Saturday, March 16, 2002

From Vienna to Munich, via Salzburg

Vienna, Austria
As my watch alarm doesn’t work (I did try it again last night), I woke up at 04:40ish, then 06:03, which was right on target. I was checked out of the hostel and standing at the tram stop at 06:30. So I’m 10 minutes ahead of where I planned to be, with time to spare. I could have walked it, but the 3-day pass was still good. By 06:40, I knew where my train was, so I wrote up some postcards and got a few items from the bakery before boarding. Found a non-smoking car with a single seat facing another. Ate my breakfast only to discover 1) I had no napkins, 2) my bottled water was so cheap because it was carbonated mineral water. Once I finished breakfast and was fast at work catching up on my journal writing, more people began to board. One guy put his stuff on the rack and his briefcase on the seat opposite me, then picked up his briefcase and walked away. Two more people tried to take his seat, and with my poor German, the rest of the car became involved in telling them that a guy might be sitting there, but had gone down the train somewhere. After that, I adopted a seat-blocking body language until one of the people I’d turned away decided “We are well on our way, the guy’s not coming back”. I think she’s an art student, but I’m too tired to try to strike up a conversation.

Saw a nun that was probably only in her 20’s walking down the aisle. So far, my impression of the Austrians, mainly the Viennese, is that they are a little smaller and slighter than what you’d expect of a Germanic people. Also, it seemed that many of the middle-aged women were interchangeable with their shoulder length blonde hair, sunglasses, nice clothes, and jewelry all in similar styles. I don’t know how many were American though. Oh, and Austrians are more erratically German-looking—not freaks, just odd. I suppose that was more of a first impression than an accurate one, but I’m standing by it. The girl who sat across from me is Sigrid, and she teaches art in Linz and Vienna (She goes to Linz on Fridays). We talked about various things, she said that it’s hard living in a city with as much history as Vienna because everywhere you look, you see something historic. She also said that Vienna is very mixed, so that diversity makes it interesting. Also jobs are tight over here, too.

Salzburg, Austria
My train arrived in Salzburg around 10:30, and by 10:35 I’d managed to get my bag into a locker, head towards the center of town, and by 10:55 get lost. I hopped on the 51 bus, amazingly knowing that it would take me where I wanted to go. 1.60€ fare, which I was interpret. Made it to the town center, saw the cathedral that was bombed out in WWII which they restored in 1959. There was a weird feel to it, after the super-old churches (this is old too, just newly repaired) in Vienna. My radio was playing the Eurythmic’s Sweet Dreams while I was inside the cathedral, which added to the experience. I walked around trying to find the starting point for the funicular that would take me up to the castle, only to realize that I had walked right by it when I first started. No loss though, as it was being repaired, thus unusable. So I powered up with a Red Bull and took to the hill. The castle is fairly high up there. Nice views, otherwise very castle-like. I walked to Café Streif and got weiner schnitzel and apfelsaft (apple juice). As the ordering was done in German, I’m hoping that I understood everything. It seems like I did, even getting the large glass of juice that I wanted.

I walked back towards the river, then on to the train station, following the river up to a nice little park. The background music on my radio in Salzburg was mostly Polka. It’s just as well that I didn’t explore more of Salzburg, because to my surprise, there was a train headed to Munich at 14:36. That means I will arrive in Munich at 16:20, about twenty minutes before I’d originally planned to leave Salzburg. Which is nice, because I don’t have any hostel reservations waiting for me in Munich. It looks like I’ve got the compartment all to myself. So I’ll be munching on my Mozartkugeln, or ‘Mozart Balls’, chocolate balls with hazelnut marzipan filling that some of my friends told me to pick up while I was here.

Munich, Germany
Made it to München just fine, got off the train and was facing the road on my mini-map to the youth hostel. Found the hotel on the first try, got a bed in a 5-bed room for two nights. When I entered the room, I met Theodore from Bulgaria and Peter from Hungary and we finished off a bottle of plum brandy. They told me what I should see and also told me about meeting up at 8pm to go clubbing…probably until 4am. I took their advice, which was the same as my game plan anyways. I started at Karlsplatz and worked my way down to Isator, via Marienplatz. I’ll have more on those later, as I’m going to try and get on one of Mike’s Bike Tours. On my walking around, I had some roasted caramelized almonds, chased by a bratwurst for dinner. The area has a lot of stores, at one intersection there’s an H&M, a C&A, and a K&L. I believe the season for bus tours to Neuschwanstein doesn’t start for a month (with Mike’s tours). Fortunately, I have one extra day on my Eurail pass, and I plan to use it.

The meeting point for the night of clubbing was kaufhaus or kaufhof, which happen to be on opposite sides of the very large square. And I’m looking for 2 guys of central European decent. Talk about your needle in a haystack. After doing a few laps between the two places, 8:30pm rolled around and I decided to make other plans. While making my rounds, I overheard a few people who were clearly American. So I tagged along with them to a nearby bar, on the way learning that they mostly go to the same school…an international high school in Munich I find out later. So, given that bit of reflection: At the bar, more and more kids came pouring into our corner. Most are 18, so it’s like hanging out with college freshmen who have drinking experience. Around 11pm, we went over to a bowling alley. I was 3rd of 7, having bowled a 110 to the winner’s 135. After the alley closed, all seven of us went over to Kunst Park, where the clubs are. Lots of clubs, but the kids I’m with aren’t dressed for it. One guy was getting turned away because of his hooded sweatshirt. The funniest rejection was a girl who turned 18 on February 11, 2002. On the drivers license, it said “02-11-02”, so the bouncers said “No exceptions” because that’s 2 November 2002 to them. We didn’t get in anywhere, which is fine with me. We caught the S-bahn @2:20, the last for two hours. Got back to the hotel and went silently to bed…roommates were already back.

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