The news that my brother would be suddenly and very surprisingly dropping in to visit for a weekend, quickly led to some distressing thoughts about what on earth we would do while he was with us. Because while an Austrian winter wonderland is a sight to behold, it actually wasn’t that cold, and there was no snow in the valley. The nearby lakes weren’t frozen and the mountains were merely specked with patches of dirty snow.
How could I demonstrate to him just how amazing (and at times long and infinitely horrible) a European winter wonderland really is, if conditions were just ‘meh’ and every possibly wintery activity involved hours of driving to somewhere better, somewhere colder, somewhere icier.
Well, in the end, it snowed almost on cue, leaving a light yet solid coating of snow on the ground and sprinkling the pines into magical wintery forests.
On the first day we dragged him to the top of our local mountain, in near-perfect winter conditions, the sun only disappearing when we began our descent. Naturally this adventure involved stopping at a mountain hut for a beer and hiring sleds so we could wizz our way back down the slope we’d trekked up!
We’d organised a huge family Raclette in the evening with my in-laws, where there was a lot of laughter, plenty of miscommunicated jokes and odd translations, and naturally an excess of food and drink. Sadly I bailed out on the couch due to a head cold, during the Uno tournament, which continued on into the early hours.
Saturday morning, with everyone feeling a bit seedy, we showed him the sights of our small town, stopping by a bakery to purchase a Leberkӓse Semmel (the perfect hangover cure) and picking up a couple of Austrian pastries to chew over during our afternoon coffee break. Naturally we spent a good part of the day clocking Bubble Bobble, reminiscent of our childhood, and later headed out to a Buschenshank for a traditional Austrian Jause dinner, complete with local Austrian cider. Oh, and of course there just so happened to be a choir celebrating there so there was some random singing… that’s also very Austrian.
His flight departed just after lunch on the Sunday, but we were still able to squeeze in a traditional wiener schnitzel for lunch before dropping him, exhausted after his short European jaunt (three days working in Brussels and a weekend in Austria) at the airport.
It’s always comforting to be able to show someone you love the new place you live, the place you’ve chosen to call home. Perhaps it’s just the hope that they might realise just why you love it so much and forgive you for leaving – because it’s impossible to clock Bubble Bobble alone.
And you know what? I think he liked it. I think he’ll be back.