The day began like the previous departure days. We got up and packed, then headed down to have breakfast with the group. I made sure I got my OJ early as yesterday they ran out. Yesterday’s eggs had seemed powdered so I wasn’t going to venture forth and try them today. Francis was a bit more daring and told me that they were good. I decided to pass still :) They were out of flavoured yogurt so I tried the plain yogurt. Last time. Ick.
We were to catch our minibus down by the bridge at 1000 so we bumped along the cobblestones out to the meeting point in time for 0950. It was cold. About 10 degrees C cold. Wow – nice summer vacation ;) The minibus showed up about 3 minutes late. It was a nice sized bus that could hold about 13 people, and there would be 11 on the trip to Salzburg. Our luggage went into a little steel box on wheels calling itself a trailer. I had visions of our luggage spewing forth on the highway.
I don’t know if I mentioned it previously but the original plan was to take the train to Salzburg. For 6 of us it would have been included (as they had purchased their Eastern Europe rail pass) while for Mrs D and I, it definitely made more sense to take the shuttle. The pickup was much closer to our hotel and the cost was actually about the same or less than the train. The others had decided to join us on the shuttle because for the $20 they were going to have to pay, it was worth the convenience to not have to drag their luggage back UP the cobblestone streets!
Well, back to our shuttle. The driver was a really nice guy and relatively talkative. He asked about where we were from and what things are like back in Canada. We talked about the Olympics and hockey. The Czechs having just won the worlds this past week – it made the national paper front page. There are many Czechs that are as hockey crazy as Canadians. After our discussions about the weather, environment etc, I slowly nodded off. I probably managed to grab about an hour’s sleep on the three hour trip. The others in the back of the bus seemed to just live in a state of sleep. Every time I turned around I saw 10 people with their eyes closed.
As we approached Salzburg, the weather took a definite turn for the colder. It was cold, windy and at times the rain came down HARD. Oh goodie. Just like winter back home.
The minibus dropped us off at the train station despite my plea to drop us off a kilometre down the road at our hotel. My pleading skills seem to have fallen off as I’ve aged. We found ourselves at the train station and really no idea as to where we had to go next. Francis and I ventured forth to find some information.
We came upon a booth with a big “i” on it (like one you’d find on an info booth) and figured we’d go in to get some information. Once inside, I read a sign that loosely translates to “No tourist information” and I could here a woman repeating it to some poor traveller. Yikes. I approached the other person at the desk and decided to take my chances. Apparently street directions are OK. He pointed out that we were already on the street that I was looking for and that we simply had to walk down about 1km. Excellent. We bundled up against the rain and the wind and headed down to our hotel for the next two nights, the hotel Stiegelbrau – a Best Western hotel.
The hotel was surprisingly busy for 1400 and we were told that we’d have to wait for a while before we could get into our rooms. That was find for us, we were hungry so we popped into the hotel restaurant for a bite. Wow… sticker shock! 8 EUROS for a club sandwich!!!. We shared 4 club sandwiches among eight of us and put some food in our stomachs.
We returned around 1500 to get our rooms and were disappointed to learn that two of the rooms were ready and that our room would take a while longer again… “Perhaps 30 minutes.” said the clerk.
I explained that I had already waited 30 minutes up to this point and that this is what the LAST clerk said. He seemed fairly unfazed and offered his apologies but no deviation from when the room would be ready. Since the other two rooms WERE ready, we left our luggage in one of them and then as a group we headed down to the old town.
The old town basically is a piece of Salzburg that sits in the shadow of the fortress of Salzburg, and is comprised of very narrow streets, churches, cemeteries and historical buildings. Today we would find ourselves doing some window shopping and then deciding to purchase the “Salzburg” card, 24 hour version for 25 Euros. We promptly started using it at 1630 for a visit to Mozart’s birthplace.
The museum was nice and showcased various historical aspects of Mozart’s life. It was interesting, but I don’t know if it was really worth the 7 Euros that they wanted for admission.
Next we went shopping. Wonderful. It was cold, wet, rainy and we were shopping. What more could I ask for? Interestingly, all the shops along the street had little signs that hung outside their shops much like in the olden day. The cool thing is that even McDonalds had one! After shopping for what seemed to be an eternity, we stopped for dinner at a place called “NordSee”. It was all about seafood. I was really tired and probably more than a bit dehydrated. My only desire was for a rest. While the others determined what dinner would be, I sat upstairs and enjoyed some peace and quiet. The actual food was quite nice, but I just was so tired it was hard for me to enjoy.
After dinner, Mrs D and I walked back to the hotel while the others shopped some more. It turned out to be about 7C on the way home. Man was it cold. I was so happy to get back to the hotel.
Finally, our hotel room was ready!!! We took our stuff from the other room and moved into ours. It was quite nice and quiet despite the construction going on just outside our window. We settled. I got myself logged into my laptop and had planned to get my photos copying. 4000ms pings and dropping 2 out of every 3 packets meant that any dreams I had of using the internet just vanished in horrendous latency. Damn.
I gave up on the Internet and Mrs D and I headed out to find a Laundromat to wash our clothing from the past week. The hotel clerk said it was just across from the train station… Off we went. Shouldn’t be too hard we thought. Upon arriving at the train station, we realized that “across” could mean many different things and none of them seemed to be what we we expected. Bummer. I asked at a “sports bar” (basically a sports betting establishment with TV’’s showing different bettable events) and they didn’t know. We tried to ask two women and they actually started running from us. I was beginning to wonder if we’d EVER find the Laundromat when we asked at the Burger King. The young man working there didn’t know either but he asked his colleagues and one knew where and gave us directions… Saved by BK.
The Laundromat was located in a mall complex with a group of cinemas being the dominant feature and the Laundromat being off to the side. There was NO way we would have stumbled upon this place. We went in and stared somewhat dumfounded at the machines. It all seemed much more complicated than “put your money here”. Luckily a family from Winnipeg was there doing their laundry and had already learned the laundry routine through trial and error and walked us through it.
4.50 Euro for the wash and 1.40 Euro/10 minutes later we had clean, dry clothing and had enjoyed a good conversation with the Winnipeggers. Even more strange – we ran into a Singapore couple that we had met on the Train to Cesky Budejovice (actually during the bus shuttle between stations). It was nice to talk to them again and see how their vacation had been going for them. It really is a small world (cue the music)
On the way back, the rain had subsided somewhat and it was good to get back into our warm hotel.
Little did I realise that it would STAY our warm hotel, despite setting the thermostat to 14C. The room stayed warm – very warm. Sleep came happily, but also with great warmth. My watch was showing the room temp as 26C. Morning would be coming too soon, so I didn’t fight the temperature, I just passed out.