see the sea? maybe later!

the beach? couldn´t care less!

It might only be time for easter celebrations right now, back home in Austria the weather news have mentioned “snowfalls down to 600 meters above sea level”, but honestly: aren´t we allready more than ready for summer? And might start contemplating on where to go? See! For most of us most propably that yearning immedately provokes images of beaches and the blue sea. Not any more so after the guys of the Salzburg Toursim Board have been presenting you with their vivid vision of what summer holidays should be like.

summer in a nutshell

First, to get things straight, we are not talking about the city that anyhow will be submerged in tourists as soon as next month. Quite the contrary to New York, a city they named twice, in the case of Salzburg they had to put a “Land” next to “Salzburg” in order to make a distinction, you may translate that into “country” or “county”, as you wish. So whilst the City will be jammed and all the splendor made but invisible by herds of limp gazers out there in the “Land” one may enjoy quite a bit of serenity. And isn´t that what we will be looking for, once the eagerly anticipated holidays finally have arrived, to get away from all the hustle and bustle?

breathe…

Which makes summer at the sea a bit less tempting, let´s be honest, all those places you would like to be at seem to clog up by july, especially on the shores of the mediterranean. So what the charming people from Salzburg had to tell sounded quite tempting. They´ve got a lot of experience making vacationers happy during winter when snow covered mountains and an abundance of top level lodging and feeding establishments make it hard to ignore that particular part of the alps. But how could they entice us in summer?

natural resources worth tasting!

As a start of course with the same attractions as in the rest of the year, natural beauty, culinary knowledge and unsurpassed hospitality. But how to substitute the benefits the sounds and ozone filled air at sea delivers to holiday-makers? Easy! The same key arguments go for the forests covering Salzburgs gentle slopes all the way up to the pastures which again naturally caress visitors. Plus the fact that forests literally eat up the dust that makes a day in the city as unpleasant as kids racing past you relaxing on your beach chair. And, while beaches technically only do work next to the sea hence only covering that narrow stretch along the med, forests and pastures cover most of alpine Austrian and Salzburg being a prominent part of that.

pinus cembra vulgo stone pine, tenacious, fragrant, beneficial

Just watching the images i did actually experience what science claims to have found, namely that this particular environment slows down your heartbeat while it enhances the oxygen level in your blood. Which sound exactly what Holidays are supposed to help you achieving, a break for your system, that is. But that’s only part of the treat, some might go for biking, hiking or whatever-ing, me personally i´d prefer some dining – but the Salzburg way this time. Which means you will find yourself in Gourmet heaven even if you decide to stroll from peak to peak on one of the numerous walking trails. You even might pass by one of these seductive ponds or lakes that make you want to jump in for refreshment. Might be a great idea, they definitely are, but make sure the water temperature is right for you. Being relaxed as you will bei in Salzburger Land it might come as a shock when you realize that part of it was brought to you by the fact that it´s been recently melted snow that you just encountered. Which could cause quite a counterproductive effect on your recently acquired relaxedness.

no need for power tools up here!
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An Imperial Sow

The abiding conceit, Europe was under Turkish threat is not at all a very recent one. Since the fall of Constantinople Ottoman troops have intimidated the occidental concept of god given aristocratic rule over the common peasants whereas their system favoured plutocratic management. So it became the task of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to keep those Turks where Christians thought they belonged, i.e. beyond the Balkan, a word borrowed from the turkish language describing a forrested area.

When the conflict slowly calmed down during the reign of Maria Theresia Austria’s main assignment was to establish a safe zone separating these two systems that had such diverging concepts of civilication and governance. Hence a Military Frontier was established right north of the forrest mentioned above, just south of a city called Agram in German. Known to locals as Zagreb the city is situated in an area called The Kraijna which happens to be the slavic word for Boundary or Frontier.

christian aristocratic stronghold

With a little help from their countless Counts, Dukes, and Princes the Habsburgs have always managed to accumulate a good lot of soldiers but feeding them was never easy. Especially in those border zones, where commoners where obliged to fulfil official duties like serving under arms for half of the year, tending the fields and caring for the flock turned out to be rather problematic. Being “real men” they demanded meat, quite a lot of meat, as you would expect. Sure enough there have always been pigs around but, unfortunately, local varieties either bred quite small or, if you wanted to get fat specimen, some serious farming was required to grow enough fodder, getting us back to the problem with the lack in workforce.

