This weekend Jasmine, my German teacher, and the steadfast Eddie (our amazing bus driver) took us on a trip to the Salzkammergut! The Salzkammergut is one of Austria's lake regions, carved out by the glaciers and supplied with the clear, fresh water of the mountains. We got to visit three small towns: Mondsee (which means "moon lake"), St. Wolfgang, and Bad Ischl ("bath-lake").
Mondsee was our first stop, and there we got to see what was apparently the yellow church featured in the Sound of Music (I haven't honestly seen the movie more than once, so I didn't recognize it). There was a wedding taking place there that day, so we got to hear music played by a traditional brass band, which was neat. After the brief stop at the church for photos, we climbed up the hill to the Rauchhaus ("smoke house"), and that was pretty cool.
The Rauchhaus is a traditional farm house hundreds of years old that is specially designed for smoking food. The upper floor has many slats for putting meat and fish on, and the air flow travels up, so the smoke gathers in the eaves and cooks the food. It was very dark, but interesting and full of original furniture, goods, and farm tools. In the back on the bottom floor they also had several bunnies! They were quite cute, and I certainly hope they don't meet an unpleasant end...
Next stop was St. Wolfgang, which was right on a huge mountain lake. It was a very small, special little town that we got to stop at for lunch and walk around. I'm pretty sure that I saw the biggest slug in the entire world there. (There are HUGE slugs in Austria! Grammy wouldn't like it, but perhaps she would have enough salt to assail them with-it is Salzburg, after all!) The water in the lake was crystal-clear, and we could see the big fish swimming around in it, and a random watermelon that was floating around. Another wedding was taking place in this town; this time it looked like the entire village was there in full liederhosen and drindel dresses. Also in St. Wolfgang, I found some of the wackiest postcards in Austria, which some of you will probably be receiving soon, so watch out!
The last village we got to visit was Jasmine's home town of Bad Ischl, which was actually along a river and not a lake. It is home to the Cafe Konditorei Zauner-a coffee house where years ago the emperor of Austria liked to enjoy coffee and pastries. It was quite crowded though, so my friends and I opted to walk along the river for the remainder of the time. All in all, the lake region is very pretty! The villages were quite charming, too. It is quite understandable why Peter Fox would want to live in a Haus am See (house by the lake). Unfortunately the weather was not the best, so we did not get the good views you would see on a clear day. Instead, it looked like the coast of Maine and the Alps collided, as they were mostly covered in fog.
Sunday was spent doing homework for art class and completing several drawings. On Friday though, there was a Wilkommen Party at the College for all the students and the host families, and that was fun. I got to meet some of the families that the other students are staying with, and eat the (as usual) awesome food at school, prepared by Brigette the chef, who I may have to take back to the States with me.
School is quite interesting, and on Monday Ruby and I did a short power-point presentation to the Art History class on the Richter stained glass window we saw in Cologne. Tomorrow I have my first Austrian Cuisine class, and I am quite excited about that! We're going to prepare vegetarian versions of the dishes, too, which should be especially yummy. So, I will no doubt have lots to tell about that! Till then...Tschüss!