything in Czech it was a food dessert there weren’t even hotels or cafes except for super touristy areas

so I bought bread and asked about Citroen dealer found the place but not right place, met a really nice couple – Woflgang and Dianne and their soall son = very sweet, then in Linz, no part, called to Salzburg and Innsbruck no part = decided to find in Budapest = headed to Salzburg, tempted to stamp in Hallstatt but decided not to m pressed in to Salz = arrived 2:30pm, parked, got a ticket (I i hoped they wouldn’t notice) – walked across bridge to old town, walked to kloister and cemetery very pretty = scene from sound of music = into catacomb, got locked in  as I joked to a German guy my worst nightmare getting locked in a crypt = then up to castle, didn’t have time to tour so didn’t pay 12 euro, walked behind to old fort which was there before, Molbach or something like that = some guy archaeologist found it = walked through sinewy passages and nice houses back and to rathaus and dom and market pace and street where mozart was born (I thought it was Augsburg) – then a group of college kids performing with their instruments sclepping, then round about back to that. = 5pm = got a ticket for 25 Euros = not sure whether I have to pay it  = left for Innsbruck = intuition said not to use highway but road snarled as it was Friday  5pm so I jumped on highway and low and behold German border control decide to stop everyone for refugee scratch someone said = so it took an hot to go 2 miles = exhausted from driving a clutch car and having to clutch every minute, then hassled by nasty drivers all the way to Innsbruck = a guy who highbeamed mebecasuehe thought I was treating to go around him by going in slow lane, I was just trying to not hit cenent barrier – arrived at 9:20pm, huge party and loud music,nI wondered what had happened to Innsbruck – really sprawling I’d forgotten 2 ol pics 62 and 78= turned out to be shopping tonight late, a special event, ran into a number of rowdy youths, vomit on cobblestones, someone told me to watch my backpack – I thought that was nice of the young man = wawlkded around old town and took photos, jazz blues band, pizza, asked and a girl tod me where to camp – up a very stteeep road on other side of canyon/mountains, I did and almost got stuck on steep road, engine quit = found spot, hard parking area = found old clothes near tree, spooked, wondered if it was a body because of shape, but luckily slept and woke around 9am m saw people hiking up hill, I hike for a while, man directed me to trail = fairly sterile and not very nice, so I went back to car and down to town, thinking of getting a coffee, glad I didn’t, wandered into main church, then to ofgarten, was going to go to Highbury, but ended up at villa museum and am so glad – life in Tyrol and culture, collected since mid 1800s, to honou crafts and handicarafts and trades of the carpenters, farmers, etc.  = great audio with laser scan which gave text for every object and so I spent from 1130 to 5pm = also went into church which was where emperor Macsimilian was buried, very impressive tomb and bronze statues of his “family” including King ARthur and original Hapsburg = got another parking ticket, added it tot he collection and headed toward St. Mortitz = I decided that even though it was Oct 1 and late museum night, I wasn’t up for more museums and series einstead to head for the hills so to speak – to the Alps – so I started off, very pretty, and at 7:20pm decided to stop as it was getting very dark scuol Switzerland having crossed into Switzerland a few miles back and then Italy = too dark, found umbrellas as it had started to rain and temp dropped a lot – it was 68 and suddenly 58 and getting lower = walked and found a hotel, Belvedere, very nice, and asked to use wifi, they said sure, I ordered a tea and charged my phone as I sat, wrote some blog = my car charger gave up the ghost, so the phone no longer charges in the car = seems like everything is breaking and falling apart, including me = I checked the weather forecast for the next ew days and was concerned because it will be very cold, here and everywhere, and also in Budapest and Ljubliana = so there’s no place to hide to speak – Ill check and see how it goes tonight – it’s supposed to rain all day tomorrow and that’s when I’m driving to see the great views of St Morris – so I’m not sure whether to go on or just head toward Budapest = I’m tired of driving

Between parking tickets red light camera tickets umleitung that aren’t marked clearly so I don’t knot where to go finding out about the important places after I’ve left a place having to drive 35 mph most of the way on the freeways because of road work
Having to find parking places in new cities every day having my tire booted losing the protective plastic shield not knowing where I can legally camp being yelled at to get out while camping deep in an uninhabited forest on my birthday hearing buzz saws in the night or dogs barking at close range or gun fire or horribly suffocating coal fire or wood smoke and twice driving into an unseen trench and almost tipping my car over I’m a bit stressed.

