(5/19/22) As you can see by the title, I actually left Germany for the final day of this trip. When the itinerary was first given out, I saw that today, May 19th, was our only free day. With it being the day I was most excited for, I knew I had to do something special. By recommendation from the Plus3 Germany 2019 students, a giant group of us decided to head to Salzburg, Austria, the closest big city in a different country.
First, I want to begin with a special thanks to my roommate Vipin, who planned out all of the trains and activities for the day. Speaking of trains, we all bought tickets for a train leaving Augsburg at 10:41 AM. We were then supposed to connect with a different train in Munich and arrive in Salzburg at 12:58 PM, making the trip just under two-and-a-half hours. Overall, I want to say that we had problems with all of our travel today. Once we got to the Augsburg station, we learned that our train was delayed an hour, meaning that we would miss our connecting train. However, thanks to Vipin again, we saw that there was another train on a different platform that was headed to Munich in just a few minutes, so we sprinted to catch it. Once we got to Munich, we moved fast to get to our connecting train. After sitting on the train for a while, waiting for it to depart, we learned that there was a mechanical issue and that another train was departing for Salzburg in just about 10 minutes from then. So, we all got off the train and began to walk to the other one. We didn’t make it far before an attendant next to our original train told us that the issue was fixed, so we got back on it and departed Munich. Thankfully, we only ended up arriving in Salzburg about 20ish minutes behind schedule.
Since we were all starving, we ate lunch, and I had roasted pork and a delicious Austrian coleslaw. After that, we strolled through the gardens of the Mirabell Palace. It was such a beautiful place, and with the temperature being in the 80s, walking under the shade of the trees was so relaxing. With such a tight schedule, we took only about 20 minutes to shop/get coffee. In that time, I hit the jackpot and found the perfect gifts for my siblings. I cannot wait to give the gifts to them, and I think they will be surprised to see that their gifts are from Austria instead of Germany. Once we reconvened, we saw the exterior of Mozart’s house, something that I forgot was in Salzburg and never thought I would see. I have played a decent amount of Mozart throughout my years of playing piano, so it was cool to see where he lived, even if we didn’t get to go inside. Additionally, we saw one of the largest fountains that I have seen in the Salzburg Cathedral plaza. Along with the recurring theme today, this was a magnificent sight.
However, the most magnificent sight came with our main event of the day: Festung Hohensalzburg. I’ll refer to this from now on as the Fortress, because that is exactly what it is. Sitting atop a massive hill at one end of the city, the Fortress is one of the largest medieval castles across Europe and is accessible by an incline similar to the two in Pittsburgh. Once we got to the top, I was again in awe by the breathtaking view. From one side of the large castle, we could see the beautiful city with the teal-blue river running through it and the hills rolling beyond it. On the other side, you could see the massive Alps towering in the distance. After taking multiple beautiful pictures, the group did the panoramic tour. Before, you could only see one side of the view at a time due to the enormous castle blocking the other side. However, the panoramic tour was atop the castle, allowing us to see the whole view at once. I think this made for my coolest, most marvelous iPhone panorama ever. We spent a good portion of our day taking in the views and relaxing in the Fortress. However, we had a train back to Augsburg to catch at 8 PM, so we had to eventually leave.
After walking back to the train station and quickly grabbing dinner, we boarded our train and left on schedule. As I said before, we had problems/delays with all of our travel today. For this train, that happened right when we crossed over the border back into Germany. The train stopped at the first station and the police boarded and asked for everyone’s IDs/passports. While I’m not exactly sure why, I heard that they were looking for Ukrainian refugees, as Austria’s laws on refugees are stricter than Germany’s. This took about 20-30 minutes, and we for sure were going to miss our connecting train in Munich. However, we found another one that we could catch, but it would have been a tight connection. I’m not sure if the train was going slower than expected, but we ended up arriving to Munich about 10 minutes after the ETA, meaning we missed the connecting train. We were going to have to wait an hour for another one, which no one wanted to do due to the fact that we had to be up at 5 AM to get on a bus to the airport. To our luck, a very helpful German lady told us that the train next to us in the station added a stop in Augsburg. After hopping on that one, we realized that it was one of the super-fast trains, and we actually arrived in Augsburg about 10 minutes before we were originally supposed to. All I could do was laugh at our crazy train experiences.
I had a wonderful free day in Austria, and an even more wonderful time in Germany. I’m very sad to see it come to an end, but I will express all of my feelings in my final reflection post. Until then, auf Wiedersehen!