“Are you drinking already? At ten in the morning?” I ask Anna and her dad. They are sitting in the garden, cleaning the mushrooms Anna’s dad found in the woods, drinking a glass of white wine while doing so. At the exact moment I hear the words come out of my mouth, I realise my mistake. There is no such thing as drinking in the morning in Austria. It simply doesn’t exist. What Anna and her dad are doing (and what I’ll be doing two minutes later as well), is part of a very old tradition. And so I already know their response to my ignorant question: “No, we are not drinking in the morning. This is Frühschoppen! Do you want a beer or some wine?”
One of the things I like most about Vorarlberg is this thing called ‘Frühschoppen’. Basically, it’s drinking in the morning: It involves drinking alcoholic beverages, plus it happens before noon. Nonetheless, Austrian people don’t see it that way. It’s part of their culture and originated ages ago when people still went to church all together on Sunday morning. After the Mass women went back home to prepare lunch, while men got together in pubs to drink a beer. What those men were doing, is called Frühschoppen. Nowadays, going to church on Sunday morning is out of the question for a lot of people, but the tradition of Frühschoppen lives on. You can now even do it on other days of the week and women are allowed to join in as well!
Is it socially accepted to drink in the morning? Well, I think the Austrians succesfully managed to eliminate any negative connotations connected to it by just giving it a name and place in their cultural heritage. Now, if someone asks: “Should you drink already at 10 AM?” your answer is simply: “Yes, of course, drinking is the most important part of Frühschoppen, a tradition that needs to be upheld!” Who can say no to such a tradition?
I like Frühschoppen, but it’s not the only thing we do when we are in Vorarlberg. We also drink in the afternoon and in the evening, like normal people. Bowser’s grandpa makes his own wine and brews beer in his cellar (on the photo above this article you see one of his beers, with in the background his own little vineyard), his grandma likes to make liqueur from all the fruit that grows in the garden and his favourite Austrian aunt makes awesome limoncello and other kinds of Schnaps.
Anyway… enough about drinking, more about Bowser. This blog is called Travels with Bowser, after all. So how does Bowser like our trip so far?
Bowser is very happy: he likes all the attention he gets from everyone we meet and seems to enjoy the change of scenery a lot. We live in Eindhoven, a Dutch town like many others, with lots of buildings and very little nature. In Vorarlberg, however, we are surrounded by woods, farmland, vineyards and mountain streams. On Monday morning we went swimming in one of those streams. Bowser’s godfather (‘Göti’ in vorarlberger dialect) joined us there and took care of the beers for Frühschoppen.
Another thing worth mentioning is the progress Bowser made the last few days in moving around. A week ago he wasn’t able to move forward on his own and got very frustrated by it. The harder he tried, the faster he went backwards. But last Sunday he finally managed to get hold of a toy that was two meters in front of him and since that moment he keeps repeating his new trick. I wouldn’t call it real crawling yet, but it’s getting close: he lays on his belly and pushes himself forward with his hands and feet. His life seemed to get way more interesting because of this new skill, and our life a bit more difficult, since we have to watch him even closer now than before. Fortunately, we have a lot of other people around to keep an eye on him while we are enjoying our morning beer during Frühschoppen.
Yesterday we left Vorarlberg and drove over green mountains and through tiny villages to Osttirol, where we are staying at the farm of die Uroma, Bowser’s oldest family member. We will be here till Saturday and then drive to Croatia, where we’re gonna do some more Frühschoppen, although over there it’s probably just called drinking in the morning…