SchwazOctober 19, 2016 in Austria
We made good progress driving east, following the valley floor and criss crossing the river Inn. We stopped along the way at a very familiar looking supermarket (see photo).
Schwaz stopover was just over the bridge from the town centre. It was a car park in a low rise housing estate with a portion sectioned off for vans. Towering over the rooves were the huge bulks of the mountains, rivulets of autumn colour flowing down gorges and highlighting ridges among the evergreens. When darkness fell on the estate, it was easy to forget its stunning setting, until you realised that the transition from dark to light in the sky wasn't due to cloud, it was the solid black chunk of mountain.
It was raining on and off and we were woken by noisy Alpine Choughs to see a powdering of snow adding contrast to the mountaintop pines.
Exploring the town we found many murals that seem to be common in this region of Austria. Its not uncommon to see building walls painted to look like huge stone bricks and pillars with beautiful detail framing each window. A large church with a cloister lined garden stood at one end of town. It too had murals on the building and in the arches and ceiling of the cloisters. Some looked very old (the church being built over 650 years ago) and others were as recent as 2013.
Unfortunately there were several beggars, mostly middle eastern women, knelt or sat in the cold on the pavements. We'd also seen two black men selling what looked like the equivalent of the Big Issue. We don't know what policies are in place to support those in need in Austria but we had seen prominent presidential election posters pushing the lines 'Control our Borders' and 'Austria needs Security'. Many had graffiti accusing the politician of fascism in no uncertain terms. Amongst the rugged wild beauty and richly adorned buildings we get the sense there is a social battle going. Many are feeling hard done by and this is being exploited, whilst marginalised groups suffer.Read more