Accidentally perfect day
We had one of those mishmashed mornings where everyone was a little held in the pincers of jetlag. Fog lowered out all the windows and it was cold as "Februar" as they say here. A lively discussion with a bus driver about whether or not our tickets were valid (he thought not) left us on a rainy curb, quite without a plan, in the windy cold of a frustrated moment. We four glanced back and forth. Take our picnic and scurry back to the hotel like whipped puppies or... let's go to the train station! And that began the goodness, for I remembered a winding little way through the forest and down to the river that would set us on the Bahnhof platform double quick. We strode down the mountain (everything requires a climb here), Joy and Mom doing their best impressions of Mozart's soprano in The Magic Flute, Joel and I ahead, in a game of humming Baroque tunes from the computer games of our childhood. Odd, yes, I know, but very fun. With dramatic gestures and Mom's still quite nimble Deutsch, we managed to convey to the station manager that we desired a "schon" (pretty) mountain town with a good walk and awesome view. He sent us four stops down, where we alighted to find craggy cliffs with fierce grey eyes staring down over a greening, misty little valley, with a silvered thread of a river through its heart and a proud old fortress as its crown. It was a one street village, the best sort, and we walked up snapping photos of tiny cobblestone paths and the window boxes crammed with pansies and geraniums that so weave the loveliness of Austria. There are little portraits, intricate pictures painted on house walls here. Gardens that topple over low fences, vines that wrap tiny houses year by year. Yes, we hiked all the way up to the fortress, rather an accomplishment for it was quite a mountain climb. But we loved it, striding slowly up through wet, dark-limbed forests gemmed in moss, with gigantic snails in every corner whose gooey skin Joy described as 'a warm caramel'. I think that girl has a thing for snails. We made it to the top, found it cost 20 euros a person to enter the keep, took our fill of the view and hiked right back down. A tiny konditerai (coffee and cake shop) was waiting in the lower part of the village, with a corner table and a single red rose. There, we had "melanges" (cappuccinos, basically) served in a blue earthenware cup with a fairy's pitcher of real cream. And split two topfen strudels(lemony cream cheese in pastry) with warm vanilla sauce.
We scurried back to the train through a spiteful little spit of rain with the mist rising up to dusk just as we settled into our seats. We rode back to the dreamz loll of the train tracks, and the music each of us chose as our soundtrack to our misty gift of a day and the green, green, emerald green of the hills out our window.
A day of goodness. Quite unplanned. But, if you're up for an adventure after an argue with a bus driver (or anyone else for that matter) you can expect a lovely time. It makes my heart glad our last hours in the mountains weren't wasted. We almost sucummbed the sleepiness and irritating fate, but we didn't! I have about a thousand and three pictures I'm longing to post. As soon a I get more than five minutes of connection, I will. Off to Vienna today, via Salzburg and Halstatt. Have a lovely Sunday!