I’m trying to recap the trips I’ve taken in 2018 by the end of the year, so I can start next year fresh and cover any adventures in real time.
This trip to Salzburg happened in March 2018.
I have been keen to visit Vienna, Austria’s capital, for some time now. However, being a more popular destination, weekend trip flights are very expensive. When I was browsing Skyscanner, I noticed that flights to Salzburg for the dates I was considering were hugely more affordable and I happily booked tickets. Thinking that well-known places or capital cities are the only places worth visiting is an error and I was excited to head to anywhere in Austria to get my fill of strudel, goulash and dumplings (if you’ve read my other posts, you’ll see that there’s a theme emerging).
The first wow moment was landing over the Alps – they were all you could see as we disembarked from the plane. It was absolutely jaw dropping. The mountains were so imposing and I just wanted to get up close (much to Jake’s joy given how I usually feel about mountains).
We jumped on the bus into the centre and headed straight for something baked and sugary, as we’d landed early in the morning and needed a boost. Usually we fly out in the evening prior but a combination of factors (namely when the cheap flight was and the fact I had a party I wanted to go to the night before – sometimes I’m cool) resulted in us flying very very early on the Saturday morning. It was the closest I’ve ever come to missing a flight and I’m pretty sure we were the last people on the plane. The adrenaline from sprinting across the airport meant that I needed some sugar to help me recover (I’m pretty sure this is exactly what prehistoric humans felt about after narrowly avoiding disaster. I felt very in touch with my evolutionary biology. I’m sure the apple strudels are also historically accurate).
Three things stand out to me from our trip to Salzburg. The first and foremost is, of course, the goulash. I’ve asked Jake if he feels particularly connected to his Polish heritage and he replied, “eh, not really.” But if you see the abject joy in his eyes when a plate of goulash and dumplings is brought out with a beer alongside, you’ll see that the Eastern European in him is alive and well. I have no excuse except
gluttony an interest in other cultures and cuisines.
My ability to speak German remains functional enough to order food, the only skill I really need. This chocolate doughnut pretzel was another highlight.
My second main takeaway was how beautiful the cathedral is. We walked around the city a lot, went into some other churches and visited the Mozart museum, but nothing compares to how delicate and detailed Salzburg Cathedral is. (If you hear a thud, that’s just my parents falling off their chairs at the sound of me being excited by an old building).
The cathedral was rebuilt during the seventeenth century after a fire. This is Baroque architecture, which as far as I can tell is characterised by trying to make a big deal out of Catholicism. I also found out that each bell has it’s own name, with the oldest two bells Maria and Virgil having been established in 1628. Humans have clearly been anthropomorphising inanimate objects for centuries. There was also this weird secret shadow show in the crypt. We don’t talk about that.
The final memorable moment was walking in the Alps on Sunday morning. As we disembarked the plane and I gushed over the snowy peaks, Jake spotted a cable car running up the side of the mountain.
Of course, we weren’t the only people to have this desire, so getting up into the Alps turned out to be a simple bus ride followed by the cable car. It was very intrepid.
Up in the mountains, things did turn out to actually be more intrepid. Once you started walking off-piste, it turned out the snow was actually covering a forest. Any step I took could go one of two ways. Either my foot landed on the snow and stopped there and I was free to take another step or my foot went straight through the snow toward the trees below and I ended up buried up to my thigh. However, there were definitely more weak spots than secure patches of snow. The whole experience was definitely skewed toward basically being trapped in the snow at waist level. We then started trying to climb a hill.
Our complete lack of appropriate gear was a great help in adding to the adventure. Less helpful in terms of keeping us dry and warm. But what’s more important? (After hours spent essentially sitting in the snow in a pair of jeans, it’s warmth. Trust me, it’s warmth).
This is the thing about going to other places. Usually, on a Sunday morning, I’m reading a book or eating a pancake or cleaning the bathroom (just kidding. I’m never willingly cleaning the bathroom). But this Sunday, I was up a mountain. Walking in the snow. It was amazing. A little damp and stressful, but amazing. This hadn’t even been part of plan. My plan was to see what was in Salzburg (I had no idea) and eat pretzels. But turns out the Alps were right there, and why do people climb a mountain? Because it’s there. I think someone who climbed a much larger mountain without using a cable car said that.*
I think using a cable car to get most of the way and then going for a fun walk is a level of hiking that suits me. Scaling something top to bottom is a lot more effort and leaves less time for lunch.
This escapade took up most of Sunday, so we just had time for a final wander and doughnut pretzel before flying home. Walking in the Alps was the highlight of the weekend and nature remains the best entertainment. Apart from watching dog videos on YouTube because that stuff’s hilarious.
*It was George Leigh Mallory. He said this as he prepared to climb Everest. Show off.