Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Gleisdorf - Austria

--Há uma versão em português logo abaixo--

If someone had told me that in four weeks I’d have cycled through four different countries, I would definitely not have believed it. Especially coming from such a big country as Brazil, where crossing a country by bike would be really a tough task. But we are in Europe, where it can be done much more easily, and so it has proved to be.

My first stop in Austria was to be in a place called Hollabrunn, but CouchSurfing sometimes identifies people from the surrounding area of a city as being part of that city, and that was how trying to find a place to stay in Hollabrunn  I ended up in Füllersdorf, a very small village with 120 inhabitants, 10 km from Hollabrunn.

And I must say I loved that choice. It was the first time I had stayed in such a small village and also the first time I would be staying with a family. My host lived there with his parents and sister, and they were all very kind people.

I visited their domestic vineyard, tried their wine and had a very relaxing day walking around animals, nature and in the village. What surprised me was that in such a small place I was able to meet two people (not related to each other) who have lived in Brazil. If you think about it, in a village of 120 people, in a remote area of Austria, to find two people who have lived in Brazil is really amazing.

In the evening we went to the "Heuriger" that’s a typical thing of the region, kind of a outdoors restaurant, it's not a conventional restaurant but one where wine producers serve food and wine produced by themselves. With my host's family and other locals who were with us, I had not only my best evening in Austria, but one of the best evenings of this trip. They were such nice people, very funny and gracious.

The day after I headed to Vienna, where at first I wasn't as lucky in choosing my host. I was going to sleep four nights in Vienna, but on my second day the guy where I was staying, woke me up at 5:00 in the morning saying he was going on a trip and I had to leave in one hour. At first I thought it was a joke, but it ended up being not a funny one.

Besides the fact that the guy was a bit weird, I really couldn’t understand what had happened, if I had broken some of his secrets rules or what. The fact is that I was very upset and found it something really rude and completely unusual for CouchSurfing. When you are a CauchSurfing member and you receive a request from someone willing to stay at your place, you can accept or just reject it, and that’s that. But what you are not expected to do is to reject someone’s request while the person is already sleeping on your couch.

 The fact is that sometimes bad things turn out to be good things, and I managed to find a much nicer host, a nice girl who liked Brazil very much, she’s studying Portuguese (and speaks it very well) and her teacher is from my city, Porto Alegre.

I’m so sorry Mozart, but in Vienna I was listening to Brazilian music and speaking Portuguese.

Even though I was in the land of the king of classical music, in Vienna I dedicated my time to contemplating the Austrian monarchy. Among the many places I went to is the Schönbrunn Imperial Palace, summer home of Austrian Emperors for three centuries. A place where you can easily find the figure of Empress Elisabeth, the famous Sisi, an Empress beloved by the people but not so popular at the court of her time.

You can also walk through the hall of mirrors, where at the age of 6, Mozart performed his first concert, for Empress Maria Theresa.

The tour through the palace also conjures up the image of Emperor Francis II, whose aims of achieving political influence were more successful via family alliances than wars. He married his oldest daughter to Napoleon and another of his daughters, Leopoldina, was married to Pedro I, becoming the Empress of Brazil, and mother of Pedro II, the greatest Brazilian Politician of all times.

I also visited the Imperial Treasury, a valuable collection of jewellery, crowns and clothes that covers a thousand years of European history.

And I ended my tour in Vienna in the place where the Austrian Emperors and Empresses ended their tour of this world: The Imperial Crypt, a burial chamber beneath the Capuchin Church. There you can see 107 metal sarcophagi, with the remains of the members of the House of Habsburg.

Leaving Vienna, I camped one night in Aspang Markt and spent the weekend in Gleisdorf, my last stop in Austria. There I had some nice CouchSurfing hosts, who were very engaged in social and environmental issues. On Sunday I went by train to visit Graz, the second largest city in Austria, and not so far from there.

And in an attempt to avoid the Alps and the difficult mountainous area I'd have to cross going from Austria to Italy, I decided to include Slovenia in my route, and not suffer so much on my way south. 

So let's see what Slovenia has in store for us.