… if you’re visiting Mondsee, or any town in Austria for that matter, on a Saturday afternoon.
There we were, soaking up the sunshine, drinking in the scent of blossom and devouring what would be our final dose of Kaiserschmarrn (for that trip at least) at a small patio table in the town centre, when all hell broke lose.
I thought that the end was nigh.
This was it: Putin or Kim Jong-Il or some equally nutty fascist had done it…
They’d pressed the red button.
The nuclear apocalypse was upon us.
We were about to become just another zombie from just another Fallout game.
The wail of the siren was just that loud. Just that disorientating.
And yet… nobody was reacting.
If this was the end, then it was a bit bloody anti-climactic!
I looked to Adam, then to Will; Will looked to me and then to Adam; Adam looked from Will to me. We all looked around.
People were sipping away at their wine, reading their newspapers, eating their lunch.
Nothing to suggest that the earth-shattering, ear-splitting sound we were hearing was anything but a figment of our own imagination.
Yet all three of us could hear it. I mean, we joke about sharing one brain, but this was just ridiculous.
Finally, a man on the opposite side of the cobbled street snapped, throwing his hands to his ears as if they were suddenly magnetised.
Then, as suddenly as it had begun, the noise abated.
Upon returning to the car, our guide asked whether we had any questions and us Brits- of course- clammed up, completely forgetting about the noise that had all but deafened us. Thankfully our American companions had not.
Turns out it’s a tradition, dating back to when six-day working weeks were the norm. The siren was to signify the start to the weekend: a far less ominous event than such a monstrous noise would naturally suggest.
This custom apparently remains in 95% of Austrian towns.
So if you happen to find yourselves out of the city on a Saturday afternoon, do not fear:
It is not the end!