I arrived in Austria on Saturday, and spent the day with my friends, Kurt, Annemarie, und Walter. The next day, K & A drove me to Irdning. Annemarie's parents went with us, because the priest who married them in the 1990s now lives in Irdning - Small world! (the Austrians say, die Welt ist ein Dorf, "the world is a village").
So far, the whole experience has been a sensory banquet. Everything is to be savored, from the natural beauty of the fall colors and mountain vistas, to the architecture and flowerboxes of the pastel-colored houses. The smell of wood smoke is in the air, as it gets chilly, particularly at night! The delightful smell of Wienerschnitzel emanating from a local restaurant, and the aroma of Julius Meinl coffee in the morning contrasts starkly with farm animals and their attendant odors. One hears cowbells and church bells mixed with the twitter of birds, the plash of corner fountains fed by moutain springs, and the nearly unintelligible Styrian dialect. The taste of Steiermark in fall is pumpkin and Sturm. Pumpkin season includes the delicious pumpkinseed oil which is dark in color and nutty in flavor, as well as pumpkin cream soup and dishes using pumpkin meat. I had a wonderful pumpkin goulash in Vienna. Sturm is grape juice which is just beginning to ferment into wine. It comes in white, red, and Schilcher, which is a Styrian specialty. September has been relatively warm, and the sun on one's face is as welcome here as a cooling rain in Baton Rouge. And at night it is wonderful to hunker down under a down comforter.
The most surprising thing I've done since I arrived is go to a spa. Bad Aussee is a resort town for Austria's rich and famous. I can tell you all about the Austrian spa and sauna experience, but it's not for the faint of heart! Send me an email and I'll tell you all about it!