Vorarlberg: Austria’s Mountainous West
I’m having breakfast in the mountain village of Schwarzenberg, in the Vorarlberg region of Austria, the farthest west of Austria’s nine states, right near Switzerland. At the top of the map is the Bodensee, which some call Lake Constance. The region was formed in 1919, and this part of Austria was once part of Switzerland, despite voters who wanted to stay Swiss.
Though the translation didn’t really take, Katrin my host said that in this region, the dialects can differ from one town to the next.
They get about 60% of their visitors from Germany, though the language as heard in Berlin is very different from what you hear in Voralberg.
It’s somewhat of an unknown place to many travel writers, which for me ups the ante. This is the kind of place I love writing about. You don’t get all of these “yeah, I’ve been there,” that happens when you visit more well-trodden locations.
Today a guide named Helga will take me to several places in the region, starting with the Angelika Kauffman museum. She was a famous painter who lived in Schwarzenberg. Then we’ll visit a women’s museum and see some of the outstanding architecture that this area is known for. We will visit the nearby towns by public bus, something that I find appealing.
Everything here is perfectly manicured and neat. The villagers keep neat stacks of very small logs bunched up in sheds and in piles, the kind of wood that you’d keep feeding a fire one after the other because they are so small. The industry here is lumber, as well as tourism, and in the distance, I saw many parasailers gently gliding and swooping skyward off the huge mountain that sits within view.
I’m very happy to be here, all by myself and enjoying soaking all of this place in.