Kim's Austrian Adventure

My year as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in Graz, Austria. Yes, there are other cities in Austria besides Vienna.

19. November 2006

I was so close to buying a dirndl...

  • Reading: Bill Bryson: Notes from a Big Country

  • Listening to: Al Green: Love and Happiness

  • German Word of the Day: sich wohlfühlen

  • Translation: to feel good/right

  • Example: In Salzburg habe ich mich nicht wohlgefühlt./I just didn't feel right in Salzburg.

...and by dirndl I mean a pair of sunglasses that cost more than my monthly rent.

Luckily for me, or rather for my bank account, the shop was closed. But that was Saturday! I'm getting ahead of myself! Let's start at the beginning, shall we?

Friday morning, 5am. My alarm clock rings and I stagger out of bed, haphazardly throwing items into my weekend bad that I had neglected to pack the night before. I had the best intentions, you see, but instead I went to the Rotaract meeting, which in and of itself wasn't bad, but combined with coming home at 12:30 (also not bad) and reading gossip websites (not so good) and talking to Matt (in general not bad, this particular time until 2:30am, which is really bad), I just couldn't find the time. This, along with the facts that

1)I lost my apartment keys


2)I broke the 3 key on my laptop and it's really bugging me

still had me in a snit that had only been temporarily relieved by quaint amounts of prosecco.

5:45. The stars are beautiful, but I don't really care. Even in the still of the morning, I half-walk half-run to the tram stop, never sure if that sqeaking is the sound of the tram pulling away. This time it isn't and I arrive at my bus stop all by my lonesome. The bus is quiet as I wonder who created 5am. Honestly. Going to bed at 5am? Sure! (5:30 last Friday, in fact.) Waking up at that time is a hell that I haven't known in a while, what with my serious stance on sleep here.

Why is everyone who gets on the bus yelling GUTEN MORGEN at the bus driver? There's a place for politeness, and it is sometime after 8am. I yearn for my sunglasses so I can flash dirty looks undetected, but alas, I actually woke up before the sun.

Why are all of these people on the bus? I usually get upset with Europeans when I see them out during the day, drinking coffee and taking three hour lunches. Don't you people have jobs?! I mentally shake my fist at their freakish amount of vacation time. Now, however, I find myself cursing the fact that they are on their way to work. If I can't be asleep, at least someone else should be sleeping for me. Kind of like when your Dad tells you to put on a sweater because he's cold.

At the train station I allowed myself a chocolate croissant and a chai, which kept me from committing homicide on the tracks when two girls, clad as if they had come directly from the club to the train station, decided to sit next to me on a bench and discuss the finer points of anorexia while smacking their gum/breakfast.

Ahhh, finally, the train. The ride to Salzburg is about four hours. I eagerly asked my roommates if I would be seeing any big mountains on my way west and my question was met with hand waves. "Meh, little mountians. Hills, really."

Seriously. I do not want to see what the Austrians deem mountains.

The views from the train were awe-inspiring, but even moreso was the fog. Hills alive? Yes, alive with fog. There were 20 minute sections of time that passed without me being able to see out my window, then suddenly we would burst out of the clouds, high above a landscape dotted with cows and houses, some lawns bright green, some covered with patches of snow.

I arrived in Salzburg and already found myself somewhat...dissapointed. The train station left much to be desired. Now, you may say that most train stations leave much to be desired, but I disagree. Prague's train station is quite charming (albeit incredibly creepy at night), and Hamburg's train station makes me feel like I'm back in the 1930s, but Salzburg's train station was... tiny. I suppose I built Salzburg up more than it should have been; after all, it's smaller than Graz. I grew annoyed with the ticket machines that weren't working and proceeded to drink an espresso and hold myself back from taking out my frustrations on the nearest pigeons.

From there it was off to my little b&b, and... you know, I'll spare you the boring details. I found Salzburg incredibly lame, and for some reason I feel really guilty about that. Part of me wishes I had gone the extra two hours and wandered around Munich. Was it because I travelled by myself? Perhaps, but I've always loved travelling by myself because it means I don't have to talk to people if I don't want. I can walk as fast/slow as I want, I can dive through boxes and boxes of postcards, I can stop for coffee three times in two hours, and no one can stop me. I wander aimlessly, headphones in my ears, music on shuffle, and find out how the music fits the city. Unfortunately I didn't have any Mozart with me.

The thing that disturbed me the most was how many tourists there are. It is the middle of November and the amount of people was astounding. I shudder to think of what it must be like in the summer.

Even the Getreidegasse, where I saw my oh-so-coveted sunglasses, wasn't that much fun. One can only drool at the Louis Vuitton window for so long before the people inside the shop begin to notice/call the police.

I keep telling myself that I don't necessarily have to like every city I go to, but it doesn't keep me from feeling slightly sad...