The beginning of the end

Trip Start Feb 02, 2010
Trip End Feb 02, 2011

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Flag of Austria  , Styria,
Monday, December 13, 2010

The invasion happened. On the second of December it began and became full scale on the third. On the second I stayed in bed all day pretending to be sick so I wouldn’t have to be all cheery and pretend I was interested in the Sankt Marein local news. My pretend sickness turned into a real sickness later in the week which was annoying because a constantly running nose and continuous thumping headache are very unpleasant but as for a genuine and recognised reason to have minimum involvement in everything it was very convenient. 

 The first few days of the invasion were spent at Kelly and Lena’s house. It was a pretty unpleasant time for me. I was feeling quite sick and my headache was killing me. All I wanted was to lie down in peace but there was so much going on and nowhere quiet to sleep. Children were running everywhere and screaming non stop with excitement. It was nice to see so many familiar faces from home but overall the pressure of so many people needing to be accommodated and the special needs of children was more than I had patience for. I felt really bad that Michi and Jelly where having to play host and work out everyone’s problems when all they wanted was to have a stress free holiday catching up with the family they haven’t seen for years. Felix thought it was all wonderful though. He had a great time. 

 After a few days we moved over to Leska and stayed in the little hut where Felix and I had stayed earlier in the year. The quiet, peaceful and relaxing Leska we knew was no longer. With such a flood of people to cook for and keep warm with a wood fire and children needing this and needing that it was a total mad house. While everyone was playing in the snow and having a great time I was feeling totally miserable and sick. I was quite happy with my unhappiness though, again another good reason to stay out of everything and go about my own business with minimal involvement. 

 I have really hit the bottom these last few days. It is so close to home time I can’t think of anything but being home and all the things I have planned. I don’t have a scrap of interest for this place, I am totally consumed by my day-dreams of gardening, the rabbits I plan to buy, finding a job, seeing my friends and family... I should be savouring these last days but I have no will to. I feel totally flat, tired and worn out. All I can think of is sleeping in my own bed in my own house and going about my day to my own schedule. It’s not that I want to become a total hermit or some kind of selfish loner, I just need a little time, it has been such a long ten-and-a-half months of camping in the forest  and on couches in peoples living rooms and dealing with the social etiquette that must be performed when in such situations.

During our few days in Leska and then in Murau we ate, cooked, washed up, walked around sight seeing, slept, talked, lay about, played with the children, played with the animals, built another igloo, played in the snow, went to the pub, gawked at the fact Austria still allows the unpleasant habit of smoking to be practiced indoors and then still has the stupidity to claim they have smoke free rooms which in fact are nothing more then an adjacent cupboard with the door wide open so the thick cloud of choking smoke has no problem getting into your hair, clothes and children’s lungs. I wouldn’t mind if those who think blowing their smoke onto everyone is okay die a slow and extremely painful death very soon. Go outside you inconsiderate arseholes, keep it to yourself. 

 It was really nice to visit Murau again but like Leska, the quiet, peaceful Murau Felix and I had known suddenly became a mad house with the Cameron clan invasion plus Ernstl and Gita there as well. With the advantage of central heating, each couple having there own bedroom and the lovely large kitchen and lounge as a shared space it was substantially more relaxing then at Leska where we were all crammed into the tiny hut. Also I was starting to feel much better and Felix bought me the super bouncy ball from the coin machine in the shape of a clown that I had been wanting since I saw it last time we were in Murau. 

 We also visited the church again and this time with Ernstl leading the tour, we learnt many interesting things. Many years ago when the small cemetery around the church filled up, rather then making another cemetery somewhere else they dug up all the bones and stacked them in the cellar all the way up to the roof as a respectful way to make more room in the cemetery. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. Hundreds and hundreds of skulls in neat piles were up to the roof and equally neat stacks of long bones line the walls. The fact that all those bones were real people once is amazing enough but to then think how many people are down there is extra amazing.

 On Friday morning we left Murau at the crack of dawn to take Virgil, Julie, Alkira and Lilja to the Airport and then we spent a few days at Michi’s mums house relaxing and keeping warm to try to keep a cold we were all getting at bay. Sunday we went back to Kelly and Lena’s house where many family friends were meeting for lunch and a catch up. 

 Felix and I had a final ride on Nina our faithful Russian sidecar from Leska to Sankt Marein via a very long detour. Felix picked us out a route through the mountains, often along many of the roads we hiked along back in Autumn. Most of the mountain roads were completely covered in a few inches of solid ice so we were sliding everywhere as we went along and at one point I even had to get off to push but Nina ended up being the one doing all the pushing, as she slid backwards on the ice and as I tried to stop her we both ended up going backward down the hill. On a second approach Felix and Nina made it up the hill and I came running up after them. 

 Just as we came into Graz we had a breakdown. The bolt in the final drive had snapped and for the first time I didn’t totally crack it. The original bolt we had put in on the side of the road on our way to Austria the week before had long since broken and had been replaced. This one that had just snapped was about the fifth one to go. Riding around on the ice and snow at Leska, testing how she went off-road in winter conditions, Felix, Michi and Ernstl had broken bolts and replaced them all in minutes. We spent an hour trying to unlock the tool box (the lock was completely rusted from all the salt and water off the roads) but when we finally got the tools out it took a maximum of five minutes to fit a new bolt and we were back on the road.  

 Yesterday we went to Mongolian BBQ in Graz for lunch, and tomorrow we are catching the train to Kieselbronn. If can we manage to figure out the elaborate puzzle to reveal the description of our route - which trains to take where and when. It is only six days until we will be on the plane flying home now. (Well five actually if you take into account today is basically over.) I really can’t believe this is all about to be over. I have been dreaming of these last days for so long and finally they have come. I am really looking forward to my first long distance train ride, nine hours tomorrow. I am also really looking forward to visiting the family in Kieselbronn again. It will be really lovely to see them all again and to make a full circle back to the place we first came when we arrived in Europe.

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