Well—this seems to be a recurring theme with me, lately—all good things come to an end. We leave Maria Alm, and Austria, in just a few minutes.
But, to take refuge in yet another cliché, when one door closes, another one opens. (That’s been on my mind lately too, oddly enough.)
We drive to Munich, fly to London, and then head north for a couple of hours.
The first goal, to be reached, in sha’a Allah, by Sunday night, is York. I intend to do a little family history research there. Not in the archives, but in the landscape and the countryside and the cities. I want to get a feel for the place.
Although I’ve been to England a fair number of times, I’ve somehow never made my way to York, which is ancestral land for me: My ancestor Thomas Harper was born a Yorkshireman, met up with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Yorkshire, and ultimately emigrated to a place in Utah, near Brigham City, called Honeyville. (His specific area came to be called Harper Ward.)
I’m English, Scots, Danish, and Norwegian—25% each. But York was a Viking city for a while, under the kingdom of Jorvik, and so it’s very possible, I suppose, that my Viking/Scandinavian component is somewhat higher than 50%.
I’ve always wanted to see Yorkshire, so I’m excited to be going in that direction.
But we’re sad to leave Maria Alm. In some ways, it’s been really frustrating to be so isolated here in view of the upheavals to which I’ve recently been subjected. (It was frustrating in Israel, also, but for a somewhat different reason: I felt obliged to put on a happy face every day and to be cheery and to mention nothing of events at the Maxwell Institute, because I didn’t want to interfere with the enjoyment of the Holy Land of the family we were taking around. We were with them from morning until night, every day.) But in other ways, this quiet, idyllic place, with majestic mountains looming above it, has been medicinal. I hadn’t known, when we planned this trip, that I would need such medicine.
We drove into the small town of Zell am See, not too far to the south of Maria Alm, three days ago. I wrote earlier this week about the large number of Arabs and/or Muslims that we’ve seen here in this area. On that day, it’s as if they’d read my blog entry and decided to come out on parade. They were everywhere, in quantity. I had assumed that they were mostly tourists, escaping the summer heat of Arabia by spending some time in the Alps, and that’s probably correct. But I saw not one but two Arab restaurants, with signs in Arabic, just driving casually down the main drag of Zell am See, which suggests that there must be a sizeable resident community of, specifically, Arabs in the town. Fascinating.
Both last night and the night before, I ate Wienerschnitzel for dinner. A former neighbor has asked where the best Wienerschnitzel is to be had. I can’t really answer that, because I’ve had good Wienerschitzel in many places, but the Wienerschnitzel here in Hotel Alpenland Maria Alm is excellent (I had the veal version), as is the pork Wienerschnitzel at the little restaurant where we ate last night. (Sorry. I’ve forgotten its name. Actually, I don’t think I ever noticed its name. I wasn’t planning to blog about it. But it’s one of the first restaurants that you meet when you enter the town. It’s on the left.)
On our last night here, we sat on the patio out back (room 107A has, I think, the best view of the mountains in this hotel) and watched a magnificent display of bolt and sheet lightning above the Hochkönig, accompanied by sometimes torrential rain and dramatic, earth-shaking thunder. What a wonderful way to end our stay here. But it interfered with blogging; the power kept going on and off.
Some things are really big. Some things are very, very small.
Maria Alm, Austria.