02 – Austria 1979, Part 1


Saturday, September 22

It’s 10:30 London time and we have just boarded the plane to Munich. They all speak with British accents over here; it’s like being in the middle of Master­piece theater. Bring on the Germans; we’re ready for anything. At the Heathrow magazine stand I bought 2 issues of Punch, satisfying an ancient wish. Heathrow Airport is huge; it makes Logan look like Hanscom field. 

We arrived in Munich at 1:00, and one of our bags was missing. British Airways is treating us to a meal while we wait for the next flight, where our bag will be found if we are lucky. We both decide to have Wiener Schnitzel. The next flight gets in at 4:20, so we have some time to kill. 

At 4:30 our bag arrived. God smiles on fools and newlyweds. With baggage in hand, we board the city bus for the Hauptbahnhof (railway station). When we mention Salzburg, a railway information officer says “track 12, 18:32” (6:32 pm). There is a train sitting there all dark, but upon closer inspection we see people sitting in it, and we observe others boarding. The front cars appear to be marked “Salzburg” so we board one. Later a person joins us and nods “yes” when we hopefully inquire “Salzburg”? 

At 8:30 we arrive in Salzburg~ get off the train, and exchange money at the station. The Austrian Schilling is worth about 8 cents, so our $160.00 in cash becomes about 2,000 AS. We take a taxi to the Neutor Hotel, where we have booked a prepaid room. At 9:15 we discover that the Neutor has rented our room. Apparently “guaranteed late arrival” has a different meaning here than it does in America. The Neutor puts us up at their “Annex'”, the hotel Eder. When we get there, no one speaks English, but the Neutor must have called ahead, since we are promptly put in a room. We each have Schnitzel for dinner and we are beginning to think that Schnitzel might mean veal, since that’s what we keep getting. I think we’ll try some other dishes later. Dinner costs 157 AS, which is about $12.50. 

Sunday, September 23 

We get up at 8:00, and go down for breakfast, which is rolls (essentially bulkies) with butter and jam, and coffee (2 cups each). This goes with the room, no extra charge. We walk into what we later learn is Old Town, on the other side of the Salzach River, while looking for the Tourist Information Bureau. It turns out that the office we were looking for was on our side of the river (New Town) all along, but a kind English-speaking native directs us to Mozart Platz, where 

there is a branch office. They find us a room at the edge of New Town, with Frau Schrank, Minnesheimstrasse 22. It costs 230 AS (about 18.40) per day, showers extra, breakfast included. It is much better than our room at the Hotel Eder, and much less expensive. After getting settled, we take the bus into the center of town (costs 8 AS each). We have lunch–I have the Goulash soup and pork sausage with sauerkraut and potatoes, and Cheryl has a meat Strudel soup and a meat and rice with sauce dish. After lunch we wander through the center (Mozartplatz, Domplatz, Residenzplatz) where a festival is in progress. It is Ruperti-Kirtag, 

a holiday in honor of St. Rupert, the patron saint of Salzburg. This festival is a mixed blessing– while we do get to see some folk dancing and music, most of the museums and palaces are closed for the holiday. We take a cable car to Hohensalzburg Fortress, on a steep hill high over the city. It was considered to be impregnable, which we can well believe. We walk down, back to the city. After wandering through the carnival, and taking a ride through the house of Horrors, we start walking around. We go into the Franciscan Church, which is so ornate as to be tacky. We don’t stay long. 

We do some more walking around, window shopping, and buy some postcards. We are getting to know Salzburg’s main streets and landmarks. We stop into a small coffee shop on Getreidegasse for coffee, and have a Wiener Eiskaffee, which is cold coffee with vanilla ice cream on the bottom and whipped cream on top. 