Rained a bit in the night, but not bad – slept near the river across from a power generator, so heard the hum of a generator all night long. Awoke and drove along the river on a dirt road to an interesting building, Brukken Trinkwasser.  It was the original source of mineral water bottled in Scuol.  A mystery was cleared up for me by a man at the fountain in the main square (which by the way provides regular and mineral water).  The latter is quite good, much better than most I’ve tried.  He said that Italian (or a strange mix of Italian/French/Portuguese) is spoken in Scuol.  I noticed all the houses had the word Chasa, similar to casa in Spanish for house.  He said the language is very important to preserving the culture of the area.  After spending hours in the Tyrol Volksmuseum in Innsbruck, I’m not surprised that Scuol has a unique and endemic culture.  It turns out that all the little villages, especially the more remote ones, retained very specific and unique costumes, traditions, and in this case (and others), language.  They also decorated their houses differently.  In Scuol they carved designs in the stone or drew them, had a saying on the front of the house in the strange Italianish they speak here, and have a small stone path with wheel ruts that lead straight into the street level floor, which probably is a cellar now but used to be for livestock.

After I explored the stately buildings from the turn of the 20th century housing the mineral water faculties (there are apparently 5), I walked a lovely footpath along the river and up to Vulpera, where an old schloss had been built and now hosted a stately garden, hothouse, gazebo, stone paths, Japanese garden of sorts, and some older hotel buildings.  There was also a turbine from the original waterworks.  It was a kind of outdoor museum.  I headed back down the hill and drove back to Hotel Belvedere, where I used the wifi for an hour and deliberated about where to go next.  They recommended St. Moritz, which had also been recommended by Janusz as a spectacular view of the Swiss Alps.  Having driven Grimsel Pass I prefer the latter, though can see why he recommended this drive.  It follows the river up a steep valley lined with high peaks on either side.  In St. Moritz, the river is dammed into a pretty lake, but upstream it reverts back to its natural wild state.

I prefer the smaller villages lower in the valley to St. Moritz, which has mushroomed into a modern resort town.  Ugly apartments dwarf the once quaint village, which is now nestled up on the hill and out of site from the greater metropolis.  It’s not horrible, but just not my cup of tea.  I took a short walk above the town, and at the lake, then drove back down the mountain, as I wanted to drive to Hallstatt while there was still daylight.  As it was, I made it to Golling, Austria, about an hour shy of Hallstatt, and decided to call it quits for the night as it was already dark.  So I wandered around the quaint town, and inquired about the price of rooms in a few places, as I didn’t really look forward to camping in the rain.  Unfortunately, as it was already 9pm, I didn’t really feel like paying 60 Euro for a room that I’d have to vacate at 9 or 10am.  Didn’t seem worth it.  So after walking around the quaint town for some time, and exploring the nearby castle and church, I decided to make it an early night.  I normally don’t go to bed till 11pm, but the night before had been rough – I ended up having reflux most of the night, culminating in throwing up and diarrhea the next day.  Something I ate must not have agreed with me.

