Our former German assistant, Manuela, lives in Austria, so we decided to visit her since we are so close. She lives in Braunau am Inn, which most people probably know as the birthplace of Hitler, but it is something that the town obviously doesn’t want to advertise and it’s not a good reason to go and visit the town. What people should visit Braunau to see is its homeliness, small-town feeling and to see how the average person lives in Austria.

The town is called Braunau am Inn, because am Inn, means “on the Inn River”, which runs right next to Braunau and separates it from Germany.

When we arrived Manuela was working, so we walked from the train station to the main part of town, which amounted to about a ten minute walk. Stepping off the train and breathing in fresh country air was really relaxing. Everything seemed so quiet and peaceful compared to the city.

When we arrived at the main street, called Stadplatz, we were surrounded by colorful, cute buildings and shops. There was hardly anyone on the street so we sat at a bench and just enjoyed the sun.

Once her work was finished, Manuela met us and then proceeded to give us a tour of the town.

Braunau is right on the border of Germany, so of course we had to make our way over to Germany just for the fun of it. We crossed the bridge between Germany and Austria and ended up in the small town of Simbach.

Manuela told us about this statue in Simbach, which is placed right at the end of the bridge when entering Germany. It is a man riding a fish. Originally the man was completely naked, but the residents of Braunau found it offensive to have a naked man’s behind pointed at their lovely home, so they made the artist cover the figure. I’m not really sure if it helped, since it still pretty much looked like he was naked from where we stood, but the people of Braunau seem to be satisfied.

Braunau was founded in 1260 and used to be surrounded by a wall. However, there is only a small portion of this wall left.

Part of the old wall close to the Inn.

Directly next to the wall is a small walking path that cuts through the forest.

We were then lead to the Church of St. Stephan’s, which is one of the main churches in the town. On the outside of the church is a carving of one of the old town leaders Hans Staininger, or as many know him, “the man with the very long beard”. He did indeed have a very long beard, but it was his beard that eventually killed him. One day he forgot to tuck his beard in his pocket while going down the stairs and he tripped and fell, breaking his neck. Perhaps such a long beard was not the best of ideas, but it sure made him look awesome.

Inside the church.

These particular seats have rounded edges that stick out. This was originally used to keep people from falling out of their seat if they fell asleep while at church. When someone would fall asleep they could slump forward, but the arms of the chairs would catch them and keep them mostly upright.

There is a small park in Braunau dedicated to Johann Philipp Palm. He was a bookseller, but he wrote some things that Napoleon didn’t like and so Palm was imprisoned and then executed for his writings.

While walking through town, we came to the Painters’ Quarter. It’s called this because many artists love to come to this spot and paint the many different rooftops. Addision, Ari, Annika and I all had our cameras out and were taking a million pictures. The old men in my photo were watching us. We were probably the only tourists in the entire town.

We stopped at Hitler’s birth house, but it wasn’t really anything special and looked like any normal building. There is a memorial out front, which I thought was a nice, but subtle way of working with the house without making the house itself into something. The stone of the memorial is made out of granite from the former concentration camp, Mauthausen.

Next we arrived at one of the town towers. It is the only tower still remaining of the original five. It is the town’s oldest building and was built during the time that the town was founded.

After our tour we headed to Manuela’s family house for lunch. Her mother had made us pumpkin soup, which is very popular in Austria. After having lunch we were taught how to make apple strudel. It’s actually really simple and fun to make. First we made the dough and then we began cutting the apples. Manuela’s mother was super fast! She had already done five, while I was still working on one. I have to admit cutting apples is not my forte. Out of all the apples below I probably got through three before they were all finished, but I didn’t cut myself!

After cutting the apples we rolled out the dough, placed the apples inside, added two types of sugar and raisins and then rolled it all together. It took maybe a half hour to cook and then we added vanilla sauce and ice cream! It was the best apple strudel I’ve had so far!

While waiting for the strudel to cook we went outside and fed Manuela’s chickens. Only two of them were old enough to produce eggs, the rest were still too young. They tried to escape when we entered the pen, but once they saw that we had food, we were the center of attention. Manuela told us that they left them out everyday and they wandered the town, eventually coming back in the afternoon for shelter and food.

We said fairwell to Manula’s mother and then headed over to Manuela’s house where she lives with her fiancé. It was a nice little home, with just enough room for us all to sleep in the main living room. She introduced us to her rabbit, which Addison fell in love with and we took a break until heading over to dinner and the movie theater to watch Skyfall in German.

Skyfall was great, even when I couldn’t understand half of it, but it was really strange to listen to a well-known actor like Daniel Craig and hearing the wrong voice. My host mother told me that people here hardly ever hear the real voice of the actors, because they always get the same people to dub the same actors. It makes sense, but it was something I never thought of before.

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