Ok so I’ve lived in Austria now for almost two years and yet there is one tradition that I feel is still rather disturbing to me or perhaps more to my kids. You see I grew up in a country where Santa always knew if you were behaving… “He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake”… My parents would remind of Santa’s watching every once in a while if my behaviour ever got out of line and that’s all I needed to stand up straight and say my “please” & “thank you’s”.
Here however, I guess the kids are hard core. Santa or Saint Nicholas as they refer to him is way too soft, too forgiving and just well, a push over for any child really. Nah here in Austria they need some scary ass monster to get their kids to straighten up their shit and behave properly.
Krampus is this frightful beast who visits those children who have not behaved during the year. He marks his presence using the sounds of chains rattling outside your front door on the eve of December 5th. Children who hear these chains know that Krampus is close and normally this is their que to run & hide in complete terror. Now I am a mother who is always first in line to watch any child’s reaction to surprises but not at this event! My husband experienced this as a child and remembers how frightened he was. Although he never saw Krampus, the rattled chains noise (which was done as a favour from a neighbour) was enough to scare him into good behaviour. And all that was needed as a reminder was the name “Krampus” spoken out load. Trying to imagine this scary night through the eyes of a child…
I’ll leave you with some lasting impressions that most Austrian children tend to remember come each Christmas season.
“Dieter! Sit up straight I said or shall I call my friend Krampus again?” <child shits himself>
Parenting in Austria is definitely more entertaining 🙂
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I must admit I do love a luxurious travel experience (who wouldn’t?) however, there is something about getting back to nature that is a part of who I am. Always a Canadian at heart I enjoy open spaces, fresh air and polite people and I can pretty much guarantee that you will find that in the Austrian countryside. Here at Ferienhof Gressenbauer not only can you experience country living but you can actually participate in it too! “Ferienhof” means “vacation place” and “bauer” in English is “farmer” so by putting two and two together and I’m sure you have figured out this country retreat belongs to the Gressenbauer Family.
We discovered this Bauernhof in 2010 ago when my husband and I escaped Vienna for a quick mountain weekend get-a-way. Karen & Florian run this “B&B”, as us North American’s call it, along with his parents (we refer to them as “Omi & Opa”) and their three children. This farm has 60 beef cattle, 2 ponies, 2 bunnies, many cats, a goat and a pig. When they are not taking care of their guests they are hard at work in the barn feeding, cleaning and so much more. Guests are welcome to join in with the daily chores too if they wish – hey, it’s always nice to have a helping hand right? My husband likes to feed the cows in the afternoons and Florian appreciates the help.
Accommodations are simple & clean and your overnight stays includes breakfast, which is what you expect in a typical Ferienhof. Fresh milk & eggs come from the farm down the road, homemade jams and marmelades change according to the season and freshly baked bread is delivered every morning. “Omi” normally bakes a “pick of the day” treat for all to enjoy every afternoon and there is nothing like coming home from a 5-hour mountain hike to the smell of fresh apricot cake or apple strudel.
Also included in the rate is a “Pyhrn-Priel Aktivcard”, which is a “free pass” to use for chair lifts up the mountains, admission to the local public swimming pool and discounts on other entry fees to local nature parks and activity centers. This card in itself will save you a bundle, especially when you are traveling as a family of 4 like us. My kids favorite is the “Sommerrodelbahn“, which is like a toboggan run ride on a giant slide that’s 1532 meters long down the mountain. You can also zoom down on the Alpine coaster ride (on a track) too.
Typically, Austrians choose their Ferienhof carefully and once they have found “the one” they become loyal customers. Thankfully we found “our favourite” right away and we are grateful for the wonderful hospitality the Gressenbauer family provides. We look forward to our bi-annual holidays and to our children who will grow up with fond memories of their farm experience.
Ferienhof Gressenbauer – Karin & Florian Gressenbauer
Tel./Fax +43 (0)7562/5172