As autumn winds down and the first frosts hit, it is a sure sign that winter is coming. Yet not everything about winter has to be cold and horrible. With the air cool and crisp and the first flakes of snow threatening, December is one of the most beautiful months to be in Europe – with Christmas markets aplenty!
I’ve visited Zagreb a couple of times before, but the most recent trip was to celebrate my cousin’s wedding. Not only was it great to have a few days away, it was a privilege to witness the cementing of another successful multi-country relationship! My cousin was born in New Zealand, but having a Swiss father meant he relocated there in his 20s, meeting his now-wife, and eventually moving to Croatia. It’s complicated but awesome that I have a relative that lives so close (only 2.5 hours away).
Another brilliant thing was that my Dad and two of my aunties also joined in the celebratory-travel-party from Australia. It made for a great time to catch up, speak English (and occasionally try to understand Swiss-German, courtesy of the Swiss side of the family) and relax.
Summer in Austria equals festival time! On any given weekend there’s usually something going on, be it a small, local event or a bigger, region-wide festival that completely takes over.
I have visited a number of town festivals over the last few years and although some of the bigger ones are a lot of fun, there’s nothing better than simply walking the 10 minutes to the Wolfsberg city centre when it’s our turn. Everyone in town turns out to crowd the streets, catch up with one another and party the night away. But no matter the size or the occasion, there’s definitely common elements to all.
Austria may be a country steeped in religion and tradition, but from what I can tell Easter seems to be mostly about eating ham and lighting huge bonfires!
I’ve written about Easter before (Easter & the Creepy Osterlamm) but 2016 actually marked my first Easter in the country (even though I’ve lived here now for almost 3 years) because the previous two times I was in Oz on holiday.
Fasching is big in Europe. You may have also heard of it as ‘Carnival’ and every place seems to have a slightly different name and slightly different traditions going on. Are we chasing away winter, or binging before Easter? I can’t really get a straight answer but what’s clear is that it starts on the 11th of November (at 11 minutes past 11) and continues until midnight on Shrove Tuesday (or pancake Tuesday if you’re like me).
When you think Austria, you probably think immediately of beer. Which is the right connection to make, but what you might not realise is that Austria also has a flourishing wine industry. Grüner Veltliner is the dominant white grape, producing dry whites, but there are multitudes of other varieties, from red to white to sweet to dry and beyond.