Real Life Zelda

Published Categorised as Austria, Popular Posts, Travel No Comments on Real Life Zelda

This happened about 18 months ago. I was work­ing in a tiny village called Reichenth­al in Austria next to the Czech border. It’s a remote area that tour­ists have no reas­on to visit. It’s in the moun­tains, but not a ski area. Think dry high­lands and endless dark pine forests. Twin Peaks rather than Heidi. Baba Yaga prob­ably lives in the forest here. Other Austri­ans joke about this area being a bit pecu­li­ar.

The train from Prague cost me £7. However the slid­ing door on my compart­ment came loose and slid on me, cover­ing me in bruises and leav­ing me hobbling for days. Thank­fully someone picked me up at the station, because there was no public trans­port on Sundays.

We were stay­ing at the village pub, where it was forever 1973. The family who owned it were lovely, which was good, as it was the only place to eat.

I feel like there is meant to be a large pleath­er Bible here.

It was Carni­val season, and one night the pub had a fancy dress party. There was one young guy wear­ing a mullet wig and a shiny track­suit. My cowork­er was trying to work out what 80s foot­baller he was meant to be. Turns out his costume was actu­ally “Gabber DJ”.

There was a village shop, which was rarely open, and mostly sold discount ham and crates of beer.

The pub was next to the grave­yard.

There was also a castle in the village. It looks just like how I imagine the one in Kafka’s book to look.

I went for a walk in the forest, and things star­ted to get weird. Such as the war memori­al slide with the deer statue.

There was an outdoor living history museum in the forest, but it was closed for the winter. There was no fence, so I was free to look around.

This folk song was provided for you to sing to the water. What happens if you don’t sing it?

From the water we have learnt. We have no rest day and night. Wander­ing is my fancy. How hard the stones are. The stones, the stones. The water.

Why is there so much outdoor taxi­dermy here?

Birth defect taxi­dermy deer?

Even ruth­less killers have regrets.

Do not touch him. Even though you want to. When I used to work at the Natur­al History Museum I regu­larly used to have to check taxi­dermy exhib­its for worms. I think he is full of worms like some­thing from Prin­cess Mononoke.

Felt like there was some­thing very ritu­al­ist­ic about this collec­tion of stones. How many souls of people who disap­peared in the pine forest are contained here?


While I was poking around, the black­smith arrived to have a tidy up in his work­shop. He intro­duced himself in a very thick moun­tain dialect, and poin­ted out a diploma on the wall from the 1820s belong­ing to his “ancest­or”. Who was prob­ably him. He then got out some Damas­cus Steel knives from his car that he had made that he wanted show me, and asked if I happened to want one (€200). I hadn’t found enough coins behind trees and in bins to afford this. Video games lie to you about how easy it is to find money and fight people.

We star­ted talk­ing about horse­shoes and super­sti­tions. I asked if Austri­ans put a horse­shoe above their front door for good luck and to keep bad things out. He laughed, got out a small horse­shoe, gave it to me, refused to take any money, and said I’d need it because the forest road ahead of me is called Vom Herren­steig zur Höll – From the Master’s Slope to Hell. (I am not making any of this up).

Here is my tiny horse­shoe.

I star­ted walk­ing through the infernal forest. The woods in this part of Austria are often eerily silent with not much bird song or wild­life like squir­rels.

This was labelled “Gate to Hell”

A lot of moss every­where you looked.

The water looked very unap­pet­ising. The grass also dies in the winter in the North of Austria and the climate is very dry.

There were also signs every­where warn­ing you to not stray off the path, because people were doing arch­ery prac­tice. There were tormen­ted look­ing wooden bears every so often for people to prac­tice shoot­ing

I came out the other side of the forest without anything infernal happen­ing.

Over the other side of this hill, in the middle of nowhere was suddenly a giant herb super­store. I guess to heal your wounds from all the people shoot­ing you with arrows in the forest.

I don’t know what happened to my photo of it. Here is one from Google Maps.

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