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Sunday, October 31, 2004

Day 10 - Part 2

We continued to drive to Mondsee via Wolfgangsee. This town by Mondsee is one of the major tourist attraction, partly because the wedding scene of 'The Sound of Music' was shot in the Mondsee Cathedral. The town seemed to be more touristy than Hallstatt. And the weather had become better too, although it was still cloudy.

We visited the cathedral where the wedding scene between Maria and the Captain was taken. The altar was beautifully ornamented with intricate details. While we were there, a group of Chinese tourist, I guess part of the Sound of Music tour package, poured into the church. Yes, Chinese started to become a big market for European tourism business.

We also visited the Mondsee palace which was turned into a hotel, spa, and restaurant.

This is the smokehouse museum.

The interior of the smokehouse museum itself was closed for winter, but we could still enjoy the scenery and the exterior. The smokehouse is basically a house that doubles as a place to smoke food in order to preserve it, hence it was designed with minimum ventilation to keep the smoke inside the building. Consequently, all the wooden wall of the house became smoked and hence, preserved. This explains why the wood is blackened. When I touched the wood of the house it smelled like hickory. And the owner used to live there, sleeping with the smoke in their bedroom.

This is the toilet of the house.

Basically the toilet was just a small outhouse with a seat that has a hole in it. The hole was covered with a wooden lid, and if you lift it, you could see and smell what inside the hole (actually it did not smell so strong perhaps because of the cold weather).

We continued to have discussion with Kathy on how people in the olden days used to take a bath, because it seemed that the house do not have a bathroom, or shower. She explained that people showered perhaps once every month or even three months. Everyday, they only wash their face or hands at the horse-drinking area. But once a month, they put up the bath tub inside the house and poured hot water in it, and the same water is used for the whole family for a bath.

Kathy continued to explain that bathing used to be limited to only poor people, while the rich people may not bathe at all, firstly because they think it was unhygienic (what??) secondly because it is identical to the poorer class of the society, and thirdly because they have perfume to make themselves smell nice. Yes, even Versailles palace does not have a single bathroom and toilet. Allegedly, the kings and queens used to just relieve themselves anywhere in the palace floor, and their maids - who always followed them 24 hours a day - would just sweep or wipe the smelly remains. It was not normal to provide a special place to pee or poo.

Anyway, back to the Smokehouse museum, it was fascinating to see how the wooden structure was built. The wooden beams were just laid on top of one another and connected dove and tail. Sometimes, simple wooden pegs were used.

And look, they also have this thing to cultivate bees and get honey out of it.

We continued to drive back to Weyregg because we had to drive to Niederthai, which is three hours drive away. Kathy and Stephan offered to stay for another night in Weyregg, but sadly we had to decline, because we already had a booking. Kathy was really kind to call the lady in Niederthai to notify her that we were going to be late, and the lady gave us the detailed instruction on how to get to her farm.

When we took off at six, it was already dark. Lucky it was not raining. Indi managed to drive really fast. We decided to take the expressway route, but it means that we had to cross the border to Germany before re-entering to Innsbruck area. Luckily, with this Schengen agreement, the border is fully open and crossing it became seamless. The border was just marked by an EU sign saying Deutschland. Before we knew it, our cellphone was roamed into German operator.

The drive along the German expressway was really smooth, while the Austrian expressway had construction and repair every few kilometer. Kathy had mentioned that this is because Austrians prepared for winter earlier compared to Germans, hence Austrian expressways would be less obstructed in winter compared to German expressways. Anyway, all those construction work made us worried that we would arrive late in Niederthai.

Exiting the expressway at Ortz, we stopped at a petrol station to confirm that we were going on to the right direction, and also to buy dinner items. We managed to get to Umhausen, which is the town just before Nietherthai, and then we had to drive up 900m in altitude through a long and really winding road to get to Niederthai. Umhausan was located at around 600m above sea level, while Niederthai was 1500m.

Finally we managed to get to Niederthai, and since there was only one road in Niederthai, it was not difficult to find the farm where we were supposed to stay. Haus Larchenwald was located right at the end of the road.

When we arrived, it was really dark, partly because we were in the rural area and there was not much light around. We could not really tell the scenery around the area. We could only guess, from moonlight the reflection of the mountaintop, that we were surrounded by snowy Tyrolean Alpen mountains.

Sieglinder Leiter, the farm owner, greeted us and showed us to the room, which was really cozy, warm, and really neat. We had semmel bread with smoked salmon and cheese for dinner. We took shower and had a really good and warm sleep.


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