Saturday, 19 October 2019

Autumn Walks

Since we have returned from our holiday mid-September, autumn has been making progress. For a long time, it seemed as if the green did not want to make room for the golds, yellows, oranges, browns and reds, but then almost over night more and more colours appeared in the gardens, vineyards, orchards and woods.

We made use of the good weather with several walks during the past few weekends. Here is my collection of pictures taken through the end of September up until last Sunday.

Monday, the 16th of September, saw our departure from Austria. This photo shows the view from our hotel room at around 8:00 in the morning. What you see is not a lake, but the morning mist in the valley:

An hour or so later, it looked like this:

Back at work the following week, my colleagues and I went for an after-work drink at the hotel bar next door:

Sunset on the 29th of September, as seen on my way into town to meet a group of former school mates for drinks and a meal:

The 3rd of October is a national holiday in Germany, to remember the re-union of the two Germanies (East and West). O.K. and I went for an afternoon walk from his village to the next:

Sunrise on the 11th of October, as seen from my kitchen window:

Walking in the vineyards not far from O.K.'s village last Sunday:

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Read in 2019 - 23, 24

After my last few reviews were usually a three-in-one post, I am now down to a two-in-one - who knows, I might even get back to the time when it was one book, one review, one post.

# 23: Leaving the Comfort Café
Dawn DeAnna Wilson

Another freebie from Amazon's kindle shop, and one I really enjoyed, because it had a lot to offer: A cast of quirky characters with the kind of quirks you find in real people, a well portrayed setting (Conyers, North Carolina - not Conyers, Georgia, where I have a blogging friend!), a series of developments in the small town and for some of the people there, secrets from the past revealed, and of course a love story that is not quite your average boy-meets-girl bit - it completely lacks the improbable gorgeousness of men and women so often described in "chick lit"; people look and feel real in this book (at least they did to me).

The story? Austin Parker, aspiring graphic novel artist who dreams big but achieves small, starts work as town manager in Conyers after his girlfriend leaves for an arts career in New York without ever asking him to come with her.

New in town, he sees the residents like comic book characters. Settling in is not easy, as he really wants to be elsewhere and do something else. When he befriends one of the waitresses at the local café, things begin to change - for both of them, and eventually, for the whole town.

And just when he starts to feel comfortable in his new life, his former girlfriend announces a visit...

There is much more to the story than this quick summary can tell. As I said, I enjoyed it, and found the writing style and editing good. The author's homepage is here.

# 24: Die andere Laura
Anthea Fraser

The German translation of the original "Laura Possessed", I found this a rather gripping read - strangely enough, more so at the beginning than towards the end, when most of the mysteries were already revealed.

What happens? After a car accident and long hospital stay, Laura comes to stay with her brother and his family at their beautiful old country house. Even before stepping through the front door for the first time, Laura feels terrible, and while resting in her room after the journey, has a strange dream. Coming from a rational-minded family, she dismisses both as remnants of the accident and signs that she needs more rest.

But then she encounters the man she saw in her dream, and a chain of events is set in motion that ends up costing the lives of two people, and changing the lives of those involved forever.

It is a ghost story, yes, but not the bloody-scary-demon-curse-type, more on a psychological level. Written in 1974, it is unwillingly but charmingly old fashioned, and I could easily picture everyone and the places where the story was unfolding.

Editing could have been better in this free ebook, but it was just below the threshold of detracting too much from the story.

Anthea Fraser has her own wikipedia entry here.

Monday, 14 October 2019

September Holiday - Eigth Day

Our last full day in Austria was the 15th of September, and the warmest day of what had been a series of sunny days. We borrowed bikes from our hotel, and after getting some quick advice from the kind lady at reception, decided on a path along the river Gail, designed specifically for cycling.

View from our room just before 8:00
The first miles were so easy we just happily trundled along in the sunshine, enjoying the beautiful views, fresh air and the fact that we did not have to compete with cars and walkers but had the path largely to ourselves, only every now and then encountering other cyclists.

