Monday, June 2, 2008

I've got the whole world...on an egg.

Hi all,
So, apparently the castle post will be a double whammy with tomorrow's (whenever that gets posted!) First and foremost, happy June! You may have noticed, in honor of my reaching 9 months, I put on a new "countdown" timer for when I get back. Although there are times twinged with homesickness, I'm not looking forward to the multiple goodbyes as we all trickle back home.
However, enough of that sadness...

On Friday morning Jake, Amanda, Molly and I all left slightly before 11AM to Salzburg. Although Salzburg IS in Austria, we can use the Bayern ticket to get there - so it cost us all of 7 euros each! We also planned ahead and bought one for the way back. The heat was swelteringly oppressive on Friday, and we were glad to be in the relatively cool comfort of the train during the hottest part. We got in shortly after 2PM and bought a 24 hour pass for public transportation. We caught a bus to the stop nearest to our hostel and navigated there successfully. It was a Family/Youth Hostel and was definitely the nicest one I've been in so far. Of course, it was also the most expensive (at around 30 euros), but included a decent breakfast - plus our own private room with private bathroom.

Soccer Mania
The most noticeable thing in Salzburg was the heavy amount of UEFA (soccer championship) advertising, as Austria is co-hosting the cup with Switzerland this year. There were signs, posters welcoming visitors and teams and sport-paraphernalia everywhere! Luckily, it doesn't start for a few days, otherwise we'd never have gotten a room at all!

Molly likes Churches. A lot. Now, I'm a fan of churches - they're big, beautiful and usually very cool (architecturally and temperature-wise) inside. However, Molly is hardcore and so we visited at least five during our stay. This was fine, as we could always just sit and bask in the beauty and cool-ness, but it did make me a tad grouchy when lunch got put off for several hours. But, then again, if we didn't see it the first time we walked past, we probably wouldn't have gone back. Consequentially, we also saw two wedding parties. On the second day, we were sitting outside of a church (in the shade of a fountain) while Molly was in a catacomb. It was a typical wedding, with some guests in the traditional garb. However, the first day we came across a wedding party (already married), and were surprised to overhear that they were all British! Of course, the city was absolutely crawling with English-speaking tourists - I know I heard more English than German - so I shouldn't have been surprised.

Mirabell Gardens and Milk
It may be that you unknowingly missed out on the exciting "International Milk Day" - I.M.D. - celebration in your corner of the world (or, gasp, perhaps were unaware that there in fact is an International Milk Day, let alone anyone who actually celebrates it), but it was on Friday. The timing was especially ironic, as we found out when we got to Regensburg, as Bayern is experiencing a milk-strike. This is unlikely to affect me, as I could probably buy 4 cartons of milk that will last me for the next 2 months and keep them in my room until I needed them! At any rate, we visited the Mirabell Gardens (built by a "celibate" clergyman for his lover and their children) and found - and naturally posed with - possibly the coolest tree I've ever seen. Also, there was an extensive rose garden and several other sections filled with disturbing dwarf statues. It was also in the park that we fell in love with Salzburg - they have "trinkwasser"! Or, in plain English...water fountains! Talk about exciting, although perhaps pathetic, but they simply do NOT exist in Germany!

Back to the I.M.D. though. When we came back to the park later at night, a concert was in full swing. We could have paid 2 euros to get in, but decided to sit up on a park bench above the park. We'd missed the white-dressed memo, which apparently got you in for free. Perhaps we even missed out on free milk...However, we had purchased our own beverage of choice and have a lovely time sitting, talking, and listening to the sometimes-strange music.

Hohenburg Salzburg and Funiculating!
The first time I heard Sara (who'd been to Salzburg) say "funiculate", I swore it was a dirty word I'd never heard. Fortunately, it's a name for a tram sort of thing that runs up the side of a hill leading to the big fortress/palace in central Salzburg. The train itself is called a "Funicular" and it shoots you up the mountain, saving you quite the hike. The 10 euro fee also included our museum(s)/castle entrance and it was pretty interesting. The lookouts were amazing, and we wound our way through the fortress and saw the Marionette Museum (which creeped both Amanda and Jake out...they're not doll people). We also went into the fortress museum (where the second story was the boy's doll museum, aka uniforms of Salzburg/Austria through the ages modeled on dolls) and saw everything from old musical instruments, to weapons to invasion schematics. Very worth our while.

While wandering down the major touristy streets, we happened across the most amazing store I've ever seen (or at least a dead tie with FAO Schwartz, NY). It was packed full of hand-painted, blown eggs. Hundreds upon thousands were stacked up. Molly got some pictures, and as my camera's batteries were dead I stole some of hers for the slideshow. My egg is the profile picture...pretty cool huh? Although, Max (Britain) wasn't very impressed with accuracy of the cartography. I won't say how much I paid for this weightless beauty, but it was well worth it I think!

Anyhow, I have some other small tidbits, but as this post is getting long enough (and I have a million pictures to sort through) I'm going to let it go for now.
Hope all is well!

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