Where am I now?

As you can see, this blog hasn't gotten any love in many years... But you can now find me on my site jessicatravels.com.

11 September 2005

Salzburg: No Sound of Music

Chris woke up early and set out to do laundry. I only heard him as he was walking out the door, and I was only half awake when I realized he was locking the door behind him. This would have given me comfort on any other occasion, knowing he was looking out for my safety and keeping unwanted visitors out. The problem in this case, however, was that there was no bolt on the inside of the door to lock or unlock it. The door locked and unlocked the same way on both sides – with the key. So, as I lay there realizing I was locked in this room until Chris got back, I hoped that no one started a fire in the building.

Thankfully, the building was still fire-free when Chris returned, and we eventually got on the 10:48am train to Salzburg. We walked the 15-20 minute trip to the area of town in Rick Steves’ guided walk, and then did the R.S. tour. We were both tired after so much walking the day before (and not enough sleep on my part), so we didn’t linger in many places.

Our first "pretty" view of Salzburg, as we walked across the pedestrian bridge.

We did walk through the lovely Cathedral (past another couple reading the same R.S. tour), and saw the baptismal font where Mozart was baptized. He was the organist in the Cathedral for several years. The archways on either side of the nave are ornately carved but only in black and white, making the overall effect not as gaudy as other Baroque or Rococo style art I’m used to seeing. I loved the detail and the texture, and the lack of color only added to the feeling of it being a texture kind of decoration rather than icing on a fancy cake. The dome was bombed during the war, and has been rebuilt – it’s really beautiful, very light and colorful.

Salzburg's Cathedral: here are the carvings I was talking about, and the lovely dome.

And here's the baptismal font where Mozart was baptised.

There are several “Sound of Music” tours you can take, showing highlights of the Von Trapp family and the places in the city that served as inspiration for the movie sets. Personally, I hate that movie, so I not only had no earthly desire to go on one of the tours, I also didn’t recognize what the guidebook was talking about when it mentioned things about the movie. Whatever, it’s still a very pretty and picturesque little town, with bustling cobbled streets and beautiful open squares.

One of my favorite spots was around St. Peter’s Church and its cemetery. The cemetery had predominantly iron crosses over the graves rather than headstones, and it made for a very different look. Also, the guidebook says that the graves are rented, not purchased – they’re lovingly tended by family members, and all look like miniature raised gardens. The stone surrounding each one looks ancient, and the plots themselves look quite small – I have no idea how they get the old stone up without destroying it, and can’t believe a coffin would fit… Unless Austrians are shorter than other nationalities (or they’re just burying containers of ashes)…

This is the cemetery with the iron "headstones," and is supposedly the one the moviemakers for that stupid "Sound of Music" movie modeled their set after. I liked the cemetery in spite of that information.

The interior of St. Peter’s Church was nothing special, but the domes were fabulous – one in particular was a very ornate onion dome, more closely resembling a spire with onion tendencies. The sky was a lovely blue the whole time we were there (it rained as we got to the train station, so we got lucky), and the green copper of the domes against that blue sky was really pretty – I took several pictures of just the spire.

St. Peter's exceptionally cool dome-like spire I loved. A friend said it looks like a giant head of elephant garlic, and I think she's right. I mean, c'mon - isn't it just great?!?

After a light lunch of a spicy curry sausage with mustard and some ice cream for dessert, we bought a couple of trinkets and then headed back to the station to catch an earlier train. We’d talked about taking the funicular up to the fortress atop the hill, but really the fatigue had just finally caught up with us and we were out of touristy steam.

We have no earthly idea what this was about - the entire storefront of this shop was full of eggs. Dozens upon dozens of colored eggs, all arranged like this in cartons of the same design. Anyone know what on earth this is for? It doesn't matter, really, it was just pretty...

And, well, this needs very little explanation. (Actually, it needs lots of explanation - because my definition of "schmuck" must be very different, indeed, from theirs. This is another example of why it's a problem when you don't speak the language.)

Back in Munich, we chatted with the gal at the hotel reception desk – she’s got a very interesting history, and has traveled to many places we’d like to go. It was fun to talk with her. (A side note: The only problem with talking to Germans is when they know and say my last name. I immediately feel like I’ve been mispronouncing it my whole life…)

After realizing our precious wireless had evaporated into thin air, we tried to get to the Internet cafĂ© R.S. mentions (after a failed attempt to connect at the Starbucks – yes, Starbucks – across from our hotel), but either it’s no longer there or Rick’s horribly mistaken. I’m pretty sure it’s the former.

We’d pretty much given up connecting to the Internet, and headed back to the Altes Hackerhaus (same place we ate the first night in Munich) for dinner. On a whim, Chris pulled his laptop out of his bag and got a great, fast wireless connection! So, we sat at a table in a beer hall with a beer each and a laptop on the table. Everyone’s got their cell phones out in restaurants, and a few people have digital cameras out, but we were still getting funny looks with the laptop. I sent quick emails to folks about the change in hotel information for Berlin, and posted something quick here about the wireless connection in the hotel going away, and then we put it away.

A brief note about the women who work in the brauhaus (brauhauses? brauhausi?) – they never stop moving, they carry unimaginable weights of huge steins full of beer (our waitress carried a tray with about ten liters full of beer – huffing and puffing as she ran past us), and they never look annoyed. We were really impressed with them all, and told our waitress that night – she laughed and said she goes to the fitness center. Chris said he wouldn’t challenge her to an arm-wrestling duel, and she agreed that was probably best.

I ended up ordering the same thing I’d had the first night – four pork sausages over sauerkraut and lots of mustard. It’s simple, and I love it, but there’s something strange in that combination that causes my tongue to turn a very dark color of green overnight. When I woke up the morning after the first time we ate there I was really concerned – I’d been having some trouble with a bleeding gum, and thought maybe my gum had been bleeding all night. (And please don't tell me that blood isn't green, at the time I thought maybe it was actually black. I'm not an alien.) That theory went out the window, however, when the same damned thing happened after the second time we ate there. I have no idea what it is that causes it, since Chris had sauerkraut with his meal the second night (with his ravioli, no less), and he had a half of one of my sausages. I’ll have to do some investigative work at a later date, because it’s just plain weird.

My sausages and sauerkraut, and Chris' ravioli and sauerkraut (??).

Here's both my Bavarian beer of choice, and - if you look really closely - Chris on a laptop in a brauhaus. How very 21st century of him, no?

Back at the hotel, Chris was watching tennis and I was packing. We were getting up at 5:30 and the taxi was coming at 6:00, so we had to be ready before going to bed; which would have been fine any other night. Unfortunately for me, my stomach was trying to reject whatever it considered offensive about my dinner, and I had to keep lying down or rushing into the bathroom. Not fun. I hardly slept, though I only made one mid-night trip to the bathroom – I was just in too much pain to relax. I wasn’t looking forward to a 7-hour train ride in that condition.


The Incurable Insomniac said...

In Austria, Easter is celebrated as much as Christmas. One of the traditions is to hang decorated eggs on boughs of pussywillow, in celebration of Easter and the coming Spring.

Jessica said...

Okay, but it was September... Since I assume Easter is at the same time of year everywhere (it is, isn't it?!?), I'm confused as to why this shop would sell Easter decor all year round. Of course, year-round Christmas shops confuse me, too. Perhaps it's the same thing. Thanks for the info, either way!