My Adventures Touring Europe in 1982 (9) Salzburg
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Friday, July 2
A little more than an hour after leaving Munich, we entered the countryside of Austria. It was stunningly gorgeous, with craggy mountains everywhere. We left the autobahn and entered the town of Salzburg, which was so beautiful, it seemed unreal. It was even better than in the movie, The Sound of Music; everywhere was elaborate architecture with photorealistic paintings.
Our bus pulled up to a low-lying, modern looking building. “Whew! We just made it!” Johannes exclaimed. In case you haven’t guessed, Europeans are real sticklers with being on time. As we filed off the bus, he quietly told Bruce and me, “Please don’t be late again, OK?”
“Don’t worry!” I answered him. “I’ll be carrying a map as well as an itinerary from now on!” I also made up my mind to pay careful attention any time I went anywhere, since the street layout was so different from the US and I couldn’t afford to take anything for granted.
It turned out we were going to be touring a salt mine! This is what Salzburg (“Salt Mountain”) was named for.
We changed into the black and white smocks and pants that miners wear, then sat on choir-type risers to be photographed. The woman taking our picture told us, “Everybody say, ‘Sex’!” We all laughed, and she took our picture while we said it. Then we began our tour.
The first part consisted of sliding down a long wooden chute made of a hollow half-log! The rest of the tour was walking through caverns which were lit with multicolored lights. It was very much like touring Mercer Caverns in California, with stalagmites and stalactites – except for the high point, where we got to ride boats across a lake of brine! I wondered if you could sit on it, like the Great Salt Lake, but there wasn’t time to get out of the boat and discover that.
After that spectacular tour, we checked into our hotel and took things easy the rest of the day. We had dinner at our hotel, then for the first time during our tour, I broke out with my guitar. I sang a bunch of John Denver songs; I’m a huge longtime fan of his, and Austria being a mountainous country, it fit perfectly.
“It’s about time you did that! Bruce exclaimed.
“Actually, this is the first free evening we’ve had,” Danny pointed out.
“They had street musicians in Amsterdam and Munich. Did you think of trying there?” Bruce asked.
I gaped in horror. “Are you kidding?” I exclaimed. I’m a fairly decent player, but there’s no way in the world I’d have the nerve to perform in the street! The others joined me in sympathy, and Bruce dropped the subject.
Our beds were covered with white feather-stuffed quilts three inches thick! I drifted off to dreamland in a heavenly cloud.
Saturday, July 3
Today, we got a tour of this fantastic city. I reveled in the cobblestone streets, ornate architecture, and elaborate paintings everywhere. In the center of town was a fountain with several paintings of horses backing it. I remembered seeing it in The Sound of Music; it was one of the places where Maria took the Von Trapp children. “This is where they watered their horses in the Olden Days”, we were told. I was extremely impressed; apparently, Austrians take great pains to beautify even the most ordinary things. I just might adopt that habit for myself!
Next to this fountain was a cave. We entered it; I fully expected it to be just another dark passage, but I was stunned to see it was full of shops selling Austrian crystal! It was like entering a geode! There were even branches off the main tunnel, and all of them contained crystal shops!
Because I did not have a flasher unit for my Canon AE1 camera, I could not take pictures, and there were no post cards showing the inside of the cave. So I bought a pair of silver stud earrings shaped like a flower, with Austrian crystal set in the center, so I would have a part of this special cave always.
The Von Trapp Home
We boarded the bus, and were taken to the Von Trapp palace. Though we did not actually enter it, we did get to go inside the gazebo where Elisa would meet her beau.
Then we had to leave this beautiful romantic city behind. We were supposed to ride the Orient Express, but there had been a problem with visas, so we were to sail the Blue Danube instead.
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© 2013 Yoleen Lucas