September 22, 2017
We took a bus from Munich to Salzburg as it was cheaper and we were rewarded with some beautiful views of the Austrian countryside as we moved toward our Airbnb in a small town called Bergheim on the outskirts of Salzburg. Unfortunately, the trek from the city center to our Airbnb took much longer and involved much more walking than we had anticipated.
Because of this, several of our party members took a nap upon arrival and Hobbs and I, not wanting to be stuck in the house on our first afternoon in the city, left to take a walk around the neighborhood in which we were situated. Both of us being adventurous we ended up taking a detour through the woods, across a field, up a few hills, and trespassed in someone’s very secluded property and ended up with the most spectacular view of the city and the surrounding Alps, the sun just starting to sneak over the horizon.
After we got back we all went out again, but since it was a Friday, we were forced to find something small and out of the way. As has been our luck this entire trip, however, the food and service were once again at an excellent little Italian restaurant in town, which included a Calzone that was half the size of the person who ordered it (Hobbs). I also got to try a drink I had never heard of called Almdudler.
Called the “national drink of Austria,” Almdudler’s consumption in Austria is second only to Coca-Cola. According to the company’s website, the creator derived the name from the then-common phrase auf der Alm dudeln, which means “yodeling in the (alpine) pasture.” How Austrian is that? I would describe the taste as slightly sweeter and less ginger-y than a ginger ale. I liked it a lot and would recommend anyone try it if they visit Austria.
September 23, 2017
I woke up early on Saturday to go on a run around town and I am glad I did. I ended up running up a small hilltop that had a little church on top of it. Looking around from this vantage point allowed me to see all of the different mountains that surround Salzburg along with the city below. It was an incredible sight that actually took my breath away.
This day also marked mine and Lauren’s first anniversary and boy did we end up having an unforgettable one in Salzburg.
One of the more memorable things we did when Lauren and I went to Austria in high school was to take a cable car up a mountain named Untersberg just outside of Salzburg. We thought it was such a good time that we decided to take Lauren’s family there even though I am not the biggest fan of heights.
Unterseberg straddles the Austrian-Germany border and rises to almost 6,500 ft. The views from atop the mountain are breath-taking as you get to see for miles around you in a perfect panorama of Salzburg. My favorite part of the mountain, however, is the restaurant at the top you can have a beer in to take the edge off. Both times I have been on the mountain that was the first and only thing I did! For the more adventurous types, you can take a quick hike to the other side of the mountain to see even more beautiful sights. The air on top of the mountain as you would guess is markedly colder than ground level but not too much to be uncomfortably cold.
After we made our way back down the side of the mountain we did not have any plans, but Tiffany brought up the great idea of taking an alpine luge and luckily there was one nearby. Coincidentally, it is the longest coaster in the region at 1.4 miles long. We took a ski lift up the mountain/hill, the city slowly falling away behind us. Lauren and I got to share a few minutes together on the ski lift, which was nice seeing as it was our anniversary.
After having another beer and some French fries at the top we went down in our individual luges. The beautiful views that were behind us on the way up were now in front of us and we were each able to enjoy the view while weaving in and out of trees going down the mountain. It was an incredible rush flying down on the luge the only control being a little break shifter between your legs. I would definitely do it again given the chance.
Our next experience was to go under a mountain this time instead of going on top one to visit one of the salt mines which gave Salzburg its name (literally: “salt fortress”). The mine we visited was no longer running, but all the tunnels below it were still intact and we got a guided tour through them, learning about various parts of the process in mining salt, as well as getting some free salt from that particular mountain at the end. There were some awfully corny parts throughout the tour but it was still worthwhile to go visit someplace that was so vital to the city and its economy.
After the salt mine tour, we headed back toward the city center and had dinner, later meeting up with a friend of Tiffany’s that she met traveling Asia named Klara. She was really nice to have around for the next day, not just because she was a really nice person and didn’t mind putting up with us, but also because she is Austrian and knew the language better than any of us combined. She helped us throughout the time she was with us, including stopping us from getting a ticket for parking in a handicap space!
