I never thought I would say this but I am getting really sick of yogurt. The European breakfast or at least the Americanized version is made up of yogurt, granola, deli meats, cheese, and a variety of breads and jams. Since I despise cold cuts, I have been living off of yogurt and granola for awhile; Europe has definitely ruined yogurt for me. On to another busy day, we started it off by touring the Hohensalzburg fortress, which is a castle mounted on a hill overlooking all of Salzburg. This 11th century medieval fortress had never been breached until, as the joke goes, tourists arrived. Besides the allure of walking through a building with as much history as this has, the view from the top is what I will remember. Salzburg in its entirety can be viewed from this vantage point including the mountains that dominate the background of this picturesque landscape. Most of the cities I have been in are centered around some body of water and Salzburg is no exception as Salzach River slices through old town. Salz by the way is the German word for salt, which was one of the most valuable commodities during the early history of the city. The Nonnberg Abbey, where Maria von Trapp from The Sound of Music was a candidate to become a nun, started our path through the sights from the movie. Although I found no evidence of her or the movie, it was kinda neat to see this convent nestled into the side of the hill that houses the fortress. After getting lost (Salzburg has been the most challenging city for me to navigate thus far), we took the bus outside the city center to Hellbrunn Palace. Hellbrunn is no ordinary palace; it is composed of a garden of trick fountains that will even surprise those well prepared for the visit. Having been familiarized with the palace by a friend I thought I never the palace inside but apparently it still had quite a few tricks up its sleeve. To start, our tour group sat around an ordinary table of stone but upon some magic, streams of water shot up out of the seats around the table except for one, which happened to be the seat set aside for the prince archbishop who had the sense of humor to build a home of such trickery. Child or not, everyone felt like a kid walking through the garden while getting sprinkled with water from the most random places. After completing the tour, we saw the glass gazebo from The Sound of Music, which is firmly planted in Hellbrunn’s luxurious gardens. Around the corner and down the center of a stretch of parallel walls, sat the palace itself emblazoned in a sunny yellow. Near this extravagant home, we found a zoo with many of the same rams that filled the portraits of the Archbishop’s house. Since you can never see enough churches and cathedrals (who knows how long I will be saying that), we tiptoed through the main churches of Salzburg. The architecture, wooden carvings, frescoes, and stained glass windows continued to amaze me but what stood out by far was the amount of skull heads and creepy looking babies that crept around each corner. They were carved everyone: including over altars and the bowls you dip your fingers in for holy water. After being confused and weirded out by that whole display, we took the long, steep, and brutal climb up to the Capuchin Monastery. The reason I chose to torture myself with those steps was the promise of a walk through the stations of the cross. Although we only got to see the tail end of the stations, the size and detail of each was a powerful sight to behold. With the majority of the sightseeing completed, the day got a little bit more interesting. We planned on eating at the Augustine Brewery, a brewery that got started by monks over 500 years ago and has in place one of the oldest purity laws for beer in existence. To get there, we overshot our bus stop, ended up walking in the complete opposite direction, and finally got directions from an expat that guided us to our destination. The beer garden was packed with people chugging liter mugs of beer and watching the Germany-Portugal World Cup match. The whole set up was very odd. To get food, diners head towards an area similar to West Side Market meets a cafeteria and order from a variety of vendors. Before doing so, I bought the beers and pocketed the receipt to redeem later. While putting weiner schnitzel, carrot slaw, a pretzel, and a German version of spanakopita on my tray, I was pocketing all the receipts. Once we got a table, I dug through my pockets to get the receipt for the beers; it was nowhere to be found. Since I lose and forget things like its my job, this put me over the edge. I ran around the beer hall covering every last meter of the place to realize what I already knew; that receipt was a goner. With my head held down, still fuming, I headed over to the register to buy a new pair of liter mugs. I attempted to ask the cashier for a new receipt and with broken English I was told I was shit out of luck. Still not completely downtrodden, I asked the cashier that I originally ordered the beers from for some help. Trying to appease her and looking frantic, she got the mugs and filled my beers with the refreshment I anticipated the whole day. I said ‘danke’ or thank you a hundred times over to my beer angel. With that fiasco behind me, I finally enjoyed some deliciously authentic German food. I milked that beer with the mug firmly tucked within my grip as I savored each and last every drop. To walk off my beer and food baby, the two of us wandered through the Mirabell Palace gardens to see all the intricate displays of flowers forming a variety of patterns with the brightest colored flowers nature could spare. After a nap at the hostel, we watched the U.S. defeat Ghana in the most desperate way possible to end the night and our stay in Salzburg.
Day 21: “The Hills Are Alive With The Sound of Music”