Austria - Vorarlberg
What do you do when you have a last minute opportunity to stay in a tiny village in West Austria for two weeks?
This trip was booked only a few days in advance, an opportunity to visit an acquaintance in their little home town. Needless to say I felt a little lightheaded after I said yes and had to take off of work last minute - try and explain that one to your boss. I got on a plane from Houston to Germany by way of Turkey with glimmer and excitement in my eyes. This was going to be my first European vacation!
The flight was long and grueling. After several hours in coach, a 3 hour layover in Istanbul, no sleep and countless foreign beers later, my body was in a ton of pain! I was however distracted from the discomfort the moment I got my first breath of fresh European mountain air. The village in which I stayed is only 2.5 hours from the Munich airport. The drive is beautiful and breath taking and it's true what they say about the roads over there - there are NO rules! Talk about some crazy drivers and little to no speed limitations.
The village where I had the privilege to explore was very, very quaint. To put it into perspective for you- the population is around 3,000. It is a municipality in the district of Bludenz in the state of Vorarlberg. Everyone knew each other and NO ONE spoke English. in fact, their German is of a specific dialect that other Austrians even have difficulty in understanding! In the village of Ludesch there was one gas station which also doubled as a coffee shop and convenience store There was one market, one lane roads, and endless rolling lush hills and snow-topped mountains. All of the folks in the village seemed to depend almost completely off of the land. Most houses had cows and chicken coops in their yards and I slowly began to observe that if one family had the goats and made the cheese they would bring it to the market and trade with those who grew potatoes, etc. This was a mix of bliss and culture shock for someone with the travel bug such as myself.
There is an immense amount of history in this part of Austria. With it being the Westernmost state, Vorarlberg shares a body of water, Lake Constance with Germany and Switzerland and also is only a couple hours from Italy. The landscape is dotted with reminders of both WW1 and WW2 as well as forts built long before our grandparents time.