Look Up, Look Down: The Katzenturm

Today’s look up, look down photo was taken in Feldkirch in Austria and shows the Katzenturm. Those of you who speak any German whatsoever may realise that this literally translates as “Cats’ Tower”. Sadly, there were never any actual felines in the tower… the “Katzen” were probably a type of canon. The bell tower of the Katzenturm contains the largest bell in Vorarlberg, and sixth largest in Austria.

Katzenturm Feldkirch

Got a photo that you think would be perfect for the Look Up, Look Down theme? Check out Travel With Intent’s blog post to link up!

Return to Feldkirch

Locator map of Vorarlberg in Austria.
Austria, with Vorarlberg in red (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You may or may not know that after graduating from university I moved to Austria for 10 months. I had originally wanted to go to Innsbruck for my year abroad, but my uni only had one exchange place there and somebody else got it. I was left with my second choice… Karlsruhe. So when it came to deciding what to do with myself after graduation, I decided now was my chance to go to Austria. I applied for the position of English Language Assistant through the British Council, selecting Vorarlberg as my first choice Bundesland because it was the closest part of Austria to Baden-Württemberg (where Karlsruhe is) and, because almost nobody actually chooses to got to Vorarlberg, I got what I wanted!

I was assigned to two schools, with the main one – where I would work three times a week – in Feldkirch and a second one  in Götzis, a few train stops away. I decided to live in Feldkirch, partly because I was going to spending most of my working hours there but also because Götzis is a pretty small town, while Feldkirch is the second largest in Vorarlberg (which doesn’t mean much when you consider the size of most towns in Vorarlberg). That year was the start of my love affair with Austria. I had always wanted to go to Austria (thanks to the Chalet School books!) but I was never really in love with it until I actually lived there. Admittedly I didn’t always have the best time there – the other language assistants had a tendency to “forget” to invite me to things and I was lonely a lot of the time – but I never tired of the scenery. Even now, I miss looking out of my window and seeing mountains (climbing the hill with all my shopping not so much!). And if I ever see something Austrian on a menu I will always order it.

I hadn’t actually been back to Vorarlberg since finishing my assistantship, so when Jan and I were invited to a birthday celebration at a hut in Switzerland, close to the Austrian border, and Jan suggested leaving the day before (a public holiday in my part of Germany) to spend some time together first, it was obvious that I was going to want to see Feldkich again. Luckily, Jan agreed so we booked a room at the Best Western in town and he arranged for a car.

The view from our hotel room window
The view from our hotel room window

We arrived in Feldkirch at 3 pm, after driving a route that took us through most of Vorarlberg, and quickly checked in before heading out for a walk around while it was still light.  It was a dull, cloudy day but I took photos anyway. And I discovered that Feldkirch hasn’t changed very much – they now have a Müller, one of the book shops has gone and two of the bars we used to go to have closed down, but other than that everything looks the same.

After walking around for about an hour and a half, we’d basically seen everything – the main centre isn’t very big and there’s not much to see in the other parts of town. We had been driving for about four hours and hadn’t stopped for lunch, so we decided to go for some food. Rösslepark was exactly the same (except that it now has a smoking and non-smoking section). The beer is still good and I enjoyed me real Austrian Wienerschnitzel.  Jan chose the Schlachtteller – literally slaughter or butcher platter – which consisted of meat, meat and more meat! But not just any meat… it included things like liver sausage and blood sausage… and tongue! So I can now say I’ve tried beef tongue (of course I sampled some). It tastes a bit like beef, but has a weird texture and is slightly bitter. Not something I’m likely to eat again…

After eating, we went back out into the dark and had a walk up to the local castle – the Schattenburg. There’s a museum in there, which I’ve never been to, and a restuarant that is best known for its giant Schnitzel. I ate there once when I lived in Feldkirch and I can confirm that those things take up an entire plate! They come with chips (fries), which have to be served separately. Here’s the Schattenburg and some terrible night-time shots of Feldkirch from above – my camera doesn’t do too well in the dark!

The next morning, after checking out of the hotel, we drove over to Dornbirn – the second biggest town in Vorarlberg. A couple who had lived in Feldkirch when I lived there moved to Dornbirn three years ago so we went to visit them and their 11 week old son! It was lovely to see my friends again and the baby was very cute.

A little church in Dornbirn
A little church in Dornbirn

After a cup of tea, some baby hugs and a catch up, it was time to move on as we had another long drive ahead of us…
Check in soon to read about our further adventures over the long weekend!

Travel theme: Costume

I’m jumping in to this week’s travel theme on Where’s My Backpack at the last minute – the new travel theme comes out tomorrow! What can I say… it’s been a busy week and I’m only just getting round to it. But when I saw that the theme was Costumes I couldn’t possibly not join in!

As soon as I read what the theme was, I knew I would have to include this photo:

Witch
Witch

It was taken at the Fachingsumzug (Carnival Parade) in Feldkirch, Austria. Karlsruhe technically has a parade on Shorve Tuesday – which is Karnival, Fastnacht or Fasching here, depending on your region – but it’s kind of half-hearted. In Feldkirch, it was brilliant. You could see that everyone had put loads of effort into their costumes. Here’s another photo from that occasion.

Monkey
Monkey

Next up, a photo from Barcelona. La Ramblas is famous for these living statues. I don’t know how people manage it… I would definitely have to cough or get a sudden itch if I tried to stay still for that long!

Living statue
Living statue

And finally, something very rare for this blog.

Bzzzzz
Bzzzzz

It’s me! Dressed as a bee for Halloween 2007. Make the most of it, because you probably won’t be seeing another photo of me on here for a loooong time!

Now I have to go and finish packing, but to see more photos of costumes, click here. There’s probably no time for you to take part in this week’s travel theme, but the next one will be out tomorrow (Friday) so you can always have a go at that…