National Geographic : 1960 Aug
Lofty peaks, sapphire lakes, and green valleys beautify Austria's Salt Crown Lands, the Salzkammergut. Square above shows the area mapped on pages 246-7, which covers 40 miles from margin to margin. The painting inverts north and south lest mountains in the south block the view. "Fall is the best time for fishing," said Hiplinger. "Then I catch over a hundred fish a day. In summer the steamers and motor boats make too much noise, and the fish stay down on the bottom where it's quiet." Fishing Rights Traded Like Farms He sculled over to a new net. We were vir tually alone, and I soon found out why. Over the generations, Hiplinger's family had bought up the fishing rights for about three-quarters of the lake's area, rights as precisely demar cated and marketable as acreage ashore. Now he had enough to assure himself a stable yield and a modest income. We hauled in net after net as the gray dawn reddened; the mist around the mountains cleared, and the church bells rang out over the water. Hoplinger consulted a big silver turnip watch with Roman numerals. "All right. Seven o'clock. Time for your breakfast." We turned toward St. Wolfgang, and, when we were within 50 yards of the boathouse, the collie leaped joyously overboard and beat us ashore. Up at the fishmaster's house, be neath a gnarled apple tree, Hoplinger cleaned some of the catch in an old stone trough and handed me two of the best. "Have them broil the reinanken and boil the Saibling in vinegar, with a little seasoning. I think you'll like them." I did. Appetite, they say, is the best cook, but an indispensable ingredient is leisure. And that is what the Austrians supply in lavish volume in the Salzkammergut. They are in no rush; why should you be? 250 There are, heaven knows, plenty of things to "do" in this well-endowed country. But those who come here seem free of any fever to do them. One of the most common and reassuring sights in the Salzkammergut is the spectacle of an Austrian family enjoying its vacation: father lies under a tree, a stein within reach; mother plays with a baby sprawled on the grass; children paddle idly in the shallows. Nobody is trying to set any records. No body feels any compulsion to take in 25 famous attractions of the region by supper time. Nobody intends to exhaust himself by swimming across the lake and back to prove his manhood. Nobody even cares unduly about cooking his skin medium rare. Nor are the local inhabitants fretting day and night over new schemes to fleece the tourist. I have driven often the full circum ference of the 12-mile-long Attersee-surely the most sweetly entrancing lakeshore road in the world-and never seen a billboard, a neon light, a gaudy hotel. A meadow filled with campers, yes; a quiet pension here and there; a discreet, well-mannered inn. But no rest less crowds, no chains of cars bumper to bumper. Not that the Salzkammergut is unappre ciated. Hardly. In July and August a man without reservations must search diligently from village to village to find a bed. But, somehow, the Austrians and their guests have a gift for fading unobtrusively into the land scape, and even the occasional crowds along the little esplanades and in the most popular garden restaurants appear so relaxed as not to exert much pressure on each other or their surroundings. Visitors are, indeed, something relatively new for the Salzkammergut. Old as its towns are, they still possess a curiously shut-away Editor's Note: This warm description of Austria's Salzkammergut is the last work from the pen of the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S late Assistant Editor Beverley M. Bowie. Mr. Bowie died in November, 1958, after returning from an overseas assignment that resulted in memorable articles on Austria, the trained horses of Vienna, Prince Philip's travels, and this nostalgic view of a Euro pean vacationland. Although he wrote in the full knowledge that he suffered from a fatal disease, his article reflects the quiet hu mor that glowed as steadily as his courage.