The Gerrard Chronicles 1997

Previous pageis the Campaign Trail

Next page is the Business Column

Traveller's Tales if the Business Column was not a travel section again...


A return trip to this town, where we skied in 1991 & which had its worst snow cover in living memory. Fortunately, up the valley at 'Sport Gastein', it was adequate & the Schossalm at Bad Hofgastein down the valley was really quite good, thanks to their snow-making equipment. However, this does create stretches of persil-on-ice, which is still better than mud . Although we know he wrote much of his 9th Symphony here & some songs, the town ignored Schubert's 200th birthday, so we hung a wreath & card on the memorial put up by the Vienna Schubert Club in 1925. The card said, 'To Franz Schubert on his 200th birthday. Still young in our ears. With grateful thanks from Ken Baldry (composer) & (written by Avis) Avis Salzmann (printmaker)'. This was Avis' first use of the German spelling. We had to twist the neck of the Bulgarian pianist in the posh Hotel Salzburger Hof to play some Schubert. A poor do. There was a builder called Salzmann in the Gasteinertal. Avis has joined the Anglo-German Family History Society but has not had time to pursue the family connection, apart from reading a book about the hard time German immigrants had been given in England during the First World War.

Ken puts a wreath on the Schubert plaque on his 200th birthday

Down the Gasteinertal, showing the snow shortage

Avis above Hochgastein


In June, we went to Vienna for three days of culture shock, firstly to vist the Schmidt-Rottluf retrospective in the museum designed by Friedrich Hundertwasser in the 1980s, an unbelievable building of brick & wood with barely a rectangular surface anywhere. The show included the whole span of this expressionist's work & was worth the trip itself but there was also the Schubert 200 (not good) to go to, the Palais Liechtenstein for modern art, the Belvedere for Austrian art, Schönbrunn, the Volksoper (a brilliant 'Zigeunerbaron' for 75p each), Schubert's birthplace & Beethoven's house in Heiligenstadt. Then, we drove to Altaussee in the Salzkammergut (the Austrian Lake District), as Ken had promised Avis lakes & this is the prettiest part of the country. No mountaineering but a boat trip on the Traunsee & gentle walks round the Altausseersee, the Gosausee & the Krippenstein & its strange ice caves

Ken on Beethoven's piano

The Altauseersee

Hallstatt - oldest town in Europe

Avis on the Krippenstein


A long-standing ambition to start the Cross-Swiss walk in more style by traversing the Rhätikon, the long limestone Swiss-Austrian frontier ridge, was fulfilled in August. Ken started by air & train to Klosters, up the Madrisa egg railway & then an afternoon walk over the Schlappinerjoch to Gargellen in Austria. To start the walk proper, there was quite an arduous day over the Sarotla Pass & three minor passes to the Lindauer Hut, renowned for its good food. The next day started with a long plod over the Ofen Pass under the glorious Drusenfluh, followed by the higher Verajoch & lower Cavalljoch, which took him back into Der Schweiz. Then, more plod to the Schesaplana Hut with its austere (very) Swiss cookery & a bad night's 'sleep' in the lager. The last day of this part of the trip went over the Grosse Furka back to Austria & a traverse into Liechtenstein past the Pfälser Hut & down to Steg, where he arrived, semi-dead to find the only hotel closed. So he thumbed a lift through the tunnel into the Rhine Valley & stayed at Triesenberg. He walked down past Vaduz Castle (very pretty, this bit) & along the Rhine to Buchs in Switzerland again, then thumbed a lift into the Toggenberg, where he spent the rest of the week. The deteriorating weather produced dramatic effects on the Churfirsten overlooking the Walensee. Then, a last & very wet plod over the Vorder Hohi to pretty Weesen on the Walensee (the one illustrated by Liszt in the Swiss Années de Pelerinage).

Ken on the Verajoch

Vaduz Castle

Churfirsten from Chäseregg

One breakthrough - for the first time, no one laughed at Ken's parasol-cum-brolly but many realised & said that it was a good idea.
Ken forgot to mention his Swiss Alpine Club 25-year Veterans badge received last year. He thought it was due this year.


Desperate for a holiday in October after the show & Warsaw trip, Philip Davies (our local independent Travel Agent) suggested Taormina in Sicily. Now, we had never considered Taormina despite Ken's Uncle Eric's recommen-dation (he captured it in 1943) because of the Mafia-ridden nature of the island but the town is undoubtedly beautiful, set 700 feet up on a steep sea cliff. We visited Syracuse, which has a Greek theatre carved from the solid rock, seats included (shades of the Islington Union Chapel) & Etna, an only too active volcano but we could not get near the crater, although the tour round was interesting, as there are quite large towns on it. Etna grows 10cm per year, net of erosion, which is fast in geological terms. From our hotel balcony on clear mornings, we could watch explosions emitted by the crater & the consequent clouds of nasty fog. Taormina has a huge Greek theatre of its own, modernised by the Romans. The gardens were laid out (typically) by one of those eccentric 19th century English women, Florence Trevelyan, exiled with vast funds by her family for screwing the Prince of Wales (Edward VII).

Etna from our hotel balcony

Taormina from the Public Gardens

Syracuse Theatre

Previous pageis the Campaign Trail

Next page is the Business Column

Contact: Ken Baldry or Avis Saltsman, 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY Home:+44(0)20 7359 6294 or e-mail him or her
This page's URL: Last revised 29/6/2014 Copyright: Art & Science Ltd 1998-2014 All rights reserved but print it off if you want to.