“The world is so full of many things that I am sure we shall be all happy as kings. How happy are kings?” (1)
Mountain path to Kreuzjoch (2,450 m) near Schruns
This summer we have visited again the Montafon Valley for nice and real summerfreshness, this place to be found in the utmost Western part of Austria right to the border of Switzerland. In 1925 and 1926 the still unknown author Ernest Hemingway spent also quite some time here and in fact left lasting personal impressions with the local people.
Hotel Taube at Schruns around 1920 (2)
The budding writer had come to Montafon Valley with his wife and son from Paris, because he had little money and good friends had told him that in Schruns there would be the nice Hotel Taube, that the Montafon was cheap and the mountains just ravishing. Hemingway liked it so much that he spent two winters here in 1924/25 and 1925/26, six months amidst the dazzling white snow world and surrounded by the tranquility he needed to rewrite his first novel “The Sun also rises”. The local people called him the “black Kirsch drinking Christ”, because he liked to stay in the diverse taverns of the valley.
Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, Gerald Murphy at Silvretta, 1925 (3)
The young author with his wife Hudley and son at Schruns, 1926 (3)
Wiesbadener Hütte at Silvretta in the 1920s, here Hemingway stayed for ski tours (3)
Hemingway, then in his mid-20s, was very fine, on wooden skis and sealskins he climbed up into the Ochsental, climbed the glaciers on the Piz Buin at Silvretta, he loved the mountains, and in Schruns he sipped the homemade schnapps of the peasants, plus lots of Fohrenburger beer, and he beat them all down in the bar of Hotel Taube: the host, his ski instructor Walter Lent, even the local gendarmerie captain participated in the evening poker rounds. Quite how influential those visits to Montafon were for Hemingway gets clear in his last book “A Moveable Feast” because therein he left a memorial to Montafon. So the very last chapter of this book is devoted to this Austrian region, his private paradise, he describes the valley enthusiastically as a real romance.
Löwen Tavern founded 1500 at Tschagguns where Hemingway often accompanied hunters and woodcutters
Portrait of Hemingway to be found at Kreuzkeller-Bar in Schruns
And Ernest Hemingway was here in fact a welcomed guest, the people of Montafon really liked him. On the wall of the dining room at Hotel Taube hang today some small black and white photos, Hemingway with beard, Hemingway on skis. John, the writer’s first son, sent it to the hotel himself after visiting the place in his father’s footsteps. Otherwise Hotel Taube makes no fuss over the legendary Nobel laureate, who once resided in this house. A small brass board next to the entrance, which tourism wanted so, and a casual note in the hotel brochure. Not more. No logos, no fussed bar, no Hemingway fuss as to be found elsewhere.
Above the clouds at Innerberg
But Hemingway has become a real myth here, and now his name hangs over the region like the wet-gray clouds moving over the valleys. Even today, the Hotel Taube stands at the church square in Schruns, tidy and neatly the little streets of the small city, and in the background you can still admire today the stunning peaks of seemingly eternal Rätikon waiting for our final discovery.
Wiegensee in the mountains of Partenen
Old smuggler trail near the Swiss border
- Ernest Hemingway in a letter to his colleague F. Scott Fitzgerald, September 1926
- photo from an old marketing flyer of ‘Hotel Taube’
- photos from the archive of ‘Montafon Tourismus’