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Tuesday, July 2

Salzburg, Austria

The last few months have been a little bit insane, a little bit overwhelming and a whole lot of fun. We had a long line of guests from March until June. In addition to hosting and entertaining, we also traveled with the guests. There are so many wonderful trips I plan to write about.

After my parents in law left in June, we visited Salzburg Austria. It was a city high on our list because of its closeness and charm.

We used a Bayern ticket to get to Salzburg; the city is one stop after crossing the (German) border. That is normally how it is supposed to be. The Friday we visited, it was a different story. Few stops before the border, the train conductor announced everyone depart the train at the next stop. Puzzled, we asked another passenger for clarification and she confirmed our suspicions. At the station, we, along with all the other passengers, boarded busses. For the next 40 minutes, we traveled through small towns and villages on the German back roads. With clouds moving through the sky and the sun setting, it was a scenic drive, even in a packed bus. Arriving in Freilassing, we were herded off the bus and told to wait for a train. After 25 minutes of waiting, everyone boarded the train to Salzburg. And 7 minutes later, we arrived at our station, Salzburg Hauptbahnhof. Why such a hassle for a trip that normally takes 4- 5 hours on a train? Our trip was after the rainostrophe of Europe which caused the floodcalypse. Parts of Eastern Europe and some Southeastern German towns were flooded and the rail tracks were under water.

Saturday was packed with sightseeing and a tour. We visited some key sights on our own in the morning. At noon, we joined a English city tour. The best part was we were the only visitors in the group so we had a private tour. The guide was born and brought up in Salzburg so we couldn’t have had a more knowledgeable guide. He was smug about being an Austrian but it was entertaining. For instance we asked him why many women were dressed in their dirndls and the men in their lederhosen, inquiring if there was a festival we should know about? And his answer was simple, “because the weather is nice people are dressed up in their traditional clothes”. Puzzled, we said, we live in Nürnberg and have yet to see people dressed up on beautiful summer days. His response, we’re not in Germany, we are in Austria.” Well that cleared up that. We walked by the oldest restaurant in Europe. He didn’t seem thrilled about the place so we didn’t bother trying the food. We learned about Mozart’s history and impact on Salzburg. The guide recommended Mozart’s home but we chose not to, because there were a long line of tourists. Japanese tourists, apparently Japanese tourists are big Mozart, Wagner and other European composers’ fans. Another fact was Mozart was his sister. She was a remarkable musician, but overshadowed by her brother’s accomplishments. She has a memorial in Salzburg.

On Sunday we did the Sound of Music tour on bicycles. It was neat to see the sights that were part of the movie and hear the history. We both learned that Sound of Music was loosely based on a true story of Maria von Trapp and the family. Remarkably the family toured as musical acts before they were known as the Von Trapp family from Sound of Music. Sadly, Maria accepted a contract with the Hollywood producer that compensated very little in royalties for selling her story. Hollywood selling out families for entertainment, of course. Our bicycle tour guide was okay but we both enjoyed the 4 hour ride. There is one steep hill to climb but otherwise the ride is comfortable and moderately-paced.

My favorite visit was to the Fortress, better known as Festung Hohensalzburg. To reach the fortress, you can hike up or take the funicular for 9.80 euros. The ticket includes admission to the museum and audio guide inside the fortress. The history is impressive; construction was first started in 11th century and has been expanded and restored since. The views of the city and the mountains surrounding are breathtaking. The guide at the fortress was an Ohioan temporarily living in Salzburg. He was so excited to meet us, he took a photo with us to show his Austrian friends that we Ohioans do exist.

The meals were acceptable. Saturday’s lunch was at a spot recommended by the guide and it was German food. Dinner was at Augustiner Bräu with a liter of beer and half chicken and some sausages. It is local brew (not connected to the Munich Augustiner) in a spacious beer garden. We wanted to try a highly raved restaurant on Sunday but it was closed. It was German fare in Austria. I was hoping to try something new but didn’t see something non-German.

The return trip was also tricky because of the flooding. We departed Salzburg hauptbahnhof and arrived at Landschut, Germany for a train transfer. Instead of taking another German train, we took a Czech train towards Prague. I must say how superbly nice the train personnel were on the Czech train. Before boarding the train, we asked if we could board with German Bayer ticket and the woman approved. She explained due to the floods they weren’t checking tickets and allowing exceptions. Once on the train, she reseated us to train cars that were heading in the direction we needed to go. Had she not done this, we probably would’ve ended up elsewhere. We enjoyed few, very inexpensive Czech, beers in the dining car until our next and final transfer station, Schwandorf. From there we took a German train home. Although confusing and very uninteresting, it was nice to arrive at a reasonable hour.

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