I was hoping to post every day during Kirchtag, but I’m falling behind. I’ve just been too busy soaking up the atmosphere. More people fill the streets each day. The entire oldtown area is filled with snack food stands and “gastgartens” that serve sit-down food. They are packed in next to each other and any spaces in between are filled with beer stands. Right now in Villach, you are never more than 20m from a beer, which is a good thing because it could take you a while to navigate the crowds to get there.
Speaking of crowds, I’ve never lived in a place that had a big festival going on like this. It’s incredibly convenient when you want to get home after being out at night. A few nights ago it started to rain and we just popped back into our apartment to wait it out. Everyone else was scrambling for umbrellas or spots under the beer tents. The flip side is that it is also pretty difficult to get anything done in town this week. It takes me about twice as long to walk to the grocery store because I have to make my way through crazy crowds of people (yes, the music, dancing, and beer start in the morning!).
We haven’t been able to get to our garage all week, so we left the car at Eric’s work parking lot. The entrance to the garage technically was left open, but realistically there is a spinning ride on one side and a wurst stand on the other. The crowds overflowing from these two make it impossible to get to. We don’t really need to go anywhere, but I am a little disappointed that we didn’t get to use the pass for car to go in and out of the festival area. It was quite an effort to find the right office at the townhall, explain where we lived, where our garage was, ask for a pass, and give them our license plate number – all in German. I was pretty proud of myself, but it turned out to be unnecessary practice.
I mentioned the rides above, and I should note that these are not just little carousels for the kids, but a bunch of huge spinning and flinging things that throw you around in every direction. They seem like a particularly bad idea for a bunch of people who just spent hours drinking beer before getting on them, but what do I know? They all seem to be having a great time.
Many of those same people who are eating, drinking, and dancing here are dressed in traditional outfits. I was told before the festival started that a lot of people would be, but I didn’t expect so many. More than half the crowd is kitted out in Tracht, which is the general name for the Lederhosen, Dirndl dresses, and other types of clothes that you probably associate with the Alps. Last week we headed to a shop and got out the credit card (this stuff is expensive!). The clothes we bought hung in the closet for the first half of the week as we worked up the courage to go out in it. In reality so many people are dressed up that you look a little funny if you are not.
Here we are all “tracht-ed up”: