Today was our free day, and unfortunately it was also our last full day in Germany. Ten of us decided to travel to Salzburg, Austria. I wanted to spend my free day there because I had seen many beautiful pictures of Salzburg, and I was also excited because Salzburg is home to both Mozart and the Sound of Music. The issue was that it was about a two-hour train ride to get there, so we had to be ready to leave by 7am. It was tough to get up so early, but I knew that Salzburg would be worth it (plus I could sleep on the train)! We ate a quick breakfast and headed off to the train station before 7am to ensure enough time to buy and figure out the tickets. We decided to develop a counting system so that we could easily make sure no one was left behind throughout the day, which was very fun and efficient. A regular train ticket to Austria would have cost around 40 euros, but luckily, with the help of Arielle and some of the Germans, we found out about a deal called the Bayern Ticket that is a ticket for a group of five people. We bought two of these tickets, and each of us only had to pay 10 euros as opposed to spending 40 for a ticket. We got on the train without any issues, and we had a connecting train in Munich, so the first ride was not too long. The ride from Munich to Salzburg was much longer, but we slept for most of it. As we approached Salzburg, the Alps were visible once again, and I was now even more excited for our day in Austria.
When we arrived at the train station around 11am, we all got something to eat and went to the bathroom (which still costs money in Austria). Then we headed to the Mirabell Palace and Gardens, as we were not quite sure what the plan was for the day ahead. The fountain in the Mirabell Gardens is famous because the “Do-Re-Mi” scene in The Sound of Music was filmed there, and Sahana and I were very excited to see anything relating to the Sound of Music. The palace and gardens were beautiful, and we finally had perfect weather, which made the day even better.
It was difficult navigating a foreign country with no help, but I am very proud of us for figuring it out on our own. Once we made it to the center of the city, we felt hopeless for a bit until we managed to find our way to the Hohensalzburg Fortress. We rode up in a cable car, which was much more modern than any I had ever seen. The views from the fortress were stunning and provided many photo opportunities. We walked around for a while, exploring the fortress, and we even came across the strange Marionette Museum, which was a bit creepy but provided us with some good laughs. After wandering around a bit more, we decided to relax at a restaurant that faced the amazing views. This was one of my favorite moments of the day because I felt so at peace sitting there, taking in the fresh air and calm atmosphere. I had a delicious tiramisu dessert, and we all just talked for a while, enjoying our time together. On one side of the fortress, the view was of Salzburg, but on the other side, the view was of the Alps. Jeff had discovered an area with a full view of the Alps, so after our “lunch,” we went to see the view of the Alps, and it was as beautiful as I expected, though I think the views at Oberammergau are still unbeatable. We took many more pictures and then headed back down to the city.
After stopping to buy some souvenirs from small vendors, the girls and guys split up for a bit, as we wanted to shop. Sahana and I went to a couple stores with the rest of the girls, and then headed to Mozart’s Birthplace. We both grew up playing classical music, so we felt obligated to visit the place where Mozart was born. His house is located on the Getreidegasse, one of Salzburg’s busiest streets full of stores and historic houses. It was amazing to walk around the place Mozart once lived and to learn about his life. There were paintings and objects of his all around the house, and I even got to see his violin and piano. Mozart is one of the first composers I ever learned about, so I am very glad that I had the chance to visit his birthplace.
For dinner, we agreed that we wanted Italian food, so we looked up restaurants and chose to meet at one of them around 4pm. When we got there, however, the restaurant was closed, so we had to quickly find a new place. There was a restaurant nearby called Pasta e Vino, but it was not what any of us were expecting. It was a small place, and we, as a party of ten, had to sit outside to stay together. The other people eating there were dressed very nicely, and their “menu” consisted of three pasta options. The food was excellent, but it was definitely an odd experience. We all reminisced on the past two weeks, sharing our favorite moments, and it was the best end to our time in Austria and Germany as a whole.
We headed back around 6pm because we had the long train ride ahead of us, and we allotted time to buy tickets for the return trip. I think we all fell asleep on the train because we were exhausted from walking around all day. However, at one point, we were all awoken suddenly by a long line of children stomping by us on the train, which was one of the funniest moments of the day. We got back to Augsburg before 9pm, and I spent the night packing because we were leaving pretty early the next day.
I am so glad that I was able to spend my free day traveling to another country, and I would not have traded the group I went with for anyone else. Having to navigate Salzburg on our own brought us closer together, and we made many memories that we will always remember. Today was the perfect end to this trip, and I am really going to miss Germany.