On the Road Again... Adventures with Franz
Before we left Mattsee, we spent a lovely day in Salzburg before heading to Vienna to join up with the family again. Vienna is truly a golden city. Buildings and statues adorned with gold everywhere you looked.
What I enjoyed seeing most in Vienna were three very different churches… one gothic, the Dom, St Stephan; one very Baroque… St Peter; and the last, Russian Orthodox, St. Nicholas. Each church, as you can imagine had a completely different look and feel. The gothic church was very monochromatic with the exception of some geometric colored glass in the tall windows. Decorations were intricately carved in stone, and the high windows and spires drew your attention heavenward.
When we walked into St. Peter’s, we entered an explosion of gold, painted surfaces, and carved plaster. Too much is never enough must have been the philosophy here! Actually, I loved the insanity of it all.
St Nicholas was stunning! It also had a lot of gold, but used with discretion, only to indicate the divine. There were many icons, one more beautiful than the other, and an intricate golden chandelier hanging in the center. Sand filled trays of lit candles stood guard in front of the icons, reminding Mother Mary of the petitioners’ intentions.
The last day in Vienna, Franz and I did my favorite thing… we spent the afternoon wandering through the food market! Everywhere we looked there were still lives of fruits, vegetables, meat and olives!
After Vienna, Franz, and I hit the road in our Volvo . Our first stop was to visit an old friend and business associate of Franz in Graz. We arrived there late on Saturday and were given the grand tour by Franz Hulfeld and his family. We took a funicular to the top of a mountain, right in the middle of the city. At the top were the remains an old fortification, now used as a concert venue.
There was an outdoor garden where we enjoyed a beer and wonderful pretzels as we took in the view of the city below. After taking the elevator down through the mountain, we strolled the city, enjoying another cocktail or too at local bars before heading back on the tram to dinner, where I had the most creamy velvety garlic soup with tiny toasted croutons and chives. It was amazing.
The next morning we were off to Trieste. I’ve always wanted to go there. Daddy was stationed there during the war and spoke of the city with great love for as long as I can remember. Because it is Ferragosto, the feast of the Assumption, all of Italy is on vacation, and it seems they all headed to the Adriatic!
Since we weren’t able to book a room in the city, we found a small hotel call Allegra Fattoria or the Happy Farm. We finally located it in the middle of nowhere, and it was rather charming when we arrived. There was a terra cotta building which appeared to be a restaurant, with many chairs and tables outside under a pergola which was draped in vines, letting just enough sunlight through. I felt like we were on an Italian movie set.
We checked into our room and opened the big glass doors, looking out onto the farmyard below. There were donkeys, horses, goats, ducks and a pig, and all greeted us in their own languages. That fresh farm scent wafted up and reminded us we were definitely in the country.
We had a wonderful plate of the most delicious prosciutto, salami and cheese with some red house wine before we headed to Trieste.
After an aperitivo at a local bar, we wandered the streets of Trieste. Because it was Sunday, stores were closed, but that didn’t stop lots of people from strolling the piazzas. It was a beautiful evening and the sunset on the water was magical.
When we returned to the hotel, we joined the packed house in the restaurant and I enjoyed the best plate of pasta ever. I had trofie with ripe baby tomatoes, zucchini, and bocconcini of fresh mozzarella. I was in heaven! Franz had spaghetti with baby clams and it was out of this world.
On Monday morning, the rooster woke me up at the crack of dawn. When I looked out through the glass doors, I was greeted by a glorious sunrise. I got back into bed and watched the day break as I snatched just a bit more sleep before starting the day.
After breakfast, we started our drive through the mountains toward Cortina d’Ampezzo. We stopped for lunch in Maniago, the home town of my dear friend Anna. We had perfect homemade tagliatelle with San Danielle prosciutto before we visited the local church and got back on the road.
Again, because of the holiday there were no rooms to be found in Cortina, so we spent the night in a little town near by at a lovely Tyrolian hotel. After we checked in, Franz suggested a walk. We headed along the very winding road down the mountain to the little village where we had a delicious pizza and a wonderful bottle of cabernet franc. There was just one problem…. Now we had to climb the mountain to get back to the hotel!
The next day we continued our journey through the dolomites toward Innsbruck. The scenery was incomparable. Each curve of the road brought yet another striking vista. This is a spectacular part of the world and words just can’t describe the majesty of the mountains. The hillsides looked like stretches of green velvet dotted with Tyrolian houses, between the patches of dark green trees.
As we neared Austria, signs were both in Italian and German. We stopped at a restaurant for lunch that looked German, but also had pizza! I went for the German and had weiss wurst, pretzels and beer soup! I enjoyed it all very much.
Soon we arrived in Innsbruck where we visited Karl, Franz’s brother and his wife Marlis. Although we saw them at the wedding, now we had more time for a good visit. They took us to the old part of town, and once again I felt like we were on a Disney movie set! The buildings were decorated with paintings and one even had roof made of golden tiles! I particularly liked a building from the 1500s that was later decorated by a Baroque artist in the mid 18th century.
All too soon, it was time to head back to Munich. Here we will rest a few days with Franz’s cousin Fritz and his wife Anita. We will also visit with Silvia and cousins in Hochstadt before we head back to the states on Monday.
Franz and I are so grateful to all the family and friends who have welcomed us here and shown us such gracious hospitality! This has truly be an incredible journey, and one we will hold in our hearts for a very long time to come.