Two years ago we celebrated New Year in Linz, Austria. Our daughter who teaches English as a foreign language had secured a three month volunteer placement with the Austrian bilingual classroom project (ABC) and we offered to help with her luggage. The bilingual classroom project was set up so that village schools could have visits from native English speaking teachers. It gave my daughter the opportunity to spend three months travelling to village schools throughout upper Austria and she met a large number of Austrian children. She was also able to obtain a CELTA P qualification to teach English to primary school children.
We celebrated Christmas with the rest of our family including a new grandson in Bristol. once we had digested the turkey and Christmas pudding we flew from Bristol airport to Frankfurt and then from Frankfurt to Linz. Linz airport has the rather romantic name of the Blue Danube airport. We rented a flat for a few days in Linz. I had previously visited the Tyrol and Vienna in Austria over fifty years ago as a child but although Linz is the third biggest city in Austria. I knew very little about it.
It is located in upper Austria close to the Czech border straddling the Danube. It has a distinctly eastern European feel with a well preserved old town. Public transport is very good. We caught the trams which were clean, reasonable and ran on time despite the weather.
I was surprised how cold it was. It was raining when we arrived but this soon turned to snow. In German New year’s eve is known as Silvester Nacht after Saint Sylvester. In Austria, particularly in Vienna there are lots of Sylvester celebrations with balls and concerts. We did not make it into the centre but we did hear and see a lot of fireworks. I was also surprised how many gardens were decorated with gnomes and other Christmas figures.
The highlight of our trip was taking the Postlingberg tram up to the top of a snow covered hill. The Postlingberg Bahn leaves from the main square and climbs up the Postlingberg through woodland to give great views over the city. The return fare is a very reasonable 6 Euros 50 and it is used by locals and tourists. At the top is an interesting church and also more unexpectedly a grotto trail with life size gnomes and dwarves.
We also visited the castle museum and had lunch in the restaurant which overlooks the Danube. The castle museum had a lot of interesting displays about German history and technology though the information was only in German. When we were there they had a special exhibition of Austrian nativity scenes. These can be enormous and depict an entire village.
In 2009 Linz was the European capital of culture and it has a rooftop sculpture trail, a large modern art gallery and an electric arts museum.
Food and drink
Austria is famous for its coffee shops which also serve delicious cakes. The people of Linz claim that Linzertorte is one of the oldest cake recipes in Europe. Normally the top has a pastry lattice but at Christmas special shapes are cut. The food in the restaurants had a very Eastern European feel with a lot of meat, root vegetables and dumplings. Hearty fare ideal for a cold winter. You can also eat in a large variety of international restaurants. Austria and Czechia have the highest beer consumption in Europe.
It snowed heavily the night before we were due to leave Linz. Luckily our taxi driver got us to the airport in good time but we had to wait for four snow ploughs to clear the runway before our plane could take off. Lufthansa gave all the passengers a bar of chocolate when we got on the plane to thank them for their patience.