So I drove out of town along the rather dark road running along the river, and found a small road which headed into a forest that seemed rather quiet.  It ended in a locked gate, but I figured on a rainy Sunday night there wouldn’t be any forestry going on.  The Austrians may be industrious, but that was taking it to an extreme.  I did my best to set up, though it was already raining, so my sleeping bag and tent got wet before I’d even gotten it up.  I wiped it down with a towel and put a few layers between me and the ground, but it was a wet night and I felt damp every time I turned over.  My pillow was wet, my bag was wet, I didn’t want my feet to touch my wet bag so hugged my knees close.  Not the best sleeping conditions.  But I was happy in the morning as I woke to no rain, a bit of light in the sky, and a heater in the car.  My portable clothes dryer.  I planned to dry each wet item separately in front of the heater as I drove, but got lucky.  The sun came out around 12:30pm and I quickly whipped everything out of the car and hung rain fly, tent, sleeping pad on the car doors, put the pillows on the roof, stretched the towel in the back.  People passed by and probably wondered whether I was a gypsy.  I guess I am in a way, though I don’t have Roma blood that I know of.  Though there is a well kept secret in my father’s family that his mother had a gypsy somewhere in the family.  Who knows.  I’m sure that was an epithet that my dad’s father’s family levelled at my grandmother, as being a gypsy was akin to being less than human.  Racism has been alive and well for centuries in Europe.

Speaking of that, one of the things I found out was that there were a number of massacres of Jewish people in Tyrol in the 1300s and 1400s after a Jew was accused of killing a gentile child.  Of course there was no evidence to support this accusation, but all the Jews in the village were killed anyway.  It’s really sad how anti-semitism has had such a horrific and long history.  I remember being in Venice and accidentally getting off the vaporetta (a kind of water taxi) in the Jewish quarter.  Which was tiny, perhaps 2 small blocks that housed something like 2000 people at one time.  That was where the word ghetto originated, in Venice.  It referred to the area where the Jews were restricted to, somewhere near the clay shop but far away from the munitions factory and gold sellers on Rialto Bridge.  Despite the hardships, they had their own publishing house and were one of the more successful Jewish populations in Europe.  At least until they were rounded up.

In any case, I spent a few luxurious hours in a really nice cafe in Golling, where I ordered a kastania (chestnut) cake and hot chocolate.  The cake had liqueur in it – apparently all their cakes (and chocolate) does, which I don’t like.  But I ate it anyway, and spent a few hours downloading books and researching where to next.  As I rarely have access to internet, I am severely limited in my explorations.  Though it seems that by following my intuition I find many interesting things that I wouldn’t otherwise have found.  Speaking of that, I walked back to the castle, as it was open in the daytime, and found a map with local attractions, including the salt museum at Hallein.  I was headed to Hallstatt to go to its museum on the history of Celts in salt works, so Hallein pricked my interest.  I decided to head there and check it out.  On the way, I stopped in Kusch, a pretty little town which I discovered also has a museum on the history of salt works in the region.  I didn’t have time to do both, so headed to Hallein.  First I went up to the Saltwerkz, the site of the original salt mine tunnels where brine was sent down in wooden chutes to “pan houses” on the riverside where it was cooked down to a dry mash and then broken up with wooden mallets.  People pay 21 Euro to enter the mine, but that seemed like a bit of a rip off to me.  I’d rather go to the salt mines in Poland near Krakow, and see altars and sculptures in salt.

There was an interesting exhibit on the Celts that mined salt and lived in that location.  Archaeological work conducted at the site revealed that there was a settlement of 20 or so houses.  The people not only lived in the homes but worked there as well, including pottery, leatherwork, and smithery (including smelting), as well as food preparation like herb gathering and grinding cereals for mush and bread.  They reconstructed the houses and had exhibits of some of the handicrafts, burial mound/tumulus,  oven, and tools of dry salt mining.  Much like any other type of mining, they dug into the earth with picks to loosen the salt crystals.  Apparently they discovered the salt while watching animals going to a salt spring for the precious mineral.  It was apparently in continuous use since the Neolithic times, though it only became intensively mined during the 500 BC.  It then fell into disuse till 1100, and in 1300 the Hallein reserve reached its zenith.  The bishop of Salzburg was very active in the salt operations, and actually had a monopoly on the operation for many years.  In fact, he kept wages at such a low level that workers had to farm and do carpentry just to survive.  In addition, children worked in the mines (as they did in Celtic times, though in the latter they were simply holding wooden torches).  The reason he kept their wages so low as that he artificially suppressed the price of salt to outcompete the competitor Bavarian salt works.

