June 3, 2010 Sankt Wolfgang to Obertraun, Austria

8 06 2010

0600… Boom, boom boom.  Ratatatat.  What the Heck was that!?!?  I sprang out of bed and my first thought was “OMG Earthquake!”  Then I realized… it’s a marching band.  At 0600!!

“Quick! Camera!”, I yelled at Mrs D.  We ran over to Maggie and Francis’ room to see a band of about 50 people pass by.  It seems that the Corpus Christi celebrations begin a bit earlier than 0830. Hah.  I went to the window below and got some pictures of the band as they came back from up the street, headed to the church.  Thankfully the rain from the day previous seemed to have stopped.  It was all done in about 10 minutes and then it was off to sleep again.  Breakfast time would be upon us soon.

Sleep was out of the question really though, so after a shower and shave, Mrs D and I headed down to the church with Clara and Maggie’s sister.  We wanted to see the celebrations. As we got down to the church we saw the band again!   They were coming down the street towards the church with simply a drummer for cadence.  I shot a movie this time.  First movie on the 7D. We walked over and into the church and saw the beautiful ornate decorations.  Saint Wolfgang seems to have been a wood cutter or something since all the depictions of him were with an axe as well as a shepherd’s crook. 

We went down for breakfast and the atmosphere was very old-school, conservative.  You really felt that you didn’t dare make too much noise or risk being scolded.  You should have heard the owner when Maggie and Francis came back in the evening with a few bottles of water.  “Not in the restaurant!  That MUST go to your room!"  It really didn’t feel like he was saying “Whenever you want”  There was a feeling of “You will do it now, or I’ll throw you out of my hotel” to it.  There was a British couple in the restaurant at breakfast this morning making for a bit of inter table conversation and lightening things up a bit.  Francis went to make some toast and was admonished for playing with the darkness dial.  “You just put the toast in – Don’t play with the toaster”.  Francis ended up with basically warm bread, but we were afraid to make any changes to the toaster.

With breakfast complete, we all headed down to the church and village centre.  The men were arriving in their traditional vests, leather pants and felt hats.  The women came in lovely dresses that had delicate white lacy edging.  Very Austrian!  Some women had a large gold hat on as well while the children looked the perfect image of Austria.

While the church service went on, we wandered the shops around the town and the group bought more souvenirs.  We made careful note of the time as we had told the hotel owner that we would be out by 1100.  Austrians and Germans are very punctual. We wanted to make sure that we weren’t seen as impolite.  As the church service ended we saw a wide of array of traditional Austrian outfits as well as a few groups of men with standards with various pennants hanging from them.  I’m not sure of the significance of them but I managed to get a group of them together to get a shot.  Shortly afterwards Maggie managed to get two young girls to pose for her and very shortly there was a cluster of photographers around the girls – shooting like the paparazzi.  Their mother was quite patient to let us shoot.

We walked down the town main street to see what possible candids we could come up with when I noticed a lady with the gold hat waiting for a ride with (presumably) her daughter.  I approached and asked if I could take their picture.  They happily obliged and I ended up with a great picture of a mother and daughter in the good dress outfits.  Our girls, meanwhile, kept shopping.  I was able to get back into the church again, now that the service had ended and tried to find out why they had branches in the church and why people brought part of those branches home with them. Unfortunately the German explanation escaped me – remember, my German is pitiful.

At 1045, we headed back to the hotel and managed to get our bags down to the lobby by 1100.  Whew!  Just in time!   We stashed all our luggage in the van and the women went back to shopping. AGAIN.   We went down to a shop near the church that had something that one our party wanted to buy.  Unfortunately the shop was closed until 1230 so we hung out in the area and killed time by doing some “Everybody jump” pictures.  They were kind of fun and good practice for shooting animals.

1230 seemed to take forever to come around.  When it finally did and the shop opened we poured into the tiny space like water from a freshly opened floodgate. I’m not sure the poor lady was ready for us.  I decided it best to stay outside and wait since, with my backpack, I was a bit large for the space available.  It turns out that the shopkeeper was quite happy that we stopped by.  I think almost everyone bought something there!

With our shopping done, we loaded into the van, bid Sankt Wolfgang “Goodbye”  and headed for Obertraun.  We covered the distance in about 45 minutes.   Somehow it had started raining again.  It seems that God kept things clear and dry for the celebrations.  Coincidence?    As we approached the area where our hotel was situated, it became clear fairly quickly that we were in for a bit of an unusual stay.  You see, the SeeHotel in Obertraun was not only BY the lake, but it appears to have ended up IN the lake!!  The road to the hotel was flooded!  We had to park about a half block from the hotel and walk across a walkway made of planks over benches.  Definitely a first in my hotel experiences.  Mrs D and I had a ground floor room and were reassured that we wouldn’t need lifejackets as well as sheets :)  The others were up on the 1st and 2nd floors…we were pretty scattered around the hotel.

After checking in, we were ready for our late lunch.  The restaurant was closed.  Sigh.  Apparently we COULD go over about one block to the restaurant/bowling alley.  We ate a pretty typical Austrian lunch and then we drive down the 5 minutes to Hallstatt.  We tried to find parking but ended up driving up and down the tunnel a couple of times looking for free parking.  We ended up over in “P2”, paying about 4 Euro/hour.  We made a mental note that the Funicular for the salt mines was right near here.  P2 would be THE place to park tomorrow.  We walked over to the “core” of town.  It took about 5 minutes from the parking, so it wasn’t too bad.  It was quite fun watching people navigate the flooded roads.  The town of Hallstatt only has about 500 inhabitants but apparently that number swells to a few thousand during tourist season.  Everyone wants to come and see the town that has been mining salt for seven thousand years.    Hallstatt was a pretty town and exists between the sharp walls of the alps and the lake, Hallstattsee.  This situation really means that Hallstatt is just a thin strip along the water’s edge.  It’s quite surprising that a town can exist here at all.  In the rain, we wandered all the way down and found our hotel for tomorrow.  it was right in the centre of town.  How the heck was I going to get the van down there with the luggage??? 

While others wandered through shops, I headed to the far end of town to get a vantage point that would give me a “postcard Hallstatt” shot.  On my way there, I ran into an apparently flightless duck, and a salamander.  Strange but interesting.  I took some good shots and finally met up with the others close to the core where I had left them.  I swear they had only moved about two shops while I was gone.  With an idea of the wheres and whats of Hallstatt under our belts we headed back to Obertraun.  It already seemed that the water levels were dropping.  A good sign. 

Dinner was in the hotel, and the restaurant was full of people.  One large group was celebrating a birthday and it leant a jovial feeling to the evening’s dinner.

Not much to do after dinner.  I banged out another day of the blog and got some pictures uploaded.   Surprisingly, I found myself going to sleep after midnight AGAIN.

G’night!

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