City Grammar 1951 -  School Trip To Austria
Niedernsil (Zell am See)

01 XXX                                                                                   02 XXX

03 Bill Hird - 04 XXX - 05 KeithOrrell - 06 XXX - 07 Peter Ives - 08 XXX - 09 Peter Middleton - 10 Graham Oliver - 11 XXX - 12 XXX

13 XXX - 14 Lily Dalton - 15 XXX - 16 Miss Thorold - 17 Mr Cole - 18 XXX - 19 XXX

20 XXX - 21 Betty Ryalls - 22 Alan Meek - 23 XXX - 24 XXX - 25 Georg Engl (Guide)

Austrian Holiday, 1951

It was more of an adventure than a holiday, and what finer company in which to spend an adventurous holiday than a mixed party from the City Grammar School, aided and abetted by Miss Thorold and Mr. Cole.

The first stage of our journey was to London, of which I will only say that the famous buildings and monuments were all in their correct places, and that some new ones had sprung up on the South Bank.  The "Continental Express" left Victoria Station at ten o'clock next morning.  We eventually found our seats and two hours later we were aboard the Prince Charles, in Dover Harbour.   It was pouring with rain.  We did not mind-until the ship had to climb over some very big waves at the harbour mouth.  I will quickly add that the crossing was fresh and bracing . . . Very!

Ostend, with it slightly heaving quay and swaying houses, was our destination and we were very glad to see it, some of us having given up hope.  We had a quick look round the town, and then climbed on to the "Basle Express".  It was late afternoon now;  the wind had dropped and a golden sun made the flat countryside look warm and rich.  As we travelled through Belgium, tall poplar trees swayed to greet us, and brown women, on their knees in the fields, waved white scarves in welcome.  Bruges, Ghent and Brussels passed by in a rush of steam, whistles and excited conversation, leaving a lingering fragrance to tall Gothic spires silhouetted black against the deep blue of early night.

Through Luxembourg and into France we travelled on, but sleep was catching up with us and we were only roused into action by Passport and we steamed into Basle Station a brilliant sun in a cloudless blue sky made everyone feel gay.  Coffee and rolls for breakfast and then we went for a short walk to stretch our legs.  The Rhine sparkled and glistened in the early morning sunshine, and the gardens and hanging baskets were full of bright flowers.

An electric train carried us to Zell-am-See in Austria.  We went round the beautiful lake at Zurich, with its green shores dotted with white and red villas.  On into the mountains we went, where verdant greens gave way to brown pine trees which, in turn, pointed to the pale, delicate, blue-grey spears that were tipped with snow.  In and out of mountain tunnels we dashed, over spidery bridges (that did not look at all safe), with always the milky glacial river racing alongside in the valley below.  Little clusters of gaily-painted wooden houses, huddled round a small church with a delicate onion spire, appeared and then vanished behind a wood.

In the village of Niedernsill we were treated royally.  It was there that we made our first friend, Georg Engl, our guide.  For the next nine days we travelled about in motor coaches absorbing the beauty that is Austria.  The Grossglockner alpine motor road (the highest in Europe) and the Grossglockner glacier were sights we shall never forget.  The waterfalls at Krimml and the great new dam at Kaprun filled us in turn with wonder and awe, and for most of the time the sun smiled down and baked us a golden-brown.  We enjoyed a day at Salzburg to do our shopping, a cable-car ride to the top of a mountain to enjoy the magnificent view, and we bathed and rowed in the lake's warm water at Zell.  In all our bustle and excitement we were deeply touched by the sincerity of the gay but religious villagers who attended as one family the funeral of the forester's son who accidentally shot himself whilst hunting in the mountains.

My stomach wistfully recalls the motherly cooking of Frau Hilzensauer, and longs again for the Austrian equivalent of our cider.  We were invited to join the singing in the inn on several occasions, and the school song, Omnes Amici, rang out with a clarity that can only be accredited to the mountain air.  As a token of our appreciation, Herr Hilzensauer and our guide were presented with Sheffield made penknives.  (Mr. Cole forgot nothing that would help to make our holiday a success.)

Back in England, after a night's rest, we toured the Festival of Britain, but our thoughts were in Austria.

As our holiday fades into the shades of time, two thoughts shine very brightly.  The first is that whenever anyone mentions Austria we will be able to hunt out our snapshots and remember.  The second is the gratitude we feel towards Miss Thorold and Mr. Cole for tending our every need and giving us a wonderful holiday.  Omnes Amici.

Peter F Ives.

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