Wilkommen in Osterreich!

I’ve just come back from my first proper visit to Austria to see my girlfriend’s family. Ten days, which included a Wedding, and some sightseeing in the local area. I’d been before last year, but it was a fleeting visit for my son’s Christening (he’s a Catholic, you know!).

This time it was a good, proper experience. The village of St Marein bei Graz is reasonably sized, hard to think of a comparable place from my experience, but I’m told it’s bigger than Shawbury! It’s in the area of Austria known as Styria (or Steiermark to the locals) and Mein Gott it’s a fantastic place! It’s green, hilly, and has a character of it’s own – just driving down the road (which is on the wrong side, I may add) I could see loads of chopped up wood on the side of the road (in England it would probably have been nicked by now!), no hedges obscuring the wonderful view, and every restaurant seemingly signposted from the road. It may just be my holiday high, but on arriving back in England, everything just looked dull and grey. Admittedly I was landing in Manchester, but still…

So, the Wedding build up was beyond me, but being one of the witnesses, I was playing a pretty big part on the day. And the day dawned bloody hot! Luckily I’d gone for a collarless shirt/blue suit combo, so was able to keep fairly cool. After I’d tied the groom’s tie (no, really) and taken possession of the rings (eeek!) I joined the rest of the guests at the local for a pre-wedding tipple. Again, most of the conversation was way over my head, but I took it all in, chatted to a few people, just getting by on what German I’d managed to drag back from the far reaches of my memory and waited. The heat was slowly turning up, and eventually it was time for the walk to the Registry office (still with the rings). The ceremony was again a challenge for my German understanding, but knowing it was a Wedding ceremony meant I had a pretty good idea what was going on!

Ceremony over, pictures over, time to return to the local! After consuming a quick shot of Hazelnut schnapps (yum), I resumed my ‘Englishman in Austria’ persona. Finally it was time for the bus to the reception and food! The thing I’ve discovered about Austrians – they like to eat, and they like to drink. Quite a lot of them also like to smoke. So, after consuming more food, and plenty of drink, doing plenty of dancing (apparently impressing some despite the fact I really have little rhythm in my body) the night was over and the holiday itself was just beginning.

Sunday was really just a recovery day, so Monday was the starting point. We went to a castle, saw a Bird of Prey thing (I nearly had my head taken off by an owl). Then the rest of the week saw trips to Slovenia, Hungary and then up a really high hill.

I have to say, there were times I missed England, but on returning, I can’t wait to go back for my next fix…

It’s a bit of a sketchy account of my time there, but it’s been so long since I posted, or written anything, my writing craft has suffered. Or I could blame the Puntigamer I drank over the last ten days or so!!!

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