Friday, May 18
Today was the last day of the Plus3 Germany program, and we had it all to ourselves.
There were no planned group activities for this day, and 14 of us actually wound up going to Salzburg, Austria for the day. We met in the lobby at 7:45 to walk to the Augsburg Hauptbahnhof and take an 8:39 train to München. We bought 3 up-to-five-person tickets at the kiosk that would be valid for the entire day. Once we hit München, we switched trains and headed for Salzburg.
It’s so interesting to me that in Europe, people can so easily travel to other countries, not even needing to show a passport between Schengen nations. Meanwhile, in America, there are only two neighboring countries, and the rest is surrounded by water. We don’t have as much exposure to other cultures in our everyday lives as Europeans do, probably to our detriment. It’s the reason why many Americans only speak English, and consequently furthers the stereotype that Americans are self-absorbed.
Anyway, we arrived in Salzburg very close to lunch time. Having been to the city twice before, I was excited to be back, to revisit old sites and explore new ones. But right now, I was starving, and I had my heart set on navigating to a pretzel stand I had been to before, which sold many varieties of giant soft pretzels. The train station was in the newer area of Salzburg, so I started walking in the direction I knew to go in order to get to the old part of the city. Along the way, parts of our group broke away until I realized that Josh and Grant were the only two still with me!
Anyway, my memory of the city was somewhat vague, but we eventually got to where we wanted to go. We even took a shortcut through an absolutely gorgeous garden that I remembered, and passed by Mozart’s birth house. Once we found the pretzel shop, we got our food (I chose the pizza pretzel) and sat down under the giant golden ball to eat.
When we finished, we decided to walk around a bit more. We stopped in a few shops, took pictures of statues and the Festung Hohensalzburg (the Hohensalzburg Fortress) on the cliff overlooking the town. We tried to walk up to the fortress, as I had done in years past, but we didn’t feel like paying 9 Euros each at the gate. So we walked up as far as we could for free and enjoyed that view before heading back down into the city.
Back in the center of the Altstadt, we visited the Salzburg Cathedral. Both outside and inside the church, there were preparations going on for some sort of music festival that would begin in a few days, so we didn’t get to explore the entirety of the building.
After this, I was out of things to show the other two, so we decided to head back out of the old part of the city and walk along the river that we had crossed to get there.
On the way, we started telling riddles again, and this was pretty much a constant theme of our remaining time in Salzburg. We eventually came to a bridge and decided to cross it. On the other side, which was higher in altitude than the other, we went briefly inside another church and walked along a forest trail. At some point on our walk we found a playground area with a large jungle gym and just sat on it for a while, relishing in the immediate environment. The last stop we made before heading back to the train station was on the side of a road with a railing that overlooked the river and most of the city. We couldn’t tear our eyes away from the view for several minutes.
We met up with the rest of the group outside of the train station. It turned out that they had all stuck together and we three were the only ones who had actually split off! It seemed that they had gone to all the places we had, but we just missed each other.
Eric, Josh, Grant and I had a final game of cards on the train ride home. When we finally arrived back in Augsburg, we all capped off the day with Spaghettieis, which is a German ice cream dish that is made to look like spaghetti. It is one of my favorite things about Germany, and I’m glad I got to eat some before I left!
I’m also glad that I got to spend a relaxing day with a few of the best friends I have made on this trip.
Step count: 28,719