lonjsko polje

Fortunately enough during that very era the legendary Emperess was in charge. if you have ever seen the statue of Maria Theresia, situated right between the two historic museums in the center of Vienna, you will easily apprehend her indepth understanding of food and her special interest in its nutritional value. Due to her interest she knew about some huge pigs in England that had resulted from intensive breeding, sheer meat machines. Her Majesty had some specimen imported from her Cousins’ Kingdom on that island off Europe, got them introduced to the delicate Croatian country pigs, and not much later a new breed of valuable pigs was born. Having first grazed in the area of Turopolje – which, strangely enough, translates to “Bull’s Field”- they got baptised “Turopolje pigs”. Nowadays, after having been taken over by the food industry under the name of “Mangalitza”, this very breed is regarded a preeminent provider of first class pork meat.

hungry?

There was just one little problem: even after most of the wars against various threats from all the different cardinal directions, including southeast, had been fended off during the 20th century, the inhabitants of the former austrian territories, only after having united in the yugoslav peoples republic decided to want to fight from new. And, again, the soldiers got hungry, the peovisions scarce, and soon the last Turopoljes, having found refuge in the Zagreb Zoo, where about to get inscripted onto the croatian armys menu. It was a last minute effort by two comitted animal lovers plus some help of people like Dr. Pechlaner, director of the Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna at that time, that saved but a few of the last boars and sows.

joe kranawetter & his piglets

Based on thoose few individuals a rebreeding program was started in austria while at the same time local entusiasts in the Turopolje area managed to track down some more animals in the vicinity, be it genetically allready a bit diluted by surprise visits of wild boar whilst grazing. On a recent fact finding mission the president of the austrian breeding association Joe Kranawetter met up with like-minded croatian activists coordinating efforts to establish some standards, not only regarding the breeding but the quality of production as well. Which was an interesting process to witness, i can assure, but much more impressed we where by the beautiful surrundings the Turopoljes ancestors had lived in. They enjoyed quite a bit of freedom out in the alluvial forrests along the banks of the Save River, feeding not only on a great variety of plants but enriching their diet with crabs, shells and various other seafood -actually should read: riverfood- as well. Unfortunately as of now it still needs a lot of effort to recreate the real Turopolje Pig, but regarding beauty of the landscape and villages as well as taste of the Turopoljes closest relatives i may assure you: it´s worth the trip!

t
turopolje, the bulls meadow

he has risen. positively!

well, soon he will…

It will not come as a big surprise to anyone that has been following me over the years, let´s say on homolkareist.com or had the bad luck to personally ask me what i think where he or she should go for holidays. The answer will always be: Greece, where else, nudnik?!

looking for lonelines?

Even more so when we are talking about a quick springbreak for the easter holidays. Ever expierienced that particular mix of scents when nature starts to bloom, priests throw an abundance of incence onto their charcoal in churches bursting with people and the mouthwatering smell of slowly roasted yeanlings? If you have you know what i´m talking about, if not, you have to get to know it, no excuses accepted!

athinamoy!

Shure, you might just travel to Athens, preffereably by Aegean Airlines, who, by the way, has just been named Regional Airline of the Year -again! – head for the city and whitness that this rite, that you wuold rather expect on the countryside, actually is being worshiped in the streets of the city itself as well. Just follow your nose. In case you quarter in the hereby warmly recommended Hotel Orion you actually might allready get the aroma when you´re sitting outside on the roof for breakfast. Together with a warmhearted welcome into Costa´s familyhome and a truly breathtaking view of the akropolis and the saronic sea that comes at the fracture of the price they will ask you in the well known houses in the touristy center.

the legendary roof @ hotel orion

Need a more luxurious treat? Kanena provlima, no problem, just head further down to the southwesternmost coast of the Peloponnisos! There, in his native place, one of theese proverbial greek shipowners many moons ago has decided to give greece a top resort, no, his mind worked in plural, so now you´ll find whatever you´ve been looking for in greek holidays. I´m not going to waste your time and my ink enumerating holes in the green, restaurants and courses, pools or stars, that´s all beyond question, taken care of marriott´s luxury collection i´ll take their word for faultless function and impeccable service at their Costa Navarino resort.

