Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wolfsberg and Hochosterwitz

After a 4-day work week thanks to what we nicknamed "Yay! We are a part of Austria day," (which is celebrated on Oct. 10th when this area of Austria voted to become part of Austria after WWI rather than part of Slovenia, even though many of Slovenian heritage lived in the area) I headed off to Wolfsberg for a visit.

I caught the train after stopping by the Uni to clear up a few issues with my ID and was sitting near the window, zoning out when all of a sudden the train stopped in the middle of nowhere. Some sort of announcement was made, which I did not understand and the train headed back to Klagenfurt. I stopped the conductor as he zoomed by and asked him what was happening with this train. His answer: What train? A train at this time did not exist to Wolfsberg.
Huh? I was even more confused. Was I trapped in some sort of bazzaro-twilight-zone-world, where the train no longer existed?
We reached Klagenfurt and I went to Information to ask about the train. Same answer: What train?

Still confused, I waited for the next train, which actually made it to Wolfsberg this time.

Chris and Catherine, who both live in Wolfsberg met me at the station and we continued with a mini-tour of the town before heading out to the famous Kolomonimarkt in the baby town of nearby Kleinedling.

a view of a bit of the town from the river

We walked along the river, which smelled like broccoli or cauliflower in places and the two Wolfsbergers proudly showed off their recent discovery...
a random giant chicken on a bike (and the chicken sings). Chris is standing next to it for size reference.

We continued to walk, admiring the looming mountains in the distance and the giant field we passed on the way to the fair.

Reaching the fair, we enjoyed some Wiener Schnitzel before taking part in some of the rides. Around 7pm we headed back to town to check trains back to Klagenfurt and realized the last train left at 7pm. I was stuck in Wolfsberg for the night. Lucky both Catherine and Chris have an extra bed.

The next morning we were all up early and heading back to Klagenfurt, where we stopped at my house. I changed, packed some things, we ate second breakfast and then we were running with Riannon to the train station to meet Christine, with whom I had plans to visit Hochosterwitz, the legendary so-called Snow White Castle.

We all arrived out of breath, only to realize that on Saturdays no train ran at that time and we'd have to wait an hour for the next one. Me and the trains this week!

We disembarked from the train and wound up in the middle of a tiny town with no signs. We saw a few bumps in the distance and headed that direction.

Finally! A sign!

With no path available, we found ourselves marching across the fields. Chris and Riannon lead the way, with Catherine whispering to me that Chris had already gotten her lost on a mountain once and she wasn't so sure we should be following him, even if he was a trained eagle scout.

For some reason, we listened to Chris and wound up climbing straight up the baby mountain on which the castle sits. The entrance workers, laughing hysterically, pulled Christine and me up the last step. Dusting ourselves off, we paid the entrance fee and ascended.

Looking out over the church

Looking down at the the strange little house in the middle of the field. Spooky...

We ate lunch at the top, admired the view, walked around and down and over and around and up and over and down and all over.

Before leaving the grounds, we asked the guards which direction we should head to catch a train back to the train station. They explained and this time Christine and I led the way...but without much success as we emerged from the woods on the opposite side and not near a train. Riannon and Chris resumed leading and we at last discovered a trail.

At the end, success!

Back at the station, we caught the train to Klagenfurt and all had dinner at our house.

The following weekend Jutta, our visitor from Germany through Couchsurfing, came to visit. I met her in Villach, which we quickly visited with Elisabeth for the day and then headed back to Klagenfurt. That Sunday we spent walking around the town and the lake and chatting in German. Tuesday morning she was already, sadly, heading off to Germany. The following day we had no school because of some random Austrian national holiday. It poured rain the entire day and I spent the entire day preparing lessons, other than the afternoon I spent baking cupcakes with Christine...which Niels (Riannon's boyfriend) continuously and hungrily stared until we finally offered him one.

And so time passed quickly...

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