Grüß dich! Greetings from Austria!
The train to Austria was beautiful. The grass was green and after I changed trains in Salzburg and headed west, the alps jumped up around me. The little local train wound its way along the narrow valley floor alongside the river Salzach to the small lake-side holiday town of Zell am See.
I had met my cousin Andi, his wife Barb, and their middle son Beni, at Christmas when we stopped for the day in Salzburg. Andi is a doctor, like his father (my great uncle Rup), and he settled his family in Austria to take a job as an emergency medical rescue doctor. He is always busy at work saving the holiday goers and skiers who venture into the surrounding mountains. The entire family is very adventurous and loves being out in the mountains, biking, hiking, skiing, everything.
Andi met me at the Zell am See station and took me down the road to the next town where they live. Their house was once a typical Austrian farmers house with barn down stairs and living above. The previous owner had updated the barn converting the stable into the master bedroom. It was such a cool place. Very rustic. My room was on the third floor, just below the eaves and had an amazing view of the alps. I met Kili, the youngest son. He still lives at home and would be taking his final exams of secondary school (graduating from high school) later in the week, so, he had lots of studying to do. Beni goes to university in Graz and Piu goes to university in Innsbruck. We had afternoon tea and then took a little walk around the town. The town was so small that it took about 5 minutes to walk from one side to the other. But they did have a tourist point in the town center where we got our picture taken with the web camera. And of course, it rained and I got wet.
Andi and I drove back to Salzburg to find some of the sights from The Sound of Music, buy chocolate, and visit Festung Hohensalzburg (Fortress “High Salzburg”) which is located on a little plateau above the city. The Fortress had been slowly built over hundreds of years. From the top, we could see all over the city, from Schloss Mirabell to the modern University of Salzburg building.
We stopped by Furst Chocolate to get some more Motzartkugeln and to try a newer creation. The Bach Würfel was created to honor Johann Sebastian Bach’s 300th anniversary and is made of coffee truffle and marzipan. So good. After lunch, the sun was out and we crossed the river to Schloss Mirabell and enjoyed the garden that was now blooming with many colorful flowers. The little park with the famous dwarf statues from The Sound of Music was open, and I got to take my picture with the one that was featured in the movie.
We visit so many places, the cemetery where Motzart’s family is buried, the little chapel carved into hillside, and the palace that was used as the back of the Von Trapp family’s home. Andi was so good at nonchalantly walking into places. The palace had been turned into a hotel and a menacing gate with a sign saying “guests only” blocked our path. Andi opened the gate and just walked in – I, being the rule follower, was super nervous, but followed him. I took my picture in front of the scene where Maria and the kids all fall out of the boat into the water. Such a great memory!
Andi had to work today, but Barb had the day off. We got up early and drove three hours to Graz to visit Beni. He met us for lunch and then gave me an excellent architectural tour of the city. He studies Physics and had never thought of Graz as a place to see architecture, but I had a long list of things to see. The Grazer Murinsel was an island built in the middle of the river that runs through Graz and is a play area for kids and cafe. We also saw the Kunsthaus (Art and Culture Museum) which is a large, blue, “alien” and the University’s music building.
The student population of Graz was so large, making the town center very lively. Before heading back home, we sat and watched some of the Football European championship. Also a fun environment!
In the late morning, Andi and I went for a little hike up one of the hills. I still can’t get over how amazing the views are! We reached a little’s hiker’s rest point after two hours up, had an excellent lunch, and then took the slide down. Two hours up, 10 minutes down.
We ran errands and then Andi had a bit of doctoring to do at a Blob competition at Zell am See. They were trying to make a world record for highest launch off of a Blob into the lake. Lots of interesting people were competing and it was quite entertaining.
Mom’s here!!!!! It is so nice to be back together again! Andi and I drove back to Salzburg to visit Schloss Hellbrunn, the duke’s summer palace. He never lived there, just stored his large collection of exotic animals. The thing to see now are the many trick fountains. It was a very warm day so it was nice to get a little wet from the surprising fountains. In the garden was another Kneipp pool and the gazebo from The Sound of Music. By 1:00, we had to race over to the airport to pick up mom!
I talked the entire way back to Zell am See and had so many stories to tell her; from the location of the Reber motzartkugeln factory to the 10 minutes we had to drive through Germany to get back home. We had a BBQ for dinner and enjoyed the nice weather outside. Their little, old, white, blind, cat Kimmi even got to enjoy sniffing the grass with us. Kimmi was my little buddy in Austria. Somehow, he always found his way to my lap in the evenings and we would usually fall asleep on the couch together.
Today was a big adventure. We drove up the highest mountain in Austria: Großglockner. The road was long and winding and I was a little car sick. I felt so lazy and I watched some guys riding their bikes up the same road. I was very impressed. At the top, we saw lots of interesting animals looked at the glacier in the valley below.
I was sad to leave today. Barb drove us to Innsbruck and we looked around the city center for a little bit. At 2:00, we had to head to the train station. Mom and I had reservations at a bed and breakfast in Lake Como. Time to head back to Italia!