But what makes real luxury hotels, and even more so in Greece, stand out above simple bling bling show off places is their willingness and ability to make guest feel being part of local culture, customs and festivals. I´ve myself experienced that once being invited by the very person that started the luxury sector in the greek hotel industry. By now of course there´s an abundance of places for even the hardest to please, Costa Navarino even standing out by it´s privileged location.

So, while you undoubtedly find yourself engulfed by luxury, the exuberant atmosphere will be the one typical for greek easter, as well as the flavours, music and dances. Plus one thing that might surprise some of us westerners. Once the magic words christos anestis, christ has arisen, have been spoken by the papas, locals and believers not only get overwhelmed by true joy, in order to justly express their relief about that message they´ll start shooting fireworks. Which actually does give a much stronger emphasis to the optimistic core message easter is supposed to convey than just ringing old bells. Just ask your kids, if you dare!

Want to travel to Peloponnisos yourself? Join me!

virtuality

creating a positive sentiment in an otherwise dull environment

Know that? You´re holding the latest copy of a magazine in your hand that has been your monthly read for years, curious what they may have come up again, but even before you got past the first couple of pages they make their money with – and you, in case you´re working in the field publishing, jealous – there is a sense of irritation. Something feels strange.

Unless you are completely unsensitive you´re fingertipps will allready subconsciously have noticed the different touch until you´re perplexed brain just fractions of a second later confirms: they have changed the paper!

In concreto i´m talking about MONOCLE, the magazine i have been subscribed to since it´s beginnings twelve years ago, and, as i understood turning the next page, with a good reason. They somehow managed to foresee my irritation, apparently even knew at what page my vague feelings would lead to a concise conclusion. And gave an explanation to what in the first instant looked like a measure to save money. `Cause that´s what usually makes publishers implement changes. It´s always about the profit.

Not in this case, MONOCLE claims, and i´m inclined to believe their explication. Mainly for one reason: they decided to have the magazine printed in Germany. See, no one goes to Germany just to save money. Does not work. Where they did there printing till the last issue? In the UK! Now here we go, it´s just one more proof for the complete and utter incompetence of the political class in England! I shurely can´t blame the publishers of my favourite magazine to make shure they´ll be able to publish continously and deliver the copies to their readers.

Yes, it´s just one more symptom of a political system that has gone down the drain. No, not only in the UK, all over the so called western world political decisions are based on irrational grounds. Shure, it´s not easy to find solutions for real problems. But may this really be an excuse to cover them up, blow up other onse, just to offer simple solutions, that, when you take a closer look, just feed the electorates atavistic urge for “others” to project the guilt onto? Especially when this fictious guilt has been established by thoose, who later will point the finger at it – an them – for their own benefit? Retorical, i know, but unfortunately our current reality. A fake reality, to use one of the most (ab-)used adjectives in recent propaganda, or, to be a bit more true to the fact, a virtual reality. Which, again, is a misleading term, as it´s derived from latin virtus, as in virtue, further meanings are fortitude, galantry, vigor or virility. And, let´s not forget when that language was used, all of thoose in an innocent, positive conotation. Looks like we have lost all of that, not only the understanding of virtualitas, but also all the characteristics the word was meant to convey originally.

just the three of us (plus me)

yes, it does have two wheels in the front, no, there´s not one missing at the rea

It´s not abig surprise that even the well trained presenters that are supposed to get us accquainted to brp´s new ryker struggle when referring to their new vehicle. It´s not a car, that´s obvious, missing one wheel and sufficient protection against the elements, neither is it a motorbike. If it was, it would fall over the monet you take your foot of the ground and not accellerate. But thes came up with a feasable solution that does make sense, at leats in english, it shalt be: the UNIT!

Okay, that does not really sound particularily cool if translated into german, but there need to be a different name for a device that´s combining the thrills of a bike with – at least that´s what BRP claim- the safety of a car. Until now, all the three-wheeled devices i have driven could not totally keep the promise to combine the advantages of cars and bikes, let alone the good old sidecar that actually has you stuck in traffic while getting soaking wet in the rain. and on top of it you do make turns you didn´t plan just trying to accellerate or brake.

