Robinson Crusoe must have felt like this when he saw his deserted island for the first time, I thought, as we were flying over the Vienna Woods in a helicopter, and the fascinating landscape below us blew my mind. My photo may prove me right. Anyway, it served me as a clue to retrace the flight route later on a map, so that I could actually go and discover this fine mountain lodge with my own feet down on the ground.
Well, this is where we are right now, on top of the “Paraplui Mountain” in the heart of the famous Vienna Woods, and the view is stunning.
The Lodge has a long history. It was built in 1905 and is named after Habsburg’s Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand (foto below, Wikipedia), who must have spent a major part of his time hunting in the Vienna Woods. Records say, he hunted over 5000 deer in his life.
Franz Ferdinand moved up one step in the order of Crown Princes of Austria-Hungary, after his cousin Rudolf (son of beautiful Sisi and Franz Josef I) had committed double suicide with his lover in a nearby hunting lodge at Mayerling, another hunting ground in the Vienna Woods. However, Franz Ferdinand neither became emperor, as 25 years after this tragic incident, he himself was assassinated in Sarajevo, which in turn caused the outbreak of World War I.
But let us return to the lodge on Paraplui Mountain. Today is a National Holiday, and the restaurant is busy with hikers taking a rest here during lunchtime.
“Paraplui” Mountain derives its name from the umbrella shaped pine trees surrounding the mountain lodge. It is also the French word for umbrella, but has found its way into the German language of Austria in the 17th Century, a time when the French language was spoken by the nobility. I remember even my grandma still widely applying these gallicisms in her Mid-Austrian dialect some 300 years later.
Here is a row of such Paraplui pine trees around the main entrance of the lodge, their umbrella shaped crowns set against the cloudy October sky.
“Franz Ferdinand Lodge on Paraplui Mountain” it says on the signboard over the entrance door.
Inside the lodge we find a plate engraved with golden letters, saying “Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand” Mountain Lodge, constructed 1905.
It is a 45 minute walk from the village of Perchtoldsdorf on the border of Vienna’s 23rd district, to an altitude of 532 m on the peak of the Paraplui Mountain amidst the Vienna Woods. The season is end of October now and the path is densely covered with fallen leaves as the Vienna Woods are traditionally mixed coniferous. Here at the Paraplui Mountain the name-giving black “Umbrella” or “Paraplui Pines”, are predominant towards the end of the hiking route.
Before the path takes a turn into the woods we pass small vineyards. Some of the red grapes were left in place on the vine, to dry and wait to be covered by the first frost, as this will be the tasty ingredient for the famous “Ice Wine”, a sweet delight of the Austrian cuisine.
A stack of firewood outside the lodge tells us that preparations for the cold winter months are well on their way.
After a short rest at the Franz Ferdinand Lodge, we head down again under the pine trees-
back to the starting point of our short hiking tour in the village of Perchtoldsdorf.
Once more we pass through the former hunting grounds of Austro-Hungarian Crown Prince, Franz Ferdinand.
Listen to the famous waltz “Tales from the Vienna Woods”, sung by famous Hungarian soprano Maria Ivogün. She came to the Vienna Imperial Opera House in 1913, just a year before the assassination of Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand. Her pure and clear soprano was ground braking and she was also the teacher of famous soprano singers such as Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Rita Streich or Renate Holm. Enjoy this recording from 1924 of the “Tales from the Vienna Woods” by Johann Strauss II:
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