We decided to sit down on the terrasse outside to have a beer and watch the bachelorette party taking place in the yard. On our way passed the bar we were stopped by a table of beer drinking Austrian men
. We couldn’t understand a word they were saying but they were smiling so we took that as a good sign and explained that we spoke English 'from Kanada’. Two of the men spoke English, kinda, and asked if we were related to Frank. I explained as best I could and once again I became Frank’s granddaughter and we were invited for a drink. Frank’s cousin came out and offered us a shot of homemade-something-hard-alcohol-I-dunno-what-it-was-but-it-was-strong (moonshine) and thus set the pace for the rest of our night. We sat there for the next five hours, drinking and talking about I’m not quite sure what in I cannot tell what language, but it was the best time we had had abroad so far. These men were all locals of all ages who had all kinds of crazy stories, jokes and advice to share and we loved hearing it all.
Two of the older men explained that he had known Frank when he was younger – that one day he learned how to make horse shoes and the next day he had gone without a word to where they never knew…until now. They all got together and wrote him a letter that I am to send as soon as I can – I have absolutely no clue what it says but they were pretty under the influence so I hope it’s nothing bad.
One of the guys named Peter who was sitting on my right seemed to take a special interest in us
. He tried to teach me authentic Austrian recipes and spent the night giving me all kinds of sound advice. At one point he just got up and left the table. We assumed he had gone to the washroom and no one thought anything of it until he returned a half hour later with a bag of…meat. Literally three huge chunks of smoked meats. He brought us pork, beef and turkey that he self-smoked at home and wanted us to have. Turns out he has made a lucrative business of buying meat, smoking it himself in his smoker at home and then selling it. It would be the understatement of the year to say that this stuff was excellent. The quality of it was high grade and I couldn’t get over how generous he was to just give us this out of the blue. God that meat was good.
We continued drinking throughout the night- and as the night progressed, the men would simply leave the table without saying a word and never come back (except for Peter who gave us a proper goodbye). When Dan brought out his banjo for the three men left at the table I realized that we were both pretty, um, wasted. I managed to tough it out for a few songs but around a quarter to 11pm I was done and headed off to our room. Dan must have made it not long after but I was already in a dizzy dreamland by then.
When I awoke the next morning around 7am I wished I hadn’t
. You might think, based on our travel blog that I drink quite a bit normally. I do not. Usually I don’t ever. I may have a few drinks on a special occasion but not usually enough to get drunk (not since I was much younger, anyway). I’m not sure what the Austrian’s put in their beer but I got pretty drunk and was most certainly feeling it the next morning. I remembered then why I was never a drinker and tried to stop the nauseousness. The smell from that delicious bag of meat we were so excited about the night before was making me sick. We had said we would be attending breakfast when we checked in the day before and now painfully regretted that decision. There was nothing I wanted less than a European breakfast at that moment (think bread, meat and cheese). I didn’t want to be rude so we somehow managed to take a shower and get our asses to breakfast with smiles on our faces. Dan was in better shape than I was and took full advantage of the spread while I forced myself to swallow some plain bread with nothing else. Thankfully we were alone for breakfast so I didn’t have to keep up ‘feeling great’ charade for too long. By the end of breakfast Frank’s cousin said he’d be bringing us to Frank’s childhood home a few minutes away.
That piece of bread must have done me well because I was feeling much better in the car en route to the house
. Dan not so much though. The house was cute but occupied so we couldn’t go in of course. We met one of Frank’s old friends and she agreed to take a picture with us. It was a very short ordeal but nice.
We decided to take some time to explore the town further for a little while, just the two of us. We needed to find a bank and remembered that last night Peter had advised us to go to the Spar (their grocery chain) for some dark Austrian bread. The only parking spot available happened ot be at the Spar so there we were. And there was Peter. What a surprise. He was selling his meat on a table outside Spar. Apparently he is there every Saturday morning until noon selling his product, but this seemed like a huge coincidence to us. We spent the next few hours just chilling with Peter while he schmoozed the locals and sold his amazing meat. He explained the ins and outs and the top secret procedure of his business and we were more than happy to learn. Once he packed up we said our goodbyes and made it to the second hand charity bazaar held by the fire fighters that we had heard about from Peter earlier.
There were tents set up everywhere with loads of random things: clothes, bikes, toys, dishes, you name it it was there. It was like a gigantic Austrian Village des Valeurs
. We found two books (Animal Farm and a translation book in german, French, English and Italian) and a dice game and bought two freshly made doughnuts before heading back to the Bettenmacher’s.
We gathered our things, exchanged contact information, took photos and said our goodbyes and headed out to Vienna. Neither of us could get over the hospitality we received in Thalgau. Everyone was so friendly and helpful and we had an unforgettable time. Hopefully we’ll be able to visit again in the future…maybe once we brush up on our Deutch?
We arrived in Thalgau, my Nana's husband Frank’s hometown (the same day we visited the salt mines and Golling) around 5pm. We easily made it to the Betenmacher Guesthouse where the same little bird who has been aiding me on my adventure told me was run by Frank’s cousin. Dan and I decided ahead of time that this is where we’d be staying the night. We went in and introduced ourselves in a mixture of the few German words we picked up along the way and broken English and were able to communicate to the (very tall) owner who we were. He finally kind of understood that Frank, his cousin, was my grandfather (not really, but close enough). We were given hugs and kisses, a family discount and the key to room 28.