A chronicle of the whimsical jaunts of this guy as he goes around some foreign places looking for food.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Keep on keeping on

Safe in Austria now. Prague moved by quickly. It seems four nights is about the upper limit to be staying in a big city without supplemental activities. Touristing gets redundant and boring after a half dozen European cities.

After a brief night in Vienna, I arrived in Austria with the intent of shaking off some of the anxiety that so much moving around leaves you. I'm staying in an old German summer home in the small town of Ebensee. The house sits halfway up a hill along a street called Mendelssohnstrasse (strasse meaning 'street'). The street is named after a significant figure in German Jewish Intellectual History: Moses Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn was a philsopher and scholar who focused on the 'Immortality of the Soul' and sought to bring modern enlightenment philosophy to Judaic studies. He was a formidable thinker in Kabbalic and secular circles alike.

The history of the house is a bit fuzzy as the house was apparently constructed (originally) by a descendent of Moses, Felix. All that I've learned is that the great-grandfather of the current owners bought it in the Twenties. Since then it has remained in the hands of the same family. Benji, my friend from LMU, his older brother Nathaniel and his mother and father, Barbara and John Theim, try to maintain the old tradition of the Austrian summer home by hosting a managerie of guests every summer. All in all, at least a majority of the Thiem family spend around 3 months out of the year here. From my estimates as many as 18 (maybe 20) people could stay here... that is if couches and inflatable mattresses are utilized.

The house sees quite a few "regulars" who stay here every year (or nearly every year). Some of the notable guests are Claudia: who is Nathaniel's (or Nat as he's more commonly referred to) wife, James: a Britain-born pensioner from the Island of Gurnsey, Omi: Benji's German grandmother, and the Rainers: a family of 6 (4 small children) who enjoy the whole gambit of outdoor activities. These are just a tiny sample of the guests here, while there are, I would imagine, a half dozen more I may have missed last year and this one as well.

Breakfasts and dinners are taken collectively. While the responsibility for the preparation of the meals usually falls on Barbara's (capable) shoulders, the clean-up is exclusively the job of the guests. The dishwashing duty usually rotates, but the order is informal and uncategorizable. For instance, I've washed dishes (or at least helped put dishes away) at least once every day. The family looks down on those stingy guests who outright refuse to chip in with the clean up. I, for one, try in every instance to offer a helping hand so as not to wear out my welcome.

One of the particularly delightful occurances is the evening music. Every few days the talented Thiem family, and whatever chance guests happen to be staying, serenade us lucky visitors with some classical music. It's always delightful, even though the musicians may be out of practice sometimes.

This area of Austria is Salzkammergut (which roughly translates to 'Good Salt Halls') known for it's ancient salt mines, lush green hills, steep mountains and countless lakes. For this reason, it's a popular vacation spot for Germans, and all others. Hang gliders, wind surfers, hikers and rock climbers are all over. It is not uncommon to see more than a few middle-aged, barrel-chested Germans barely managing themselves into those stylish European speedos. All in all, it's a lively place to relax in. I've already tried my hand at rock climbing (at which I was unable to complete a full ascent) and a good, but brief, hike. I'll probably be out again in a day or so, if the weather improves and if the callouses on my feets show signs of subsiding.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring. But, I believe a few local musicians may be visiting on Thursday night.

I will return to my novel, something lofty by Gore Vidal, and hope to find a clearer sky tomorrow morning.



Anonymous mags said...

Mmmmm.... blurry nights...

Dude, aren't you back yet?

Hurry your ass up, already.

8/03/2005 10:47 PM  
Anonymous "The old ones" said...

PJ says hi, Uncle Casey. Greetings from overheated Medford. The temp is up and down as usual which means that today is going to be 103. PJ is going with Bev to the water park in town today to keep cool. Keep on having fun. We all send our love. See "ya.........

8/04/2005 8:56 AM  
Anonymous Mags said...

chop, chop, Casey!

Some of us wouldn't mind you coming home already...

8/10/2005 1:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I paid good money for these posts! You call this a blog? I'll show you a blog! (pants drop) I've got your blog right here!

8/15/2005 2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Casey is home!!!!!!!!!!

8/15/2005 9:18 PM  

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