A Travellerspoint blog

September 2019

On the shore of the Bodensee

Bregenz


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I'm now in Bregenz, on the shore of the Bodensee - almost as far west as you can go in Austria, just a couple of miles round the corner from Germany and Switzerland. I'm teaching an exam preparation course this time, and it's a short course - only Monday to Wednesday. I have one co-teacher (a different one to last week).

After class today we went for a walk into the centre of Bregenz via the edge of the Bodensee. It had snowed overnight and during the morning, but the lake itself hadn't frozen.

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Blue skies, peaceful snowy fields, forested hills in the background, ripples on the lake... it was so beautiful!

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Once we reached the city centre we were initially a little disappointed with the buildings and general architecture (it wasn't bad, but wasn't as totally amazing as everyone had told us) but then as we followed the streets higher and higher we grew more and more impressed, until we could completely see why everyone had raved about the place to us. I most definitely recommend visiting!

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We got a great view of the Oberstadt on its hill, overlooking the rest of the city; it was getting dark by now so we decided to leave going up there for another day. Instead we stuck to wandering the cobbled streets in the twilight.

Before we headed back to our guesthouse we had some dinner at a brewery. I had a lovely dish consisting of roast pork slices with potato dumplings, sweet purple cabbage and gravy.

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Posted by 3Traveller 01:50 Archived in Austria Tagged lakes snow austria bregenz brewery explorations austrian_cuisine Comments (0)

From east to west: Mödling to Bregenz

Mödling, Vienna, Munich and Bregenz


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I'm writing this on the Flixbus from Munich to Bregenz, and I'm absolutely knackered!

I'd deliberately chosen a hostel in Munich as close to the main bus station as possible, because of the heaviness of my big case, laptop bag and other bag (plus one of the case wheels has broken), but even that relatively short distance proved a struggle in the snow which had been falling overnight and was still going. Lots of slipping about, lifting to avoid slush puddles, and grit jamming the wheels. My hands, forearms and shoulders were still painful from the day before, and by the time I reached the Flixbus I had such little strength left in my grip, I'm not how much further I would have managed to go!

I rewarded myself with a delicious jam doughnut with pink icing on top for my breakfast. As I'd passed through the big train station on the way, I'd also bought myself two giant chewy pretzels to save for later, both with melted cheese on top and one with rosemary as well. Together with a tub of rice pudding, the boiled eggs I managed to save from breakfast yesterday and some Maoam sweets, I should have enough food to last me for the rest of today, meaning I won't have to search out a restaurant in Bregenz this evening (the majority seem to close on Sundays in Austria).

The snow has been a sight to behold so far on this journey. Right now we're passing by a pine forest, with ground and branches laden with snow in a stereotypically Christmassy manner. Because it's a bit misty as well, fields and bare hills we've passed have appeared to blend together into one sea of whiteness.

Unfortunately, we've also seen the darker side of snow; not far from Munich we passed a car which had half spun round at the side of the road - luckily a man was standing next to it and there didn't seem to be any passengers inside. A police car was next to it. About half an hour ago we passed a more serious crash - a car was lying on one side in the middle of the road and looked half-crushed, and was surrounded by helpers getting emergency blankets out of cars and things like that.

Posted by 3Traveller 11:51 Archived in Austria Tagged snow vienna austria germany buses munich moedling german_cuisine Comments (0)

Mödling


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I've had an interesting week in Mödling, 14km southwest of Vienna. I was teaching Business English - it felt a little surreal, teaching in a secondary school context. I'm used to teaching in private language schools, without the school bell (or rather buzzer) ruling lesson lengths! Six classes a day, five minute breaks between classes, with one ten-minute one; I've never felt so rushed - but the students were lovely, I enjoyed it, and the early start meant an early finish in comparison to that of British schools.

The students' end-of-week presentations all went very well today! They were presenting companies they'd invented, their best-selling product, market research, how they would market them, etc. Of the four from the class I worked with the most, one was exceptionally good, one very good and two good. I felt very proud - a bit like how I imagine parents feel, in fact!

Regarding the town, apparently both Beethoven and Arnold Schönberg lived in Mödling for a while, almost exactly 100 years apart. Schönberg's house is now a house museum, but along with Mödling Museum, it is currently closed for the winter. Oh well. I managed to have a good look round the lovely historic old town. Highlights included the grey heron I spotted in a stream...

