Weekend Mountain Rail Blogging


The Mittenwaldbahn meets the trail at the Seefelder Sattel. Photo shamelessly purloined from Martin Schönherr.

Tyrolean omniscient and Friend of the Blog Paschberg sends a photo of greeting from the Seefelder Sattel, a little pass over the most easily navigable part of the Karwendel Mountains, and known as a point along the alignment of the Via Raetia. What he may not remember is that I myself have a similar photo, previously posted here, from pretty much the same spot, but looking the other way — the thing is, I had indeed been looking for the Seefelder Sattel, but didn’t realize that I had been standing right on it until now.

In a somewhat related vein: the closed railway line which ran past my recent overnight accommodations in Passau’s Innstadt.
It turns out to be part of the former Passau-Hauzenberg Railway, now used primarily by dog walkers. (The Beau, charmingly sarcastic as ever, suggested that it had probably been left behind by the Romans.)

And While We’re In The 15th Century…

…it’s only a short jump ahead to the time of Emperor Ferdinand II and Philippine Welser, both of whom figure in the local story of the Roßsprung (“horse jump”). Paschberg has a post up about the story and the now-urban stone markers which commemorate it, in German along with my English translation.

Und weil wir gerade im 15. Jahrhundert sind…
… Es ist nur ein kurzer Sprung weiter zu der Zeit des Kaisers Ferdinand II. und Philippine Welser, die beide in der lokalen Überlieferung der Roßsprung (“Pferd springen”) vorkommen. Paschberg hat einen Post über die Geschichte und den heutigen Steinmarkierungen im Stadtgebiet, die daran erinnern.

Bruegel’s “Hunters In The Snow” in the film “Melancholia”

Much has already been written on the artworks featured in Lars von Trier’s new film “Melancholia”. One of them, in fact the first painting you’ll see in the film’s prologue, has a possible local connection and, if so, an interesting feature.
Viel wurde schon geschrieben über die Kunststücke in den Film “Melancholia”. Eines davon, das erste Gemälde das man im Film sieht, hat eine unbewiesene aber sehr interessante Verbindung mit Innsbruck.

“Hunters in the Snow”, Peter Bruegel (or Brueghel) the Elder, 1565.
Image from Wikipedia.de

One Professor Wilhelm Fischer of Innsbruck wrote an academic treatise a while back, maintaining that Bruegel, on his return trip from Italy, must have come through Innsbruck and made sketches of the landscape. In his opinion this is clearly the village of Amras, the Sill River, and the Inn Valley beyond (with some artistic changes taken into account. The valley is a tad too narrow so the other settlements are not exactly in the right place, for example. And our mountains are not that pointy.)

Der Innsbrucker Professor Wilhelm Fischer behauptet, daß Bruegel auf seiner Rückreise aus Italien in Innbruck weilte, und machte Skizzen von der Landschaft. Laut Fischer ist das Dorf im Bild offensichtlich Amras, mit der Sill und dem Inntal im Hintergrund (man muß aber dann manche künstlerische Freiheiten einkalkulieren — das Tal ist zu eng, die andere Siedlungen sind nicht genau, wo sie hingehören sollen. Und die umringenden Berge sind nicht so spitz.

If this is so, then that skating pond may well be the lost and forgotten Amraser See — remember the Amraser See? It vanished some decades ago and now the DEZ shopping mall stands in its place. What an apt subject for the film.
I doubt Lars von Trier had even heard of this, perhaps he used the painting among others to show melancholy (the dejected hunters and even their sorry-looking hounds) being confronted by both gaiety (villagers out and about)  and disaster (according to this blogger the farmhouse on the river has just had an explosion. In any event, it is burning.) Like Justine’s arrival at her wedding reception, you might say. We could continue into the theme of Death As Bridegroom but that’s beyond the scope of my knowledge.

Wenn dieses Gemälde das Dorf Amras zeigt, dann ist der Teich im Bild der verschwundene, vergessene Amraser See, wo jetzt der Einkaufzentrum “DEZ” steht. Herr von Trier weiß davon sicher nichts; vielleicht stellt das Bild für ihn eine richtige Melancholie dar,  (die niedergeschlagene Jäger sogar ihre Hünde),  die mit Fröhlichkeit (die Dorfleute) und Pech (ein brennendes Haus) konfrontiert wird. Man vergleicht ihr Ankommen mit Justine’s Ankommen an das Hochzeitsfest (im Film).

