May. 13th, 2015


May. 13th, 2015 03:08 pm
Today's special was a visit to the palace of Hellbrunn, built by a 17th century arch-bishop. As well as a big house, there are also huge grounds and a selection of water features of which he was very proud. He'd had built a table and seats from under which he could spray water onto his guests, though, of course, keeping dry himself. Using simple water power, he'd had built various fountains and grottoes with animated scenes featuring episodes from Greek mythology. While beautiful and fascinating, I couldn't help but wonder whether he was using all his own wealth to accomplish such opulence. In the audio guide to the house it said that nobody else was allowed to keep a bigger collection of curios than the arch-bishop; the smallest horse, the stag with the biggest antlers etc. I imagined a peasant farmer who just happened to have a prize bull, only to find the arch-bishop's men on his doorstep saying, "Right, I think we'll have that." and simply walzing off with the beast. Of course, I might be slandering the poor fellow, but history doesn't instil confidence.

Back in Salzburg we took a cruise on the Salzach river. While getting the tickets, I was curious to hear the boat's captain, discussing the trip with the man in the ticket booth, with a very English accent. It turned out that he was indeed British but, though he speaks German fluently, the man in the booth likes to practice his English with him. I wondered how an Englishman came to be in charge of a river boat in Austria. He said he'd been a diving instructor in Thailand, where he met his Austrian wife, who was also a diving instructor, and returned here when she did. While job hunting, and improving his school-boy German, he spotted an advert in the local paper advertsing the post of boat captain. There was a word he didn't recognise, but that excited his wife. It meant 'sideways step'; they were wanting someone who wanted a change in career. "That job has 'you' written all over it." she told him. "So, here I am." It seems his wife is also a boat captain and they alternate shifts, giving each a rest and allowing the other to take care of their child. Apparently, the boat cannot run for 3 months of the year, so what, I wondered, did he do outside the tourist season? It transpires the state allows them those 3 idle months and even gives them Eu1000/month, as they have a guaranteed job the next season. "Not excessive, but enough to survive and the savings over the year fill in the rest. It also allows us to go skiing." he told me. So, not only does he have one of the nicest working locations, he can indulge his hobbies in the quiet months. That's how to fall on your feet.

In the evening we went to a concert given by the professor of piano at the Mozarteum. Junko did a summer course there in 1988 and he was already the prof. then. He was, of course, brilliant. Sadly, the accoustics of the room were not kind. The walls were lined with marble panels that did not exactly enhance loud or fast passages. The final piece was a violin sonata and I was sorely tempted - during the piece - to go up and gently close the lid of the piano. For their encore they did a much slower and softer piece that was, in my opinion, the best of the lot for sound balance.



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