European Wilderness Volunteer DiaryThe Diary of the European Wilderness Society Volunteers
WIlderness Diary Ziva-30921.jpg - ©  CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
WIlderness Diary Ziva-30921.jpg - © CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Winter in Tamsweg

Living in Tamsweg in the centre of the Alps provides one with a great opportunity to experience the true winter. A winter where the temperatures often go below -10°C in the mornings and where there is snow for several months.

The first snow was already back in November and the 30 cm we received in one day caused power shortages and large transport issues. However, mainly it just allowed me to admire the whiteness all around, especially the snowy peaks. However, while the first snow soon melted, the second one, from December, persisted much longer. Soon, I became very used to this whiteness and the snow stopped impressing me that much.

Hovewer, other aspects of snow became even more appealing – skiing. While I’ve been skiing since a young age, I didn’t manage to go very often in the last years, so living here was a perfect opportunity to make up for that. In fact, having a seasonal pass that is valid at three great ski resorts, I feel rather spoilt by the skiing offer here. Thus, making plans for the weekends in the Lungau is easy – leaving for skiing with the first bus in the morning. Since all this practice is also making me a more confident skier, the higher and higher speed with which I race down the white slopes is never boring. It’s also a good exercise for my legs, skiing for up to 6 km without any breaks. I can’t yet decide which of the three resorts is my favourite one as each of them has somevery nice pistes and its specific perks.

Three weeks ago, there was a very special event in Tamsweg – die Vereinigte. Die Vereinigte is the oldest fraternity in Austria and every three years, they elect a new commissioner, which is followed by large celebrations. The main part was on Sunday the 19th of January, where from 11am onwards, there was a parade in Tamsweg. There were about 15 large thematic wagons pulled around to honour the new commissioner. In each of them, there was a bar with music, and in some it was so crowded that one couldn’t even move. For five days after, bachelors from the fraternity were walking around dressed in sheep skin drumming around Tamsweg even at 4 am, and at one occassion, a procession of the brass band dressed in pigs joined them. Tamsweg truly is full of unique and interesting traditions you wouldn’t find anywhere else.

However, it is sometimes also nice to leave the Lungau and go somewhere a bit warmer. Last week, I had a chance to go to Vienna to attend a Horizon 2020 project writing workshop. Vienna being one of my favourite cities, I’m always excited for a trip there to discover more of the place. This time, the wintery city offered a great ice rink that needed to be tested. Located in front of the Rathaus with little icy paths through the park, it was by far the most impressive and beautiful ice rink I’ve ever seen. The great music and atmosphere in general made the experience even better. Besides us, recreationists who can barely stand confidently on the ice and cannot breat, there were several pretty good people ice-skating, including a couple that was literally dancing together on the ice. Seeing them around was a good motivation to try and learn to skate better in the future.

The second evening was a perfect time for some cultural experiences in the Vienna’s English theatre. Located in the city centre, the theatre hall is beautifully ornamented. A monoplay A regular little Houdini was staged, about a small boy full of dreams living in an industrial city in Wales. It was a lovely and capturing play, well worth viewing.

Of course, the main purpose of the visit was the Horizon 2020 workshop, which was conducted in German. Our German volunteer, Jonas, came along to help me with the language, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I understood. Listening to Hochdeutsch compared to the Lungau dialect certainly helps me understand more. The workshops were very well organised and informative and gave us a much better idea on how to prepare and win such a project.

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