Here´s the first actual point the unit adds to it´s tally, braking is most deffinitely one of the real strengths of the Ryker. Not surprising, just look at the front of the unit, looks like the good old lotus super seven! Two fat tyres frame the hungry grille, connected to the chassis by a racecar like suspension, the discs are kept guard by two giant callipers, no way you miss the appex. Unless you are a biker, then you might end up searching for a brake handle – which turns out to be painfully absent! You need to learn this, i mean you need to get that absolutely into your hard drive. Otherwise you might end up in a solid obstacle without any traces on the street but a cramp in your left hand. Like i almost did.

Once i got that problem out of the way there was no more other. No shifting needed, just a twist with the wrist and the unit shoots away. We were trustfully handed the 900cc units with a lively Rotax 3cylinder engine, the 80+ horses provided to the rear wheel make for a joyful day. The unit is outfitted with all that electronic stuff that usually goes by three-letter-names, like ASR, ABS and something that gets it´s information from a gyrosensor underneath hwat would be a tank on a bike that tells the CPU when you´re having too much fun and get close to the point where the unit might actually tip over.

But that has to be somewhere far beyond the point even the bravest rider only gets to on the weirdest occasion, so don´t be shy and let it fly! It indeed is really easy to get into fun-mode quickly, the countless roundabouts along the algarve coast supply sufficent training for the dirt tracks to follow. Just had to back off enough behind those strange companions not knowing how to handle going in and out of that otherwise timesaving circles to get into the rhythm. Then it was sheer pleasure to force the device into the turn with a little help from the brakes, shift bodyweight towards the inside, brutally open the throttle slingshotting out onto the next short straight stretch.

“Noone that does not really have a lot of experience on bikes would go on a road like that” our dutch leader explained after stopping at a branching off into the arid portugeese landscape. Propably not, but he or she actually should, i thought. The sight of the dirtroad ahead made me want to have my cagiva elefant right now, right here, or some other enduro – any. Still it looked like we were going to have some fun, after all that´s what the core promise of BRP actually is: Bombardier Recreational Products. And by the verb “recreational” americans usually mean having a lot of fun without any regrets, let alone environmental afterthoughts. Of course the companies have to obey all the rules and laws, so technically speaking the unit is very green, just as it´s much better known syblings seadoo and skidoo that never ever disperse oil or fuel into the environment, not even when upside down!

Again, i have to admit i was having fun. Quite a lot, to be honest, thanx to the fact we not only had the most powerful version but one that´s called “Rally Edition” on top of it. Which means you´ve got some martial extras like hand and belly guards as well as gripy tyres, but what´s even more interesting an extra drive-mode setting. It does let the various fun-restricting electronical guards be a bit more tollerant with the pilot, e.g. allowing much more wheelspin and a far more aggressive drift angle. If it was not for your left leg constantly having to be in contact with the brake pedal you now might race the unit through the rough hanging off like on a skidoo. But even given the mentioned restriction it allows for quite rowdy fun and makes for a good workout, as you´ll be using your whole body to wrangle the machine.

Just don´t think it´s as easy as it might feel when you start, never forget, the unit is only safe as long as you actually are sitting on it. And yes, the electronic safety guards are helping, but no, they can´t overrule physics. Once the ABS has decided it´s to slippery to steer, it will do what it´s supposed to do, namely loosen the brakes. Just a bit, shure, but that might be just thoose little bit that´s too much. Being on that dirt road as the last one i felt obliged to stop as i saw the guy waving at me in the middle of the street and ask what he needed. Actually the answer was easy, he needed some transport, his unit was out of sight, 15 meters off the track, 5 meters down in the shrub. Now i have to cnoceed the unit does actually have two little disadvantages. The one that´s easier to solve is the absence of a passenger seat, which you might order as an extra, the other one is more grave. In order to salvage a unit that has gone astray in the wildernes you might need a salvage truck! At least the unit was easy to spot by it´s single alloy rear wheel glistening amongst the dry macchia.

wanna know more?

is it only me…

…or do you get bored by daily imbecility as well? i´m not going to mention the B-word now, neither the P-word, nor am i going to get into the dizzynes provoking world of political propaganda. it´s just this inferior level of public discourse, obscene lack of style and abesnt sense of decency that makes me want to redraw from the triteness of current daily life.

so not to get worn out contemplating on how society rather should work i´ll just do what seems to be appropriate in this our consumistic age: ponder over the perfect ways to waste time, money and more!

constantly living according to the rules you´re gonna miss all the fun stuff! — Katahrine Hepburn

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