So basically Salzburg was built on the back of the salt workers of Hallein (Dorsberg mountain).  Very sad.  And what did they get for all their hard work?  The closing of the mine in 1989 due to unfavourable economic conditions and a newer salt work nearby with more modern technology.

After spending all day in the museum at Hallein, I wandered around the pretty medieval town (thanks to the poor economic times in the 1800s onward which probably kept them from modernising like most other towns  plus they had a long history of salt mining so it was an old town to begin with).  The priest who wrote Stille Nocht lived across from the main church when he wrote the carol, according to the sign.  His tomb is still outside his front door (a good place for it, I supposed).  Lovely alley ways wound their way through the town, and I got some rare views from above of the uneven tangle of medieval gables and rooftops below  And the river, of course.  It was dark )or almost) when I left and headed back to Golling, thinking I would write in my blog as it was raining.  First I wanted to check out the waterfall and blue lake nearby, and found a forest road leading in the right direction but after driving many miles I didn’t see either, just an old forest inn on a creek.  Very pretty, and I strategiesed tht I might camp under its porch for the night as a roof if no one away there,

I had spied a McDonalds and decided I’d use their internet, but it was complicated finding it, as I had to enter and exit a freeway, and weave my way through many trucks.  It started raining hard while I was sitting there, and I decided at 10pm to find a roof where I could rearrange my things in the car so I could possibly sleep inside.  However, after taking everyone out of the back seat, I realised it would be almost impossible because there is a huge slope/gradient that dominates thecenter and would cut me in two, so to speak.  I had enough problems without that.  So I signed (trying to keep the cigarette smoke from the restless herds of bus passengers taking shelter under the same eave at bay).  I headed back tot he woods and found the inn with a small light on, meaning someone was there.  So I pressed on, hoping to find some kind of bus stop shelter. I found just that a ways on with a wooden roof, and barely fit my tent in the space.

Next day I awoke and wth difficulty extracted my tent, then headed to the cafe where I”d had such good treats before.  First I went tot he falls, which happened to be part of a pilgrimage to St Nicholas (the church was on a conglomerate mass of rocks on a hill = definitely a pagan site in the past) = they charged 2.50 to see the waterfall and I dhadn’t brought money with me, so I turned back.  But got a feel for the place.  Then I had a pastry and headed to Hallstatt, first trying to find the old mill I’d seen on my first night there. No luck – it was down a long dirt hiking path and I dind’t have time to explore.   So on I went to Hallstatt, a very pretty town perched on the side of a mountain and a lake.  It had been an ancient salt mining site for the Celts 500 BC, and later in 1100 AD o salt mining had resumed, though rather than dry rock with picks as in olden tims, they used brine and boiled the water off in Borlein’s houses in large salt pans near the lakeside.  I went to the museum which has many of the archeological finds from the salt mine up the hill (1500 feet higher, more or less).  Wages were so low that women would carry salt up and down – blocks of salt up and down the hill

My notes about what happened after: On the way to Salzburg I got yet another camera ticket = my first in Austria, followed by 2 more the next day in a small village near Golling where I had wanted to be a Good Samaritan and turned back to give a hitchhiker a ride and got wahammed again = I was going35 kmh which I thought was slow enough, but otherwise = then in Hallstatt a guy at a winter stand got angry because I’d asked for an Haris and he thought I said wiener schnizzel and threw it in to be fried.  I thought after I’d left of offering to pay for the mistake, but I was too far away = and parking tickets = several in Austria. In Salzburg, then gong one yesterday in Budapest = now I have 3 in France, 1 in Czech which booted my car, 2 in Austria, 1 in Hungary, several in Germany – and in the US I have a handicapped pals card and don’t have to deal with all the headache of parking = no wonder it’s so much more stressful here = plus in every country I either have to pay high tolls or buy a vignette except Germany = vignette is required in Swiss, Austria, Czech repoybli and Hungary = none in Germany, and in France heighttolls – – as my friend said, it’s like being eableedign to death from a 1— mosquito bites =

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