Salzberg Postcard

The Austrian countryside passed me by. It comprised green pastures and rolling hills with a backdrop of mountains and drizzling rain.

I kept my ears open, listening, looking, searching for the sound; The Sound of Music.

It was a dream world. One I awoke from the next morning in a hostel bed in Salzburg.

It was still raining outside.

Salzberg River

I didn’t want to walk around in the damp, overcast, murky conditions. A day spent inside sitting next to a warm open fire would have been ideal. But it appeared not to be on the agenda.

I was told the hostel would be closed between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. These were the rules. I was in Austria. It appeared a country where the rules and regulations must be abided, where insubordination would not be tolerated, no matter what the weather.

It was not going to be a very pleasant day; especially as one of my shoes, of my only pair, leaked. I sat on my bed, rolling my shoe in my hands, and looked out towards the hostel window at the overcast conditions outside. A hole big enough to stick my finger through sat at the base of the shoe, gaping up at me. The shoes and I had been through a fair bit together. But through wear and tear I could tell they were now about to let me down.

I delayed my departure till 10.01 am. I had pushed the rules to their boundary and now it was time for me to tour the town.

The First Car I Ever Owned

The first car I ever owned leaked also. Water would somehow find its way through the engine to filter down to the driver’s side of the floor. I bought the car in 1996 to enable me to travel to and from my first career job in Auckland.

Coincidentally my business shoes (not the same pair as I wore in Salzburg) leaked at the time also. But this was slightly irrelevant as the puddle in the driver’s side of the car could, at times, float up to the depth of my ankles.

After work I often would have to roll my suit trousers up to by knees and drive home barefoot. Coincidentally my bosses at the time never sent me out to visit any clients during work hours (or after work hours for that matter).

I never wondered why.

I walked into the centre of the tourist district. Close by was the birthplace of Mozart. I followed the procession of umbrellas leading towards a huge tapestry hanging from the roof of a sixth storied building. It was within a narrow cobblestone street, darkened by the overshadowing structures. Confined and constricted it apparently did not take Mozart long to leave the city behind. But now the tourists kept coming, paying homage, trying to touch that which made his artistic soul tick.

Salzberg Garden

Overlooking Salzburg sat the Festung Hohensalzburg. It was a nondescript building protected from the lower level river by an ancient castle wall. My guidebook told me it was the residence of the town’s former ruler, dating back a large number of centuries. It came complete with its own torture chamber.

How about making me walk around the city in the cold rain for torture? Does that sound a good idea?

By now it was 1 pm and my socks were soaked through.

Below the Festung Hohensalzburg, beside the river bank stood tall residential buildings. They were painted in various shades of pale colours. The colour scheme of each building set off nicely against that of its neighbour. It appeared well co-ordinated, as though it was the master scheme of some artist, architect or tourist operator.

In fact the town had a fairytale atmosphere to it, the type where an ugly witch forces a young tourist to walk around in the rain with soaking socks and leaking shoes. After many twists and turns in the fairytale plot, the young tourist gets the upper hand. He turns the witch into a pumpkin, takes over the hostel and feeds all the other tourists his secret recipe of pumpkin soup with bodily remains. He lives happily ever after.

It was nearly 4 pm. I knocked on the hostel door, wanting to be let in. But no, there were rules and regulations. I was wet, cold, depressed and shivering. But no matter the circumstances there would be no bending of that which keeps us under control. I had to wait.

The Sound Of Music

At 4 pm the doors of the hostel opened.

I rushed through, towards the shower. I needed to bring blood back to my bodily functions before I caught some deadly fungal cold. After that I would have to focus on getting my shoes dry before another impending day of travel.

In the meantime … tonight, as with every night in Salzburg, there was going to be a showing of The Sound of Music movie.

Forget Mozart and torture chambers. Salzburg was more famous for the odd scene from The Sound of Music movie been shot in the city.

Sorry, but I’ve already seen the shorts of the movie and I shall be otherwise busy.

I hope you believe me.