We’re stationary on our lovely lakeside campsite. The cloud’s moved in this morning, seeping out enough water to convince us euros would have to invested in clothes drying, but have cheekily scampered off, leaving us in glaring sunlight and with more beer tokens.
Ju quickly mastered the Krypton Factor washing machines this morning. The instructions are lengthy, in German, and it seems were invented to make everyone feel a fool. Not Ju though, she has a black belt in washing machines, having used every conceivable type over the past few months. Dave is now the centre of a May Pole, washing lines strung out at all angles, our smalls and larges fluttering in the breeze.
Of course, once it became clear to Charlie washing was to be done, he lamely made the excuse he needed a walk, dragging me out into the wooded slopes with him. Surprisingly really, given he was half way through grinding down last night’s pig knuckle?
Route #2 took us a little way up the south side of the valley, before swinging east following the line of the slope. It’s the easy path, with signs pointing out more demanding Nordic walks (the same as normal walking, but with a couple of ski poles?) straight up the hillside. The rain pitter-patted through the lead canopy, as I, child of the Internet generation, ignored the beauty of it all staring at my phone screen. There’s an R showing, Roaming. I could call someone, but who talks to people any more? I need email, twitter, Facebook. I need data! Finally a little G appears: GPRS, the snail’s pace of Internet access, and the most gratefully received when we’re in a cellular data blackspot (of which there are remarkably few). I sat down and tapped out this blog post, ignoring Charlie as he whined out all the woes in his little poochy world. As I hit ‘Submit’ on the screen, the G vanished. Phone pocketed, dog walking, sorry Jay walking recommenced, with phone coming out every few minutes to check for the G, which failed to reappear.
Cyber world out of reach, I had to make do with the real thing. Our little path wound its way up and down through the pines, Charlie legging it back to grab and savage sticks I’d flung for him. Each time a tributary path led back to the lake, the mutt heads a little way down it before turning to look at me hopefully. I cruelly dashed his dreams a few times, pushing on along route 2.
Just before we turned down to Ossiacher See, a weird wooden contraption came into sight. It revealed itself as a ‘toboggan catcher’, sat waiting at the top of a summer drag lift, waiting for someone to be unable to dismount their wheeled chariot in time and to catch them both before being mangled in machinery. Two shiny metal tracks swept off through the grass, silent for the moment, no doubt soon to be the scene of much childish whoopery as the steep run back to base started. I want a go. Once I’ve written this I’m going to see if I can persuade Ju. Wish me luck.
We’d not been to the lakeside last night, being preoccupied with meaty things, beer, a few salady things and desperately trying to remember German words which we’ve never known. The water is sublime. Warm, mirror still, gin clear and hosting varying sizes of fish gliding about effortlessly. It’s idyllic. Somehow Austria (I’ve been here as a child too) maintains an air of the immaculate, perfect. I recall some graffiti from the times my parents brought me to the Tyrol: ‘Just another day in this shitty paradise’. Not everyone appreciates the place.
As we move from country to country, we have to work out the local pavement etiquette. By this I mean whether you greet strangers as they walk towards you, and under what circumstances. In the UK, the culture seems to dictate a ‘hello’ if you are on a path with less than a constant stream of folks. In France, we found a Bonjour was often treated with bemusement, while in Italy it seemed more accepted. We’ve not been in Austria long enough to find out, but a shared silent smile has worked well so far.
Back in Dave, Ju’s sorted the clothes and Charlie temporarily resumed bone munching until lethargy struck and snoring commenced. We’re now taking it easy, what else for a sunny Friday afternoon? Our friends Jon and Anne will be outside laning it along Europe’s motorways, we hope they are getting a clear run. Tomorrow Slovenia calls, a land of discovery for us. For once I have no ‘Allo Allo’ TV preconceptions of a country and can simply take it as it comes. Fellow travellers Adam and Sophie (www.europebycamper.com) loved it. I hear they have dark beer and it’s 30% cheaper than Italy. I love it already.
Just before I leave you alone, I spotted this small monument in the woods. It appears to be dedicated to someone’s pooch. If anyone can translate, that would be great?
Happy weekend folks! Cheers, Jay
Quick update: cue heavy breathing, I just yomped up the hill, in search of the Internet. The rewarded me with cyber access, plus a lazy lizard of unknown ferociousness: