Okay, I’ll let you in on a secret- I actually got home from Germany yesterday. Yup, a secret among you, me, and anyone who can find me on the Internet. Due to problems with wifi and some timing issues, I’m not actually done chronicling my journey. I’m planning to get through a few posts this weekend to make up for that.
Today, thanks to my general jet lag and malaise, I present: food porn! Mom, this is a term I did not actually make up. This is an accepted term for gratuitous food pictures.
One of the reasons I chose to visit Germany at this time is that Jenny’s 31st birthday is this week. In fact, it was a couple of days ago on Saturday. She wasn’t thrilled about the start of her prime and odd year, and the sky cried for her all day long. Still, I think we made the most of it and it was a good birthday in the end. As always, forgive spelling errors and weird words that seem random – I’m battling autocorrect and biergartens.
Jenny’s German roommate suggested Cafe Tomaselli in Salzburg for breakfast, a well know spot to see and be seen. We snagged a spot on the covered patio and ordered coffee to go with our people watching. A tour guide later told us this was one of the oldest restaurants in the world, which I don’t buy because half the restaurants in Europe say this.
You know what we haven’t discussed yet? People in Germany and Austria love their dogs and take them every where. It is completely normal to see dogs politely joining their masters on the train or in a department store. It’s like everyone here fancies themselves a young American heiress. This little guy joined us for breakfast.
During our first day in Salzburg, we continually noticed the great fortress on the hill. It showed up in many of our tourist photos like a photo bombing drunk girl.
That day, despite the drizzly weather and sharp cold breezes, we would tour the fortress.
When I was about 13, my parents took me to Paris while my dad was on business there. My dad, champion traveler, insisted we beat our jet lag by visiting the Arch de Trriomphe on the day of our arrival. When we got there. he decided we would climb to the top. Flights and flights of smelly tourist filled stairs, we emerged in the open air with sore legs, sweaty skin, jet lag hangovers, and a favorite “My Dad Is Soooo Annoying” story. I mention this now because the steep and slippery climb to the top of this fortress put me back in my 13 year old mindset. Only this time my shoes were filled with wet sludge as well.
This is only one of the hills we climbed.
But it was fine because we got to tour the fortress. There’s no tour guide, though, so you just amble around and read occasional signs indicating a cannon or portal or something. Salzburg likes to brag about this place because it managed to hold off takeovers for 1000 years without actually doing any battle. Outsides just really feared the imposing structure.
Fear my stone walls! Grrrrr.
For some reason, the fortress is home to a marionette exhibit. If you thought puppets were creepy already, this is not the place for you. Lots of wide staring eyes and fixed smiles.
Also, this display did not help the “Puppets Are Our Friends” movement.
We rewarded ourselves with apfelstreudel in the fortress cafe. This is where I found out the German word for whipped cream is “schlag.” And I laughed like a 12 year old boy for 5 minutes.
In the aftermath of our fortress trip, we carefully picked our way down the steep passage back to the city and tried to find a beirgarten suggested by my friend Rick Steves. After sloshing around for nearly an hour, we found the bar… locked up for the day.
The new philosophy became, “Screw Rick. We are going in the first place that doesn’t reek of smoke.”
And that’s how we found a great hidden gem: a quiet wine bar committed to serving local and sustainable food with special emphasis on the curly coated hog. It ended up being a very happy accident.
Fortified by wine, we braved the rain again in search of souvenirs and our dinner reservation.
This is the restaurant. Yes, it is adorable.
And then we went in Jenny’s birthday pub crawl in which we found out that Austrians make a good approximation of a margarita (but sadly no queso on the menu).
Prost to Jenny on her 31st! Glad to be here with her.
My sister is razzing me about my delay in writing this post. As you will see, she has an investment in learning about my adventures in Von Trapp land. As always, forgive typos or odd words. I’m doing my best to catch typos and autocorrect mishaps on the iPad, but I still miss some
What trip to Salzburg is complete without a Sound of Music tour? Actually, many trips since English speakers are the only ones who give a flying buttress about the movie.
When I was small, my older sister loved this movie. We watched it on a near weekly basis at one time. When I told her I would be going to Salzburg, she gushed like a Justin Bieber fan at his Madison Square Garden show. She asked for something cheesy and Sound of Music related as a souvenir. Sadly, as the English speaking tourists are the only ones who care about Maria and the Von Trapps, there’s not actually that much SoM kitsch to be found. Don’t worry, Al, I found something actually useful for your day to day life. There are, however, many SoM tours. We chose the biking tour because Jenny is athletic and I really wanted to see the gazebo and none of the other tours go there.
So, Allyn, this one’s for you.
We met the tour guide and the pack of mostly American tourists at 9:30 AM. It was a good, enthusiastic, and respectful bunch with one glaring exception.
Here is my enemy. The dreaded woman in the white hat. Totally oblivious to everyone around her. Ran me off the road without realizing it. Kept trying to pass people even though we were riding single file. Taking pictures while riding her bike even though she didn’t seem to have great balance. She is to be despised and avoided. You are warned.
But she was a small annoyance in an otherwise great ride. Even if you are not a SoM fan, this is a great tour because it does take you into the Salzburg countryside, which is harder to access without a tour.
Without further ado, here are the major SoM stops on the tour:
The theater where they sing Edelweiss and escape from the Nazis. Fun fact: the cast was only in Salzburg for 2 weeks and filmed all the location shots at once. Everything else was done on Hollywood lots.
The fountain where Maria sings about having confidence and splashes herself. In person, it’s much more obvious how far out of her way she had to go to splash herself. You get the sense she was kind of off her chain.
The abbey where Maria was a problem to be solved and the Von Trapps hid on their way out of town.
Another fun fact: that iconic scene at the beginning in which the hills are alive makes it look like Maria is in the hills dancing, hears the bells, and is home in 5 minutes. But the hills are not close by, as you can see below. She would at least need a train.
I call this photo, “Please, Rolfe.” Jenny had to be coerced. She told me I couldn’t put it on Facebook. She said nothing about this blog.
This is part 1 of Captain Von Trapp’s house. They used 2 buildings for the house on film. This is the back where the kids crawl out of the boats dripping wet and the Baroness acts snooty. Harvard now owns it because OF COURSE they do. Evidently you can stay there like its a hotel in the summer.
Here is the front of the house, or part 2, and it’s now a college dorm. This is also where the tour guide convinced me to attempt frolicking in the fields a la Maria. Jenny says we look more like figure skaters. I think I look like I’m psyching myself up to do a cartwheel.
And this is the gazebo! It was originally at House #1 but had to be moved because of tourists sneaking on to the property to take pictures and sing. It’s now in a public garden and there’s a line to take a picture. Jenny declined to humor me on this one, but the guide was eager to play Rolfe to my Leisel. We had a fun tour moment when some girls on the tour started to sing the end of “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” while we posed.
Fun fact: you can’t go in the gazebo because an older woman was dancing on the benches singing “Sixteen Going on Sixty Three,” and she fell and broke her hip. She sued the city because it is obviously their fault that she was being dumb. And now it is ruined for everyone. Thanks a lot, litigious tourist.
The tour ended at the Mirabelle Gardens, which we already visited and staged a photo shoot.
This concluded the SoM tour. It also included several more stops relevant to Slazburg history, but who cares about that? All I need to know is that singing well can get you out of most big scrapes.
Jenny and I just got back to Munich after a full weekend in Salzburg. There’s still much to tell about that trip, but I’m bone tired tonight and I have an early wake up call for a tour of Cinderella’s castle. I’ll have more time to write tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s a preview of our very exciting Mother’s Day morning.
Fräulein Maria? That sounds familiar…
Here’s Jenny getting suited up for the day’s excursion.
And here is me looking less athletic but more enthusiastic.
I don’t know if you can tell, but my bike has the words “Reverend Mother” stenciled on the side. Most of the bikes were named after Sound of Music characters, and I really would have preferred Fritz.
Details forthcoming. Suffice to say there was frolicking in fields and dancing outside a certain gazebo.
You might recognize the Mirabell Gardens from The Sound of Music. The kids run past the Pegasus fountain and through an arched hedge while singing “Do, a Deer.”
This is me being excited about the Pegasus.
Jenny finally found a unicorn of her very own, and that was exciting as well.
Remarkably, Fräulein Maria did not circle up the children for a sing along in the Dwarf Park, which is up a set of stairs next to the Pegasus statue. Allegedly, someone created the park in 1600 to honor some individuals who served the prince archbishop (A government leader who holds religious office too- what can go wrong?), and each statue represents an actual person and his or her actual style of dress.
Jenny and I feel it’s too bad the Von Trapps didn’t get a chance to sing in this garden, and we set out to prove that Dwarf Park is a fantastic place to shake off one’s totalitarian home life.
The entry way is guarded by these 2 very scary ancient volleyball players.
Inside, we met this gentleman with his tongue sticking out. He’s way ahead of his time since this is how most frat boys pose in photos these days.
Then we met this saucy lady. She looks like she has all the dirt on everyone.
This guy looked like he needed some help, so Jenny obliged.
When you see a statue dancing, you have no choice but to dance back. He looks like he’s fun at parties. I am also fun at parties, FYI. Usually after some wine, but still.
This guy knows what I’m talking about! That mug is bigger than his head!
I would not invite this guy. Who wants to hang out with someone about to rip a head off a dead bird?
And then we have the guy too tired to party. He carries the weight of the world on that shovel. He also looks like the mascot for Ole Miss, right?
This fellow is climbing a tree barefoot, which you have to respect. I am doing my best impression of a Von Trapp poised to sing a song about cuckoo clocks.
Jenny is trying real hard to get a game of leap frog started, but this guy won’t budge.
And what is that? This poor guy is memorialized with a massive zit in his forehead, and that just seems remarkably unfair.
We think this guys used to be holding nunchucks, which would explain the empty holes in his fists. It seemed only right to honor him with martial arts.
And finally, only the second lady statue in the bunch. Relegated to food service, of course. Not that we cared by that point. Shortly after this, we went in search of gelato.
And this is the gelato, something else the Von Trapps are lacking.