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Phespirit goes to Austria
Fuschl am See     September 2001

11th September 2001; a Tuesday afternoon in England, Phespirit is at home watching TV .....

13:45 - hijacked flight AA11 crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York
14:03 - hijacked flight UA145 crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center in New York
14:43 - hijacked flight AA77 crashes into the Pentagon in Washington state
15:05 - the south tower of the World Trade Center collapses
15:10 - hijacked flight UA93 crashes in Somerset County in Pennsylvania
15:28 - the north tower of the World Trade Center collapses

..... ten long hours after these events, Phespirit sets out for London Gatwick Airport. He is to board the 06:15 flight to Salzburg; it will be the first flight out of Gatwick on the morning after the most destructive terrorist attack in the history of man's violence against man. A feeling of calm fatalism pervades. Alarm bells are ringing in the North Terminal at Gatwick when Phespirit arrives. Everyone has been evacuated. Will they all die? Thousands just had. Not this time; all clear. No hand luggage is allowed on the plane. Okay. Checked in. An empty departure lounge; CNN for company. Waiting. Waiting. Welcome aboard. Favourable winds - this morning's flight will only take an hour and twenty minutes - a little relief.

Salzburg Airport, Wednesday morning. It is raining very heavily. Never mind.

The small lakeside village of Fuschl am See - thirty minutes by coach from Salzburg - is a step outside of the modern world. A suitable place to reflect on the carnage that had been and consider the carnage to come without getting caught up in either. Everything here simply cries 'traditional Austria': the hotels, the restaurants, the houses, the people. Especially the people, reared of stern and sturdy Alpine stock.

Phespirit went to Fuschl am See to walk, and walking is what he did. With his Fuschlsee 'wanderpass' and map he set off around lakes, along tracks, through forests and up into the mountains, his incentive being that if he could accumulate enough ink stamps from designated destinations on the 'wanderpass' he would earn a Fuschl am See gold pin!! Woo-hoo!! Eight stamps, one hundred and eighty points, two ruined legs and one dodgy ticker later, the pin was his.

The highest peak scaled was that of Filbling at 1307m, starting from Fuschl am See at 669m. This was a shattering two hour hike over wet gravel and mud split with tree roots, right up into the cloud. But was it really so high up? A British ready-reckoner: Ben Nevis peaks at 1344m, Mount Snowden at 1085m.

Every second day Phespirit took a coach to some alternative place of interest, thereby giving his legs a chance to recover. This included excursions into Germany and the Czech Republic, as well as Austrian locations such as Salzburg, Bad Ischl, Hallstatt and the Pasterze Glacier. All very nice, but overcast.

And then, with all these things done, Phespirit returned home. What next?

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