Österreich, part Zwei

To clone out the cables, or not to clone out the cables…?

I promised another post for today, and here for possibly the first time in the history of Guten Morgen Berlin I am living up to my promise. You can feel special and important about this since I am typing through the agony of a thumb which is throbbing after having accidentally let it get dragged into a metal roller today along with the piece of silver I was supposed to be flattening. Like a small child or someone on hayfever medication, I should not be allowed on or near heavy machinery.

Anyhew, I’m still not finished writing about Austria, and I’m also not one to let good anecdotes fester. The focal point of this holiday was, after all, skiing, and I skiied the heck out of Obertauern. I have only had three days of ski school ever, since I found it to be a rather annoying experience; we had an ancient and incoherent ski instructor who looked like a slightly horizontally compressed version of my old maths/PE teacher and knew only one English word which she shouted at foghorn volume every two seconds: “SNOWPLOUGH!!!” I therefore took as few lessons as I needed to be able to do snowplough turns on an actual piste, and from there on taught myself to ski parallel through the long-forgotten and age-old art of ‘falling over a hell of a lot’ and through copying my brother’s cool dude style of skiing have evolved my own style which I like to think resembles how a relaxed gorilla would ski. My mother, as a health and safety advisor, prefers the ‘safety starfish’ approach, where you ski with legs wide apart and arms/poles held outspread like a baby with two lollipops in order to remain the maximum amount of healthy and safe; my father was taken skiing by his crisp-haired and very smart father every year since he was an infant and therefore skis with legs held firmly together and exemplary style only spoiled by his ridiculous skiing glasses which are luminous yellow, perfectly circular and have luminous yellow leather side-guards. We were not an elegant troupe on the slopes. 

However, to ski in Obertauern you don’t have to be elegant; in fact, the opposite is true, as Obertauern skiers are the arctic version of football chavs. The place is swarming with burly, scary-haired blokes who alternate between skiing like champions and downing beers at a remarkable rate. Every bar, cafe or restaurant throbs with apres-ski music, which is honestly the most heinous crime ever inflicted upon the ears of innocent people. It sounds like the air itself is burningly furious with you and wants to demean you; here is proof:

I am sorry to have to do that to you, dear reader. Imagine trying to relax and enjoy yourself after a really bad fall with that in the background. In fact, imagine trying not to succumb to thoughts of violent suicide with that in the background.

Also, in all of these cafes and restaurants, there appears to be some kind of conspiracy circulating, as they each boast an almost identical menu. If you ever go skiing in Austria I can tell you with absolute certainty that you will be eating commensurate quantities either of goulash soup, mixed salad bowls, fried meat with a fried egg on top and/or Kaiserschmarrn, an Austrian pudding which is essentially a mashed-up pancake with apple sauce. The consolation, however, is that these delicacies are also always somehow different and always uniformly excellent, and I could happily suck down that goulash soup until the day I die. 

I also said I would say something about Austrian German, because it’s the one national dialect I really haven’t had any experience of thus far. So far I knew this: German German (Hochdeutsch) sounds like all those tapes you got played of people in train stations losing their umbrellas when you were studying German in secondary school. Swiss German (Schweizer Deutsch, or Schvootzer Dootsch as they for some reason pronounce it) sounds nice and interesting until you get to the ‘sch’s and ‘ch’s, at which point it takes a while to realise they are not choking on a wad of dry oats. Austrian German is sort of round and musical, and it sounds a little bit like if you asked a computer to simulate a language purely from the image of a pair of Lederhosen alone. It’s pretty and hefty and I liked it a lot, despite there being some slight errors in understanding – thankfully ‘Achtung’ sounds the same in all languages so no such errors led to piste-based tragedies. 

Oh, and by the way: there is no German in the entire world that sounds even one iota like the pigs in Shrek. Just so you know.

Rose T