Hello again from Salzbürg, Austria. It is Wednesday, 1/25 at about 7:30PM (GMT+l). We are now officially world travelers. After I wrote last evening, Darlene and I went out for dinner at a local restaurant recommended by the lady at the front desk. Darlene had fried trout and I had a steak filet sandwich with French fries. For all of you concerned about my eating habits, I have not starved as of yet. It may come to pass however. Following dinner we came back to the hotel (The Hotel Aüersperg). I took a long hot bath because frankly, my butt hurt from 24 hours of sitting. It felt really good to just soak in the tub. Darlene relaxed and watched some good old fashioned European television. The only thing in English was a CNN international channel. Not much US news however. We hit the sack at about 8PM local time and awoke a few times during the night, but we got up for good at 7:30AM. Quite a long sleep, but we needed it!
Today I scheduled our Sound of Music tour that began at 9:30AM. The tour was conducted by Panorama Tours (a local tour group). They picked us up at the hotel at about 9:15AM. The tour began at about 9:30AM. We covered a lot of ground and had a very good tour guide. Peter was the guide and Wolfgang was our driver. Wolfgang did not speak much English. Peter on the other hand has lived in the US (Florida) for a number of years. He comes back to visit once per year. He had extremely good English. I can't remember town names except for the one called Mondse or "Moon Lake". 1 may remember the other stopover point before long. If so, I will type it here so I have it for future use. At the first stop Darlene bought a very unique bread basket and a small teddy bear that yodels! She had to have it for her collection. The scenery on the tour was spectacular; even if it is winter. Everything is absolutely covered in snow. Some of the rooftops have at least 2 to 3 feet of snow. This is when one should be glad they live in the South.
Our second stop was at Mondse. We had about an hour here. We walked through a path (on snow) to get to a street and ultimately a small village square. It is against the law to bring buses into the city; therefore we had to park outside the city limits and walk. All the way there, Peter kept commenting that Ms. Braun's apple strudel was the best in Austria. Well, say no more. It was a little after noon when we arrived in front of Ms. Braun's restaurant. It was charming. Both of us were hungry so we ordered a small lunch. Dar had a ham and cheese sandwich. I ordered the bacon and eggs. The sandwich was pretty typical. The bacon and eggs were served with the (almost rare) bacon with the well done fried egg on top. Strange, but I ate it anyway. There had to be 8 slices of bacon on the darned thing. Darlene helped me with it. We finished off our lunch with strudel. Dar had the cheese strudel while I ate the apple. Both were served with vanilla sauce. Yummy!
At various times during the tour, Peter played tracks from the Sound of Music CD. That was neat to see the scenery and sing along with the CD. We got done at about 3PM. We then proceeded to Mirabella Gardens (the garden fountain scene in the movie). We could only imagine the beauty as everything was snow white and frozen over. We then hit the town on our feet.
We stared on the north side of the river (Salzach) into the old town through the very expensive shopping district. We wound up at the Mozarteum. This is a music school. In fact, we found out it is the premier music school in Europe. That would be the equivalent of an Eastman School of Music in the U.S. While we were standing outside the building, a man walked up to me and asked if we were American. I was somewhat afraid to answer, but did so honestly. He said "Good, may I speak with you? I am a reporter from New York City covering Mozart's 250th birthday. I work for Reuters." Further, he was only writing about Americans traveling to Salzburg. We were interviewed for almost 30 minutes as he tape recorded it as well as took vigorous notes. Hey, not only are we world travelers but now we're famous!!
On to the house were Mozart was born and lived until he was 17. We took the very disappointing tour. I was amazed at how few actual artifacts they had. Everything they had was either a reproduction, Xerox copy of original manuscript, or a display of how things "might have looked" since they had no way of knowing. Some of the tour was interesting, but for the most part, it was not worth the 12€ we paid to get in.
We continued our walk. I was a bit worried about Dar because she did not seem interested in going into any of the shops. Can you believe that? Darlene not wanting to shop! I kept asking her if she was okay. I don't think she felt real well today, but she won't tell me. I was able to get her into a shop that sold hats, gloves, and the like. I bought her a new thermal hat. The hood on her jacket was not warm enough. Have I told you how cold it is here? Oh my gosh.
We finished our evening by walking back to the hotel. We stopped at a bakery and bought a loaf of French bread, some butter, and two coke lights (or diet coke). We found another bakery a little further down. This one had sweets. I got Dar another cheese strudel and I got some kind of hazel chocolate thing. We haven't eaten any of it as of yet. We came back to the hotel and sat in the bar while eating our bread and butter. Dar had a glass of wine and a cup of very strong coffee. 1 had a cup of hot chocolate, which was very good. I wanted to get on the computer and log today's events while she sits up there reading her Reader's Digest in the lobby. Funny thing, they are playing all American music...mostly jazz and big band stuff here in the hotel. I sit in the basement typing away.
I suppose I must close this chapter. Tomorrow is our Bavarian Mountain Tour. We are really looking forward to that and letting Darlene step foot in her native Gemany for the first time in her life. Until then...