Not long after the English-accented flight attended had announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, you are now free to move about the cabin,” was she asking us to “Return to your seats and prepare for landing.”
The two-hour flight from London Stansted to Salzburg Airport took us on a scenic journey over landscape evocative of National Geographic’s most inconceivably beautiful ‘places on earth’. My lack of travel experience meant that I was easily pleased at seeing anything resembling scenery in contrast to that of Australia’s national flora.
Diverse European Scenery
I sat in mid-daydream - forearms resting on the unlatched tray table - gazing out the window, watching as the sun cast rays of brilliance over Northern France’s farming districts, Germany’s dense forests and Western Austria’s alpine region. The scenery - blanketing and partitioning the earth's surface - transitioned, albeit subtly, from border to border. In contrast to the aerial panorama of England that resembled roughly hemmed emerald squares on a hand sewn patchwork quilt, the continental landscape appeared more rugged: it was characterised by its own subtle variation of resplendence.
Despite the inferred immediacy of the flight attendant’s ‘landing’ message, the lengthy descent into Salzburg Airport seemed to linger on the cusp of infinity. A phantasmagoric succession of thoughts flooded my mind, stimulating a cascade of emotions about events to ensue. I had not formally met my mother's cousins; they’d seen me only when I was but a babe wrapped in the maternal protection of my mother’s arms. Even after clinging to a fragment of commonsense about my capacity to engage amenably with most humans, the inevitability of having to confront 'new' family tempered my mood. I’d known my grandmother, and despite her obvious quirks and Austrian eccentricities, we generally got on. Surely her family, of whom she’d kindly referred, would be no less humane?
I tightened the strap of the buckled seatbelt that had encapsulated my medium sized Caucasian frame en route, returned the tray table 'to its upright position' and glanced at the passengers with whom I’d been sharing the flight. I’d been so engrossed in the quest of rationalisation that I’d completely forgotten to notice my surroundings. The sentiment a friend - similarly intrepid in nature - had once shared came to mind: “It is only the foolhardy who travel the world and fail to leave the creature comforts of home behind; their blinkered approach blindfolds them to the potential of discovering the magic existent in every detail and moment. Remove the blinkers and sense the world in its entirety.”
I took his advice and inquisitively looked right. The vacant seat beside me had become a communal dumping ground for the strong featured, moustache wielding and blue-eyed elderly gentleman occupying the aisle seat. The row across and those in front, at a glance, appeared to be completely occupied. I threw the man a hearty smile and the irreverent look that swept across his face caused a stir of laughter to bubble forth. I redirected my gaze leftward, to visualise a scene I will most certainly never forget: the transcendent Alps that, with peaks covered in snow as white as innocence, stretched into the heavens and magnified the city centered at the base.
A Sense of Home
My anxiety dissipated as my mother’s words came to mind: “You will … now understand why I refer to the mountains in Australia as hills.”
There was no comparison. Landing smoothly on Austrian tarmac imbued an inexplicably reminiscent sense of coming home, albeit to a place I’d never been. “Hallo Ben. I am Jutta, your cousin.”
My world was okay. The home existent within my imagination now comprised the soil upon which I stood. I was in the Austria which, for decades, had lived inside of me.
The following websites can be used to search for flights to and from Austria:
The following websites can be used to search for train fares to and from the Western European nation and from city to city when in country:
Use the following websites to find reasonable fares to and from Austria from within the continent and the UK as well as fares from city to city within the country:
The author stayed with family near Salzburg, Graz, Linz and Vienna.
Nationwide options can be searched using the following websites:
The currency utilised in Austria is the Euro. Please refer to the following website for current and up to date exchange rates: