No Kangaroos Here:
I bought a sticker in a little shop in Salzburg with a sentiment to that effect on it. I tucked the sticker away safely, waiting for the perfect place to use it (I was, after all, still a teenager), and waited so long I no longer plaster all my stuff with stickers. Unfortunately I think I’ve just broken the trend of lying to you, my reader, in these Europe Vacation entry titles. Damn.
I cannot remember which of the two Austrian cities we visited came first, but I think it may have been Salzburg. A little city on a hill with narrow, ancient streets and pay bathrooms that really aren’t worth paying for – it was, hands down, one of my favorite stops. Someday when I am rich I will definitely go back, and when I win the lottery I will buy a home there.
That said, I don’t remember too much. I remember walking up the steepest hill in the world to a restaurant for lunch where we were waited on by a handsome boy named Gearheart* who I wanted to take home with me and keep forever. Luckily for him I was too shy for any kidnappings. I remember we were given a tour of the fortress on the hill by a woman named Heidi. I remember that another woman in our group commented that it was every little girl’s dream to be named Heidi. I also remember my three Mexican friends scoffing at that idea and I remember feeling sheepish because it had been a dream of mine when I was a little girl. But that is probably because I am white.
From the fortress we were shown several sites from the movie version** of The Sound of Music. Actually, I may be confused. Is there an Abbey in the fortress? In any case, we were shown the cemetery that inspired the final scene of the movie. It is, frankly, far more beautiful than the starkly blank version the Von Trapps hid from the Nazis in. Still, there are cages, and I guess that’s the point?
One of the big things they kept pimping the entire year we were planning this trip was that we would get to see the house from The Sound of Music. It was right there in the brochure and it was all anyone could talk about – that and how to properly roll your clothes so they don’t wrinkle. And then, finally, up in the fortress, we had our view:
The last thing I really remember about Salzburg was the horse fountain. Also a scene from The Sound of Music, but I guarantee you it would have disturbed me deeply even still. The water is coming out of their noses! It’s NOSEWATER. Which is gross. And also probably means they are drowning. This begs the question – why doesn’t it bother me when the water is coming out of their mouths? There is not certain answer, but perhaps it is because I can tolerate spitting when it is used for decorational purposes.
Vienna was yellow. And elegant and beautiful. But that goes without saying. We didn’t stay in Salzburg but we spent two or perhaps three nights in Vienna and the hotel we were put up in was, hands down, the best hotel I will ever stay in unless I win the lottery some day – and maybe even then. According to our tour guide, Dolly (who, you may remember was full of facts, some of them going so far as to actually be factual) the hotel had once been where the guests of the Habsburgs’ would stay while visiting and so it was quite posh. Being old, the fancier rooms were on the ground floor, and one of our new friends, Kathryn, was lucky enough to stay in one – we spent as much time there as possible.
My room was on the fourth floor, I think. At lest there were elevators in this place, but they were small, gilded cages, which held only a minimal amount of people at a time and which refused to move if more than the decided-upon number tried to hitch a ride. My room also got porn. Where this might be a selling point for me now, it was shocking and alarming to an innocent Christian virgin and I do believe I ran shrieking out of the room.
I think this was the place where we became closer with the people who were to become our friends for the rest of the trip and beyond. Kathryn, who sometimes shared a hotel room with Sofia, was funny and mature and full of life – she and Sofia stayed in contact for many years and we got to know her boyfriend, Bryan, too. Sarah, was younger than us but was – I think – taller than us, she and I were close for awhile and we even went to see TMBG and Save Ferris together one year. Denise swore she wasn’t from New York, but with her accent and catchphrase, “Ohmigod you GUYS!” we weren’t sure ourselves. We pretty much lost contact with her after the trip although I think she did once come to my movie theater once while I was working. The other Bonnie – the one that looked like a Naked Mole Rat was never our friend, yet we sometimes had to hang out with her as well. She was tedious and irritating and had a big crush on the guy we referred to as Johnny Quest. JQ was not a student at her school – he worked in the library there. He was tall and kind of geeky looking. And, secretly, I nearly had a crush on him myself. But he did not hang out with us.
We visited Schönbrunn Palace which was, also, yellow. Despite the fact that is remains the only palace I can name without looking at notes, I don’t remember much from inside it. I imagine there was fancy furniture and ornate frames and probably velvet ropes here and there. I do remember Mrs. Pence*** asking the tour guide very pointedly if they painted the queen larger than the rest to denote her important position. The tour guide informed us that actually the queen suffered from a pituitary problem making her a giant. Just kidding.
I have photographic evidence of the gardens, however, so I remember much more outside. As she was leaving, Hanna’s older brother gave her a teeny little penguin to bring along. We named him Pinguino and he starred in some of our photos, this one being the Very Most Famous:
One of the days we spent in Vienna was a Sunday and, apparently, all of Europe is closed on Sundays. Well, all except the guys who set up racks of pornos in front of brick-and-mortar shops. Also the cathedral was open, and that was a lot prettier than the guys selling pornos. (WTF with Austria and porn, anyway?)
I think I remember lunch in some underground cafeteria for some reason, but I could be wrong.
And now for some proof that I was there. Sadly, this photo does not translate well (or at all) to 8×10 format.
Next episode: Italy, or The Shiny Boob of Juliet.
*Now that I think of it, that has always reminded me of a Care Bear name.
**As opposed to the Real Life version.
***A history teacher at our school, Mr. Pence, went along on this trip with his wife. It was unpleasant for all of us, although I cannot tell you why now. Unless it was because we heard them having sex. I hope that’s not why.