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Austria Diaries Part-10

About Insha Faridoon

Insha Faridoon is a 14 year old girl from Mumbai, studying in ninth grade. Her hobbies include reading, writing, singing, listening to music and photography. She loves to travel and often writes her experiences so that memories are documented somewhere lest they fade with time.

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Zell am See

The next day we had breakfast at the rooftop dining area, enclosed by huge windows. Through them we could see the full view of the cities and the mountains beyond. To my delight, this place too had Nutella. I took a piece of bread and a packet of Nutella and was about to make my way to the table, when my mom confronted me. She made me put some cut fruit because, “Beta, Breakfast is the most important meal of the day so you should have a healthy breakfast.” I finished the fruits quickly and took my own sweet time to savour the Nutella on bread.

Our train to Zell am See was in the afternoon. We had quite a bit of time left. We had been invited to a mall by a man called Stefan, the owner of the mall. We were welcomed warmly. He spoke to papa about the Bollywood movies shot in Austria and how they had been marketed in Austria. He also gave us a few coupons which would fetch us discounts on our purchases. It was only later that I realized, we would have to shop for something over 100 euros to get the discount. We wandered around for a while, window shopping. The stores were usually of some brand and the clothes were about 70 euros at the least. We visited an interesting store selling athleisure wear. They had a chamber where the temperature would drop down to negative. It was made to check the efficiency of their thermal wear. It was also a very good marketing ploy to attract customers.

We left the place having bought nearly nothing. It was all too expensive. We had dinner with Stephan and his friend at a place called ‘Potatoes and Co.’ I nearly died laughing when I first saw it. The first thought that came to my mind was that the place was owned by some potatoes and a few other people. What on earth may have prompted someone to name a restaurant Potatoes and Co.!

Mummy had a pasta, papa ordered a sandwich and I asked for a pizza. I hadn’t anticipated how big the pizza could be. It turned out to be huge. I tried to finish it by offering to others. Half  the pizza was still left. On the other side of the table, mumma was struggling to finish her pasta, which was an equally enormous quantity .

After lunch we went to the Hauptebahnof and caught the train to Zell am See. I don’t remember much about this trip except for the fact that it ended pretty quickly. We had to switch trains to reach Zell am See. On the train, I saw a girl wearing a Harry Potter hoodie. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love Harry Potter. I wanted to talk to her but I didn’t because I wasn’t sure whether she spoke English and I am not the kind of person who can randomly strike a conversation with the people in a train. She stepped out at the next stop, went over to the fence of the railway station, jumped over it and went into the house just behind the fence. I don’t know why but I consider her to be one of the coolest people that I have met… well, almost met.

We finally arrived at Zell am See station. As I got off the train, I was greeted by silence. Not a single soul was visible on the station. We went a little ahead towards an elevator and still didn’t see anyone.

We went down and on stepping out, were received by a man called Christian Pfeffer. He was wearing a Zell am See Kaprun tourism t-shirt and papa recognized him to be the correspondent of Zell am See Kaprun tourism with whom papa had communicated earlier. He helped us with our luggage and guided us to get into the car which would take us to our hotel. He agreed to meet us for dinner again and take us to some special place.

We wound around the town for sometime. It was located around a lake called Lake Zell, a small town quite similar to Salzkammergut. I learnt that “See” means lake here. We wandered away from the main town and went through the never-ending fields. Slowly, a few buildings began to appear in the horizon and soon we were at our hotel. To be more accurate, Avenida Panorama suites.

Our room was just two suites put together. One small suite with a bed, bathroom, balcony and coffee maker and one big suite with a bedroom, two bathrooms a kitchen, balcony and a living room. There was also a bath in the balcony although I am not sure what great purpose it served. Maybe people liked to bathe while enjoying the amazing view of the Alps and fields. It was quite a secluded place. We could hear singing birds, a few butterflies fluttered around the generous flora and cows grazed at a distance. Peace.

Around six, Christian came to pick us up and guide us to the main town. We went to a restaurant that had been there since the 14th century. A really old clock proved that. We had traditional Austrian food which I had begun to dread keeping in mind my last experience. I ordered for a garlic and spinach soup and some garlic bread. Garlic and spinach are two of my least favourite things and I don’t really know why I ordered that. It felt quite good, surprisingly. Christian asked for a huge fish salad. He managed to wipe it off in twenty minutes flat, while I was still struggling to finish half of my soup. The garlic bread was quite crispy, and combined with the soup, I would say that my meal was pretty good.

The lake Zell area had a few tents set up. We went inside the tents, where burners were lit to keep people warm, a bar was set up and a few tables were kept at different places for people to drink and talk and spend time together. I got one Coke from a girl behind the bar, wearing a lip ring. As time went by, people started filling the place. Not inside the tents, they had been reserved; but on the sidewalks and the stairway that led to the lake.

Soon the light and sound show started. It was basically huge fountains of water that were manipulated to form different shapes and patterns, lit up by LED lights. They played a huge variety of songs, ranging from Mozart to Queen to Justin Bieber. They also managed to display audio visuals on the fountains of water, which I thought was really cool. The event had been managed by Zell am See Kaprun tourism board, who displayed their ads on the water.

Plastic smiles
Hazy eyes
Pleasure
Fills her senses
As she take a sip
Of the sweet poison she relishes

Smoke
Corrodes his lungs
Makes his eyes water
Provides him momentary relief
From the endless cycle of pain
And life

Every bottle
Has a story at its bottom
Every puff of cigarette smoke
Leaves behind a story
Every pain
Has a story to tell

A poem I had scripted that evening, as I looked around to find so many people in the tent were not paying attention to the spectacle before them; they were busy smoking, drinking and talking in really loud voices. I looked outside and saw that the  people sitting outside in the dark, on the cold pavement were paying better attention to the show than the people who had actually paid to be inside the warm tents. It started to rain lightly and while the people inside didn’t even notice, the people outside bore it, put a scarf on their head, huddled together for warmth but stayed there to watch the show. It spoke volumes about people and personalities .

Christian told us that the show was put on every year, around this time, for about a month. People of the town looked forward to the event and always turned up to watch it. That night was the opening night of the show and that is why they played such a wide variety of songs. Usually they would have different days for Rock, Classical, Pop and other genres. The show finally came to an end, about two hours later.

We went back to the hotel. It was late and there was no one at the reception. We tried to pen the back door with our key cards but were unable to do so. Our driver was about to drive off, but on seeing that we were having some trouble, decided to check out what’s wrong. He tried for a few times and was able to open it.

We went up to our room. Tired from the events of our day, we immediately fell into deep slumber.

Photographs by Insha Faridoon

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