We head back to Frau Schrank’s to get ready for dinner. We go to the Hotel KendI, just around the corner on Eichstrasse, which Frau Schrank recommended as being inexpensive and having good food. Cheryl had a beef broth soup with a big noodle, and a pork steak in sauce with french fries (french fries are called “pomme frites” here and are served with almost everything). I boldly ordered Franz Zweibelsuppe, thinking the name interesting, and wishing to sample the unique local cuisine: I get onion soup gratinee. I do a little better with Pfeffersteak, which turns 

out to be a real steak covered with a cooked pepper-corn sauce. After dinner we have Bierkase, which turns out to be foul~smelling cheese, vaguely reminiscent of socks worn ten days straight. We have a few bites and give up. Obviously it’s called Bierkase because you have to be drunk to eat it. After dinner we return to Frau Schrank’s, for a shower and bed. 

Monday, September 24 

We get up at 8:00, and Frau Schrank brings us coffee, bread and jam in our room, It is pouring rain outside. After two days in a row of rain, we wonder about the source of our magic touch. We go downtown, and find an Apotheke (drugstore) as Cheryl has contracted Franz Josef’s Revenge (Konnen sie mir ein Mittelgegen der Durchfall geben?). With charcoal tablets purchased, we stop for coffee and cheese. We walk back through the Mirabell Gardens, on the grounds of the Mirabell Palace. They are lovely even in the rain, and must be breathtaking on a clear, sunny day. 

We go down to the Hauptbahnhof to change money and purchase train tickets to Vienna. We leave 10:40 am Wednesday. Afterwards we walk back to Mirabellplatz, where we purchase tickets for the Marionette theater, and then board a tour bus. The bus takes us through the Salzkammergut (good salt chamber), the lake region south of Salzburg. We pass many lakes, finally arriving at St. Wolfgangsee, and the village of St. Wolfgang. 

St. Wolfgang was a bishop at Regensberg, who left during a civil war, out of disgust with his war~prone parishioners. He retired to this village and built a church. He was canonized 60 years after he died, and the church became the object of pilgrimages. Mozart’s family came from this village. We get off the bus and see the church, and then wander through the town. Many houses have painted pictures on the outside, and magnificent carved wood balconies, etc. There is a dead tree along the road into St. Wolfgang with two carved faces. As you enter St. Wolfgang you see a smiling face, because you are happy to enter St. Wolfgang. As you leave, you see a crying face, because you are sad to leave. 

We go to Mondsee, where prehistoric lake dwellings have been found. The name (moon lake) comes from a legend that a duke got lost in the area in the eighth century, and found his way when the moon rose. According to the legend he founded a monastery out of gratitude. The monastery was founded in the eighth century, but was closed two hundred years ago. The church is still in use, however, and was the scene of the marriage in the “Sound of Music” movie. 

We stop at the Mondsee Church, which is fabulous. It is a gothic church, built in the tenth century. It is 100 meters long, 20 meters wide, and awfully high. It is one of the largest churches in Austria. The interior was decorated later, in Baroque style, by three artists. There are fifteen altars, and the main altar is reached by ascending fifteen steps. 

We pass many farms on the way back to Salzburg. The farmhouses formerly had a little bell tower on top. The farmer’s wife would ring the bell when lunch or dinner was ready, or whenever a fire broke out. I mentioned the movie “Sound of Music” earlier. The film was shot in the countryside around Salzburg, and has become a major attraction for American tourists. You find “Sound of Music” record stores throughout Salzburg; A “Sound of Music” tour bus that visits the filming sites; and on the return trip to Salzburg on our tour bus a tape of the soundtrack was played. I think I would prefer “The Sounds of Silence”. 

Back in Salzburg, we go to Getreidegasse and find a restaurant, where Cheryl has Bacherbsensuppe with Chou patties (small dumplings), and a cold plate of potato salad and assorted cold cuts. I have Rahmrostbraten, a pot roast type of meat carved like a cutlet. . 

After dinner we do some window shopping and then go to the Marionette Theater, which does opera, particularly Mozart. Tonight’s performance is The Abduction From the Seraglio. The Marionettes are only two feet tall, but clever stage design gives the illusion that they are much larger. After the show, we return to Frau Schrank’s to retire. 

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