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Day 2 started with a quick walk through the Mirabell Palace Garden, the beautiful garden where most of “Do Re Mi” was filmed in The Sound of Music – do you recognize the fountain?  The matched lunging statues?  The ivy-covered walkway?  Yep.  Pretty, pretty place.  Why didn’t they use the sweet little theatre tucked away behind the boxwood?  A perfect setting for A Midsummer Night’s Dream

At 10am I joined another bus trip…well, more of a van trip this time.  This was an 8-hour excursion into the lakes region with stops in Hallstatt, Gonau and Mondsee, plus a boat trip on the Wolfgangsee (“see” is pronounced “zay” and means “lake”) between St. Wolfgang and St. Gilgen, the birthplace of Mozart’s mother.  It is a lovely, dramatic landscape and I enjoyed the scenery, although I didn’t spend enough time in any of the towns to really get the flavor of the town.  What I saw was mostly a lot of souvenir shops, all of them carrying similar postcards and the same Austria t-shirts and salt from the nearby salt mines, a lot of cafés and conditoreis (sort of a bakery specializing in cakes) and a fair number of vistas ripe for photo-taking.  I really enjoyed the day, but in hindsight the rather touristy and homogenous towns did leave me a little flat.

One unexpected highlight of the trip came on the ride home, right after we had left Mondsee where I got to visit St. Michael’s cathedral for the second time.  St. Michael’s, you’ll remember, was where the wedding scene from The Sound of Music was filmed.  Although I have seen enough ancient churches by now to last me the rest of my life, I still enjoyed seeing the church – I always like trying out my Hipstamatic on the statues inside.  One statue in particular, depicting the crucifixion of Christ, was so heartbreakingly rendered that it brought a tear to my eye.  Now, I don’t consider myself a Christian although I am spiritual, but still the wood carving opened my heart with such empathy for the man who endured that unimaginable torture…as we piled in the van a few minutes later and drove out of town, I looked up to see a beautiful set of angel’s wings in the sky.  I attach no meaning to it, but it left my heart full.

The van pulled in across from the Mirabellplatz just before 6pm.  I went back into the Altstadt in search of dinner, then remembered a recommendation to visit the Augustiner Bräu, a strange mix of cafeteria and beer hall that is absolutely enormous – between its beer garden and five beer halls, it can serve over 5,000 people at a time – yowie!  I finally gave in to curiosity and ate a quick plate of leberkäse (literally translated as “liver loaf” although I was told that it is actually made from brains – honestly it just tasted like bologna) with the perfunctory sauerkraut and potato salad, and drank a ginger ale type drink called Almdudler.  It was fine, but not stellar or anything.  (I had already started dreaming of my Salzburger Nockerl by then…)

After dinner I walked my weary body home and got an early night’s sleep – I think I was in bed by 8:30pm!  I was strangely exhausted and wanted to feel refreshed for Day 3: the totally unplanned day.

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