to Austria - 18th May 2011
Our journey over the mountains from Slovenia into Austria was a very winding and twisty affair and only the passenger could fully appreciate it given the driving demands. Fortunately there were few cars on the road and our journey was both scenically beautiful and quite serene as well.
It was well into the afternoon before our trip over the range was completed so in the end we hopped onto a 130 kph motorway which hurried us along to our hotel in Hartberg for a stay of some four nights.
Unbeknown to us, an annual event called "Music Day" occurred during our time in Hartberg. Unfortunately we forgot to ask whether this is a local event, a State event or a National event. Anyhow, as it was explained to us by our hotel manager, between 8.00am and 8.00pm each of the town's local musical groups wander all over town giving impromptu performances on street corners, in squares, restaurants and parks etc. To sustain them during this epic 12 hour roving concert, various hotels, restaurants, generous private householders and other organisations provide "rest stops" along the way where each musical group can sit down for 15 minutes or so and partake of drinks and snacks before moving off again on the journey.
Unfortunately we weren't able to observe much of the Music Day festivities because we had a series of important engagements with the Krogger family in another town. However it seems like a wonderful idea and I wish we had something similar in our own home town.
Our hotel manager also confided that at the end of the 12 hour marathon all of the musical groups and individual performers are absolutely exhausted and most of the adult musicians are thoroughly drunk as well . Not too surprising under the circumstances!!
We chose Hartberg for our hotel location because it was not far from Graz (Austria's second largest city) and close to the village of Pöllau, home of our good friends, the Krogger family.
Berni and Magdi Krogger came to Australia for World Youth Day 2008, an international Catholic youth event which was attended by the Pope, 500,000 youthful overseas pilgrims and approximately the same number Australian youth. During that July a group of visiting Austrian pilgrims spent close to a week in Nambucca Heads. Teenagers Berni and her sister Madgi were billeted in our home. That turned out to be terrific stroke of luck for us because they were such fine young women and so very spiritual in an unostentatious way. Three years later we were about to meet them again and be introduced to the rest of their family as well. I could write pages and pages about the hospitality we received from the Krogger family during the next three days but this website isn't a daily diary and I don't have the time to write such a detailed journal whilst hurrying from here to there. Suffice to say that Lynn and I were treated in a warmly friendly and regal way by the entire family whilst Mrs Maria Krogger fed us within an inch of our lives!! Such cakes, such lovely light dumplings, and such a privilege to experience the warmth, love and spirituality within this wonderful Austrian home.
During the course of three busy days we took in a few sights in Graz, explored the countryside around Pöllau, visited a monastery and several impressive churches to mention just part of our visit agenda. We also enjoyed a special Saturday luncheon in the Krogger home as well as being taken to a schnitzel house restaurant and a uniquely Austrian Buschenschank restaurant on other occasions. At the end of these few days we were very happy, totally contented, and bursting at the seams. Look, we heartily recommend a visit to Austria but better not come here if you are on a serious diet!
In no time at all our time in Eastern Austria was over and we were forced to farewell the Krogger family and make our way westwards to the World Heritage listed village of Hallstatt and then on to the lovely lake resort town of Zell am See. Please follow along by clicking the link immediately below.