I don't know about you, but I've had a jam-packed 2 days here in Salzburg. I didn't even get in town until almost 3 PM yesterday. I've seen a lot more salt and heard a lot more classical music than just about any other time on this trip, though.
Before I left Vienna yesterday morning, I had 2 missions: exchange all that Eastern European money, and get a couple of items of summer clothing. It's getting hotter here, and I don't like it one bit. I got the Croatian and Hungarian money exchanged, for a total of 60€, so that gave me some pocket money without having to hit up an ATM (which always ends up costing more money than I take out). The Romanian money, though, was a different story. Nobody wanted it. So now I've still got about $70 in Romanian money just eating a hole in my pocket. Maybe Bank of America can take it when I get home. Otherwise, it gives me a reason to go back to Romania some day. I ended up buying 2 Euro-trashy tshirts (one with some Hawaiian picture, the other advertising the "Tokyo City Athletics," whoever they might be). A new
bathing suit that can also pass for shorts and a pair of black shorts later, and I was done. I'm considering cutting off the sleeves for a couple of my long-sleeve tshirts, too, and maybe even turning my khaki pants into shorts. Gotta be a little resourceful, as opposed to always spending money.
My hotel in Salzburg is about 4 minutes by foot from the train station, so I lucked out there. It's also about 15-20 minutes by foot from the main touristy things, so that's not as good as it could be. But they have a nice breakfast here, and it lasts until pretty late in them morning, which I'm counting on tomorrow. It really feels like a little café inside the hotel. The toilet is a little odd (I won't describe it unless you ask individually), and the shower is actually in the room itself, as opposed to a separate bathroom, but it doesn't leak, so we're good.
On Tuesday afternoon, I set out down the Salzach River on the bank, walking until I found Mirabell Palace. It's pretty nice, but the gardens are better. I've included some panoramas of the garden at the top of
this entry, so check those out if you want. I mainly wandered around the touristy places without the map. It wasn't that hard to orient yourself, with the river and the big sights usually in plain view. I got some postcards and stamps to send to people, and I even got some gelato of the "Vanille Bourbon" flavor - pretty sure it's what we'd call French vanilla in America. It was tasty. But I needed some food because I was starting to fall off the Salzburg bandwagon quickly. It's funny how that happens when you're hungry. I got a little pastry thing before I was accosted by a lady selling some beauty products. She had nice hands and eyes, and I let her talk me into getting a little present for Eno for letting me stay with her for 5 days in March. I hope she appreciates the gift when I see her (in only 3 days!). My main reason for hanging around the Old Town was because I had seen there would be a free Organ Meditation concert by the Mozarteum students in the Cathedral at 6 PM. So I hung around and was not disappointed. If you don't
know about the Mozarteum, it's a university devoted only to the study and performance of music, basically like Juliard in New York. The church has 4 "small" organs in the center, and a huge organ at the back. One of the smaller organs got played first, but after that, it was all on the big organ. And it was free! After the concert, I went for a Mozartkugel - a chocolate candy ball with stuff inside it - which is one of the main food products from Salzburg (Mozart was born and lived here, if you didn't know that). It was pretty good. I went back and got a bag of 10 this evening to take with me. Maybe Eno will want to share? If not, well, I can eat them all, then.
I got to talk to Jack last night, and that did a world of good. I've also decided to start going to bed earlier here, since I think one of my main issues with being as tired as I have been is the lack of blackout curtains in the places I've stayed. If you've seen my bedroom, you know that it's black at night, and it
keeps the light out pretty well in the daytime, too. Most places I've stayed here have curtains, but they're hardly more than a sheet. Once I see the light in the morning, though, my mind is hard to convince to go back to sleep. So my bedtime is around 10:30 PM until further notice. I did feel better this morning and most of the day, even after waking up around 6:45 this morning.
My first item today was the salt mines in Hallein, or more precisely Bad Dürrnberg. So I took the 20-minute train ride to Hallein, but the bus to the salt mine didn't come for 40 minutes, so I walked around the cute little town until then. The bus ride to the salt mine was only about 10 minutes, and I'll have to say that it dropped me right in front of the place. It's amazing what better infrastructure and an online presence will do - I'm talking to you, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and your Turda Salt Mine, too. It was totally a blast - and I thank Erica for recommending it (though I don't think "recommend" is a strong enough word). You get to wear protective suits
to keep the grime off your clothes and to keep you warmer. They don't actually use this particular mine for salt mining any more, just tourism. They had a few cheesy demonstrations (videos) to give the historical background of the mine at different points, but the highlights were the 2 wooden slides that you had to go down - no handles, seats, anything, just sitting on your behind for 100 feet or more - and the boat ride with the cool light show and the classical music. Our tour guide was Eva, and she was fun, too. We crossed into Germany and back, all underground, and they mark the places where you do that. My tour group was pretty small: me and an Indian family (mom, dad, and daughter, about 11 or 12 years old), so we were pretty easy going. I guess that fits pretty well into the typical experience for my tours on this trip. But they've been mining salt around this area since the Celtic days, over 2000 years ago.
I got back to Salzburg with no issues at all. I had seen that there would be an oboe recital by the Mozarteum students at 4
PM, and my train got me back by 3. I didn't get to stay for the whole concert, but the performers got better as it went along. There were 8 performances, and after the 6th, I had to leave - it was 5:30, and I wanted to get those kugels before the shop closed at 6 (I think). The penultimate oboe performance was something I had never heard before. It was late-20th century by some Greek composer, but the girl performing it (accompanied by a guy playing glockenspiel and other percussion instruments) basically had to do all those things that they teach you NOT to do when you learn to play the oboe - clamping down on the double reed, or putting your tongue on the tip, etc. And yes, I played the oboe in high school. It sounded like a hot mess, but it worked. I was completely enthralled for her entire performance. The audience was also enthusiastic about it when it was over, too.
What else is there to say? I do love Austria, and I'm sad that I only get 3 days here. But I should be thankful, since I didn't have any days planned here
when I started this trip. I've unexpectedly found several bottles of my favorite Fanta drink, so I stocked up on them, just in case I never see them again (though I've recently discovered that there is a small stash of them in the Athens Botanical Gardens, completely by accident). I'm heading to Switzerland tomorrow, but only for one night. At least the next 2 days will be full of Alps!
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