DAY 18 – Wednesday, July 10, 2019 – Scharding, Austria
I woke at Silvio’s house and showered in his clear glass door bathroom. Susanna, Anna and I had delicious breads, cheeses, and fruit for breakfast. Anna bought me Manner cereal because she knows Americans (well maybe just this American) love cereal.
We got ready and drove to Wels (population 60,000) for our helicopter ride with Susanna’s friend. On the way to the small airport, Susanna and Anna asked me the meaning of the song, “American Pie” by Madonna. I told them that I wasn’t familiar with that song by Madonna, but I know it by another artist – I think Don McLean. I sang, “bye, bye Miss American Pie, drove my Chevy to the levy, but the levy was dry.” They said YES that’s it. They insisted it was by Madonna. I conceded that she must have done a remake of it, but that I wasn’t familiar with her version. They still wanted to know the meaning of the song. Anna asked if it was about a “slutty girl”. That left me really confused. I assured them that American Pie was not a reference to a slutty girl. It refers more to an “era” or a “feeling” about the times. “The day the music died” is a reference to the death of Buddy Holly, a rock star at the time. I couldn’t remember if he died in a place crash or a helicopter crash. I knew others had died with him, but I thought (I think mistakenly) that it was members of his own band. I didn’t know if there were any survivors. We all trepidly laughed over talking about a fatal helicopter crash on our way to our helicopter ride. We arrived at the airport and were greeted by Susanna’s friend, Heinz. As he opened my car door, he said, “Well, Hello, Miss American Pie!”
Heinz’s helicopter is named “Charlie”. He asked me what I wanted to see, the lake region of Austria? Or a more industrial part of a larger city? I chose the lake region – which is where Anna had told me the day before that we were going. He seemed a little hesitant. He mentioned that it was kind of windy in that direction, but we’d try it. We’ll turn around if it’s too windy. He strapped Susanna and I into the back seat and put our headphones on. Anna sat in the front left seat next to him on the right. I was very nervous before taking off. Once we were in the air, though, I was fine. It was not bumpy at all.
The lakes and the mountains were amazing! I thought I had seen the most impressive natural beauty when I was in Innsbruck. I was wrong. While we were over the first lake, Traunsee, Heinz told me to remember the color of the lake. He said they’re all different. He was absolutely right!
We proceeded to fly from Traunsee over to Wolfgangsee, Mondsee, and finally Attersee – the colors varied from aqua, to deep navy, teal and turquoise. It was amazing. Heinz let Anna take the controls for a while. We went high over mountains, and dipped down closed to the lakes. After the last lake, he ended up taking us to an industrial area. The lakes were definitely the highlight. I think we were in the air about 1 hour and 45 minutes before we landed on a small trailer back at the airport. We saw some of his friends land an Austrian built helicopter. Charlie is American built. As we were walking back to the building, his friends asked if anyone threw up. Heinz said NO, but added something about just seeing the friend’s face now, so they might. Everyone is so funny!
We had a soda while Heinz did some paperwork. When he finished, we headed to lunch. We were going to go to an Italian restaurant, but it was closed. We parked and walked to the city center. We found a lovely Indian restaurant and ate on the patio.
After lunch, we dropped Heinz off at the airport and drove back to Scharding. We rested in the garden for a while.
Then, we drove to Passau, Germany (population 50,000). Anna and Susanna were great tour guides. In the evening, we went back to Scharding and ate the tapas left over from the night before in their screen porch. Anna noticed Silvio come home. She ran over to his place and invited him to join us. He didn’t want to eat, but he had a beer. I finally got to really meet my host. There were lots and lots of laughs. I only caught a small fraction of the jokes. Everyone is so nice! And funny!
Silvio went back to his house after one beer. I finished dinner and continued chatting with Anna and Susanna. There were both tired and ready for bed. So, I walked back to Silvio’s place. He was sitting on his patio enjoying a beer. He asked if I wanted one. I said sure – because I was on vacation! I had an easier time understanding Silvio’s English when it was just the two of us. I took a photo of my beer. He told me it was from the second brewery in Scharding, and that the one I was drinking at Anna’s was from the first Scharding brewery. I wish I would have taken the photo with him sitting across the picnic table from me. We talked about Anna’s infectious laugh; when she was little he used to hear her laughing from over at her aunt and uncle’s house. He told me about his “clamping” or “mountaineering” adventures. He’s interested in coming to the U.S. again sometime. He’s been to New York and Florida, but he just wants to go to the west coast, California and Alaska, for clamping. I went up to bed when I finished my beer.
Sometime after I fell asleep, I woke up and had to use the bathroom. I came out of the bedroom. The motion sensor light went on. I proceeded down the open staircase, and went to the bathroom. When I came out of the bathroom, it was completely PITCH BLACK. I found my way to the stairs and proceeded up them feeling ahead of me with my hands. I made it to the halfway landing, where the stairs turn and head straight towards Silvio’s bedroom. My feet were on the first or second step past the landing. My hands were on the fourth or fifth step, just a step or two from the second floor, when I heard, “Kim? Are you OK?” Just like that, the light turns on and Silvio is standing in his doorway and I’m looking up at him basically crawling up the steps. OMG! How embarrassing! He explained to me where the light switch was at the bottom of the stairs outside the bathroom door. Now’s a great time to learn that info! Actually, it was because I think I had to get up and use the bathroom twice more that night – I had two beers!
Have you ever taken a helicopter ride? Did you enjoy it?