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The Filthy Lucre Tour
1st Jun 2006 - 4th Jun 2006
Mozart in Salzburg, The Ice Cave, Toilet blocks, Boating, Buggying and Drautal Flitzer

Thinking about it this might be the first time anyone has ever used that title for anything.

My brother Keith is joining us for a week - he flew to Prague and arrived in Salzburg at 0015 on Thursday, so we hopped up there to pick him up. We elected to catch some more classical music while we were there, and we signed up for Mozart at the Castle, which is perhaps unsurprisingly something of a tourist event. It was performed by a quartet and somehow we ended up seated at the very front, right next to the lead violinist. It was very interesting indeed - I've never before sat so near a performer and it was intriguing to see him physically lining himself up for notes and even how breathing was carefully fitted in with playing. I was pleased to see that I could even follow roughly where he was by reading his music, though I still don't entirely understand how the parts where other people play and you don't are worked into the notation. He appeared just to know when to start again, but no doubt it's in the music somewhere. You get a lot more violin music onto two pages than you do piano, no doubt due to the fact that your hands aren't both playing different notes. I imagine the quartet play the same thing every night so they had quite a polished performance.

Having collected Keith, we decided to complete our set of Tourist Attractions in Hallstatt. The Man in Salt aside, the next main interesting thing to visit in nearby Obertraum is the Ice Cave. This is, well, a cave full of ice. The cave is the relic of a large underground river system and the ice remains inside it because the underground temperature varies fairly little throughout the year. They say that the volume of ice in the cave is expanding, which is somewhat unusual these days.

This was rather fun actually - the start of the tour is reached by a cable car, and as we ascended the rain we've been having for the last fortnight turned into snow. When we got to the top - at only 1400m or so - it was snowing quite heavily. The Ice Cave itself was very interesting, despite the fact that our tour guide would have had difficulty beating a gnat in a shouting contest. The ice was smooth and even-coloured - there must be some truly fantastic ice climbing in there. Keith spotted a set of crampons at the side of the tour walkway, so perhaps people do get to play in the ice now and again under the pretence of performing maintenance or something. It made me rather fancy the idea of having a shot at caving sometime.

Having run out of things to do in Hallstatt when it's raining, we upped sticks and moved to Dobriach, which is at the south of Austria near the Slovakian and Italian borders. Our route was altered somewhat by an enormous mudslide across the road just south of Hallstatt and then we ended up stuck in our second-worst queue of the trip trying to get into a tunnel.

Eventually we checked into Camping Burgstaller, which is legendary for having "toilet blocks which deserve an architectural award", according to our guidebook. My brother Keith, an architect, thought that this didn't seem an unreasonable idea but his ideas for the name of the award were sadly unprintable. The sanitary facilities themselves are certainly something unusual. The shower cubicles have three shower heads each and their own little washbasin, and the toilet brushes have a unique self-cleaning spray system apparently designed by the campsite's own management. Their unusual fascination with toilets is borne out by the fact that most of their advertising literature centres purely on the loos.

The weather brightened up considerable here, so today we made the most of it by going on a romantic electric speedboat ride in the nearby lake (a bargain at ten Euros for an hour) and then renting a VW Beetle-based buggy for an hour (another bargain, at twenty Euros). After driving it around the local roads for half an hour we eventually found a delightfully gravelly-looking empty car park, and slid it around there for a while until Keith drove it into a large concrete box with a resounding clang noise (video at Fortunately, by some miracle of fortune, it hit the wheel squarely on and no damage was done. However, we saw this as a fine moment to finish off the less-than-successful doughnut lessons and head back to town.

In the evening we headed off to see a local band, Drauter Flitzer, who are world famous for their attractive red suits and mullets. The reason I mention this is because as a result of my losing an unfortunate bet about what altitude this campsite was at (I said 240m, Keith said 380m, and the answer was 650m) I was required to ask at least one member of the band for their autograph after the performance. Keith generously procured me a poster of theirs from the public noticeboard in the campsite, so I'd have something for them to sign.

When we arrived there were fortunately a fairly large number of people gathered to see them. They rattled out various songs equating to what must be the German equivalent of Chas and Dave, and then dived into much more experimental, off-the-wall material such as Smoke on the Water, and I'm a Believer. Once they finished their three-hour set, I seized my opportunity and managed to get all three autographs, even including the gentleman on the left who was distinctly retiscent to sign and told me in English that he actually liked "Arab music", and "only played this stuff for money".

The poster will naturally be going up in the caravan, and I'll be trying to think of some sort of forfeit for Keith to lose.

Next: Hungarian men are tougher than I am
Previous: Salzburg, the Stuttgart Philharmonic and some stuff about salt mining

Diary Photos


Some ice

More ice

Snow in June

Kiki`s summer holiday



Camping Burgstaller

Burgstaller toilet block

Claiming our electric boat

Electric powerboating

Keith and Kiki in the "buggy"

Buggying around


Drautal Flitzer

Kiki and Keith dancing

Drautal Flitzer in full swing

Getting autographs

Getting autographs

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