Austria the Hills Are Alive

We fell in love with beautiful Austria. Amazingly it was never even on our list of countries to visit and were happy just to drive around it, however one fortunate meeting and a kind invitation saw us heading there for a few days and consequently making our way back again after Eastern Europe.

Austria is famously known for the movie “The Sound of Music”.  Interestingly though most Austrians have not heard of the movie and when we asked locals about it all we got were blank stares.

To get into the mood of visiting Austria we watched the movie with the kids.  Crossing over the border from Germany into Salzburg was spectacular.  The hills are so green and high and at our first stop at a small restaurant we experienced a true Austrian experience with all waiters dressed in the national costume.

The people in Austria are so kind and welcoming.  The landscape is lush and we got to pick fruit from trees to eat.  We stayed at a picturesque Austrian Style house high up in the mountains and  each morning could hear birds chirping closely by.  

As we were staying with a family we were also treated to many Austrian experiences including an Austrian family barbecue, going to a town market to enjoy Bratwurst sausages and organic produce and spending the day at a local lake with other Austrian families.

We also learnt how to make traditional schnitzel and sample other local foods and drinks and one of our favourite was a drink called Almdudler.  If you have been to New Zealand or Canada it is similar in taste to L&P in NZ or Canadian Ginger Ale.  

While in Austria we heard a true story about 2 young men from our homeland New Zealand who came to Austria in 1859 and who lived and worked in Vienna. They were part of an scientific expedition and were to be in Austria a couple of years.  They were both highly educated and their journals have been compiled into a book.  

They visited the Kaiser and were invited to many distinguished royal parties.  They therefore mixed with royalty and high society and upon returning to New Zealand a couple of years later received a gift from the Austrian Kaiser.  It was a printing press.  This was to be the first printing press used by local maori in New Zealand as a result of this gift they were able to start the first Maori newspaper.

The 2 boys from New Zealand also left a gift for the Kaiser of Austria.  They had planted their seed many times over in Austria and there are rumoured to be many children, one of which is believed of royal blood and at the time of World War 1 was shipped away to hide in Hungary.

Why am I telling you this story you may ask?  Well inside the book there is a genealogy page and as I looked at it I noticed that many of the names listed were family names.  Yes these men are both related to me and one being my grandmothers grandfather so my great great grandfather!

We will definitely return to Austria one day and in the meantime I wonder if we can track down any children that were a result of the visit.

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