sábado, 5 de novembro de 2011

Travel log - Europe - Day 21

Day 21 Salzburg

So, another day would start in Salzburg and I had many places to go. The night had been full of dreams, I remembered them vividly and wrote some parts. Maybe I was affected by the visit to the Freud Museum and I wanted to interpret the elements and know the answers to life mysteries. Well, at least my own mysterious ways. As I got ready for the day, the family was already gathered around the table having breakfast. It was a delicious breakfast and they asked me about what I would do during the day. I told them I was going to some places. They lent me a map and gave some suggestions. I could take the bus or just walk along the river to get downtown. They told me it would be something like 5 kilometers away. A bit discouraging, we could think, but, I had time and maybe walking would give me ideas to understand those dreams of mine. I would be in movement, going along a beautiful river. As I finished breakfast, Ansuela asked for my help to improve a snow tower she was building on the balcony. It was a one-meter tower made of snow with some holes in it. I am not very good at this and we had made no snow-man in Belgium, but I was eager to learn. We got one bucket and a small cup and I should fill the bucket with ice and put the cup with its border touching the side of the bucket and after I should put some water. It made the snow melt a bit and soon turn to ice . We would then remove it from the bucket and remove the cup, leaving a hole on one of the sides. I had no idea why the holes existed, but we doubled the size of the tower. So, I took the trail through the woods and got to river, turned right and there we go.

The peace and quiet of the walk made me feel lonely and at the same time, it soothed my spirit. I could almost hear the sound of silence (in the city I should be listening to the sound of music). There were some people going by, vagrant like me or exercising. I followed my shadow and I could see from a distance the fortress which would be my first stop.

As I arrived at the center, I was welcomed by very beautiful short buildings. The avenues were large and there was some morning buzz of cars going by. The day was sunny but most of the roofs had snow. I was afraid of walking on the sidewalks because I had heard somewhere (maybe Prague) that when an amount of snow got loose and fell from the edges of roofs, people could get killed. I visited a square and a church, which was closed. I tried following my direction instincts, although I no longer trusted them after the failure in Vienna (and in the previous day at the station). But the fortress was on top of the hill, then I had to find a way to go up, so all the steep streets were very likely to lead me there. Finally, I found a place where I could take a funicular (I didn’t remember that was the name). But I thought it was expensive to do it so I tried the other alternative which was the beautiful set of stairs you can see below:

There were few tourists there when I arrived. Officially, the place is called Hohensalzburg Castle and it was not expensive to enter (maybe 7 euros).
The place was very nice. As it was a bit early, few people were visiting and it was getting more crowded as I was leaving. It was a fortress/castle where the religious leaders who had controlled the city lived and protected themselves. There were museums inside and some balconies where one could have a wonderful view of the city, the surrounding mountains and the beautiful sky.

I spent some hours there and after the visit I headed for the center of the city. I was getting hungry so I started to look for a place to eat. As it would be my first lunch in Salzburg, I should try some traditional Austrian food, something I hadn’t eaten in Vienna. However, I ended up going to a restaurant which had an Indian name and an elephant on the sign.
This experience was not as cool as one may think. As soon as I entered the place I realized the restaurant was a small room, with about 6 or 7 tables. There were almost all taken by couples and some friends having lunch. There was no one to serve, and I even felt like I had entered someone’s house and should leave as soon as possible. After some minutes thinking, I sat at the empty table, I guess it was the only one available, and waited. Suddenly, by the same door I had entered, a guy entered and I realized he was the waiter just because he was carrying the tray. No apron, no special uniform. I stayed there sitting and looking around, and the guys from the nearby table kept staring at me. I felt awkward and wanted to leave so badly. And although I was there, feeling naked, the waiter guy did not approach me. He did some other things and then he seemed to have paid attention to me. At that point, I had managed to calm myself down and started observing people near there, talking and all. He handed me a menu and I chose the food I wanted. Then he left again, by the door and didn’t come back for about minutes. Imagine if someone would leave, because they could have. Anyway, he came back and started serving me and, at the same time, he was cleaning some of the tables. Some of the people, specially the staring neighbors left and by the time I was finishing my meal, there were only a couple and I left. I had some rice and chicken, plus some naan bread as entrée.
After that, I resumed my walk around the narrow , now alley-like streets. The city was not so crowded although it was one day before a holiday. The 06 of January is a very important day, as the children were dressed in the 3 wise men clothes and they go from house to house asking for donations to a certain world cause. I had thought it strange that some houses had some numbers and symbols on their doors, written with chalk and afterwards Ansuela told me what that meant: the children would write that that house had already contributed. I could witness this cultural event that same night while were were having dinner, but I’ll get to this later.
I saw some interesting stores, and one that really called my attention was a movie theater called Kino, where one could watch cult movies and all. The building was very interesting and I felt like watching a movie, but I still had some parts of the city to see.
My next stop was Schloss Mirabel or Mirabell Gardens.
I don’t know if I have already told you that there is a museum of Mozart in Salzburg because he was born there. Although he spent most of his life in Vienna and we visited his museum there, he is a kind of attraction to Salzburg. All the gift shops you go you have something related to his music and his photos. One of the most striking symbols of Salzburg are the Mirabell chocolates, which have Mozart pictures and are called “Mozart’s balls” (pun intended, I guess). I brought some to my friends and almost lost them, but this story should also come in the future.
The gardens were beautiful, but there was a kind of sense it would be way better in the summer. Most parts were locked and under snow. But the statues served as an example of the kind of spectacle we could have had, provided it was summer.
After the gardens, I decided to go home. It was a bit after four and soon the sun would be setting. I headed home but I was freezing already, I knew I would have to walk about 7 or something kilometers and I started, already freezing and willing to go to the toilet. As I walked I started not feeling my hands anymore, and instead of entering any place in order to get warmer, I felt it would be wiser to keep going, to arrive soon. I got there with half my arms purple from the cold. Ansuela saw it and prepared me some hot tea and we talked about what I had done that day. She informed me a friend of hers wanted us to go to a dinner at her house. So we did.
The house was not very far. It was about a 5 minute walk. Her husband went by bicycle and we went walking. The dinner was very nice and I had the opportunity to witness one of the kids dressed as the wise men, coming and asking for some donations, and he wrote the numbers with chalk on their door. After they told me everything about that tradition. The dinner with Cristina was very nice and after drinking a bit of wine and getting some chocolate as gift, we decided to go home. Again, Herman went first with his bike and we stayed behind, but that was so nice, us walking home remembering songs and singing, our way, forgetting parts of the lyrics and just inventing some.
As we got home, I calculated I had walked about 20 km that day. One thing I was sure: I could eat junk food and all, but I was definitely doing quite a lot of exercise. I wrote the postcards I had bought that day and the following day I had to post them. There was a post box in front of the hostel in Berlin and I had just kept the postcards to hand in to my friends, I didn’t want to do that again with the other cities. And to bed I went, that nice and comfy bed. And the night came, enveloping me in its stillness.

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