Yes. I did go there. Your ear worm for the day.
The day began early, as in we had to be at the tour start at 730. The plan was for a trip to Salzburg and back. Unbeknownst to us, that’s 350km. One way. The tour guide, who was definitely Austria’s best and most opinionated cheerleader, endeavored to make the journey as informative as possible. In English. And Spanish. And German. And, at times, Russian. (Note: I am in awe of anyone who can master one language, let alone 4!) He gave us a short history of Austria. And, a short history of Vienna. And, and short history of the politics of modern Austria. And, last but not least, a hefty dose of why it is good to be Austrian (Everybody is happy. Everyone is working for the good of all. Austria has the most clean air, water and soil anywhere. Austria doesn’t send people to war. It all sort of made me want to start humming the “Marsiellaise.”)
Curiosity: After a certain number of minutes driving, Austrian bus drivers are required to take a half hour to 45 minute break. Conveniently at a roadside rest stop, which I came to think of as Schtukey’s. While these stops are intended to make our journeys safer, they do slow down forward progress.
The tour guide, whose name I never got, wanted to show us a real Austrian village. No other guide does this, said he. It’s not the most beautiful village in Austria, but it’s typical, he remarked. This is going to sound really bad and very cynical: after about 10 minutes, I almost said to Lori “I’ve been to Leavenworth, let’s just get going.” It was a beautiful little place, on the shores of Moon Lake (not River. And, I think that’s a record. Two ear worms in one post!).
On the road again (three!), we passed through beautiful villages, hamlets and farms. It really is beautiful and looks just like a post card if the post card photo was taken from a fully open fire hose. Lori and I have a new frame of reference for rain volume: is it Salzburg? What that means is, has it soaked through your umbrella and rain coat in under 10 minutes? If not, it’s just Vienna. Upon arrival in Salzburg, we toured the Mirabell Garden, where the “Do, Re, Mi” scene from “The Sound of Music” was filmed. It’s not nearly as big as you think. Maybe the rain had something to do with it. Then, TG walked us across the bridge into the Old Town, and pretty much let us loose.
The old town isn’t that different from other old town sections of other European cities. Narrow winding lanes opening onto small squares with fountains, shops tucked into nooks and crannies, beautiful old buildings on cobblestone streets. Each city has it’s own personality and unique little jewels, and Salzburg is no exception. It’s tucked up against a very steep mountainside, with the castle down the river a bit but in view of the town. We didn’t get to the castle, but we did get to the University. And, that is significant for two primary reasons: One, the University Church, whose interior is almost totally white plaster and beautifully decorated and, two, the pickle sculpture. See photos.
Eventually, we boarded the bus for the return. It took forever, but we finally made it back to the hotel a little after 9, only an hour and half late. Dinner of Austrian tapas and off to bed for all of us.
Tomorrow: Walking through Vienna and We Say Goodbye to L and J
PS: Rob had a great day floating the Danube and looking at the Austrian efforts to return it to some semblance of natural.