May 17th: As our only free day and last day of the trip, our group decided to have a proper send-off by taking a trip somewhere not in Germany, but rather across the border to Salzburg, Austria.
Today I decided to spend my free day in Salzburg, Austria. Although I originally was committed to going to Munich again, I decided that the opportunity to experience another city and country was something I shouldn’t pass down, especially since we are so close. The total time we were on a train was about three hours, one being to Munich then another two to Salzburg. Our group consisted of Steph, Lauren, Sahana, Alex, Michelle, Ravi, Jeff, Ryan, Brett, and myself. By going to Salzburg, it was interesting taking the role of guide and responsibility of traveling alone. I’m not sure if I would have gone to the country on my own or with one other person; having the entire group of several of the students made me feel a lot more confident in where we ended up. Plus, Sahana had definitely taken the role of the mom of the group so I had trust that we would ultimately find something fun to do.
When we first arrived in Salzburg I think we all felt a little uncomfortable since we didn’t know the place we were in and didn’t have anything planned for us. We all decided to quickly get food before we went off to explore Salzburg more. With how early we decided to get up and the speed we tried to do everything in, everyone was in the mindset of trying to do as much with today as possible.
Our first stop for the day was to the Mirabell Gardens, which is where some scenes in Sound of Music were filmed. A large reason why Salzburg is a huge tourist attraction is that the Sound of Music was filmed here, which was very obvious from when we first arrived. The number of tourists that we saw in Salzburg was almost equal to the amount in Munich, so it was very overwhelming to be in an unfamiliar city with so many other people.
After the gardens, we tried our best to find somewhere else to go, so we started to walk down a larger street towards the direction of some of the castles we could see in the distance. We arrived at what appeared to be a large shopping street and went to the tourist information center, where we learned that things like other Sound of Music destinations or the zoo would consume the entire day because of how far it was, but they did recommend taking an incline up to see this fortress that was close by. At this point, most of us had hit a low for how we expected the day to go since Salzburg really seemed too hard to challenge within the short amount of time we were there and we just felt unprepared.
Feeling defeated, we all decided to take the incline up to the top of this mountain to see the fortress. Once we were up to the top, everything changed with how our day was going.
From one side of the fortress, we had another amazing view of the alps and from the other was the city of Salzburg in full view. It was something so beautiful and so surprising I think we all just felt like that experience was somewhat breathtaking. We were all freaking out at how crazy our day had turned around as we were going to all different sides of the fortress. The fortress itself was actually pretty incredible as well and, as much as it pains me to say, I would have really enjoyed having a proper guided tour to learn more about the history. The one weird thing that threw us all for a loop and had us dying laughing was this marionette museum that was inside. I wish I could explain some significance at all, but I still have no clue what it was doing there whatsoever, but it made for a funny story.
After the museum, we decided to sit down and unwind at one of the restaurants around the castle where we sat directly next to the view of the city. While we were there we were able to just relax and enjoy each other’s company, which I think was the best part of the day. From the beginning, I think we all felt pressured to do as much as we could to make today great, but we had the most fun just relaxing and taking in the amazing views, which I think is an important part of traveling as well. How could we forget one of the most iconic moments of the whole trip; meeting our girl Barbara.
After we enjoyed our time at the restaurant, we went to take a bunch of pictures with the views and we had to include the other tourists we met as well. Our group went back down to the town square and the girls decided to go shopping at the stores on the main street we were near. After that, we continued our spontaneous day by googling a random Italian place to have food and when we found out it was closed, we just searched for another one. The boys later joined the group and we all had our meals and even though it was a small, sketchy restaurant, it was probably the best pasta I had on the trip by far. While we were eating we all shared what our highlights of the trip had been so far and it was an incredible end of my day in Salzburg.
Overall, the day ended up making a surprising turn around from what we originally thought would have been a bust. Although we didn’t do a lot of the traditional tourist things of Salzburg, we had a great day taking in a new city and making memories with the group. I honestly don’t think I could have planned a better day than what we had today. Something that has always been a characteristic of myself and my family is we are very big on planning and knowing what we are doing before we enter a situation. I think today was a great day to shift up how I usually think and try something different because having a relaxed, go with the flow kind of day ended up being amazing.