The Hills (and the Johnslingtons) Come Alive in Austria

You know that thing that happens when you feel better after feeling terrible? You have the flu or Covid or food poisoning and your body just completely turns on you and it’s miserable and then, one day, you go back to feeling pretty normal and it’s AWESOME? Like, sun shining, birds singing, ready to take to the hills singing Julie Andrews-style awesome? That’s kind of how Austria was for our whole family.

But it was touch and go there for a minute.

Fi had just recovered from her 10-day mystery illness on our last day in Berlin when I caught some version of what she had. My throat was thick and sore and I spent our last night tossing and turning with a fever. This was, needless to say, frustrating timing. Like, was every member of our family going to get a sick one after the other? Could Fi and I not have gotten this virus simultaneously? I’d just spent over a week lying around with my sick kid, which would have been a fine time for me to also be feeling unwell, but nope! That’s not how this thing was shaping up.

Fortunately, I woke up well enough to pack up and clean the apartment that had been so generously loaned to us before catching a cab to the train station. Two things we learned on this particular travel day:

  1. German pharmacies don’t mess around. We were almost out of the children’s paracetamol we’d gotten in Croatia and wanted to pick up more at the train-station pharmacy just in case. The woman behind the counter presented us with a little box, which, she matter-of-factly stated was full of paracetamol suppositories. Well. “You don’t have anything she can take orally?” I asked, pushing Fiona forward to show that she was, like, a full-fledged kid and not some helpless baby whose bum I could just shove things into willy-nilly. She made it clear that, no, this was the only method of pain relief/fever reduction she had for kids. So that was a hard pass. (Fi was incredulous but delighted when we told her why we left without buying any medicine. “They wanted you to put it in my butt??”)
  2. Old German ladies don’t mess around either. On our second of two train trips that day, we’d reserved three seats in a block of four facing each other across a little table. There was some chaos as everyone on the crowded train got settled in, but the result was that two little old German women ended up sitting in the two seats opposite Fi and me, one of which was reserved for Dan, who was now relegated to the far side of the car. The seat stealers (who, it should be clear, knew exactly what they were doing) settled in shamelessly while I proceeded to feel sorry for myself, feeling under the weather and unjustly inconvenienced. Then one of the ladies disappeared for a bit (carefully covering her seat with her coat and bag first) and returned with a couple of sandwiches and two giant beers for her and her friend. And then I couldn’t help but feel the teeniest bit charmed.

We arrived in Stubai Valley well enough—Fi still a little tired, me still a little ill. But then something marvelous happened: Within about 24 hours, everyone felt better. My mini-illness was gone, Fi was full of energy (and suddenly on her sweetest, most helpful, most delightful behavior) and we were all fired up to explore. Had Austria cured us? I have to tell you, with a view like the one from our ridiculously adorable Airbnb, it definitely seemed possible:

Not even a big old crane can diminish this kind of beauty, people

During our six days in the Austrian Alps, we took some stunning walks and saw some absolutely astonishing natural sights (more specifics on all that in Dan’s next post), but mostly, we just had a ton of fun. We explored by day, hot tubbed by afternoon (yes, there was a hot tub; it was the dreamiest), cooked by evening and watched the Sound of Music by night (it took us three full nights; that movie is way longer than I remembered). And through it all, we all felt well and that felt amazing.

One funny postscript: The delicious brunch restaurant we went to in Berlin had a silly toilet seat that Fi loved, so later that day, Cate took us to a home goods store in her neighborhood to peruse a full aisle of silly toilet seats.

A couple of days later, we arrived at our Austrian Airbnb only to be greeted by ONE OF THE VERY SAME SILLY TOILET SEATS:

We of course texted Cate a picture immediately, to which she sagely replied, “this is an extremely important omen for your journey.” And friends, I think she may have been right.

4 thoughts on “The Hills (and the Johnslingtons) Come Alive in Austria

  1. Julie, Dan, and Fiona,

    I am enjoying your travel log blog so very much – terrific stories and wonderful photos! Sorry I can’t respond to each one as I am in the lengthy process of moving.

    Love to you and the Maxwells, Aunt Marj


    1. Hi, Aunt Marj! No worries! Thanks for the note. 🙂 So happy you’re reading and enjoying. Best of luck with your move — hope to catch up soon! Love, Julie (and Dan and Fiona)


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