A few times, the path lead through picturesque villages, but mostly it was along the river

Looking back towards where our hotel is, on the slope of the mountain.

O.K. had been in the area before and remembered a place with a cable car and a summer toboggan run. We saw road signs for it and agreed that it would to be fun to go up there by cable car and go down by toboggan.

There was hardly anyone about at the cable car station in the valley. We paid for our tickets and had one cable car to ourselves. This was not the kind of open chair lift that I've shown you before, and taking photos out of the cabin was not feasible with the reflection of the cabin windows (and the dirt on them), but there were going to be plenty of photo opportunities once we were up there.

We remained on board all the way up to the highest point of the cable car, and then spent some time looking and walking around. The cross is at a height of 1,909 m, the peak is called Matritschn.

It was very touristy up there, as it usually is when a place is both beautiful and made easily accessible.

The toboggan run is designed so that you sit on a "toboggan" (like a small cart without wheels, just one person at a time) and it runs on a fixed rail, you can not choose your own route or go wrong or fall off. It is a lot of fun, and I would have loved to do it again instantly, after initially I had been (needlessly) worried a little about how I was going to fare. (Sorry - no pictures - I needed both my hands to hold fast.)
By now, we were in need for something refreshing and some caffein, and cycled a few miles more into the small town of Hermagor, where we had ice coffee at a café in the sun. This was most welcome, as we had been on our bikes for about 30 km then.

Going back the 30 km to our hotel was really demanding - the cycling path goes uphill ever so slightly; you can't really see it, but your legs will know it, especially after you have already been cycling in the sun all day! We still made it back to the hotel in time for a quick trip to the sauna before dinner. I guess it goes without saying that I slept like a log that night!

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

September Holiday - Seventh Day

After breakfast on our seventh day (the 14th of September), we packed up, checked out and drove off to where we were to spend the next two days, 50 km away in the village of St. Daniel, at the "Daberer". The original idea had been to remain at the same place for longer, but our first hotel did not have a room available for as long as we wanted to stay, and so we moved to another hotel for the last part of our time in Austria.
View from our room towards the lake at 20 past 7
Yes, it is what it says - a Beer Hotel (in-house brewery). We stopped here on the way to our next hotel to buy some souvenirs.

The Daberer is much larger than our first hotel, and it has always been a hotel, unlike the first one which was and still is a working farm. O.K. had been to the Daberer before, but it has been considerably enlarged since his last stay five years ago.
Our room was in the older part of the hotel and still had very much a 1990s look and feel about it (which we didn't mind at all); it was spacious and clean.
You can look at more pictures and info about the hotel on their website (in English, too).

We arrived around lunch time but of course were not in need for lunch after the sumptuous breakfast at the former hotel. While our room was made ready, we were offered a free glass of prosecco on the hotel's sunlit terrace. A small gesture for a hotel but one that can make a real difference to how welcome you feel as a guest, I find.

After unpacking, O.K. showed me round the place; the hotel is located above the actual village on the edge of the forest, and a path leads to a pond that belongs to the hotel.

View from the hotel's terrace
The indoor swimming pool is underneath this cupola.
On the way to the dining room.
Our room.

View from our room across the flat roof of the spa extension.

The hotel's own woodland pond.
Can you see what I was trying to photograph here?

View of the hotel. Our room was in the far left section, hardly visible here.

St. Daniel

We then turned around and walked down through the village to the river Gail and a bit further on until we came across a settlement called Weidenburg, not more than a handful of houses, and this 16th century castle. It was in the middle of extensive renovation, and we were wondering at who would take on such a huge job - it was obviously lived in, with children's toys scattered in the back garden, a few open windows and other signs of life.

By now, it was mid-afternoon, and we were ready to explore the spa of our hotel. We remained there until it was time to get dressed for dinner. Excellent food, not unlike what we had been served for the past seven evenings, but a tad more sophisticated.

How were we going to spend our last full day tomorrow?