Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Salzburg, Austria: Ahoy, mateys

We went from Schloss to Schloss on this particular morning! After Schoenbrunn, we found our train to Salzburg and dropped our packs at the Salzburg station for safekeeping while we explored unencumbered. Through a very scientific decision called "which way should we go outside the train station," we randomly picked left and hit jackpot. 
Schloss Mirabelle was only a few blocks down and her gardens were just as stunning as Schoenbrunn. 
I couldn't tell you much about the history that you wouldn't learn from Wikipedia, considering most of the informational signs were in German. 
After Schloss Mirabelle we found a tourist information point and got a map. Even with it, we still managed to get lost quite a few times. LDL had researched a funicular to one of the nearby peaks where we thought it might be fun to recreate the Sound of Music. I'd been practicing my yodeling. 
Unfortunately, we discovered the funicular was closed during the month of April. Obviously. You'll notice a trend in the coming posts. 
We consoled our disappointed souls with pretzels bigger than my face. I couldn't even get the entire thing in a snapchat selfie!
But somehow it all managed to fit in my stomach. Miraculous. 
We wandered by a statue of Mozart and a street musician nearby playing "My Heart Will Go On." I'm such a sucker for Titanic music! We listened to the entire thing. 
Since we couldn't go make the hills come alive with the sound of our music, we decided to hit all of the touristy points highlighted on our map. Things like where "Silent Night" was played for the first time and where Mozart's family was buried.
Unlucky for us, that map was the hardest one I read over the entire three weeks! 
Everything we came upon was completely accident. We found a lock bridge and spent time looking at the names and initials. One had the forever alone meme on it and another expressed an opinion about the bridge with much more vulgarity.
After the bridge we found a trail up to an old monastery. I think. We certainly saw at least two monks walking the same trails. It offered gorgeous views of the city and of the castle. We took turns making dandelion wishes. And by that I mean LDL and Gibby blew picture-perfect white dust storms while I spluttered and barely made my dandelion sway. This trend continued for most of the trip.
I need a crash course in dandelion wishes. 
On our way back to the station that evening we passed at least four cat-calling German assholes. We had no idea what they were saying because of the language barrier, but amidst the cackling and whistles I wished I was wearing a muumuu and not my brand spankin' new shorts. 
The cat-calling happened a lot to us as we continued our travels into Italy and it honestly really baffled me for two reasons specifically. First, do these cultures only cat-call tourists? With our cameras we were pretty obvious. And second, what's the point of harassing me in a language I don't understand? If I knew exactly what they were saying they may have gotten a rise out of me, but as I could only assume, I ignored it entirely. Which was probably the best course of action, but it still was incredibly irritating. Just let me enjoy my walk through your country in peace, please!
We recovered our packs from the luggage room at the station and changed into what would be most comfortable to snooze in on the train. While we waited for our late night train to arrive, a steady stream if characters entered the waiting room. I avidly watched, munching on the chips and QUESO, I found in the grocery store. The queso was nowhere near Fuzzy's quality and it was cold due to the lack of a microwave, but I ate it happily, much to the disgust of Gibby (wait til Copenhagen though, she was singing a different cheesy tune).
Anyway, while I munched, an older man who appeared homeless whipped out a knife from his backpack and began cleaning his fingernails with it. I was across the room, but my eyes widened in shock and possibly a little bit of fear. I could see the headline..."traveling students stabbed before they ever saw Italy." Apparently I wasn't the only one who was mildly concerned, for a few minutes later three security officers came into the room and asked to see proof of his ticket. He evidently had proof because he was not removed from the premises. I didn't see the knife again after that though and I didn't miss it.
After the knife episode, we searched on the timetable for our train to find out which platform we would need. According to the board, our train didn't exist. Cue Taylor having a panic attack. 
There was a train due to leave at the same time as ours, but it's destination was Croatia.
I didn't know anything about Croatia and frankly, it didn't sound very appealing. 
We heard American voices in the waiting room (it's really easy to attune to them when everything else around you sounds like complete nonsense) and I perked up, looking for the source. Aha! A group of girls. I approached them and asked where they were heading. They were from Baylor's campus in the Netherlands and were traveling to Croatia.
They explained that likely our train was the same, but it would split in the middle of the night taking us to Venice and bringing them to Zagreb.
I went back to my chips and queso much more relaxed, until a group of Austrian boys (definitely intoxicated) began to throw themselves against the waiting room walls while yelling. 
I hear people say backpacking trips are so inspiring and introspective. Yeah, not at this point. There was nothing inspirational about their irrational display. Especially to a sleep deprived cadet squad.
We eventually climbed into our car in the train and found our compartment...occupado. By three English speaking males. I think we verbally threw ourselves at them, desperate for cultural interaction we were familiar with. They didn't seem to mind. Two, like LDL, were from California, Blake and Will, while the third member of their pirate party was a lone Canadian, Jack. We traded stories of rats and of other people kissing our dates (that one wasn't from cadet squad) and gushed about how radically amazing Prague is. Those lucky bastards actually stayed at the mad house! 
The compartment was an absolute sauna due to lack of air conditioning and all of our talking probably didn't help much. We kept the door open as much as possible, until we laughed too much and knew we were disturbing other passengers. How sweet it was to laugh with total strangers and connect with people at 3 AM literally on the midnight train going anywhere.
They were heading to Slovenia?Slovakia?Saturn? and planned to go to Budapest afterwards. They tried to persuade us to join their motley crew. We wavered for a minute. Everyone HAD been telling us we needed to...if we hadn't been so desperate to see Italy and if I hadn't already made plans for us to stay with one of my friends then we probably would've found ourselves in Budapest. It's become  a running joke among us all on social media #shouldagonetobudapest. Instead, when their stop came up around 4 AM we let them disembark and then discovered that the seats we had all been trying so hard to sleep in folded down into a mega-bed. Victory! A Very Lucky Girl dreamed the rest of the way to Venice. 



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