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Tuesday, 11 August 2009

You don't want no money, you don't want no bread

Everywhere we go in Austria we notice communities that have had an idea and made it happen; a new playground, a renovated town square. Pfarrwefen is a wonderful example; local people have worked together to provide a quality local museum from seven water mills that rise in a row from the valley, following a small stream.

These water mills, dating from at least the 18th Century, have been renovated and each contains an exhibition on a different aspect of the story of water milling; types of cereal, bread making, how the mill works and so on, finishing with the top mill which has been designed as a spiritual place complete with ethereal music and a glowing kernel. We found the whole museum entertaining and informative, providing in-depth information about a staple food, making it relevant to our own lives, as well as educational: Museums shouldn't be just about the rich and powerful.

It may be that Austrian's are able to succesfully provide good quality local facilities because of the evident wealth in the country. This is the first country we have visited where the cash machines only dispense 100 Euro and, if you are lucky, 50 Euro notes and notes of these denominations are accepted in cafes and shops without the bat of an Austrian eye-lash: No one shouts across the shop that they have a £20 note or makes you feel like a criminal by placing your note under a scanner.

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