At the end of October we had a week off of school, so I took the opportunity to do some traveling, and yes, I am just now writing about it. The saying “Time flies when you’re having fun” is no joke.
Our first stop was Salzburg. On one of the train rides there, Jackie and I had found our seats, and a few minutes later, an older gentleman stopped by our cabin and started speaking to us in German. After the brief moment of panic that accompanies the first experience in a place where you have no notions of the language, I managed to stutter “Nein Deutsch.” No problem. The guy switched over to perfect English. I was amazed. It turns out this man was a mathematician at the University of Salzburg, and while he mostly advised masters students, he told us how much he really loved teaching. He also told us all about Austria and about his trips to the U.S. and he asked about our studies and our time in Lyon and Europe. I just felt so lucky that we were seated by such a nice person. It was a great way to start off the trip!
The first day, we took a shuttle to the Eagles Nest, which is actually in Bavaria, Germany. The mountains were so beautiful. All of the leaves on the trees were so vibrant and colorful. We could see Salzburg from the top, and some other towns perfectly nestled in the mountains. It was pretty cool.
After we got back to Salzburg, we walked around the historic part of town. Although bombed during the war, the majority of the old buildings with Baroque architecture managed to survive, so the older part of town was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Salzburg Cathedral was probably the most impressive that I have ever been in. Although not as old as some of the others (the dome of this cathedral was bombed during WWII, and redone afterwards), it was jaw dropping. The ceilings were unbelievably high, and all of the carvings on the walls and ceilings have darker paint or stone behind them, so they really stand out. It was incredible.
Another highlight was the cemetery of St. Peter’s Abbey, which sounds strange, but it was designed unlike anything I had ever seen before. A lot of European cemeteries have large concrete slabs over the casket, but the majority of graves here had concrete frames with flowers growing in the middle. Cemeteries are somber places, but all of the plants here helped to lift the mood and bring some life to the area. I think it’s nicer to remember people in a place that promotes happiness, not sadness.
The next morning was the Sound of Music bike tour. Yes, it was touristy, yes, I would probably hate it if I lived in Salzburg because the city has much more to offer than Sound of Music, but I love the Sound of Music, and a trip to Salzburg would not have been complete without a tour of the filming locations. We lucked out with beautiful weather, and I love bike riding, so it was a really great morning. The best part was riding along this path (kind of like the green belt in Boise), outside of the city, with trees lining either side, and the mountains in the distance. So picturesque.
My final favorite spot was Nonnberg Abbey. We went inside, which was allowed, but it felt a little strange because we saw a nun going about her morning chores. I think that when we visit all of these old churches and cathedrals, we tend to treat them like museums, but seeing the nun reminded me that people live here, and it is a place of worship for a lot of people. So even if it is not a sacred place for everyone that walks through its doors, it is important for some people, and it’s important to be respectful of that.