Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Mishap Two of Two on the Alpine Tour

We had a great time overall and, again, I'm so thankful that we didn't have anything really bad happen the whole time we were traveling abroad.

We'll just call it The Salzburg Situation. The Situation started when we couldn't find any laundry facilities during our first 10 days on the trip. We ended up doing our first bit of laundry in the sink and then let it air dry. If you've never had to do this, I encourage you to just try it once for fun. Oh, wait. It's not fun. It makes for crunchy undies. Good times. Let me just say that we were very much looking forward to the laundry facilities that we knew were awaiting us in our Salzburg apartment rental.

As soon as we got to the apartment in Salzburg, we asked the woman giving us our key about the laundry. She said something about 10-cent pieces and easy and in the basement. No problem! Beep and I headed to the basement on a reconnaissance mission. We found the washer and dryer with no problem, but they were currently in use. However, it was not yet a Situation. We could wait until someone else finished.

We headed down later and found that the other person using the washer was just getting her laundry out of the washer and so we waited for her to finish and put our load of whites in right after she was done. We couldn't see anywhere to put money in, but the washer started, so we figured it would just work.

We waited 45 minutes and Beep and I went back to get the wash. When we got to the laundry room, it looked like the wash was done. It was a front loading washer, so we had to push a latch button to open the door. We pushed. Nothing happened. We noticed all the lights on the machine were dark. We pushed every button on the machine. Nothing happened. It was becoming a Situation! Our laundry, our WHITES, were stuck in the washing machine. We pushed every button again. Nothing! It was definitely a Situation.

We went back to the apartment and the DH had to go see if he could fix it. We pushed every button again. He tugged on the door. He yanked on the door. I feared for the door! Things were getting tense. Our WHITES were held hostage in the washer. We thought. We reasoned. We realized there must be somewhere to put the money in that we had heard about. We looked around, but couldn't find anything in or on the washing machine. We looked around the room and saw only what looked like a breaker box. We read the instructions (sort of) that were in German and very unhelpful. We pushed all the buttons again. The DH was ready to pull the machine apart to extricate our laundry. By this time it was after 11:00 at night, so we couldn't easily ask anyone for help. At that, we decided to go to bed. It was the only thing we could do.

I fretted all night. All that fretting paid off at some point though. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the problem was in the paying. This Situation required that we pay the 10-cent fee. After thinking more, it became clear that paying sent the electricity to the machine and that our laundry probably hadn't gone through the whole cycle. The person before us had some time left when she took her laundry, so we just got the leftover time that she had paid for.

Since I was awake fretting anyway, I got up around 6:00 and went down to the laundry room with a handful of 10-cent pieces. I stood calmly in the room and looked around. All I could see was what looked like a breaker box, but I opened it up. Inside were two meters labeled "washer" and "dryer" in German. Breakthrough! There was also an instruction sheet on the inside of the door that indicated that one 10-cent piece bought 14 minutes of electricity. I put 3 pieces in. I turned to the washer. Nothing happened. I pushed some buttons. Nothing happened. I started getting tense again. The Situation was not yet under control!

Then, I heard footsteps on the stairs. I looked out and there was a woman picking up her newspaper. I called to her in German. This was one time I really had to speak German and do it right. She came down and I told her that I couldn't get the washer to start. She looked at the washer, then looked at me, then laughed and pushed the power button.

It's not funny.

I wasn't laughing at all, but she thought it was just the cutest thing she'd ever seen. She then went on to tell me all there was to know, plus a little extra, about doing laundry there. It was quite informative.

The Situation was over. The laundry continued its cycle and we threw it in the dryer half an hour later and did a second load of laundry before leaving for the day. It was about as easy as any chore could be.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Salzburg and the Sound of Music

Our next stop was Salzburg. We got up in Fuessen, had breakfast, and then headed back into Austria. I think our time in Salzburg was my favorite part of the trip. When we arrived in the city, we found a spot to part the car and walked into the main part of town.It was beautiful. We were there on a day with perfect weather to enjoy of lovely city and its surroundings. Our first destination was the tourist information center. It was right off this lovely square with a statue of Mozart.
At the tourist information center, we bought our tickets to the Sound of Music tour and then found some lunch before heading out to see all the Sound of Music sights. We hopped on a big coach bus that had songs from the movie playing while the tour guide wasn't talking. The tour guide reminded me of John Lovitz. He didn't look like John Lovitz, but his voice reminded me of him for some reason.

