The Great EU Quest – Austria

List Item: Visit all EU countries
Progress: 12/28
Country: Austria
Year first visited: 1999

Continuing my belated writing up of different countries I am looking at Austria for today’s post. This was the last holiday (one of only three I can think of) where I was abroad with both of my parents. It’s not like they were together or anything, I can’t even remember that actually being a thing since the split happened before I was 2, so it is pretty note worthy in my memory.

austria1

During our time in Austria we stayed in two different parts. Firstly, there was the Tyrolean town of Kitzbuhel and then there was somewhere on Wolfgangsee lake… a town whose name I can not quite remember.

Whilst I was always aware of my German-Polish ancestry (I know it’s a quarter only, but it’s cool so I will continue to milk this) this was the closest that I had ever been to those particular roots. This was over 15 years ago so, obviously, my memories of it are a little bit sketchy. I know that I went up mountains, visited waterfalls at Krimml, we did a day trip to Salzburg and hopped across the border twice. Once into the Czech Republic to the town of Český Krumlov and then into Germany to visit Herrenchiemsee (a palace of King Ludwig II). Note: For the purpose of this challenge I do not count either of these as a visit to check them off the EU list… I need to have actually stayed there.

The main memory I have of this holiday was a trip up the Grossglockner on August 11th 1999. Why is was this so memorable down to the date? Not because of the cute marmots that I saw on the mountainside, but because:

austria2List Item: Witness a total eclipse
Progress: Completed

That’s right, I was up Austria’s tallest mountain during one of the very very few times there will be a total eclipse viewable from Europe. Due to the height, the visibility of the eclipse was perfect (not that I actually looked directly at it, I am not dumb, but I did successfully view it).  I wish I could remember this event a lot more clearly than I do, but there are certain things that strike me. Firstly, just how much the temperature seemed to plummet in the short time that the sun was covered. Then there was the fact that whilst it didn’t actually go too dark it was basically like having the beginning of a sunset at lunchtime. Finally, I remember the marmots and the birds being really confused at the prospect of this lunchtime sunset.

Thinking how rare these eclipses are, especially viewable from Europe, I truly count myself lucky that I was able to see it under such optimal conditions.

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