Tuesday, June 25, 2013


It's been a while since I last took a trip that didn't require 30-40 hours of airplane travel. It's only 2.5 hours by train to Salzburg, which is where I spent the weekend. I left Friday morning, armed with my camera and a change of clothes.

I had forgotten how packed European trains can be at 8.00 on a Friday morning. I had to sit on the luggage rack. As we pulled out of Vienna, I took out my Kobo to do a bit of work on a current project of mine - that is, reading the Bible from start to finish. As farmland rushed past outside, I took my time with the delightfully-poetic Ecclesiastes. Old Solomon (or whoever actually wrote that book) had some words of wisdom for me that morning:

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest."

"You can sleep when you're dead" is what I think he was trying to say. I thus arrived in Salzburg suitably inspired.

It was clear from the start that Salzburg is not like Vienna. For one thing, there are lederhosen. You don't just see lederhosen walking around the streets in Vienna. Salzburg is more traditional, more compact, and less hurried. There is less bustle and noise, or so it seemed to me. And, of course, there are mountains.

According to my itinerary, after dropping off a few nonessentials at the hostel, I was to make straight for Hohensalzburg, so as to see this highlight of the city before getting tired. I was sidetracked en route by the Mirabell gardens, however. The gardens were on my secret mental list of places to see if I could recognise from the Sound of Music. Clearly it had been too long since I'd last seen the movie, because I recognized nothing. The gardens were beautiful, though. They had a colour scheme that I quite liked. If I had to describe it in three words, they would be these: ALL THE COLOURS.

It was a bit of a walk up to the castle. I broke a sweat.

There were two best parts of this particular castle: the views, obviously, and the oubliette (in the truest sense of the word - accessible only via a hole in the ceiling). They had various pieces of Medieval torture equipment on display in the room above the oubliette, including a rack, and my audio guide told me about the man (I forget who) who was chucked down the hole and imprisoned for seven years.

Also, the architecture was pretty.

With Hohensalzburg checked off the list, I was allowed to go back and see all the things I had passed earlier in the day. Like the pretzel stand. Also St. Peter's Friedhof (setting of the escape scene in the Sound of Music and one of the prettiest cemeteries I've ever seen).

I stumbled back to the hostel with aching feet that night. I took my dinner in the TV room, where I joined approximately 25 other 20-somethings in giving the Sound of Music the attention it deserves. It was remarkable, really. The movie is almost three hours long, and apart from the odd giggle or exclamation of delight when someone saw a place the had visited earlier in the day, nobody said a word.

The sun went down on day one, and I would venture to say I did old King Solomon proud.

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