Ternberg is a small town in Oberösterreich, very near Weyer where I went a few years ago.
I think people get the idea I go to some kind of Alpine Scandinavian utopia, by looking at the scenery and maybe an mental image of some long ago ski holiday or weekend break in Vienna.
I realised I still had a few photos from February in Austria left unposted, so here they are. Strange to think that six weeks ago I was travelling around Central Europe for work, and now I don’t venture more than a mile or two from home.
Amstetten is the most extremely average place in Austria. It’s a largish commuter town in between Linz and Vienna. You have no reason to visit it. Its main claim to fame is that Josef Fritzl lived there. I was there to teach in one of the schools as a visiting teacher.
I was supposed to be back in Austria right now, running more school workshops. Obviously that’s not happening now, due to the Coronavirus lockdown. Here’s some photos from Salzburg a couple of weeks ago, where I flew en route to Amstetten.
Austria Post does an excellent fixed price box within Europe which is extremely handy when you’re travelling around for weeks on end with a 20kg luggage restriction and needing to dress nicely for work and no access to laundry.
Here’s some assorted photos from Deutschlandsberg. It’s a very ordinary small Austrian town near Graz. Although it’s a pretty and nice place, it’s probably not where you’d pick for a holiday in Austria (although they do get hikers and people coming for the wine trail in the summer).
My next work assignment was in Deutschlandsberg, a small town at the foot of the Koralm Alps, near the Slovenian border. (Austria is a lot further south and east than people imagine). I was there three years ago (at a different school), when it was snowing heavily. This time I arrived to brilliant sunshine, and went for a walk up in the vineyard filled hills with Jemeala, one of the other teachers.
En route to my next work assignment in Deutschlandsberg near the Slovenian border I stopped off in Graz overnight. I’ve been to Graz loads of times. It’s a really nice city, even if everyone does have a thick Arnie accent.
To travel in between Vienna and Graz, until the never-ending tunnel under the mountains is finished later this decade, you have to take the train over the top of the Semmering Pass, going up and down over the Alps. You get some spectacular views, and the trainline itself is a UNESCO site. It’s hard to take good photos out of the train window, so here’s my playlist for over the mountain.
A lot of small towns in Austria have a Mardi Gras carnival, and they often organise them to be on different days to not clash. This means that if I’m in Austria doing school workshops in February I often see multiple carnivals. Wallern-im-Burgenland is still the most surreal I’ve seen.
My next work assignment was in a small village called Pamhagen on the Austria-Hungary border. The main hotel in the village was closed, so we were put up in a neighbouring village called Wallern-im-Burgenland. Pamhagen is only about 70 miles away from Vienna, but it’s a million miles in reality. Until 1989 it was pinched between the lake and the heavily militarised Iron Curtain. The border is open again now, with no passport controls (thanks Schengen Agreement!) but the area still feels like the end of the line.
Vienna has strong rent controls for shops, meaning that many of them are in the same location for decades, leading to lots of vintage shop signs around town (along with stylish new ones like the brewery one above). Here’s a selection of different ones I spotted on this trip.
I also visited Vienna Architecture Centre- I’d never been inside this small museum before, but the entry was thrown in free with the bundle ticket I bought for the other exhibitions.
About 15 minutes walk from the school I was working at in Vienna, and next door to the University of Life Sciences was Türkenschanz Park
On a rare day off in Vienna I went to the Open Studio day at the Vienna Academy of Fine Art. This is the top art school in Austria, and also the same institution that famously rejected Hitler twice for his lack of creativity. The studios are in this impressive building, the Semperdepot, which was originally built to store theatre scenery and props.
I’ve been in Vienna and now a tiny village on the Austro-Hungarian border for the last few weeks. Here’s what I’ve been listening to.
The Kunsthalle Wien holds temporary exhibitions- I caught the last day of this show. It definitely isn’t the best thing I’ve seen there- I’ve previously been to blockbuster Basquiat, Haring and Švankmajer shows there, but it was included in the Combi-ticket I bought for the other museums, so I made sure to see it.
I’ve been back in Vienna since Saturday, but I was busy at the annual work conference. Last year was the first in a decade that I didn’t spend any time in Vienna, and that was strange. Vienna is a very big and grand capital city for a small country of six million sparsely spread mountain people, a remnant of the days when it was the capital of the whole Austro-Hungarian empire, covering Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia and parts of Romania and Poland.
