Monday, January 16, 2012

Ringing in the New Year

New Year's Day we headed off to Millstaetterseee, a lake about an hour to an hour and a half away by car, to see the famous floating Christmas market, which was advertised as being open until Three Kings Day.

We arrived to an almost entirely empty town and a completely empty floating market, but the evidence of the previous night's celebrations were strewn across the dock that held the tents afloat.

The floating market from a far...

The view from the floating market...

We wandered in search of food, but nothing was open, so we drove to the next town and managed to find an open Italian Restaurant to eat lunch.

Then, we were off to our final destination of the day, Spittal an der Drau. The sun was already setting, as we arrived, setting the town and resident castle aglow and casting a warm light on the pond upon which ice skaters merrily danced in circles.


The mighty Drau River...

Karl and the sword of truth and justice outside the palace...

Monday we spent with Helli and Konrad, eating in a Gasthaus near Ferlach, which we declared had the best Kaiserschmarrn. It was made with whole-grain flower und filled with a rich, nutty flavor. We also met Helli's other son and one of his daughters, as they came down to visit. In the evening, we enjoyed a show at the local Planetarium, just down the street. We were the only ones in the entire show.

The rest of the week was a blur, jumping from one activity to the next.

We spent a day in nearby Villach, walking the old cobblestone streets, enjoying the mountain view, and poking our head into shops, including the second hand Caritas shop. Shop and Cafe owners alike continued to think we were Italians. Naturally, we weren't speaking German to each other and we were dark haired...that must mean we were Italain. Villach does have a lot of visitors from over the border. 30 minutes, and you are in Italy or Slovenia, your choice.

Me and my dad with the Drau River in Villach

Christmas decorations were still up along the river

Lunch in Villach

One evening, we went to see My Fair Lady, which was performed in German. The Cockney accent became Wienerisch (the Viennese dialect) and the proper English became Hochdeutsch. The costumes were beautiful, the singing was brilliant, who could ask for a better performance. We were lucky to get tickets at the last minute and the performance was almost canceled at the last minute because the singer had a cold. Luckily, the show did go on...

Daddy and me in Alterplatz before My Fair Lady

Another day, we did a bit of a tour of the area by dropping by the famous abbey and Cathedral in Gurk, visiting the oldest town in Kärnten--Friesach, and stopping by Hüttenberg, a mining town being turned into a Tibetan mining village.

Gurk. with the Cathedral built in 1140

This Harry Potter like house, houses the old and holy well only open to the public in the summer months.


Friesach, the oldest town in Kärnten and once upon a time the key point between the major trade route of Venice and Vienna. as well as home to the first silver minted penny used in the area.


Friesach from above. Notice the moat and the stone walls...the only Austrian town with both intact.

Hüttenberg, the birthplace of Heinrich Harrer, who spent 7 years in Tibet...his story became a book and then a movie, featuring Brad Pitt as the main character


Another day, we took a day trip to Venice, using the direct bus line from Klagenfurt.

The bus dumped us off on Tronchetto, which is an island a little outside of Venice. With no direction, we ended up on the bus-boats (vaporetto) to st. Marks Square, but we should have taken the People Mover to Piazza de Roma instead for 1 euro a person, rather than the more expensive Vaporetto ride.

So, first we made it to the famous St. Marks Square in the cold and fog.

bridge of of advertisements, unlike last year's trip

For lunch, after we twisted here and there through the streets of Veince, I ate cuddle fish pasta
which includes the ink from the cuddle fish, making the dish black.

With little time left, we then began twisting our way back to the bus pick-up location. Stopping to admire the canals and the Frari Church.
This little side canal was also one I had found on my previous trip. This time the little scene on the side was set to "winter."

After a full day, wandering the streets of Venice, and waltzing past shops boasting up to 50 percent off sales, we returned to Klagenfurt.

Yet another day we spent in Heilgenblut (literally holy blood). The story goes that three brothers traveled to Constantinople from Denmark to prove to the King that Christianity was real. They made it, but failed to convince the King until someone stabbed a picture of the Jesus and it bled. The blood was saved in holy phials. The time came for the brothers to return home and
Briccius, the youngest brother, asked for a holy phial of blood to take back with him. The King granted his wish, if he were able to choose the right phial of blood from a line-up. Briccius made the right decision, selecting the phial without flies buzzing around it. He hid the tiny container of blood within his leg to keep it safe. Eventually, the three brothers made it as far as Austria. Two of the brothers decided to found congregations in little Austrian valleys, but Briccius continued onwards on his own. He died and was trapped in the snow of the mountain pass. In the spring some of the villagers discovered 3 ears of corn growing from the ground. They dug and uncovered the body of Briccius with 3 ears of corn growing from his heart. Deciding it was a miracle, the villagers set a team of oxen free and where they stopped, the locals buried Bricciu's body. Only days later, they discovered his leg protruding from the grave and uncovered the miraculous phial. Sending it to Salzburg with his ring and documents, the villagers were informed of the blood's holy origin and built a church on the stop of the hill to honor the blood.

Thus today, in front of Austria's tallest mountain, stands the town of Heilgenblut...still home to the holy blood.

Briccius' grave in the basement of the church...depicted with 3 ears of corn and the phial of blood on display above his head.

With a snow storm on the way we hurried to Lienz, located in Osttirol, for lunch and spent the day wandering and enjoying the fairy tale like town.

Riannon returned on the Friday before school restarted after almost 3 weeks in the Netherlands and my family moved to a hotel, so we wouldn't be overcrowded.

The last day my parents were visiting arrived before I even knew it.
I spent the morning back at school and then met my mom outside. We ran home to pick up Riannon and headed to lunch at Lausegger in the Bodental.

Me and Riannon with our lamb stew

view from the restaurant

the group of us overlooking the Bodental valley

After lunch and admiring the beautiful scenery, we dropped Riannon back home and I gathered my things for my German class.

First, we drove to Magdalensberg, a nearby mountain, where we watched the sun set over the mountains and looked down on the tiny towns in the valley below...

almost at the top of Magdalensberg

the "flitterwoche" (honeymoon) cabin with the mountains in the background

Me with my tree stump throne of power

All of us with the sunset from Magdalensberg

Second, we dropped my dad off at the hotel and my mom and Karl drove me to the university for class and picked me up again later that night. I bid farewell to everyone before they dropped me at class, as the next morning they would be on their way to the airport at 4am.

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