European Wilderness Volunteer DiaryThe Diary of the European Wilderness Society Volunteers

Tamsweg, first volunteering day and  the medieval festival

Hey there! I’m Olha from Ukraine, and just a few days ago, I arrived in Tamsweg, kicking off my thrilling volunteering adventure in Austria and diving straight into the mesmerizing medieval festival in Mauterndorf!

Application and welcoming

Let me take you back to the beginning. At the end of June, I´ve submitted my Application package, and very soon, I became an official volunteer for 2 months with the European Wilderness Society. Then, I embarked on my journey to Austria. Packing throughout the night, I dashed to catch the train at 6:50 a.m. I travelled across Poland, and had my first visit to Czechia. The morning was sunny, but as evening approached, heavy rain poured. I ended up being the sole passenger on the last bus to Tamsweg, and driving through the rainy mountain roads felt incredibly romantic. And finally I reached my destination in less than a day.

Upon arrival in Tamsweg, the coordinators warmly welcomed me and escorted me to the apartment. They even made sure I had dinner and breakfast waiting for me. However, all I could think about was the soft bed. But I have to mention that the next morning, I woke up at 5 a.m. even without an alarm clock. It was magical to witness calm Tamsweg at such an early hour.

First volunteering day

And so, my first day as a volunteer began. At 9 a.m., Iryna gave me a mini tour of the town, and later, I met the European Wilderness Society team at the office. Morgan, one of the team members, took me on an hour-long tour, introducing me to every corner of Tamsweg.

That day, I also received exciting news: there was a medieval festival in Mauterndorf over the weekend and I had the opportunity to attend it! After resting and cleaning the apartment on Friday and Saturday, I couldn’t contain my excitement on Sunday and during lunchtime, I made my way to Mauterndorf.

Medieval festival in Mauterndorf

The atmosphere transported me to a true medieval town. Traditional music played, and every other person was donned in traditional attire. There were folk dances, delicious Austrian cuisine to sample, and even crafts to try. Fans of “The Witcher” would absolutely love it!

Though I hadn’t packed a suitable outfit (or so I thought), I still tried to dress appropriately. As a result, guests at the festival kept asking if I was wearing a traditional wedding outfit or perhaps dressed as a princes

Mauterndorf Castle left a lasting impression on me. (With its seemingly endless number of floors at least). I wandered through the medieval castle, immersing myself in the nobility’s way of life. One more thing that impressed me was that kids even had the chance to play on the castle playground. It was truly a remarkable experience!

Also what struck me was that this festival wasn’t just a local celebration; it attracted visitors from all over. I had the pleasure of meeting Germans and Italians during my time there.

For me, this event was a vital step in understanding Austria as a country. In a world where many cities and capitals often resemble one another, exploring small towns like Mauterndorf allows you to discover the authentic traditional culture. The medieval festival provided me with valuable insights into Austria’s past, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.

Diverse cultures in Lungau

Returning to Tamsweg, however, proved more challenging than getting to Mauterndorf. I waited for the bus for two hours, but during that time, I struck up conversations with some friendly locals at the bus stop. At first, they mistook me for an English, but as we talked, I discovered there were also Germans among them. It was comforting to know that I wasn’t the only foreigner.

All in all, what matters most in any country are the people, and I’m delighted to say that I’ve encountered only kind and helpful individuals here. While I searched for the elusive bus stop (which the bus never arrived at, by the way), every passerby was willing to lend a hand.

In summary, my journey in Austria has just begun, yet it has already left me with countless cherished memories. Stay tuned for more adventures!

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