Considering the film’s theme of everything going under, the inclusion of a painting which itself shows something already lost and forgotten is interesting (to probably nobody but me, but hey, it’s my blog and I get to write what I want.) A lost world inside a lost world.

Ein Bild von einem verschwundenen Ort, in einer Geschichte über das kommende Verschwinden unserer Welt. Eine verlorene Welt in einer verlorenen Welt.

More about the artworks featured in the film here (English) and hier (deutsch.)

>Weekend Mountain Blogging: Höttinger Alm


The Höttinger Alm, 1487 meters above sea level,  opened for the season on Saturday.

“Frau Hitt”, looking like a finger pointed in the air. Probably the closest I’ll ever get to it, not being much of an experienced climber. (Makes a nice desktop screen shot, too.)

It was a relief to get back down to the warmer valley, and back into spring. On the way down I noticed a shrine of stones to a recent (2010) avalanche victim named Thomas Charry. It looked new-ish and more than the usual little plaque, so I looked up the name later: he was a ski photographer and blogger (link to blog, in French). His blog is being maintained by family, and they have been putting up Charry’s photos (both of him and by him) regularly. Which prompts me to remind all bloggers to have your passwords and account information stored where a trusted someone can access/delete/memorialize your pages, should you die suddenly. There are thousands of frozen, inaccessible sites out there, the bloggers having died and taken their account information with them to the grave. Write it down and stash it somewhere safe (but not impossible to find!)


>There’s a blog called After The Final Curtain, by photographer Matt Lambros, dedicated to the documentation of old abandoned movie theaters and news of restorations. The photographs are awesome.

Closer to home: in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, a group of private citizens fought hard to take over and restore the Colonial Theater, which had been sitting in disrepair for years. The Colonial is now a major draw to the town, showing slightly-off-beat films, old silent movies, and live concerts. “The Blob”, a 1950s horror movie filmed nearby, was the inspiration for the incredibly popular annual “Blobfest” (highlight: the Running Out re-enactment, where lucky volunteer crowds are filmed as they run out of the theater, screaming.)

h/t to Benedikt

>Forgotten Innsbruck: Amraser See


(Thanks to the writer of the Paschberg Blog for the photo above, which I have brazenly purloined. If you read German, his blog is an excellent source of local history and current affairs. I hope my advert for it makes up for my theft!)

I was walking through the southeast side of town the other week and noticed an unusual street sign — “Amraser See Strasse”. Amras Lake? Where the hell is that? Amras is a neighborhood on the edge of town, once a quiet outpost, now the business district. If you walk around beyond the shopping centers and superstores, you find corners of the old village tucked away in hidden places. But a lake? This was a new one for me.
A little internet research brought me closer — the Amraser See was a shallow lake fed by groundwater, the Aldranser Bach and a canal from the nearby Sill River (which joins the Inn a bit further on.) It was maintained for the royal fisheries when Innsbruck was a royal seat of power.

(Photo from Amraser Bote, June 2008 Issue)

An inn was first built near the lake in 1648, and stayed in business until about 20 years ago. The whole area was redeveloped in the early 90s, and apartment buildings stand there now, near the entrance to the autobahn. The “island” on the middle of the lake now holds a shopping center (DEZ.) Until all this construction, the lake had been slowly drying up over the years, but reemerged after exceptionally heavy rains. I believe the top photo was taken in 1985, when several parts of town had flooded.

>Culture Blogging: Gerhard Aba, Lisa Bufano

>Happened to catch a story on Austrian Television about Gerhard Aba, a photographer who has compiled a series of photographs using amputees as models. While the amputations are what first catches your eye, it is amazing how he draws out real photogenic expression in the models, most* of them non-professionals. You can see some of his works over at his blog.

*One of the women who worked with Aba is Lisa Bufano, and American dancer and performance artist who, at age 21, lost her lower legs and her fingers from a life-threatening infection. In the video linked below, she is on stilts which make her look about 8 feet tall and almost computer-generated. I find that after a few seconds I’m no longer looking at her lack of feet and fingers, but at her face. She’s a captivating artist and you want to know what she’s thinking as she allows people to stare.

Video: Four Legs Good – Lisa Bufano von FreyaFoto – MySpace Video

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