The mail determined destiny 50 years ago


How can a letter change your life? The Frenchwoman Nicole Fernsebner from Strasbourg tells all.

It was the year 1969, when Nicole – maiden name Schaedler – received her first message from her new penpal, Ulrike from Moers on the Lower Rhine. She wanted to perfect her German and thanks to her she came to the Salzburger Saalachtal. Ulrike’s family were regular guests in Lofer for a long time. For several years, she travelled with them until she got to know the 19 year old son from the Unteregg farm, Stefan Fernsebner. Back in Strasbourg, she couldn’t get him out of her head and after her school leaving examination moved, bag and baggage, to be with him. The pair married and had three children. In 1988, they took over Stefan’s family home at 680 metres above sea level in the hamlet of Scheffsnoth in Lofer and converted the rooms into holiday apartments. 

Mother-in-law Wally had already been a passionate landlady. And this was in the 50s, when you collected the guests on foot from the bus parking area and sent the luggage up the mountain on the goods cableway. Then modernization began and the road was extended up to the house. Here, decades later, the Frenchwoman still brings a lot of dedication and energy to the job, but also European ideas. Her home city of Strasbourg has become the seat of the European parliament. She reports that she and her brother were brought up to be cosmopolitan. Her father brewed the spicy Kronenbourg beer and mother worked as a secretary. At the weekend they used to go for a picnic in the countryside, preferably in the low mountains of the Vosges.  There they met friends and relatives and set up folding tables and chairs to celebrate together among the greenery.  As a young woman, Madame Fernsebner suddenly found herself 500 km away from her family. “I really missed them at the beginning”, she admits. Now her own daughters Julia and Andrea also live far away in Southern England. Thank goodness for skype as she meets them regularly on screen. Her son Michael has remained in Lofer and loves to visit his parents with his family. Mum serves up Wiener Schnitzel on Sundays or  ”Blanquette-de-veau“ (veal ragout); pancakes or fine French “crêpes“. “I am a person who can be transplanted anywhere”, says the 64 year old, who was also treasurer and secretary of the Lofer private landlords’ association for 20 years. And as if to reaffirm this, the grandmother of five adds,  „Je vais bien.“ – ”I’m fine.“

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