Monday, September 29, 2008

Almabtriebfest in Hippach

As you can see, the headdresses on the cows are very ornate and religious based. There were images of Christ as well as patron Saints on the headdresses. The word "Gruss Gott" on some of the headdresses is a popular greeting here which literally means "Greet God." Nice!

Scenes of Hippach, a village in the Tyrol Mountains- Austrian Alps....

The hills are alive...with the sound of cow bells and Lynard Skynard!

That title made you want to read all our about our fun weekend trip to the Austrian Alps, right!? Zev came home one day last week and told me about a colleague at work that was going to travel to Switzerland to watch the annual procession of cows coming down from their summer pastures in the Alps. Thanks to google and language translation websites, I learnt that the Austrian name for this event is "almabtrieb" which literally means procession down the mountain. (The Swiss word is "transhumance" and the German word is "almwirtschaft.") Anyhoo, we decided to head towards the almabtrieb in the ADORABLE little Austrian Alps town of Hippach. It was about a 3 and a half hour drive according to our trusty TomTom, but with traffic and a couple of stops, it took us about 5 hours. The drive was truly beautiful though. If you have ever read the children's book "Heidi" or seen the "Sound of Music", you will be able to imagine what the landscape looked like- think beautiful, majestic snow-capped mountains, with lush green valleys and meadows, traditional wooden houses and barns with flowers dangling down and cows EVERYWHERE! The air was so clean and fresh- we just sat in awe at one point and took it all in.

So what about the cow bells/ Lynard Skynard comment!? As a lot of you know, one of our wedding songs in Australia was "Sweet Home Alabama" in honor of the fact that we were moving to Alabama. Imagine our surprise then, when we pull into the little town of Hippach and see the town gathered in a field around cows decorated with gorgeous flower headdresses and lovely cow bells. We smiled and commented on how this was such a typical Austrian Alps scene- lush mountains, town folk in traditional costume, brats and wurst on the grill, the sound of cow bells as the cows move around and.....the familiar strains of "Sveet Home Alabuma" (think Austrian accent). It really was quite an experience to listen to American country rock (everything from "Sweet Home Alabama" of course to Dire Straits, and even Johnny Cash's "Walk the Line"), along with the clanging of cow bells in the Austrian Alps. We really loved our experience at the almabtriebfest and hope that you enjoy our pictures AND for the first time ever- some video links! Auf Wiedersehen!

Medieval fortress at Kufstein

We saw a few castles along the road on our way home from Austria, and decided to stop in one that was located on the German/ Austrian border. Zev is a real sport and was gracious enough to indulge my love of castles and medieval history. The location was Kufstein and the building we toured through was actually a fortress dating back to the 1400s!! We had to take a trolley lift up to the actual entrance of the fortress because the steps were so steep. You can see what a great view we had over the town!!! Zev did a wonderful job driving us to Hippach and back, all while navigating through busy traffic and even a detour or two! He is my special man....

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

German language class, driving on the Autobahn, German leases, bike trip and other fun things...

Well, we are starting to feel like we are regular German "residents," now that we are driving all over town, going on trips to other places, and trying to translate German leases- nothing more exhilirating than signing your name to a 3-year, 10-page contract in another language, right? What could happen? Our car arrived last Friday and even thought we had been getting around just fine on public transport, it was nice to have our little car to zip around in. We bought a "TomTom" GPS navigation system, and it has been a SAVING GRACE, especially when travelling from one motorway to the other and trying to "merge right", "stay left" and "try to avoid being slammed by an 18 wheeler going 120 km per hour (well not really, but you do have to pay extra attention to driving on the roads here as cars travel so fast down the Autobahn!) Zev installed a New Zealand lady's accent (we are still trying to find an Australian lady to be our navigation guide). It's pretty cool.

Other than that, we are still living in our little Gasthof (German Guest House) and the family is so nice here. Fi has tried to practice her very basic German with them, and they respond in English, so she may need some more practice. We have attended 2 German language classes so far (10 to go!)We can count to one hundred and say basic greetings in German. Our next plan is to put little stickers on things around the house with the German name- and of course just like French and Spanish, you have to memorize whether a noun is male, female or neutral (although our German language teacher says "neuter" which some people in the class find funny.....) Zev has done very well in picking up the German numbering system as well as odd phrases here and there such as "Tchuss!" which is pronounced like "choooose!" and is an informal way of saying "farewell" here, or "genau" which is like saying "ok" or "I get it." Zev likes to say "genau".....a lot......

We went on a bike ride acrss the countryside this past weekend- it was about an hour bike ride, but boy there were some hills in between! It was also sprinkling for the most part but we had a fun time, especially trying to follow the little (incognito!) signs for the bike trail. We are so impressed by how accessible the bike and walking trails are here in Germany. We also love how weather does not seem to stop the locals from getting out and about and going walking, running or bike riding.

Please keep in touch and send us the latest news from Sydney/ Melbourne/ Canandaigua/ Montgomery/ Shreveport, or wherever in the world you are currently reading this blog from.
Auf Wiedersehen!
Zev and Fi

Monday, September 08, 2008