Monday, October 31, 2005

High Above Hallstatt

One of the benefits of living in a Catholic country is that you get a LOT of national holidays, and not just on Monday either! (Did you know that in Ireland they get the day off work for Hallowe'en??) In the last week there have been 3 national holidays, 2 of which I have been able to take off work, and most of the days in between are basically holidays because no one comes into the office. Brilliant! However, not everything is great in Catholic countries - Sunday's are strictly days of rest, and in Linz very little is open; only a few restaurants and petrol stations. But I digress - the point of this post is to tell you how great the village of Hallstatt is. During the national holiday on Wednesday (Austria's "Independence Day"), I travelled to an area near Salzburg called the Salzkammergut ("The Salt Commodity Chamber") where there are loads of mountains and generally beautiful scenery. Hallstatt is the centrepiece of the region - a small village sandwiched between a huge lake and mountains made out of 85% salt (Jon wonders; why they don't dissolve when it rains?). Following this are a lot of pictures - click on them to see full size; it's worth it!

(Hallstatt: salty mountains also pictured)

(The village square)

As we climbed up the side of the hill overlooking the village, the view got better and better. That was a LONG walk... but it was well worth it. There was a beautifully kept cemetary overlooking the lake. Apparently because it is such a popular cemetary, the bodies are exhumed every 12 years to make way for new people. The old bones are displayed in a charnel house - I took some pictures, but looking at them makes me feel uneasy. I have no right to show people's remains to others.

(if it's possible to have a favourite cemetary, this one is mine)

Somehow, I managed to take 360 pictures in one day. I wish I could show them all here. The ascent continues...

(Pagoda halfway up)

(More lake/church/mountain action)

Our trek up unnecessarily windy paths to the top of the hill was tiring, but well worth it for the view. If Brucey were here, he'd probably call it a "bobby-dazzler" of a view.

(Looking down on the tiny Hallstattians, I inherited a messiah complex. This soon evaporated when I realised I'd put my jumper on the wrong way round that morning)

This may very well be the place that I retire to. As long as I don't have to wear lederhosen like these chaps...

(Those are some fiiine lederhosen)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Hiking & Hustler

It's been another busy week here at De Keyser towers ( 'y' s are getting very difficult for me to type - the German keyboard is all mixed up! ë s and ö s where there should be 'l' and 'p', 'z' where there should be 'y'... inconvenient to say the least) with work and work parties. Unfortunately I haven't spent much time in halls with my friends... I think this is what happens when you get a job. Welcome to the real world Jon! Or, as I am now affectionately known, "Yot" (the German pronunciation of the letter 'J').

Last weekend, to help my recovery from a particularly heavy night of whiskey consumption that lasted until dawn, I went for a hike up the hills that surround Linz. Crikey that was some view of the Danube...

Dotted across the hillside and through the woods were loads of wooden lookout huts that looked like they'd been unused for decades. Intrepid explorer that I am, I climbed into one, only to find a modern swivel chair and a copy of German Hustler magazine. Not really what I'd expected to find...

Some of the huts - Hustler magazine not in shot (sorry)

Saturday, October 15, 2005


I feel great ambivalence towards cobwebs. When I see them, I admire their intricacy and beauty. When I walk into them, I get more angry than when I'm put on hold for customer services. You know that annoying feeling, when, for the rest of the day you feel like you have spiders crawling over your head?

Today, I hold enormous hostility towards them. I must have walked into 4 already today. Does this mean that I'll be feeling spiders in my hair for the next four days?


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Visit From The Beautiful One

What an ace weekend - Kat came to visit and I showed her all the sights of Linz! That took about 25 minutes, so we spent the rest of the weekend in bars and restaurants, eating gargantuan amounts of cake and drinking litres and litres of Sturm.

I've been instructed not to write too much about a certain girl on this page, but I will say that I miss her very much and that I'm looking forward to returning to England in three weeks, when it'll be our 3 year anniversary! Please address congratulatory presents and cards to;

Jon De Keyser,
Room 140,
Internationales Studentenzentrum Julius Raab,
Julius Raab Strasse 10,
A -4040 Linz,

Thank you!


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Oktoberfest Lederhosen!

Right, that's it. I'm taking everyone to the Munich Oktoberfest next year. I went this weekend, and it was INCREDIBLE. Imagine 14 enormous Big Tops full to the brim of Germans in lederhosen, breeches, silly hats and corsets drinking vatloads of beer, singing ridiculous songs, jumping around like clumsy lumberjacks and generally misbehaving!

And this was just one of the tents...

I travelled to Munich on a coach with students from my halls - we were a motley crew of Italian, French, Polish, Peruvian and Irish idiots with beer to drink and noise to make. The friendly atmosphere was frequently punctuated with random shouting of capital cities and football players.

"Rome! Francesco Totti!"
"It's Jon, from London!"
"Ole! Rrrrrreal Madrrrriiddd! Too much money!"
etc, etc

Spot the Italian...

I also learnt some things about different cultures;
  1. Never show a Frenchman a copy of the NME. When they become inebriated later in the evening, they are 90% likely to start shouting "Maximo Park! Bloc Party! The Killers!" enthuisiastically at you.
  2. Never assume that if a woman is married, she won't hit on you. Especially if she is Columbian.
  3. Never touch an Italian's hair.
  4. Traditional German dress looks, a) amusing on men, and b) fantastic on women.
  5. Always be prepared for an Irishman to randomly start a fight with someone for literally no reason.
If there's anything more entertaining than watching German men in lederhosen arm-wrestle, I haven't found it