Wednesday, January 13, 2010

So, it’s been an incredibly long time since I’ve updated. Almost a month! And wow, what a busy month it has been. I’m at home now – well, not home, I’m in Florida with Nana and Daddy Tom – and after some relaxation, I’m finally ready to update the blog. I’m going to update in installments, one entry per city, since I went to Salzburg, Venice and Brussels and Bruges.

My program in Bath ended December 19, and I headed to London for two days before beginning my European adventure. A friend of mine from Franklin and Marshall lives in Hampstead, and she was nice enough to let me stay with her. Victoria lives in a really nice area of London, right down the street from two of the Spice Girls (Ginger and Baby, if you’re curious). Plus, with the snow, it was extremely beautiful. A Winter Wonderland!

On the 21st, I caught an early flight to Salzburg, Austria, where I was meeting one of my really good friends from F&M, Sarah. She had been studying Copenhagen, Denmark this semester, where I had visited her over fall break. We decided we wanted to take advantage of our time in Europe and travel before heading home for winter break. There was a lot of snow when I landed in Austria, and Sarah’s flight was delayed for a few hours, but the snow just made the city that much prettier. We were especially excited for The Sound of Music Tour the next day (the only reason we went to Salzburg in the first place), but we had a wonderful time just wandering the city the first day we were there.

Towering mountains surround Salzburg, so the views are just breathtaking. There is also a large river flowing through the center, giving beautiful views of the city.

The Sound of Music Tour was definitely a highlight of my trip. It was a four hour bus tour of Salzburg and the surrounding area. They took us to see many of the sights used in the movie, with lots of fun facts about the film and the city. I highly recommend it if you ever go to Salzburg!

The picture below is the Untersberg, the mountain where Maria sings ‘The Hills are Alive,’ and below that is the lake in which Maria and the children fall out of the boat when they see the Captain and the Baroness. The back of this mansion was used as the back of the Von Trapp Villa.

And here is the famous gazebo! Sarah and I were very excited to see this, and we really wanted to sing ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen.’

The bus also took us through the Austrian countryside to see the Lakes. Isn’t it picturesque? Also, here is the church where Maria and the Captain got married. So cool!

After the tour was over, Sarah and I decided to frolic in the Mirabell Gardens, where Maria and the Children sang a large part of ‘Do Re Mi’. It was beautiful in the winter, so I can just imagine how pretty it would be in the spring and summer. I definitely want to go back!

The next day, we headed up to see the Hohensalzburg, the Salzburg Fortress, where the Prince Archbishops lived until Salzburg officially became a part of Austria in the mid 19th century.

It was a beautiful walk up there, and we had fantastic views of the city.

Afterward, we headed down to the Kriskindlemarkt and did some Christmas shopping. It was so much fun seeing all the Austrians out and about Christmas shopping. A really cool experience!

That night we also went to a large beer house in Salzburg. Of course, we had to get the big mugs! To be honest, I didn’t really like the beer, though. It was cool to just go and hang out, as the hall was just a big open room and everyone sitting at big, almost communal tables. A bunch tried talking to us, but my high school German could only get us so far!

Our last day in Salzburg included more wandering (one of our favorite activities). In our wanders, we found a Marionette Museum, which was really cool. Its amazing to think that people can control those dolls as well as sing so well! Salzburg is also the home of Mozart, so we visited his house and birthplace.

Our last full day there was Christmas Eve, so we decided that night to go to Midnight Mass at the main cathedral in Salzburg. It was a really cool experience, and we even got to see a Cardinal! My favorite part of the service was at the end, when they turned out all the lights and sang “Stille Nacht” by candlelight. ‘Silent Night’ was written in Salzburg, and so it was fitting for it to be sung there.

Salzburg ended up being one of my favorite cities in Europe, and I definitely want to go back at some point. Our next stop was Venice. Hopefully I’ll get that update on here soon!

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