June 24, 2007

Where time stands still

I am back from the small village KleinArl in Salzburg state of Austria after a long holiday. The retreat was superb as it was a lovely place. It was a treat for the eyes- the picture perfect houses in a height of about 1000 meter above sea level and some were even clinging on hill slopes. It is primarily a ski-attraction and a Winter holiday heaven.

Probably its a bit boring now for many because of limited activities in Summer. The empty hotels and guest houses will certify this. But for us - the people from the tropical area this is a dream location -a lot of greeneries and of course being surrounded by the Alps mountain range. I have seen how clouds engulf the hills like a wrap of mist and then the sun appears after sometime. The only sound in the calm quiet town is the gentle chirping of the streams flowing downhill and running alongside the highway. We stayed in a 104 year old house and the owners were extremely excited to let it out to a group of people coming from a far away place like Bangladesh. We encountered the question several times-"how did you find the place?"

The people of KleinArl (population 1000) are very friendly. Everyone knows each other. It boasts of no crimes. So as to speak no phonebooth, let alone public internet booth. The buses are infrequent and ceases at around 6 PM. I did not see more than one grocery store, one saloon, one bank, one Kindergarten and you can walk from one corner to another in 25 minutes (actually it disperses from a long highway). The topmost attraction Jägersee (lake) was a disappointment though. It turned out like a small pond like watery. But the restaurant at the lake served the traditional Austrian delicacy Kaiserschmarrn (emperor's mishmash) and the pancake tasted great with apple sauce. The same can be said about the pancake with stuffed raspberry we had in Weissenhofalm, a restaurant 1770m above sea level. These restaurants are on almenweg, a special connecting road for trekkers who cross these alps mountains on foot. They have a traditional flag indicating that they are open to serve the trekkers. But we went with taxi as we had elderly and kids. The road for four wheels is steep, narrow and open to limited number of people.

The cable car in Kleinarl village will be in operation from tomorrow and we missed that. So we went to the next village Wagrain to ride on the flying Mozart, a cable car to the middle station of the mountain Grießenkareck (1991m). To our disappointment it was not going to the top. But the view was lovely (see above).

If you do not come here with a car then your movement becomes restricted to the village only as the bus service is infrequent and the taxis are costly. We had to cancel our plans to visit the ice cave (Eisriesenwelt werfen) and other attractions in Salzburg. But we caught a glimpse of the castle Hohenwerfen on the way from Kleinarl to Salzburg.

This was the kind of retreat where time stands still and you enjoy the tranquility.


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