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...the old town hall...

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...general street scenes...

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...and the Catholic church of St Othmar, which I found perching on a hill overlooking the town.

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It was gloomy inside, but quite interesting, with some nice stained glass, a candle stand which I made use of, and a Nativity scene surrounded by real fir (or maybe pine) saplings - I thought that maybe they were keeping it up until Candlemas.

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Along one wall there were carved stones which I thought might have been memorial plaques, though I couldn't make out what the pictures carved into them actually were of. Next to the church, on the terrace outside, there was a locked up tower - I found out later that this was a charnel house, so maybe being locked up was for the best!

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I had a good birthday yesterday. Both classes sang 'Happy Birthday' to me in English first thing. I asked them how to say 'Happy Birthday' in German, just to see if I remembered correctly; apparently (in Austria at least) they just say 'Alles gute'.

In the evening we went out to an Asian restaurant, where I had some vegetable gyoza and fried noodles with pak choi. I was too full for pudding, but noticed 'Bambus Schnapps' on the drinks list, so after finding out that it was bamboo, I simply had to try it. It came in a glazed square pot, and to be honest the immediate taste wasn't nice at all. Once that had gone, however, I could really feel a pleasant warmth spread inside me. I've often heard about the warming qualities of certain spirits, but this was the first time I'd actually felt it.

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From the restaurant we moved over the road to a hotel bar. I was thinking of trying another schnapps, if they had an interesting selection, but they didn't have any (a rarity, apparently), so I had a delicious kahlua coffee instead - double espresso, kahlua, coconut syrup and a scoop of walnut ice cream.

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Then we suddenly realised what the time was - 22:10 - and that I was late for my family video chat, so we power-walked/ jogged back in subzero temperatures to the guesthouse.

A very long Flixbus journey tomorrow; I'm staying in Munich for the night before catching another Flixbus to Bregenz on Sunday.

Posted by 3Traveller 01:43 Archived in Austria Tagged birds austria christmas german english_teaching moedling birthday_celebration Comments (0)

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Historic Centre of Vienna

The start of a six-week trip through Austria and northern Germany with a side trip to Slovenia and ending in Prague.


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In Vienna for a group induction/ training weekend before moving on to my teaching destination for the next week.

The view from my hotel room:

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Due to the nature of the weekend there wasn't much time to see the city, but very early this morning, after breakfast, I managed a walk into the historic centre. The sun was rising and the sky was clear; one of those fresh and crisp winter mornings I really love. A thrill of excitement ran through me as I walked the almost-empty streets and admired the architecture.

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Once in the inner town I came across a covered pathway with windows showing a yard with white horses looking out of stalls. I realised that they were some of the famous white Lipizzaner horses of the Spanish Riding School. While I was watching a girl came round with a wheelbarrow to muck them out.

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When I got to the Stephansdom I went inside, though as a tourist most of it was closed off to me as Mass was just starting.

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I stayed for a bit anyway, looking at the bit I was allowed into and lighting a candle, before exiting and walking round the outside. I'm not too keen on the green, red and black patterned tiled roof, but I like the rest of it. The view from the tower was amazing - definitely worth the climb, which was probably one of the highest sets of spiral steps I've been up!

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There was no time over the weekend to go to any museums, but yesterday evening I went to the historic Seven Stars brewery/pub - definitely a place I'll be returning to when in Vienna in the future! It was very atmospheric inside and the cheese & bacon gnocchi I tried was lovely. There was a list of all the different kinds of schnapps on offer - decided to give them a miss on this occasion but will definitely be giving them a try over the next few weeks!

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Speaking of food, on Friday evening at a different place I had a tasty clear beef broth with a semolina dumpling plus a side of Swabian pasta - I thought it might come with vegetables, but it didn't. Both that and the broth were still really nice, though the broth was smaller than I expected.

When I got back from the historic centre it was time to pack up, check out and head off to the station to my first teaching destination...

Posted by 3Traveller 10:34 Archived in Austria Tagged vienna hotel austria cathedral brewery explorations unesco_world_heritage_site austrian_cuisine Comments (0)

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