We arrived in Bregenz last night. Found the SeeCamping site right on the shore of Lake Constance/Bodensee and pitched. It’s a great site, huge but not crowded. The facilities are brilliant, typical Austrian/German. Visitors are as usual a mix of German, Austrian, Dutch, Czech, French and Belgian. No Brits in evidence. We walked into Bregenz this morning and for once did the tourist thing – visiting churches, exploring the town, planning a boat trip, arranging bike hire. But the overriding thing in Bregenz right now is the Festival. Pity is it starts on the 18th – we will miss it by 2 days. However there’s still lots to see. The last time we were in Bregenz we were amazed at the shore side set of the then Tosca performance. That was ten years ago? This year the opera is Carmen and, while the same fantastic shore side idea is being used, the set is very different comprising huge playing cards, not surprising given the plot. As we walked past the set in brilliant sunshine we saw what appeared to be climbers on the cards high up above the set, using very obviously technical mountaineering rope techniques to scale, traverse and swing from card to card. Of course the cards simulate the wild spots on the mountains and provide the backdrop for smugglers and soldiers, presumably stuntmen, suitably expert in mountaineering, who mime parts as they climb around the simulated mountainside. What we saw, and kept us interested for quite a while was part of the rehearsal, complete with music. Great fun. Of course we will miss the performance but this was just as interesting.
I note opera buffs are a bit dismissive of all this, suggesting the Bregenz production is just an “opera for everyman”. But why not?
We then wandered back to the campsite via the Kloster Mehrerau – a large, relatively newly built Cistercian Abbey with a history going back to the 11C. Now it must be said we realized the proximity of the Abbey at about 3am this morning. It’s really only one field away from the camp site, and of course as an active abbey the monks are called to early morning prayer with the bells. And in addition the bells are rung every quarter and on the hour. Strangely this is only through the night. During the day the bells are silent! Anyway it’s not all bad news – the Abbey with the lake as a backdrop is a very impressive building including a school and also provides a Klosterkeller – an open air restaurant in a large courtyard with an excellent, very reasonable menu. We sampled the beer and wine and made a plan to return tomorrow evening.