Here’s some more old films I scanned- this time of Innsbruck from two years ago. Standard Ilford HP5 with a 70s Pentax SLR.
A short train ride or couple of miles walk outside Kitzbühel is the Schwartzsee (“black lake”). It’s full of minerals washed down from the mountains that give it the glassy black effect…
So here’s a couple of assorted photos of Kitzbühel town. It’s a ski resort in the Austrian Tyrol, about equidistant between Salzburg, Innsbruck and Munich…
In July I went to Kitzbühel in Austria for work. I was there to run a workshop in the local middle school, and the mayor gave me and my three co-workers tickets for the local ski lift…
So I’m back in the UK. For good now. Most of this week has been taken up with house-hunting, arranging vans etc. More on that soon. I don’t like to count my chickens before they’re hatched.
However, I was tidying up the folders on my computer this week, and found these miscellaneous photos of Vienna from February.
I have been in Austria for a week and a half now for teaching work. I meant to update last week, but some brutal 7.30 am start times, heavy snow, a lot of planning to do outside the classroom, and a diet of pure stodge in a small town with few dining options (and even fewer options for vegetarians) tired me out. It feels strange to be in small-town Austria, where not much tends to happen, while political turmoil with dire consequences for many vulnerable people goes on around the world.
I had two never-before-seen zines to bring with me to the Sheffield Zine Fest (photos of the festival coming later in the week). Issue 22 was new, whereas issue 14 has a bit of a history. I made no. 14 a few years ago, mislaid the pages, found them again last year and finished some bits off, made a few copies, mislaid them again moving house and then found them again recently. Now they’re safe in a folder with all my other master copies, scanned to a pdf, and available to print whenever I want.
I used to go to Austria quite a lot to run workshops in schools, travelling from school to school each week. I started writing this zine after my first trip to Vienna in 2010, didn’t finish it, and then finished it off a couple of years later. I made a few copies at the time, but then mislaid the pages again when moving house, so barely anyone has read it. I recently found them again, and scanned them, so people can order it now!
On the way from Niederösterreich to Vorarlberg I stopped off alone in Salzburg along the way. I had to change trains in Vienna, and after a week of hearty, dairy-laden alpine food I was very, very thankful to eat some dhal and chapattis at the station. I really, really liked Salzburg and would gladly return there. I don’t know what it is about the city, but it just had a really nice atmosphere. I arrived at about 5pm, found the hotel really easily, and dumped my stuff and went for a wander. It’s an old university town, with a castle perched on an outcrop of the mountain looking down. There is a stereotype in Austria that people in Salzburg are snobby, but I found them friendly enough.
While in Kirchberg-am-Wechsel we were given a tour of a disused church perched up on the mountainside. It has suffered a lot of misfortune over the years (if you can read German there is a wikipedia article here), it burnt down and was rebuilt twice, and is furnished with all kinds of leftovers from other churches, which makes it more interesting.
While in Kirchberg am Wechsel I also got to go on a tour of Hermannshöhle with another teacher. It’s a series of caves inside one of the mountains, with lots of stalactites and a bat colony. Usually the tours are at set times and only in German, but we got a private tour in English, which was really nice.
Last Summer I spent a week working at the junior school in Kirchberg am Wechsel, a tiny mountain town on the eastern end of the Alps on the border between Lower Austria and Styria. It is essentially one long street between some mountains, with “Lower Austria’s finest stalactite cave” (more on that later) and a yearly Wittgenstein festival. As mountains go, by Austrian standards they are pretty tame, mostly being below the tree-line. When I said something to the kids about the mountains they basically went “what mountains?” and when I pointed out of the window they went “oh yeah, those, there are much better mountains in other places”. Still, I like any kind of mountains, and the Wechsel is still 1,743m high, so it’s hardly a hill. Mountains/hills and water, that’s what I like. I wouldn’t do well somewhere like Kansas.
