After 6 days of Italian heat, the time came to move on. We headed out to Austria after our big night in Venice and needless to say, I most definitely took advantage of the bus ride that day. Sleep is never the enemy. We had an afternoon of optional activities planned, including canyon jumping, paragliding, skydiving and mountain bike riding. Unfortunately though, all of these activities were cancelled due to poor weather conditions and a rather large detour we had to take to actually get to Austria. This was pretty disappointing, but Marshall made light of it by taking us to The Swarovski Crystal Worlds, which like the name suggests, is a crystal themed museum.
From a design perspective, this place was incredible; the intricacy of each detail was hard to believe.
This installation reminded me of one I saw at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, last year.
Afterwards, I spent some time exploring the gift shop and bought myself some decorative crystals, because Swarovski.
We arrived at our traditional Austrian Gasthof accommodation in the early evening and settled in for the night.
Oh my goodness, this meal was incredible. I was so hungry for some reason and literally inhaled this. I think I was really craving red meat.
A few of us went for a little walk around the tiny town after dinner, these horses were so majestic. If you look closely, you can see a foal as well.
It was probably around 8pm when we went for our walk and I could not get over how quiet the town was! We wanted to buy some snacks but literally every store was closed.
Austria actually reminded me a lot of Switzerland, especially the buildings and breathtaking terrain.
Dare I say I actually went to bed before 12 that night, I was absolutely exhausted!
We only had one night in Austria, so it felt a little strange packing our things so soon after arriving. The next morning we headed to Mauthausen, a former concentration camp. This was a really important part of the trip for me and I think everyone should visit a concentration camp if they get the chance. While we were allowed to take photos here, I decided to take a few of the outside areas only. I felt like I needed to experience it in the most organic way possible; which meant taking everything in visually. I also felt it was important to ditch the camera, out of respect for the countless lives lost in this place.
I spent most of my time here alone, quietly reflecting.
The Stairs of Death
Prisoners were forced to carry blocks of stone (sometimes weighing up to 50kgs) up the 186 stairs, one behind the other. Due to sheer exhaustion, many would fall down, creating a terrifyingly brutal ‘domino effect’. This was just one of the many ways guards would ‘exterminate’ excess prisoners.
I didn’t get a chance to climb these steps, as we were out of time, but just being there was a truly powerful experience.
It was a sombre day, one that I will never forget.