We took a 5 hour drive through the south of Bohemia into Austria, passing the invisible border marked by hills and plains, where everything changes without warning. Umlauts appear, and the radio waves shift into hollow, guttural melodies, replacing the Czech’s chuh-chuh’s with aufs and eins. However, everything crumbles again the moment we enter the mouth of Hallstatt.
On the one kilometre stretch of traditional Austrian lodging and cathedrals are crowds of tourists– mostly from Asia– throwing us off guard, making our experience a dissonant one. We wanted something European, not knowing what exactly that means, and almost guilty for demanding so. Perhaps we all longed for something unscathed, something original.
Ravaged by its own mystery, the town is submerged under the weight of summer holiday goers who change its meaning daily. The surrounding mountains and lakes laugh with a wistful sigh, thinking of the times they celebrated birth, yearned for company and now, suffer under the unwanted, overbearing attention and involuntary adjustments to a selfie stick.
Who am I to say however, what mountains want? I project my desires and fears onto trees and ferns, thinking they’d feel the same way too– that we are allies. But how can we be allies if I’m outnumbered, if I am also a mere intruder, if they can’t give me their attention too?