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Memories

An article which appears in the January 1960 Maltonian (No. 114).

 
FROLICS IN AUSTRIA
1959 Austria trip MGS

THE holiday in Austria, for a small, select group of Sixth Formers, plus Mr. Lloyd, had been organised, chiefly by Fox, way back in February; and this time of travel brochure analysis seemed remote indeed when the party assembled at York Station at 1 a.m. on Sunday, August 9th - most of us having been transported thence in that commodious vehicle, the Kirk family chariot.

The journey south to Dover proved uneventful, apart from a dreary wait at Victoria. Most of us slept during the crossing, except Mr. Lloyd and Fox, who discussed the next school play!

We were relieved to find that the train at Ostend was relatively comfortable (most of us had vivid memories of a previous journey in the worst type of French train - bare boards for seats). We enjoyed our glimpses of the old towns of Belgium and the wonderful scenery of the Ardennes. Cologne Cathedral, a magnificent silhouette, was our last glimpse of Rhineland before we settled down for the night - Mr. Lloyd and Elizabeth Bowman on the luggage racks. When we awoke our train was skirting Munich and soon the snowy Alpine peaks came into view.

Before long we had entered the narrow gap that leads through into the: Inn valley, and were admiring the breath-taking scenery. The journey, in fact, would have been most pleasant had not one member of the party, feeling a little peckish, started to make sandwiches - of fish paste! Have you ever tried to endure the smell of fish paste in a confined space for fifteen hours?

Innsbruck, where we left the train - and the fish paste - is the third city of Austria and capital of the Tyrol. The old town is full of quaint medieval streets and houses, lavishly decorated Baroque churches, and splendid mausoleums and palaces - a legacy of the golden years when princes ruled from Innsbruck. The river and the lofty mountains that tower on every hand join with history to make this one of the most charming cities of Europe. But although we visited Innsbruck frequently, we actually stayed at Aldrans, a little village four miles away, high up on the Alpine slopes, looking across the city to other peaks beyond. Here we enjoyed the fresh atmosphere, wonderful views, swimming and sunbathing and roaming among the woods and pastures behind the village. The Tyroleans are noted for their friendliness and the people of Aldrans lived up to this tradition, so that we made some good friends among the villagers, including Trudie, the charming waitress at our hotel, whose skill at sign language greatly, eased our communication problems. "Wunderbar" was the full extent of Davina's vocabulary when we arrived, but luckily the Austrians have a wonderful sense of humour, and this one word alone was to do wonders throughout the holiday.

 

The weather alone marred our stay. How irritating it was to be enduring rain abroad whilst friends at home basked in sunshine. Luckily, we had many distractions, and cards, shopping in Innsbruck and lounging in its numerous cafes, and discussions on all manner of topics, passed away the gloomier hours. We took a full day excursion to Salzburg, again a delightful medieval town, dominated by the old castle, rising precipitously from the Cathedral square, where the world famous festival was in progress. We scorned Mozart's birthplace but enjoyed the narrow streets and richly adorned churches. Berchtesgaden, Hiter's mountain retreat, was also seen on this tour. Another day we went to see some glaciers in the Stubai Valley, and our third excursion was to the Ziller Valley, which has some of the finest scenery in Austria. Unfortunately, we didn't see much of it because of the weather.

One of the most exhilarating experiences was the trip on the Hungerbergbahn cable railway, which ascends, in three stages, to some 8,000 feet. Alas, however, the clouds were low so visibility on top was nil and temperatures freezing.

Perhaps our happiest times, however, were in and around Aldrans itself. We walked over to Rinn, where the school stayed four years ago; to Igls, a well-known tourist centre, once graced by Miss Simpson; and to Schloss Ambros, a castle now turned museum. But we found nowhere nicer than Aldrans, and here, apart from occasional visits to Innsbruck to hear brass bands and the like, we spent most of our evenings. The Tyrol is noted for its dancing and we had many merry times at the Gasthof Stecher, the main hotel of the village and the centre of its social life.

As always, the holiday was over much too soon, before we had done many of the things we wanted to. The journey home, though still plagued with fish-paste, was again quite comfortable, but this time we saw more of the Rhine valley. The Channel boat was packed but we were too tired to be much annoyed. At London Mr. Lloyd left us and the rest of us staggered into Malton early the next morning, weary and travel-worn, but with many recollections of the lovely Austrian Tyrol.

The surest testimony of the success of this venture is that as we go to press there is heated debate in the prefects' room, enlivened by frantic missives from Nottingham University, as to whither we should journey next summer. But nowhere, surely, shall we find a more fascinating city than Innsbruck, a lovelier countryside than the Tyrol, nor finer hospitality than that shown by the charming people of Aldrans.

Margaret Bretherick, Upper Sixth.