We’ve lived near Salzburg now for 2 years having moved here during the Christmas 2014 holidays from Brussels. My husband is a teacher and having spent just over 8 years in Brussels his contract was about to end, so it was time to look for other opportunities and move on. It was very sad to leave Belgium, our daughters arrived as toddlers and were now 10 and 11 year olds, with many friends, activities and happy memories. Both my daughters and I had been involved in Guiding in Brussels; I was a Brownie leader and had also run Rainbows for a short while as well. I have been involved in Guiding since I was a Brownie, a few years ago now!
We live in a small Austrian village about 30km from Salzburg, on a lake. The village has a small international school, where my husband teaches and our daughters attend. It’s very different from their old school of 3000+ students and now there are approx. 150 students. Integrating into life here was and is quite a challenge as neither my husband nor I speak German. The school employs mainly teaching couples or single people, therefore a ‘trailing spouse’ is a rarity. I have found a local fitness class in the next village, although I am significantly younger than the other participants, they are incredibly fit, I assume from spending a lifetime on the mountains. After the class we all usually go for a coffee, which is very nice. I would like to say that I join in with the conversation, but although I try to listen and work out the subject of their conversation; it’s very difficult but they speak Austrian German and then the local dialect which makes it almost impossible to understand! Last winter I was invited to go sledging with one lady who was 82 and her friend of a similar age, she wanted to practice her French with me. The walk up the mountain was very pleasant, but when we got to the sledging part well, they vanished into the distance within seconds. Quite a frightening but exhilarating experience!
I also attend a Pilates class in German, I am now quite proud to say that I can usually listen to the spoken instructions and do the exercise rather than having to watch and follow the teacher. Hence I know the German for left, right, the other side, vertebrae by vertebrae, lay down, just to name a few. When the weather is nice, I often walk 600m up the local mountain, its good exercise, the views are fantastic from the top and the hut sells a wonderful hot chocolate!
Since Christmas the snow has arrived and we now have a good covering in the valley and on the mountains. The tracks have been laid for cross country skiing so I have been practicing the very basic skills I have been able to pick up. Its fantastic exercise but going downhill and stopping is another matter altogether.
Since arriving in Austria my daughters have been registered as Lone Guides, we have completed a number of interest badges and ¨Go For Its¨. When we visit my Mum in the UK we try to attend Guides so that my daughters can participate in meetings, but that all depends on school holidays. I have now started working on my Voyage Award and we’re all looking forward to meeting other Guides at Challenge 17 in the summer.