I had such a fantastic time for our first anniversary. It was so wonderful to have as much fun as we did and to be able to experience it all with people we both love so much. It was truly special. If that is just the first one, I cannot wait to see what the rest of our anniversaries have in store in the future.
September 24, 2017
There is really no way the next day could have topped our anniversary, but we sure gave it a shot.
Much of the next day was spent exploring Salzburg, which considering it was our third day there, was long overdue. After Klara directed us out of harms way from the evil tow truck, we entered the city center to see Salzburg’s version of Oktoberfest including beer and rides. It was much smaller than Munich’s Oktoberfest but attracted a lot of people into the city.
The most popular attraction in the city besides Oktoberfest we visited was Mozart’s birthplace. Since we did not go inside, it was not much of an attraction but it was still interesting to be able to see where the prodigy began his musical career, one that still endures today and influenced a lot of subsequent Western music.
Other than that singular attraction, we still had an amazing time wandering the streets of Salzburg. From the minute I had first visited the city almost ten years ago, I have always remembered the beautiful three stored alleyways full of shopping and cobblestone streets that epitomize the European street that many in the United States picture “Europe” to be. The riverfront was also lined with many different stalls that we perused for a good chunk of time before wishing Klara goodbye as she was called on to play as a sub for her soccer team in her hometown.
For lunch, we stopped and had our first American meal of burgers and fries at a place near the city called Burgerista. It was sort of similar to fast food like McDonald’s but to me had a much better-tasting food that was closer to the quality of Five Guys.
On the topic of fast food, I have had McDonald’s in Europe before and the quality of food of European McDonald’s vs. American McDonald’s is crazy. Yes, it is more expensive, but for someone like me who approves natural food over cheap food, I see no issues with having a burger in Europe at McDonald’s where I literally refuse to eat there in the United States. It is a much more gourmet experience here, just FYI.
After sightseeing around Salzburg, we shared a meal at a small nearby restaurant that was completely empty with a waiter who spoke almost no English. There were a few funny moments there, the first of which was Tiffany trying a bite of one of her dad’s dinner sides, which turned out to be not at all what she had expected. It was exactly as you would picture Parmesan cheese, same color and texture, could have fooled anybody. Turns out it was horseradish, which if you are not expecting and/or do not like, is nowhere close to what you would expect being extremely spicy (think wasabi). Tiffany spent the whole rest of the dinner that night with a disgusted grimace on her face.
Also during that dinner, one of us were looking to get mustard to dip something in, but the waiter did not know the English word for mustard and we did not know the German word for it either.
Waiter: “Is it for dipping?”
Waiter: “Hmm…like ketchup?”
Everybody at our table, trying their best to help: “No, the other dipping sauce.”
He still looked very confused as we spent another few seconds thinking of what we may be talking about. Out of nowhere, Lauren pipes up.
We all nod. Thank goodness someone had the sense to look it up. The waiter, however, looked more confused than ever. It was probably an incorrect pronunciation. Luckily I had also been trying to translate “mustard” into German and told him “Senf” which was the more correct German version of the word. The waiter nodded, still looking slightly confused but finally understanding what we meant and went back into the kitchen. When he disappeared we all looked at each other, wondering what had confused him so much. We looked up the translation for Putenbrust.
Apparently, we had told him that the dipping sauce we were looking to eat was not mustard but was, in fact, turkey breast. We could only laugh imagining how strange we probably seemed asking for turkey breast to dip our food into. I am glad the waiter was able to keep a straight face, as none of us at the table afterward were able to.
That was to be our last night in Salzburg as the next day Lauren, her brother Logan, and I were to split from the rest of the family and head to Prague as the rest of her family went back to the states, all except for Tiffany who was going to continue her European expedition elsewhere. It was really sad to have to leave the rest of Lauren’s family and Hobbs, but we are very grateful that we were able to experience Venice, Munich, and Salzburg with them.
We are very excited to see Prague as the Czech Republic is the first country on our trip that we have not been to yet. It will be quite the experience as we know literally none of the language, but ever the adventurers, we cannot wait to experience this new and exciting place together!