have said this is backwoods, redneck Austria, the kind of lowbrow place where the restaurants use silver plate cutlery and cotton napkins instead of silverware and pressed linen as they should. This is a VEEERy civilized country. Everything is neat, orderly with spruce little hedges and pin-right farmhouses, neat-stacked ricks of firewood and close-pruned trees throughout the forest. Man’s hand is heavy even in the woodland hillsides where trees are pruned up 4 meters and the limbs are raked into piles for pickup. People have a tremendous amount of pride in their holdings. I learned that many if not most farms have been in the same family for centuries. I kept smelling manure but saw no livestock then it dawned on me there were no fences either. They house their pigs and cattle inside, seemingly year round.
First stop is Kate Kuche or in English “Cold Kitchen” (In Alabama they would certainly say Kold Kitchen). I am early, the first biker here at a regionally famous bike hangout. These happy Viennese guys try to get me to order sausage and sauce but I have just had a giant pastry with some nasty hot yellow spooge poured over it which turned out to be warm vanilla sauce. The coffee with whipped cream washed it down well.
Maybe I am overly punctual but I was the only bike in the parking lot. There were more tractors around than bikes. Some biker joint – oh, it is only 9:30 AM. Some guys and gals did roll in while I ate.
The badger tail does not look like something I want to rub around on my face or stick in my hat. I also happen to know that the European badger called Druk I think in German, is a mustelid relative of skunks and have foul anal scent glands. Who thought this badger butt fetish up anyway?
Time to get back on the road. It is warming up and I can see blue sky. If I stay much longer I will have to have wiener and sauce like these bikers are pushing me to eat. Thus far, every one of the bikers is hefty and I suspect that in the absence of Harleys here, the big boys are opting for large Hondas. Whatever turns one’s crank. I haven’t really seen the posers I was warned about. All the riders I meet seem like serious, well-equipped sport riders on things like BMW K1200s, Honda Varadaros, and Triumph Speed Triples. Lots of leather being worn too.
This morning has been fun and rather demanding riding. Dodging or waiting out intermittent rain and snow showers, wet roads with very twisty going, some gravel, uncontrolled access, narrow roads and just a little traffic but that varies from diesel belching busses to very fast cars. There are abundant interesting places to just stop and wait a bit. Coffee is ubiquitous.
I even ducked into this famous (famous as in a couple of POPEs have stopped in here) cathedral in Mariazell for about 2/3 of a mass.
Catholicism clearly is a dominant influence here and the people seem friendly, respectful and maybe not so holy. Spring is in the air and the young men and women are in full rut, hanging on each other and alternately crawling up each other’s legs. This is not a sexually repressed culture. For example, one TV game shows started with the girls topless then as they lost points, they lost clothes from there. Never see that sort of thing on public TV in Canada, but damn do we have some abject violence in our shoot-em-ups that would never fly here. The taboos each country weaves through their populace is reflected in behavior. Frankly, I’d trade some TV killing for a little skin and feel like I got the better end of the bargain. Not sure how I got from snow to pope to sex in that last paragraph.
Missed a turn and took a long ride up a pretty river valley where I came across this Highland steer,
or maybe it is a countersteer as he looks lovingly at my bike.
and a pair of Mute Swans. They are a nuisance invader in North America but are at home and belong here. Apparently they are fairly ferocious nest defenders and can even break a child’s arm with a strong whack of their wing wrist. I would still approach them in full bike gear though.
Contrary to the North American meaning of “no Wang allowed” this actually means you are leaving Wang
Maybe is it a language thing but sometimes words just strike me as funny. When I saw this sign I wondered what it would be like to live in Mank or for that matter Wang? Locals won’t hear it but I bet they laugh at our Bunkies and Natchitoches too.
I can just imagine Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther calling the residents of Mank "Mankees".
Is this rampant creativity? If so, I think they stole it from this guy. I checked the other side of his sign to see if it was different, Bet you can guess what I got . . .