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Oh Austria.

June 2, 2009

Oh Austria. You stunning, classic, warm, surprising, friendly… expensive, frustratingly ill-informed and contradictory country, you.

You, who sent me on a wild goose chase for a boat. Who left me stranded at a bus stop. Who put me on a tram going the wrong direction. Who made me hop on FOUR wrong trains. Who made your conductor yell at me when I was sitting in the wrong seat and then forced me to find a seat in the back of the train (where there were NO seats) so I had to spend 30 minutes standing in the area between train cabins with a passed out guy who smelled suspiciously of vodka. Who made me push aside old ladies just to catch the final train to your capital city. Who made your rental cars SO expensive that my budget-conscious self felt compelled to take public transportation for the duration of the trip.

Who do you think you are??

And why must you be so fickle?

One second I am convinced that you hate me and that I should never return, the next you turn on the charm and I can’t help but start thinking about taking another trip to visit you.

For example, why must your pensions & gasthouses [budget hotels/b&bs] be so lovely? With spacious rooms and delicious breakfasts, you have spoiled me on all future affordable lodgings. And your countryside. Don’t get me started on the lakes and the Dachstein mountains. Even the four trains, buses and boats it took to get there couldn’t ruin the enjoyment of touring the ice caves and sliding in the snow. And your food. The smoked trout caught fresh out of Hallstatt lake, the homemade dumplings & ice cream (served separately) and the Original Sacher Torte. Oh the Sacher torte. Surprisingly moist chocolate cake with a layer of chocolatey fudge/ganache accompanied by unsweetened whip cream and a perfect cappucino. It was love at first bite.

Austria. You and I are not finished. The jury is still out on you.

Next time (perhaps this fall?) I am DRIVING myself to Salzburg and taking a second look. And a second taste (of the Sacher Torte, of course!).

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