Seeing the alps was pretty close to the top of my Study Abroad to-do list, so I was looking forward to my trip to Salzburg with a lot of enthusiasm.
To get the Salzburg cheaply, I took a train to the German city of Dusseldorf, and then a flight to Munich, and then another train to Salzburg. It was a lot of transfers, between connecting trains, buses across town, and even a sky tram, so the travel this weekend was exhausting. I don’t remember another trip where the traveling part made my brain so tired.
Luckily, though, Salzburg was such a treat and made all that hassle worth it. I arrived on Saturday afternoon. I checked into my hostel and logged onto the internet to call home and tell everyone I was doing fine. I also talked to my Aunt Sue, whose daughter I was meeting up with for this trip. We had a nice facetime chat, and then I waited for Jen to arrive.
Jen is one of my best friends in the wole world. She and I have known each other since we were born, and have always been friends. We like a lot of the same things and both enjoy talking about theoretical things. Since we’ve known each other so long we have a lot of funny little inside jokes and stories together. Needless to say, I was really looking forward to seeing her.
When she got settled into the hostel, we grabbed a map and hit the city. First we walked to the old town, crossing a bridge with symbolic locks hanging from all the available loops on a chain-link guard rail. I love that tradition, it’s so sweet.
Then we poked around the old part of the town starting with a main shopping boulevard. We saw several shops that only sold one type of truffle called the Mozart Kugeln. It’s pistachio filling covered in marzipan and chocolate, and its both delicious and expensive. We also saw a store full of Faberge eggs and Christmas ornaments and another that sold violins and other string instruments. In true Austrian fashion, we browsed through the lederhosen and traditional Austrian costumes and “ooo”ed over the fabulous displays of desserts. The best part of the day was taking a small train up the side of a small mountain and into a the Salzburg fortress. From up there we could finally see the alps, and it was perfect.
The first view of the mountains we got, it almost took my breath away. On one side, the city has wonderful green rolling hills, but on the other there are great white mountains that take over the skyline. They are so big, so powerful they make you fall in love and burst with energy. It’s amazing. We were blessed with good weather, and the mountains under that perfect blue sky was enough to make you feel brave. I get why people throw away all they’ve got to go live in the mountains, it’s empowering.
On Sunday we took a double tour. In the morning we went on the Sound of Music tour with a small group. We were able to see the multple houses where scenes of the movie were shot, the lake where the children tipped the boat, and the gardens where they sang Do Re Mi. We also saw the real abbey that the real Maria Von Trapp and the Julie Andrews character were nuns at the beginning of the film. Then we drove out into the lake district where we saw the church where Maria was married to the captain, and the home of Mozart’s mother. It was so much fun to see the movie locations in real life, even if 50 years have passed since it was first filmed.
In the afternoon we took a salt mine tour in Bavaria, Germany. With another small touring van, we drove through the alps, just passed Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest and to an alpine salt mine. We wore these dorky suits and learned about how the salt mines work. It was really interesting, and fun! We got to go down two slides and ride a little miner’s train through a tiny passageway. I was looking forward to it a lot, and I was incredibly happy we got to go.
After a hearty dinner, it was a real treat to chill out in the hostel’s lobby and watch the Sound of Music. After just seeing all the real life locations, the movie was even more fun to watch. And of course we sang along!
My last day in Salzburg, we had a great pastry breakfast and poked around the town a bit more. We also went to the childhood home of Mozart which is now a museum. They had his very first violin (so tiny!) and some of his pianos and harpsichords. It was really fun to see all that, especially after learning so much about the famous composer in high school.
Someday I hope to return to Austria, it’s a place that feels comfortable and right. It was a sad goodbye to Jen, but I know I’ll see her again. To Austria I say thank you and So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye!