Alright, well it’s been awhile since I wrote a blog post.
Anyways, this past weekend was quite a busy one. I visited 4 countries in 2 days (that’s counting Austria, though.).
So where to start?
So we started out the weekend by doing a little Fine Arts excursion to Salzburg’s art museums and other important sites in Salzburg. We started out at the Panorama Museum – it’s basically a big, 360 degree panorama of Salzburg in 1829, painted in the same year. We didn’t stay for much longer, but the panorama itself was pretty cool. It was painted from the perspective of the Festung Hohensalzburg (the fortress that overlooks all of Salzburg) and it’s absolutely gorgeous. It was really interesting to see how the city has developed since then, but I wish I could have seen it in person back then. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera, so I didn’t get many photos on Friday (my phone ran out of storage!) but Mattie sent me some pictures from it!
After the Panorama Museum, we headed to another small church that’s considered one of the “original centers” of Salzburg, where they have a large statue of Jesus that’s fairly modern. It was really interesting to analyze the artistic styling, and it actually looked fascinating, despite its ruggedness.
Also, another interesting point: there were signatures from a lot of midwestern states and cities, as well as full-on placards, so they must have been approved and there for a reason. I wonder if Salzburg is a sister city with some of those cities, but I didn’t really have any idea.
From the church, we went to St. Peter’s Cemetery, which, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful places in the whole city. It’s so quiet and the flora is absolutely gorgeous. Honestly, I love it because it has such a contrast of life and death. Yes, that’s pretentious, but it’s really, really powerful to be in a place full of death but to be surrounded with so much beautiful life. I don’t really know what it is, but a lot of people in the Center agree that it’s one of the most beautiful places in the whole city.
We spent a little time in the cemetery, then proceeded to head outside to a little waterwheel and bakery whose mill was powered by the wheel. The bread was CHEAP, and it was probably some of the best bread I’ve ever had – super light, fluffy, and incredibly tasty.
From there, we headed to Nonnberg Monastery, which is Salzburg’s old female monastery/nunnery. You may recognize it from the entrance, which was in Sound of Music! Thanks to Mattie for these pictures!:
Oh, and the views out front are also spectacular! These are mine:
We then proceeded to head to another church, Sankt Erhard, which was also absolutely gorgeous. Thanks to Mattie for the pictures!:
We then went to the DomQuartier, to a museum about art. It was absolutely fascinating, and I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m so grateful for our arts classes, because they’ve taught me so much about analyzing art and they actually make art museums quite enjoyable. I didn’t get any pictures in the DomQuartier (part of the Salzburg Dom, or the Cathedral), because they’re not allowed, but in the art museum part of it, they were allowed, and everyone was fascinated with some of the blue colors, which to be honest were really cool. Here’s one; the photo doesn’t do it justice. These colors were very beautiful in person:
Also, I didn’t mention it in any other posts, but I got to play the organ in the Salzburg Cathedral earlier in the year! We got to see the organ and learn how it works from a man who won quite a few Bach World Organist Competitions, so he was INCREDIBLE, and he let me play it!
This is the perspective from up at the organ:
Anyways, after a little while in the Dom, we headed out to lunch. I had my first ever kebab at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant (quite literally), and it was absolutely DELICIOUS. 10/10 would recommend. We didn’t have much time for lunch, because we had to get back to the Dom to meet up with a tour guide, since Klemens legally couldn’t guide us in the city without a registered tour guide (essentially, third-party tour guides aren’t allowed and face heavy fines, so you have to hire one if you want to guide people through the city). Klemens, however, did most of the guiding, which was alright with me and seemingly alright with our actual tour guide, who seemed more there just to let Klemens talk. Basically, if Klemens wanted to guide, he had to hire the tour guide so that he was “accompanied” and wouldn’t get fined. But that was part of their agreement, so the tour guide was essentially getting paid to take the tour instead of guiding it.
We saw a couple more sites, including the Salzburg-famous pickle statues, which are very controversial and are meant to test the boundaries of what is considered art. Prior to this, most bronze statues were of famous people or religious figures, so depicting pickles in the same way other famous and religious figures are depicted was seen as very problematic.
Then we went to one of the most famous art collections in Europe, but not many people know about it. However, their collection is absolutely MASSIVE and it’s one of the most important galleries for art historians. Here’s a picture of all of us outside, thanks to Klemens:
We saw some… interesting drawings by John Cage, who also made a composition called 4’33” which is literally 4 minutes and 33 seconds of dead silence; essentially, the audience (i.e. coughing, breathing, chairs creaking) is the music. It’s supposed to test the boundaries of what’s considered art – it’s very experimental…
Like his drawings.
Apparently there was some sort of experimental rock-throwing thing that went into the drawings, but I didn’t quite understand. But if you want an idea of how art is perceived, these pieces each go for around or over 100,000€, which is equivalent to $112,000. And the art gallery had probably 17 or so of them.
After this, a small group of us headed to CoffeePress, where mostly everyone got drinks but me, because I wasn’t feeling great. However, I spotted the same kind of motorcycle I have back home!:
Anyways, since I wasn’t feeling good, I went back to the Center and took a little nap, then Mattie’s family, who was in town, invited me out to dinner, so we went to an Italian restaurant called L’Osteria. It was a really good evening – really good conversation, interesting topics, and a lot of hilarity. It was a great way to end a fantastic day.
On Saturday, I spent most of the morning in Salzburg (because I had to set out breakfast for the Center, as it was my committee’s turn to do so). In the afternoon, I headed with one of my friends, Patrick, to Munich. I also got to activate my Eurail Pass, so I didn’t have to pay for any of my trains this weekend, which was a FANTASTIC feeling. I already love it.
Anyways, we got into Munich, and we headed immediately to Marienplatz. I’d been to Munich a few times before, and Patrick had been there last weekend, but we both wanted to see some of Marienplatz and check out the Glockenspiel:
We also saw a protest regarding the food industry and mistreatment of animals, which was interesting, because the last time I saw the Glockenspiel, there was also a protest. Thankfully, these people didn’t yell over the sound of the Glockenspiel, as the last protest I saw did (when I was with my family last summer). These protesters were actually very friendly and nice, and they were dead silent, so no one was upset with them.
From there, of course, we had to go to Hofbräuhaus. I managed to direct us by memory, even though the last time (and only time) I went was back in December.
We got into the Hofbräuhaus and found a seat RIGHT next to the band, which was pretty cool. There were some Germans, but the guy across from me was very quiet older man who didn’t speak any English, so Patrick and I ended up speaking with a couple from Simi Valley, CA, for awhile. We ended up ordering pretzels (DELICIOUS, by the way) and a beer, and as we “Prost!”ed, I began talking with the German guy across from me.
He told me that at first, he didn’t think I spoke any German, so he didn’t talk to me because he can’t speak English, but once we started speaking German, the conversation kicked off. He told me that his name was Willi (or Willy), and he was from Hannover, which is in Northern Germany. One of his friends, Ludwig, a 70-ish year old who’s from Bavaria, also joined us. Ludwig was really quiet at first, because Willi introduced me by saying, “This is Cal, he’s an American who can speak German!” but Ludwig ended up talking with us for a long time as well. We talked about SO much – politics, home, life in Europe vs. in the US, the German language, French, history, and SO much more. I learned quite a bit of vocabulary just by talking with them. Pretty early on into the conversation, Ludwig asked me if I spoke any other languages, and I told him I had studied a little bit of French, so he asked me in French if I understood him, to which I replied yes, and both of them admitted that I’m the first American that’s been able to hold a conversation in German for over 5-ish minutes, which subsequently made me the first American they really liked. I then ordered a second beer, which they did too (the Bockbier, which is delicious with food), and we continued talking more. Eventually, they both had to leave, so we said goodbyes and they wished me well on my travels throughout Europe and a good rest of my schoolyear.
We had talked for around 4 hours, only in German. It was a great opportunity for me to speak and learn some German, and I ended up making some cool friends along the way!
Pretty soon after that conversation finished, Patrick and I headed to the gift store (which was a major reason I went in the first place) and I bought a 1L glass stein. Then Patrick and I headed back to the train station to catch our train back to Salzburg. There was a group of really drunk soccer fans (Bavaria had tied with Freiburg in a soccer match), and one ended up laying down on the luggage rack above the seats:
Anyways, we got back to the Center and I headed to sleep pretty soon after, because I had to catch a really early train to Feldkirch, Austria, the next day.
I woke up early on Sunday, got ready, and headed to the train station for a short little solo day trip to Liechtenstein. The train ride was around 4 hours, and it took me to the nearest town to the Liechtenstein border. The train was pretty boring and unfortunately, I lost an earbud, but there was a little kid, probably 3 years old, who was sitting behind me and singing a song about a train ride. I didn’t know the song, but the kid tapped me in the elbow with his card and tried to get me to sing along, and I proceeded to laugh and explain to the dad that I’m an American student and I don’t know the song, and that I’ve only been speaking German for 3 semesters. He complimented me on my German, which was pretty cool, and the kid was a little upset that I wasn’t singing along. Sorry!
Anyways, the train ride was mostly uneventful – however, it was pretty gorgeous, and I finally got into Feldkirch, where I immediately started walking to Liechtenstein, because I needed to make it to Buchs, Switzerland, in time for my train back (another 4 hour train) or I would have to take an 11 hour train that left around 7, which was the next train to Salzburg. Feldkirch is a quaint little Voralberger town – pretty quiet, but nice nonetheless. The walk from Feldkirch to the border was actually fairly long – a fair amount of the 10 miles between Feldkirch and Buchs.
I got to the border between Liechtenstein and Austria, and found no-one working the passport booth, so I found one man working (only one!) and asked him if I was allowed to cross. He was very friendly and wished me a pleasant walk through Liechtenstein, so I headed out.
So some things to know: the train to Liechtenstein from Salzburg is normally very expensive – around 70€. Thankfully I have my Eurail Pass – if I didn’t, I’m not sure it would have been worth it; there’s not much to do in Liechtenstein; I didn’t stop through Vaduz because apparently it’s pretty boring, but there is one castle!
However, it is pretty naturally beautiful. It’s surrounded on all sides by mountains, with a rolling field that spans the entire way between them. I saw some interesting little things, as well as noticing some things – namely, Liechtenstein has some cool license plates:
So, funny story about that little… writing on the back of that car. I didn’t know why that was there, but I realized that quite a few cars in Liechtenstein had writing in that same handwriting, with gray pen or whatever that is, that said “Frei” (“free”), so all I can assume is that this person was mocking them.
Anyways, the walk through Liechtenstein was very nice. Not many people were out, and no stores were open, since it was a Sunday, so it was VERY quiet. As in the only sound I could hear aside from the occasional car was the hitting of my backpack on my back.
Something else I noticed about Liechtenstein: either its people are very wealthy or they’re coming in from other areas, because there were a lot of very nice cars (i.e. Ferrari), and especially a lot of Aston Martins, which are my favorite cars.
And a TON of motorcycles. Not sure what it is about it, but I probably saw hundreds of motorcycles during my fairly short walk. So nice cars and lots of motorcycles, plus German-speaking country? Sounds like my kind of place.
(Joking, Mom and Dad.)
Anyways, the walk across Liechtenstein was a little long, but it was incredibly peaceful. Not a lot of people out – in fact, barely anyone walking biking; the most people I saw were just driving by – and a few hours to walk in peace and quiet. And plenty of time to reflect on the year that I’ve been so fortunate to spend over here. The things I passed were nothing special – a lot of houses, some run-down shops, some farms, the usual. The scenery was pretty nice – mountains in every direction, lots of grass – just wholly serene.
And with that, I made it to Buchs, Switzerland! Something I found interesting was that the easternmost Kanton in Switzerland has the fasces as its symbol, which historically has been tainted under fascism.
Also, a funny coincidence happened – I had my music playing throughout the trip, just as background music, but AS I STEPPED INTO SWITZERLAND – literally as I was crossing the border – the song “Switzerland” by The Last Bison began to play. It was an absolutely crazy coincidence, and I literally laughed out loud because of how wildly coincidental it was.
But with that, my trip wasn’t yet over. As I walked into Switzerland, my maps – for some reason – uninstalled itself, likely because I don’t have any storage left on my phone. I have an old phone with limited storage, and all of the photos from past trips take up most of the space, unfortunately. So I had no internet connection – Swiss internet wasn’t working for me, even though most other places give me reception – so I couldn’t reinstall my maps. I couldn’t get Google Maps either, and I even tried Snapchat Maps as a last resort, with no luck. Since no-one was out, since it was Sunday, and no stores were open, I couldn’t ask around, which I’d normally do in a situation like this. Except I didn’t have a lot of time to wait for some pedestrian or bicyclist to come by, because it could be quite awhile until they did.
But my parents came to the rescue!
I was racking my head for ideas – I couldn’t ask a pedestrian, couldn’t get maps open, couldn’t go into a store and ask for directions, so I opted to call my parents.
I frantically called them and they graciously helped guide me on Google Maps from all the way across the globe, from the border of Switzerland to the Hauptbahnhof, or the train station. And I made it, with 20 minutes-ish to spare. THANK YOU MOM AND DAD!
Anyways, I got on my train – thankfully – and headed back to Salzburg, where I ended up coming in in the evening.
And that’s it for this past weekend! 4 countries in 2 days was pretty cool, and now I crossed off a bucket-list item of walking across a full country off!
So what’s the plan for the future? Well, there are only a few weekends left – this upcoming one, in which I’ll hopefully take a day trip to Germany or southern Austria, then one three-day weekend, which I’m thinking of Denmark or Latvia, then the four-day weekend, which is our last, and I’m going to travel to Sweden, then to Norway, then back to Sweden. Then I’m going backpacking for a month throughout Europe!
Well that’s all for now.
Mit Liebe aus Salzburg, München, Liechtenstein und aus der Schweiz,