Saturday, September 16, 2006

Salzburg Day 2

In the evening of the day before we went to the Mirabel Gardens which we liked a lot. They are formal gardens with some parts elaborate patterns of the same kind of flowers and other, less formal parts with a variety of flowers. We well maintained. We liked it so much we came back the next morning and found several parts we had not noticed before, there were extra garden area tucked away all over. I'll let Wynette talk more about the flowers.

Next we went on a walking tour of the city, guided by our Rick Steves' guidebook. The city has strong Italian influences from 500 years ago when everything Italian was in. They say the artists changed their names to sound Italian to get work. The tour goes through a series of squares and by a few churches, including St. Basil's graveyard where the von Trapp family was hiding in the Sound of Music. Wynette says that Lisle's boyfriend saved them from being caught. The guidebook informed us that they actually hid on a Hollywood sound stage that looked exactly like the graveyard. It also said the edelweiss is not a cherished old Austrian folk song but was composed for the movie. Call me naive but I was surprised.

The graveyard was very pretty in any case. Apparently in Austria you only rent gravesites and your relatives have to pay rent every 10 years. No rent and you are out on your coffin I guess. The gravesites were very carefully tended with lots of flowers, just like everything in Austria. The place is, in general, sparkling clean and well kept up.

During the tour a woman on a bicycle with an American accent stopped us and said I looked strong (ahem!) and could I tighten her bicycle seat. I did and we chatted a bit. She was from California and married an Austrian and they and their two children lived in Salzburg and she loved it. Bicycles are very common in Salzburg and it seems like all the locals ride them, a bit too fast in my opinion but we didn't see any collisions. She gave us a tip on a coffee house to try.

We took an elevator up one of the little mountains and walked along a path to a coffee house. It had a beautiful location looking over Salzburg and was very pleasant. We had a very efficient waitress. In Europe I sort of expect slow service but she was a wizz. The waitpersons in most places collect the money also. They have these bulging wallets with lots of change on bills and you pay your bill right there, very efficient. We had our first cappuccino and they were excellent. And we had an apple strudel with "vanilla sauce". We asked for a translation and she shrugged and said "vanilla sauce". It turned out to be custard, makes sense. The strudel was great with wonderful crust.

After that I took a walk up one of the "little mountains" they have, a lot of steps up to an abbey and then a walk along the ridge, maybe 5 km in all. It was a lot of up and down. I didn't get tired because I still have the 5000-foot Albuquerque red blood cells (that seems to wear off in 3-5 days) but I did get very sweaty because of the humidity. Even when it is only 75 it seems hot, al least to me not being used to humidity. It was a pretty, forested route with views of the river that goes through Salzburg. As I was walking I passed a number of small fortifications, guard houses really with some walls. One of them was decorated and seemed to be a homeless person's house. Around the next bend I encountered the homeless person (actually two persons), not directly but a bit away by the wall. I walked on quickly but I have a nice picture of the dwelling. We had just been saying we hadn't seen any homeless people.

Dinner that night was a natural food style restaurant they said it was a "slow food" restaurant. The slow food movement started some time ago in Italy. You can google it to get more information. The basic idea is to use local foods and they claimed everything they used was locally produced. The food was very good, almost excellent.

That night was hard, jet lag is not conquered so easily. We kept waking up and got maybe 4-5 hours of sleep.


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