Settling in Salzburg

Alright, my first actual blog post from Salzburg.  It’s been a whirlwind of three days and I don’t even know where to start, but WOW it was a good time.  But prepare for a long post.

I guess to start, I should cover our travels over to the center.  We flew into London, on a ten hour (but also pretty quality, especially for the price) flight out of Oakland International.  I traveled with two of my friends, Sarah, and my roommate, Andrés.  In London, we got into a little predicament because of Customs and check-in, but everything ultimately worked out for the better because of it, since we got a bunch of discounts and basically an “exclusive” security pass (basically like TSA pre-check) because we were stressed out and the connection agent (to get us onto our next flight) saw that.  From there, we flew into Vienna, after a 6 hour layover, and our Vienna Airbnb was a little sketchy but definitely worth the price.  Unfortunately though, we flew in late (around 10) and by the time we were settled into our Airbnb, pretty much no restaurants were open, so we found a single Turkish-Austrian restaurant and ate there.  Good food, hard-to-understand accent.

In the morning, we took a train to the center.  That was also a little stressful, but I understood basically what the ticket person said, so I guess that’s a plus, but we couldn’t find our train cabin because the outside didn’t have a “100” (our wagon), so we went all over the place looking for it.  Other than that, it was a pretty smooth sailing.  We got to Salzburg Hauptbahnhof, and after a 20 minute walk carrying a TON of luggage, we made it to the center.

The center is pretty cool actually.  Since it’s not actually a part of the Universität Salzburg, it’s more of a “compound” across the street from the Salzburg AG (a shareholding company that controls most of the electricity and infrastructure in Salzburg).  We’re in a little alleyway, but it’s a nice neighborhood and the neighbors generally keep to themselves as we do with ourselves.  We only have around 38 or 39 people, and the buildings are situated in two – one is more of a lounge/kitchen/laundry/big residence place, and the other (which I live in) is our classroom, director’s house, and our floor (the Penthouse).  There are only 10 of us living in our building, so we’ve gotten pretty close (we’re now the Penthouse Pals), which is a plus. Also, we can literally walk downstairs to get to class.  Nice.

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Our dorm room, #30, in the Penthouse.
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The Salzburg AG, next to our compound.

Alright, now that I’ve covered that, maybe onto the actual fun stuff?

So on our first FULL day, we got situated with the center.  Rules, expectations, usw. as the Germans would say.  As part of our German/Austrian Cultural class, we did a big scavenger hunt all across the city.  It took six hours (then again, we stopped to hang out and took our time exploring the city, eating, talking, and more) and we got a little lost but it was a great time.  We went to the Mozarthaus, explored the Salzach river, went to Kapuzinerberg, the Mirabellgarten, and more.  Our group is kinda… powerful? when it comes to this stuff, because we have four of us that speak German to a degree (each group of 7/8 had at least one person who was in German 311, but we had 4, which is half of our German 311 class).  So when it came to talking to Salzburgers, or figuring out German instructions, we were set.  The whole day involved a lot of walking but it was a really, genuinely good time with some good people.  We also met a Salzburger (UP Salzburger, at least) from 2011, who just happened to stumble upon us when we were doing the scavenger hunt, and he invited us all out to a Bräuhaus, but we didn’t end up finding him there (to be fair, it was PACKED).  We also ran into a group from the University of Redlands, who helped us find stuff for our scavenger hunt.  Really nice people, and they invited us out to O’Malleys (a popular bar/pub for college students in Salzburg) with them, but they said to wait until Karaoke Night (so on Tuesdays or Thursdays) to go.  Overall, 15/10 day, minus the walking and being incredibly tired from travelling.

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Mirabellgarten, with Hohensalzburg in background.
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Hohensalzburg overlooking the Salzach river.

Second day was a little more laid-back.  We took a trip up to the Hohensalzburg Festung (Salzburg Fortress) and learned about the importance of salt in the area – it brought a ton of wealth because of it’s food-preservative nature.  Pretty lowkey day, but also really good.  It rained a lot though, and the hike back was miserable because I forgot a rain jacket.

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Hohensalzburg Festung on our scavenger hunt day, when it was a little less rainy.

Third day was also a lot of fun.  We toured three cities/towns – St. Wolfgang, Bad Ischl, and Hallstatt.  St. Wolfgang was really quiet, but absolutely beautiful:

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My roommates: Max, Andrés, and me.
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St. Wolfgang, which lies on Wolfgangsee.

Bad Ischl was really fascinating, and we visited the summer residence of Kaiser Franz-Josef, who started WW1 by declaring war on Serbia.  We went into the room and saw the desk that the war was declared on/in, and it was really sobering.  As the guide said, “this place has a lot of blood on its hands.”  Although, in a weirdly cool twist of events, we ended up passing the Kaiser’s great-great grandson, who would be heir to the throne had it still been in place today; he lives in the palace, and he often talks with groups who are touring, but doesn’t disclose who he is (we found out from our tour guide).  It was pretty breathtaking to know that we were in the same exact place as someone who is related to Franz Ferdinand and Franz Josef – a Hapsburg still alive today.

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Franz Josef’s summer residence.
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Franz Josef’s hunting grounds, directly outside the palace.

From Bad Ischl, we went to Hallstatt – a place that has been on my “to-go to list” for a long time.  It did not disappoint.

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Hallstatt

Here, we hung out for a few hours.  The group ate pastries that are basically filled with whipped cream, ate ice cream, and just talked.  We also rented a swan boat, because why not.  Unfortunately, I can’t include video, but there’s a funny video of us racing our swan boats.  Here’s a low-quality screengrab from that video, though:

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After that, we went to the top of a mountain to check out the salt mines.  I was somewhat expecting it to be boring, but it was a ton of fun.

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Our maternity shoot from the top of the mountain.

It was a really long tour, but absolutely fascinating, and we were cracking jokes and licking salt walls all through the cavern.  It was a really good time, although it was a little bit cold, but definitely worth it.

Anyways, that’s about all for now.  There’s a lot around town and in the surrounding area to keep us occupied, which is really nice.  Here’s a list of places to check out:

  1. Fuxn (a little pricey, but good food and a good environment.  Plus waiters there are REALLY nice).
  2. Die Weiße (a bar, but has REALLY good food)
  3. Augustinerbräu (a brewhouse.  Really crazy and a little stressful if you don’t drink but it’s interesting to see the “Bavarian drinking environment”)
  4. O’Malley’s (A bar, but the people are really friendly and it’s very safe whether you’re sober or very drunk.  Good place to meet travellers and students. Karaoke night is also very popular with college students.  Pretty much the safest and most comfortable I think I’ll ever be in a bar, because I don’t like bars or brewhouses)
  5. Jazzit (a restaurant/bar, haven’t been here but they have live music that’s not only jazz.  Apparently it’s a good time, but I haven’t gotten the chance to go here yet, but I figured I’d include it)

Mit viel Liebe aus Salzburg,

Cal

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