On our last four passes since living here through the lakes and mountains region of Austria known as the Salzkammergut, we have had rain and fog and gray, be it May, June, September or December, and generally irrespective of the weather forecast. If one also counts our first gray visit fifteen years ago in the springtime, that makes five tours through the Salzkammergut with less-than-guide-book-perfect weather. Ergo, when heading to the region on Saturday for an XC tournament we held low expectations.
Tony and I stopped in Mondsee first for coffee and to stretch Clayton Theodore, who was not at all pleased that he had been roused from his sofa slumber at 05:30 for a three hour car ride. The town was waking up; the small market lifting its covers, and, what? The sky is blue? We hastily parked in order to stroll the town and bask in the sunlight.
Mondsee, like many of the other towns in the Salzkammergut, is picture-perfect Bavaria. Except that it is Austria. In my opinion, the Salzkammergut and Bavaria could merge to become an unbelievably charming country.
This is St. Michael’s Church in Mondsee. That is the short story.
The long story is that Tony and I were married in “St. Michael’s Church,” the one in Chicago, USA. My favorite movie is, no surprise here, The Sound of Music. Our first overseas trip together was to Vienna in 1999, from where we took a day trip to Salzburg (and yes, the touristy Sound of Music tour), including a visit to Mondsee and the church in which Maria and Captain von Trapp were married. Though I have seen this beautiful church a few times now, never before this weekend have I had a sunshine-y backdrop. Mondsee is special to us.
Clayton Theodore, meanwhile, was more enamored with the fountains.
We found the Hohenstrasse (High Road) and drove around a bit atop Mondsee for its views.
Then we dallied along toward Sankt Gilgen (St. Gilgen), a village whose charm would make it a competitor for capital of my fantasy Salzkammergut-Bavaria country, for the Danube Valley Athletic Conference (DVAC) XC tournament.
By late morning the grey and mist shrouding St. Gilgen was lifting.
At tournament time the skies were blue. Run, athletes, run! (Spoiler: AIS Ladies took First Place, and AIS overall won the five-school tournament.)
At the end of the tournament we wandered sunny St. Gilgen a bit more before heading home.
This is the St. Gilgen Rathaus (City Hall) with a lively wedding reception in the plaza.
Tony and I enjoyed our usual and customary extraordinary rustic and homemade Austrian lunch at a Gasthof before making our way home through beautiful scenery, though the skies were still somewhat hazy.
Clayton Theodore relished the sport of baying at the cows along our route. I preferred the sweet brays and the gentle music of their bells. Tony drove and erratically stopped so I could take photos (why yes, my husband is so awesome that he will stop the car on a roadway so that I can photograph cows.)
This bovine trio seemed to really like the attention of passersby.
But this cow, though, won my heart. Moo.
So, it would seem that the sixth time is the charm for us in the Salzkammergut. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll attempt to visit more of the Salzkammergut…