June 26, 2013

After a whirl-wind two-day rainy visit in Budapest we headed back to Austria.  The drive through the countryside was probably the best sightseeing of our brief trip.  The weather was at last lovely and did justice to the lush, rolling Hungarian hills dappled with quaint farm towns.  The summer sun shone brilliantly across the verdent fields, especially magnificent against the dark rainclouds looming over the land now at our backs.

We only had two hiccups.  First, a not-so-trusty Tom Tom led us to Croatia rather than Slovenia.  Second, once in Slovenia, back en route to Austria, we got pulled over and received a 150 euro fine for not having a sticker we were supposed to have known to buy (as posted on all the signs…in Slovenian) at a gas station or somewhere or other.

At last we made it to the Austrian border and felt home free.  The scenery was an almost immediate shift from green Slovenian mountains which cozily hugged our winding road to a spread of gigantic Austrian ranges.  The sight was truly awesome and transported me to nostalgic memories of trips across the California-Oregon border to and from college.

After about one and a half hours the majestic mountainscapes channeled us into Klagenfurt, the hometown of Peter, the groom, whom we’d (more than happily) traveled all this way to witness get married to our dear friends’ daughter, Laura.

The air was perfectly pleasant and the greetings equally warm as we entered Peter’s family home.  His mother, Silvi (a.k.a. hospitality extraordinaire), greeted us all with a broad smile and ushered us inside.  There we found rooms of white and creamy yellow and I found immediate relaxation.

Joy abounded as we reconnected with each other and feasted on excellent food.  Silvi had made each of us (probably 16 or more) our own perfectly medium steak filets.  As I began to carve into my succulent serving I was baffled and then amused to look around and notice the locals squirt mustard on their plate to dip their steak into!  The tube-filled condiment seemed to clash with our fine fare, but in asking I discovered this pairing was perfectly normal and in trying…delicious.

After a long evening, which proved to be standard, and various desserts like chocolate and apple cake, as well as a bit of schnapps (which also proved to be standard) we said goodnight and headed to our homestead for the coming days.  I’d heard stories from ChaCha, Laura’s mom, of its stunning views, but by the time we arrived it was dark, I was exhausted and my mattress was the best sight I could imagine.  But, oh what the darkness unveiled the next morning…