We recently returned from a three-week tour of Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. While in Salzburg, Austria, we had an opportunity to visit the sister city of Big Bear Lake, Abtenau. My brother, John, was the mayor of Big Bear Lake when Abtenau became a sister city.

We decided to visit the town as part of our trip through the region. Before our trip we visited Big Bear’s city center to see if there was any information they might have on the current relationship of the two cities. Not much contact has been maintained, but we were given several items such as pins, a city patch, a hat and other items including photos from the city to present to any representative we may come in contact with.

On Oct. 5 we started our great adventure from Salzburg to Abtenau. It was a very rainy day. We caught the train for a 45-minute ride to Golling and then caught a bus for the 30-minute ride to Abtenau. It rained all the way. We arrived in Abtenau about 2 p.m.  

We had four hours before we could catch the bus back to Golling and then the train to Salzburg. We were cold and wet and walked into The Golden Stern Hotel and Restaurant. We met the owner, Gerhard Wageneder, and told him about our mission. We shared the gifts that we were given.

He was aware that Big Bear was their sister city and told us there was a sign as you enter Abtenau. He was excited to receive the gifts and said he would see his friend, the mayor, that Wednesday. We felt very honored to have spent an afternoon in Big Bear’s Sister City.

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