Anyway, we headed out first to the lovely building where a few scenes from the movie were filmed. The lake in front of this house is the lake that the von Trapp kids and maria were in on a boat that tipped over. Apparently the actress playing Gretel couldn't swim, so it was a bit of a traumatic experience for her.
Then we headed to where the gazebo is placed. It used to be next to the building pictured above, but apparently the tourists were a bit too rambunctious and it bothered folks in the building. The building is used for conferences now and the tourists proved to be a bit disruptive. It's also locked up now, supposedly the result of some 80-year old woman pretending to be 16 going on 17 and falling down and breaking her hip in the gazebo. Now we just get to look in. No dancing inside.
From there, we headed up into the mountains. The area around Salzburg really is a sight and we were lucky to have such a clear day for it. Untersberg is the mountain in the background here. It's actually several miles from Salzburg, so it would have been impossible for Maria to hear the abby bells and run back in time for dinner. It's nice to imagine anyway, though.

As we continued the drive, we went to a small town called Mondsee. The Collegiate Church of Mondsee was the church used as the venue for the wedding of Maria and Captain von Trapp in the movie. This wasn't the actual church they were married in though. They were actually married in the abby church in Salzburg, but it's not grand at all, so not as impressive for a movie set.

After leaving the town of Mondsee, we headed back to Salzburg to enjoy the city a bit more. They dropped us right by the Mirabel Palace. The gardens behind the palace are where the filming of the Do, Re, Me song took place.

With that, we headed out to our apartment for the stay in Salzburg. The place was a little out of the way, but right on a bus line, so it was super easy to get back into town. We found a small grocery store and bought food for dinner and spent the evening playing cards and relaxing after a long day.

The next day, we went back into Salzburg. We spent a good part of the morning exploring the churches. There were a bunch of them!

We also walked past Mozart's birth home several times. It's right in the middle of town, so it's hard to miss.
Bop and Beep decided to try out the roasted chestnuts. They're all over the cities in Europe, so it seemed like the right thing to do. I had to laugh tough when neither of them liked chestnuts much. I think they're yucky, but I didn't want to dissuade them from finding out for themselves.
After lunch, we got on another tour bus that took us into a small town with a large salt mine. To go on the tour, we had to put on coveralls that they supplied for us. We had quite a time laughing about our attire. No pictures were allowed on the tour (and it was sort of dark for the whole thing, so pictures wouldn't have turned out well anyway) so we don't have pictures inside the mine. I loved the tour though. We got to ride little train cars into the mine, slide down wooden slides inside the mine, and float in a barge over a brine lake. It was very cool!
Once we got back from the salt mine tour, it was dinner time and then we were done for the day. We had one more day to enjoy Salzburg. We started our third day in Salzburg at the Mozart home. This is the house that Mozart lived in from the time he was 18 until he died. There were a lot of interactive exhibits and it was fun to read more about Mozart.
From there, we headed to the Mozart bridge. It's a foot bridge that just happened to be in the Sound of Music as well. It's also really old, like a lot of things in Europe.
It was foggy and overcast all morning and we thought the clouds might burn off, so we hung out in town for quite some time. We found street food and the DH enjoyed some time with Wolfi.
We had hoped that the clouds would burn off because we planned to go to the castle, but it wasn't getting any brighter as the afternoon wore on and we couldn't just hang around. We finally just decided to head up to the castle. It's a good thing we didn't waste any more time, because it ended up staying cloudy all day. The castle was really cool even with the clouds, so in the end it didn't matter.
We rode a funicular train up the mountain to the castle. It dropped us just outside the wall. The views from here were amazing.
I enjoyed the detail in the castle. It seemed like there was something interesting every time we turned a corner.
After checking out the museum in the castle, looking at a marionette exhibit, and walking around the grounds, we headed back down the mountain. Our last destination was the Nonnburg abbey church. This is the abbey where Maria von Trapp was a postulate. When we were on the Sound of Music tour, the guide told us that they sang vespers each night here. It was a bit of a hike to the church and we were early for vespers (they started half an hour later than we thought). We looked around for quite some time, then just waited and then finally listened to vespers for about 15 minutes. It was really lovely.
From there, we headed back into town and wrapped up our Salzburg fun.

Return to the Scene of the Crime

Last Friday, the DH and I went to Stumbling Goat Bistro for dinner. The occasion was the sixth anniversary of our first date.

Six years ago, I invited the DH to go see Rigoletto with me, and my brother and sister-in-law, at the Seattle Opera. Before the opera, we all met up for dinner at Stumbling Goat.

The date itself was a bit awkward, as first dates usually are, but we both enjoyed the food immensely and then loved the opera. It was the DH's second opera and it was a good choice for someone who wasn't a huge opera nerd. It was set in WWII and has a lot of singable melodies that just about everyone is familiar with.

As first dates go, it was one of the better ones. There may have been lulls in the conversation, but it was good enough that we ended up going out again a few weeks later. Our second date was on the DH's birthday. We went to Thai Siam for dinner with friends. Then there was the Carrie Akrie show a few weeks after that. Soon, we were seeing each other regularly and falling in love. The rest is history.

Thanks, DH, for taking me to the scene of the crime to enjoy the place where I first started this journey with you.