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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rachael and Carrie go to Salzburg.

11:20 pm CET

The train ride to Salzburg was relatively uneventful. We ended up having to switch trains in Vienna unexpectedly, but otherwise nothing happened. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous, though, and I spent most of the trip gazing out the window at the snow-covered landscape.

We arrived in Salzburg a little bit later than we had originally planned; we thought it'd be noon, but the train didn't get in till one. We wandered for about half an hour looking for the hotel (the map wasn't all that helpful, since the hotel was a bit further north of where the map ended) and when we found it, we left our stuff in the room, bought a 24-hour city pass, and set out to explore while there was still sunlight. We took a bus across the river and got off, doubling back a little bit on a pedestrian bridge so we could get a good view of everything. From the bridge, we went back to the side of the river we were just on and walked through the Old Town, checking out the Christmas markets we passed, which were more of less the same as the one we had visited in Budapest on Friday. We got some lunch and continued walking, and decided to put our city passes to good use and go to some museums. We started at Mozart Geburtshaus, the Baroque townhouse in which Mozart was born, that has been converted into a museum of his life and works. My favourite part was the section of miniature set replicas from the operas he's written; they were so gorgeous and detailed!

Most of the museums close at five, so we went through Mozart's house as quickly as we could. When we finished, we walked back to Domplatz (Cathedral Square) and went to the Salzburg Museum. We got through the basement floor of Angelika Kauffmann paintings and were almost finished with the another floor of a bunch of stuff that didn't really have a coherent theme (other than that it was all from Salzburg) when we were kicked out for closing. After that, we crossed the street toward the main Christmas market in Domplatz where we got this dessert-y thing of chopped up fruitcake with sweet sauce in a bowl. It was quite good, and a nice respite from the bitter evening cold. The chill did us in soon enough, though, and--after having gotten lost on the city's cluttered bus system and stopped at a café for some warm drinks--we returned to the hotel.

The next day we got  up kind of early to get ready to leave and go to Mirabellplatz, where we were to meet the tour bus for the four-hour Sound of Music tour we had booked. After picking up the tickets, we still had some time before the tour started, so we found a small organic café for breakfast. Following our quick meal, we got on the bus (with only a little bit of shame; it was covered in bad art of Sound of Music scenes). The tour guide--of course--was this bubbly British woman who had every single bad pun at her disposal and was not afraid of using them. She sang and joked the entire four hours and I couldn't decide if it was hialrious or a little embarrassing. Despite the awkward sing-alongs she tried to instigate and the horrid, horrid puns, the tour was pretty good. We went first to Schloss Leopoldskron, the site where they filmed the scenes in the movie that take place on the back terrace of the von Trapp villa. It sits on the banks of a man-made lake, but the view of the mountains reflecting in the water was absolutely beautiful. From there we went to Hellbrunn Palace, where the gazebo from the movie was moved because people kept breaking into it while it was on the grounds of Schloss Leopoldskron. On the way there we passed both the Nonnberg Abbey--where the real Maria von Trapp was a nun--and Schloss Frohnburg (now part of the Salzburger Universität Mozarteum), which served as the site for all the outdoor shots of the von Trapp villa in the film.

Once we had seen the gazebo and received an appropriate anecdote from tourguide Trudy, we all clambered back onto the bus and drove out of Salzburg and into the mountainous lake district. The views were breathtaking; the mountains plunged directly into the lakes, the villages were quaint and peaceful, and with the snow everything looked like an eternal Christmas card. The bus passed three lakes (and Red Bull headquarters) before stopping by the small town of Mondsee, which lies on the shores of a lake with the same name (it means "Moon Lake"). There we saw the church in which Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer got married in the movie (the real Maria and Georg got hitched somewhere else) and got some apple streudel from a nearby café. Carrie and I walked along the lake before heading back to the bus, and--once everyone had returned from the break in town--we left Mondsee and drove back to Salzburg, where the tour ended at the last stop, the Mirabell Gardens. The gardens were used for pretty much the entirety of the filming of Do-Re-Mi, so we walked around and saw most of the major parts of the landscape. Though the grounds were still lovely in the snow, this is one of those places that would have been far more beautiful if the flowers had been in full bloom.

With the tour finished and not much time before we had to be back at the train station, we decided just to go to the mall beside the station to pick up some food for the journey. The mall is closed on Sundays, however, so we went to a café nextdoor and got some salads and pastries and drinks. We still had plenty of time, so we hung out on a bench on the platform to wait for the train.

Six hours later and we come home to find that Budapest, covered in snow not even two days earlier, is now being rained on and turned into a slushy mess. It's a headache to walk in, and it makes the already killer of a hill up to the dorm even worse. Hopefully it won't be like this all winter...

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