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Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Austria

12th September 2018 Vienna, Austria

The perfect honeymoon destination – in Austria

A young couple descend from a train at Völs station and take a post bus up the valley. Their destination is the village of Gries im Sellrain in Tyrol, where they will spend a romantic honeymoon.

The couple are my parents, and the year is 1951.

After my father died in 2013, my mother moved into more manageable accommodation.  Many terrific things saw the light of day, including my mother’s scrap-book from 1951. I reproduce below the pages from Gries im Sellrain.

Their destinations included St Sigmund, further up the valley; bus trips to Innsbruck; and climbs up local mountains (from my mother’s diary: “several happy days”).

Seeing these picture inspired me to visit Gries im Sellrain this summer.  Gries lies up a mountain road from Innsbruck and is as secluded and picturesque a village as you could wish for.  Herr Hans Motz, the Gemeindeamtsleiter or Town Clerk, representing the Mayor, kindly showed me round, including the Grieserhof where my parents stayed in 1951.  We also viewed the pretty church, the interior of which has been radically redesigned in a way which I was told was controversial locally but which for me represents Austrian brilliance at combining old and new in imaginative ways.

Seeing Gries brought a lump to my throat when I thought about my parents enjoying their visit there together.  I am grateful to Herr Motz for bringing to life those experiences 67 years earlier.

And for anyone thinking of a holiday in Tyrol, I can recommend Gries im Sellrain as the most peaceful and unspoilt holiday destination you could wish for.  I can also recommend holidays in the UK, of course.  I note that when my parents completed their holiday in 1951 (“passed Lake Constanz in the moonlight… glad when someone moved out and we got a corner seat… arrived Boulogne 7 a.m.”) they visited the Festival of Britain in London.  Some things never change.

About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.