A good time of year to celebrate: fasching, schnapps

This is a special time of year for several reasons.

Because we’re transitioning from one winter month into another, we can be happy for that simple fact.

But it’s also the time of year that is a prelude to all kinds of events.

The Lenten season starts very soon. Official dates, Feb. 14 through March 29. We have, of course, Easter.

And with that special day, come other kinds of celebrations.

Everyone loves the idea of Mardi Gras. And everybody thinks about what it would really be like to be in New Orleans to witness that event.

This celebration of the start of spring is celebrated in other countries, under different names.

I once traveled to Austria, Zell am Zee, to ski. I found a cheap way to travel there by looking at advertisements.

Yes, the old time way to find out about travel deals. This was before any of us had pc’s.

Flying to Austria was a bit circular. You had to go through Iceland, because the travel deal was offered on Icelandair.

So I visited Iceland, for about two seconds. Then, we landed at an airport and were transported by bus to Zell am Zee.

We discovered on arriving in Zell am Zee that people there really knew how to celebrate that time of year.

To them, it was fasching fest.

I skied during the day. Then at night we would walk around town, discovering small pubs and sampling gluhwein.

In the village square one day we stumbled upon a very local and traditional celebration.

There I was, looking at shop windows filled with Austrian pastries, and this robust looking man came up to me, bearing a tray with schnapps.

He was adorned in the traditional way for fasching fest.

He had a giant false nose.

And lederhosen and tall white socks.

This was obviously a cheerful kind of event to him.

My companion willingly took the schnapps. And the robust-looking guy posed with me for a photograph.

At night we would go to what probably could be called beer halls, because that seemed to be what one would do in that part of the world. We got pretty good at summoning items we wanted from wait staff.

Zwei bier. Weiss Wein.

(You learn quickly when you’re in Austria).

We found out from our ambling through the streets of Zell am Zee that it had been home to some pretty remarkable people.

Because the lake (zee) was frozen you could walk all the way across it, to find other establishments.

We did that one day, and found a place named Porschehof. This was a hotel, in the style of European establishments. It sat on the edge of the lake, and we were able to feast on some very substantial German/Austrian food.

We walked back to our hotel on land, and found a structure on a hill. It was nestled into a crevasse of the hill, with a plaque identifying its provenance.

This was at schuttgut in Zell am Zee.

It was a humble-looking small chapel-like building. It had a sloped roof, and welcoming doors.

We eagerly read the plaque posted on a wall.

It said this was the burial place of a man named Ferdinand Alexander Porsche.

This was Ferry Porsche, the creator of the very desirable 911 Porsche vehicle.

I liked the trip to Zell am Zee. The skiing was acceptable, with a little too much ice for a person used to American ski resorts.

But the find of the trip was the unassuming resting place of a great man — Ferry Porsche.





Louise Swartzwalder