Cowardice and Omelettes

This took place on one of my early foreign holidays with my parents in the mid-eighties.  We were staying at Obergurgl in Austria’s Öztal. [Note: this was so long ago that the Öztal’s most famous resident, Ötzi the Iceman, had not yet been discovered.] On this particular day we were taking a coach tour around the valley. Lunchtime was approaching and the coach stopped in the village of Vent. Our guide said that we would take a walk to a restaurant she knew.  All was well at first: it was a pleasant walk through the alpine countryside.  I noticed a sign (in German) mentioning a suspension bridge, but thought nothing of it. Until we reached a terrifying-looking suspended footbridge across a chasm and were informed that our lunch stop was on the far side of it. 

My father, who had a head for heights, made it across with no difficulties.  I found the whole thing far more scary, but was also terrified of being left behind (this had happened once when I got ‘stuck’ whilst walking in the Malvern hills), so inched my way across, looking straight ahead and determined that if I made it over, I would refuse to return. If necessary, I was sure they could send a helicopter or something to pick me up. One I set foot once more on terra firma, I looked back, only to find that my mother was rooted to the spot on the far side, absolutely refusing to move, despite the offers of help from members of our group who were more chivalrous than my father. This was serious.  She was the one with the money to pay for our lunch. 

There was nothing for it but to go back.  This time, my passage was impeded by an idiotic woman who was standing in the middle of the bridge taking photos. I’m not sure how I managed to squeeze past.

Reunited at last, my family returned to the village, and sank into the nearest restaurant.  The menu was not extensive, but the fluffy golden cheese omelette with sauté potatoes was the best I have ever eaten, before or since. That made us feel a whole lot better, especially when the rest of the party returned, reporting that their lunch had been nothing special.

We asked our guide why she hadn’t mentioned the bridge. ‘If I did that, people wouldn’t come with me’ she replied.

I’ve never really cared for coach tours since.

I visited Obergurgl in 1986

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