Classical Music, Reunions with Old Friends and a Final BBQ

Until the late 1600s imposing walls and watchtowers were surrounding the church, giving it a defensive character and making it possible for the local population to find safety within the complex, which was particularly important during the Turkish invasions during the 1500s. The church yard features several gravestones from the Roman era, indicating that this area was actively settled more than 2,000 years ago although much older pre-historic remains were found in the surrounding regions as well. The so-called Celtic Village on the nearby Kulm Mountain is the first outdoor pre-history museum in the province of Styria and illustrates that this area has been inhabited since pre-historic times.

Crucifix in font of the Taborkirche

During a stroll through the Main Square of Weiz I ran across two old acquaintances, my neighbours’ mother, who I had not seen for at least 20 years and a friend from my former volleyball team who I had not seen for more than two decades as well. It’s now almost 21 years that I have been living in Toronto, but it was great to see these familiar faces again and to reconnect after such a long time.

Weiz City Hall

At 9:30 am I went to visit Klaudia, one of my best friends from high school, at her parent’s house. Our other school mate Doris was already there and it was great to see both of them again, more than 23 years after we graduated from high school. After the initial hugs and kisses and how-are-yous we started walking onto the local hill, the Weizberg. Our stroll took us through the local cemetery where we admired a very famous grave: the last resting place of Aurelia Schwarzenegger, Arnold’s mother, who was a long-time resident of Weiz.

Three peas in a pod…

Klaudia even mentioned that her father happened to encounter Mrs. Schwarzenegger at the cemetery a number of years ago, but she had collapsed due to a heart attack. My friend’s father called the ambulance which gave her emergency treatment and took her to the hospital. She passed away shortly after and Arnold Schwarzenegger sent a thank you letter to the ambulance employees as well as to Klaudia’s father, to thank him for getting help for his mother. Proof that in this town real celebrity connections are just steps away…

The gravestone of Arnold’s mother, father and brother

We continued our stroll to the imposing baroque Weizbergkirche. Right next to the church is the so-called “Kräutergarten” (herb garden) that was created by a group of local residents (including Klaudia’s mom) that features a wide variety of local herbs, many of which are used in the regional cuisine. Then we took the romantic stairs down the hill, a pathway that we had walked many times as children. Our local stroll took us past our former high school, where we discussed fond memories of our school years.

The baroque Weizbergkirche

One of the highlights of our high school careers were two choir trips to Germany, to our partner school in Offenburg, where the two school choirs jointly performed classical songs. We most fondly recalled the actual concert where for the finale both school choirs appeared together to jointly sing the last song. Screaming our lungs out among 120 singers from two different countries was an exhilarating experience, and not surprisingly my passions for cross-cultural exchanges were kindled at an early age.

Danger in the kitchen! Moi with Klaudia’s mom, the real expert

After our return to Klaudia’s parents Doris left and the rest of us started preparing a hearty meal, and I, by no means gifted in the kitchen, donned the apron and started cutting and chopping whatever needed to be done. (Good thing I was not in charge of any really important tasks…) Klaudia’s mom whipped up a delicious meal for 10+ people in next to no time and we soon sat down in the garden to have some Austrian specialties: we savoured a “Bröselknödelsuppe” (breadcrumb dumplings in a clear beef broth), stuffed green peppers and delicious mashed potatoes with caramelized onions.

A great meal in the garden

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