I spent a lot of last summer travelling up and down the Alps by train. Here are a couple of pictures I took out of the window. Taking photos from the window of a moving train can be very frustrating, you see a spectacular view, but by the time you have taken a photo something like a fence is in the way. I like long-distance solo train trips, especially ones with spectacular scenery and no stress or time pressure when it comes to connections.Both of these pictures are somewhere near the Austrian/German border. Interestingly German for nightmare is Alptraum – “Alp dream”. That alp is a night time incubus type thing, not the mountains, but it gives a strange mental image if you’re an English speaker. An Alp dream would probably involve frolicking with goats in a sunny mountain pasture. I clearly read Heidi too often when I was younger.
I’ve spent most of the past month travelling around Germany and Austria teaching. It’s for an extra-curricular school programme. You do activities to boost the children’s speaking confidence in English, work on creative projects, and put on a show for the parents with presentations of the projects, and drama written by the students. You don’t need to speak German to do the job, and you never speak German in the classroom, but of course it comes in useful to understand if the kids are being naughty, and in your time outside the classroom.
I’m currently in Kirchberg am Wechsel, at the eastern end of the Austrian Alps for work. I didn’t really have much access to the internet last week in Dresden, so I haven’t updated properly. I saw most of the sights, also went to the DDR Museum in Radebeul and ate a lot of pastry and spätzle.
Every so often I like to write on here about things I like, and why I like them. I’ve (finally) been finishing my zine about Vienna, and there’s a section about Hundertwasser in there, but I didn’t really have enough space to say everything that I wanted to say, and in a b&w zine obviously you totally miss out on the colours, which are a major part of his work, so here is a longer thing about him and his work. I’ve visited the Kunsthaus/Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna quite a few times, and I wrote about one of my visits here. I first came across his work in 2001, when I was 16/17, and bought a £3 book from a discount shop because it looked interesting from a quick flick through. I’m glad I did! All the pictures in this entry are either taken by me, or come from hundertwasser.at. I don’t feel like I’ve really caught my exact favourites here, but collecting images from lots of different sources and making sure they were all credited properly would have taken a long, long time. Here’s an overview of some things.
In September I returned to Vienna to teach another English in Action programme. I’ve got photos of galleries and exhibitions I need to sort out still. Here’s some odds and ends of photos of other stuff.
I saw these in the supermarket in Vienna and burst out laughing because I am essentially 12. I wanted to bring some back as a joke present, but the boxes are big, and it’d be pretty difficult to bring a box back unsquashed. (It’s like giant tall tunnocks teacakes). The sticker on the bottom right says “plump and chocolatey!”
This is Delal. She saw some pictures I’d posted on my tumblr ( emmajanefalconer.tumblr.com) tagged with Wien and sent me a message to see if I’d like to hang out, because it seemed we liked loads of the same things. She’s from Germany originally, and is studying Journalism in Vienna and likes drawing and photography too.
After going to the Hundertwasser places, I met up with the other teachers, and we went to the Nachtmarkt. Basically there were loads of food and drink stalls arranged on a square outside the town hall, and they were playing a classical concert on a giant screen outside the town hall. The food wasn’t cheap, but it was very good (I only really had snacks and some beer though, seeing as the liason teacher from the Vienna school had taken us out for a very good dinner at a Japanese restaurant at lunch). I particularly like the chandeliers the stall in the first photo has. Pity it was selling melon flavoured drinks, I’m not a big fan of melon.
There was a b&w photobooth round the corner from my hotel in Vienna that was €2 a pop. I took a strip most days to document what I’d been doing . I also had some with Delal, and some of me holding up signs, but I’ve cut them up for zine use now, and I can’t find what I did with the photo of the whole strips.
Also I ate this delicious cake at the museum. It’s chocolate cake with a layer of cranberry jam on top. It’s my new favourite. I don’t even like jam.
I was working in Vienna a few weeks ago, and I haven’t got round to uploading photos and putting them here. There’s plenty to come. I went to as many art exhibits as I could in the week I was working in Vienna. I’ve never felt so spoilt by all the free entry in London. I think I spent about €40 overall just on museum entries. It was worth it to see some things in the flesh though.
I’m in a small town in SE Austria called Oberpullendorf right by the Hungarian border. I’m here to teach some English workshops with kids. I’ve got 1 week here, 1 week in Vienna, and one in a town near Verona, doing essentially the same thing, but in different schools with various age groups. Oberpullendorf’s got about 3,000 people, but there’s a pretty good selection of shops, and cafes and restaurants here. Also 3 underwear shops and a bong shop, which seems a bit odd for such a small town.