Saturday, July 2, 2011


June 17-19

After Venezia, I took a night train to Salzburg. In my compartment was a grad student from Purdue (we talked about Ann Arbor) and a man and his daughter who are from Austria, but now living in Vancouver (so we talked about the Stanley Cup finals and the series between our teams). We also spoke in German for a bit about Austria (this was the first time I had a chance to have a German conversation in Europe). Sleeping on the train was about like sleeping on an airplane, I didn't mind too much. (I've learned to appreciate being small, it makes travel so much more comfortable). I was surprised to find out that the train arrived in Salzburg 3 hours earlier than I expected it to though. I had read the time table for the arrival time for the train's final stop (Vienna), not my final stop (Salzburg). Venice was probably about 90 degrees and sunny the day I left, Salzburg was closer to 50 and rainy. Luckily the Austrians are prepared for cold weather and have enclosed waiting rooms on train platforms, and McDonalds opens really early in the morning and has free wifi. The fleece sweatshirt I had packed, that I was tired of carrying for no reason was suddenly nice to have. Thanks mom for insisting that I bring it.

I loved Salzburg. The old town is small and the mountains are large, but both are very pretty. They do everything they can to capitalize on Mozart and the Sound of Music here (I think the hostel I stayed at was one of the only ones that doesn't show the movie daily). 

It had been awhile since I'd visited a smelly fort (sorry Dad, I haven't found wooden forts here), so I visited the castle first, Schloss Hohensalzburg, instead. Unlike the Americans and Italians, the Austrian do not charge you extra for audio tours of castles and museums (at least not anywhere I visited), they actually want you to learn something! Another place I really liked was St. Peters. The graveyard was really unique (its the inspiration for the one at the end of the Sound of Music). 

Most of the tombstones there were not actually that old. A few from the late 1800's, but many from the last 50 years. I assume it was because of destruction during WWII, but don't know for sure (I've only missed having my phone when I want to look up random facts like that and can't, then forget later). Inside, the church has 5 organs. 5! 

The views from the top of Mönchsberg are the best in the city, if you ever come here, make sure to see them. Schloss Hellbrunn was another good tour, there are trick fountains installed through out the 400 yr old gardens. (When I was travelling with the group still, nearly everyday someone would say "what do you want to do today?" "See some old stuff". I still have a hard time comprehending how old everything is here).

Now that I had left Italy and arrived in the mountains, it was time to start drinking beer instead of wine (well mostly anyway...). One evening I went to the Augustinerbräu (thanks for the recommendation Matt!) with a group of students from LSU (just in case you didn't already know, Les Miles is from Michigan). The beer garden is next to the Augustine monastery and the drinks are poured straight from the wooden barrel. I think the monastery is linked with the brewery in more than just name, but I don't know for sure. The next day I went with another roommate for a tour of the Stiegl brewery. The tour was in German and a little fast, so slightly difficult to understand, but the signs and pictures helped. In their World of Beer exhibit at the end of the tour, they have a tower of Austrian beer bottles. Its far more impressive than an Ashley's card. 

I also learned that its a good idea to drink a Pilsner after red wine, because it neutralizes the acidity in the wine. "Beer auf Wein, so soll es sein!". I've met a lot of fun people from around the world in Salzburg. The hostel had a lounge, bar and pool table that made for a great rainy night in with new friends! 

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