When The Local Austria kicked off in May 2014, we had no idea that we had chosen the week that Austria was the focus for 195 million viewers, as Conchita Wurst won the Eurovision Song Contest. It was Austria's first win since 1966, when the late Udo Jürgens won with Merci, Chérie. Conchita has gone on from strength to strength, gracing the Life Ball, meeting the UN Secretary General, and wanting to meet with Russia's president Vladimir Putin. Sadly, Jürgens died in December, but he got to see Austria win Eurovision once more.
Austria is for many folks a little obscure. Every month, we hear of people confusing it with the Land Down Under, or asking where are the gondolas in its capital, Vienna. In June, our most popular story looked at the twelve inventions which Austria has given the world – from Sacher Torte and psychiatry to Pez and Red Bull.
Sacher Torte. Photo: Wikimedia
The sleepy lakeside town of Portschäch each year is host to the World Body Painting Championship. This year, the event was more popular than ever, as thousands of people descended on the town to paint, be painted, photograph or party. The Local will definitely be covering the event in 2015!
Photo: Daniel Janesch
Austria is a very conservative Catholic country, which appreciates the sanctity of its many small churches. So when a Polish-born wannabe porn star snuck into a church in the town of Hörsching, and shot a pair of self-starring pornographic films, the country was more than a little upset. Although the woman, known as Babsi, kept her face hidden, an eagle-eyed parishioner recognized her ample bosoms, and reported her to the police. The self-styled "Angel of Hörsching" was given a three month suspended sentence, and fined €5,350 for her depraved creativity, and the 'desecration of a house of worship.'
Frame capture from the video uploaded by 'Babsi'. Photo: Tube8
Each year for the past dozen years, the millionaire Richard Lugner has invited prominent guests to join him at the fabulous Vienna Opera Ball. He caused controversy with his 2014 invitees, Kim Kardashian and her mother Kris Jenner. After calling Kardshian 'boring', Lugner complained for weeks afterwards about the rudeness of his guest. For her part, however, Kardashian was deeply upset at encountering racism in Vienna. But above all this, Lugner provided the most interesting story, when the 81-year-old millionaire married his 24-year-old Playboy model, Spatzi. A match truly made in celebrity heaven.
Spatzi, Lugner and a giant pussy. Photo: APA/HERBERT NEUBAUER
October featured one of the sadder stories The Local had to report, as two teenage girls, who had gone missing from Austria back in May, were told that they would face up to five years in prison for traveling to Syria to join jihadists fighting the despotic regime there. Sadly, a later report revealed that one of the girls, both of whom married Islamic fighters, was probably dead.
Sabina (L) and Samra (R). Photo: APA/Interpol
Syria was in the news again many times during 2014, although the comic highlight from such a tragic situation was revealed in our story about how Turkish smugglers were keeping the jihadist insurgency alive by providing the Islamist's favourite drink – Red Bull.
Islamic State fighters in Syria. Photo: APA
As the year comes to a close, the most popular story in December occurred shortly before Christmas. An Egyptian man who resides permanently in Austria made an unfortunate decision. After buying a house in a small village in Lower Austria, the man was offended by the presence of a six-foot tall crucifix with an image of Jesus Christ, a popular icon which appears in many villages all over Austria. After standing on the edge of a road for more than sixty years, the crucifix was cut down in a few minutes by the Egyptian with an angle grinder.
A neighbour photographed the damage. Photo: Grossenzersdorf council
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All of us here at The Local Austria hope that each of our readers has a healthy, happy and successful 2015 — Guten Rutsch!