In addition to the wonderful people I’ve met here at school, I had a chance meeting with a young Austrian from Salzburg, who happened to be sitting in the same train car I was in for about five hours. Now, if you ever want to learn about someone, sitting in the same 6 x 6-foot box for six hours is the way to do it, especially if that someone is a young, enthusiastic law student attending university in Salzburg! After talking we soon found out that we shared many of the same opinions on various topics, and even the same name (Alexander rather than Alexandria, but still Alex). I learned much more about Austria in that train ride than I ever thought I would stepping onto the train. He very politely offered to show me, and any of the other students who were interested, around Salzburg so that we could see and learn about the city with the local. I accepted, thinking that it would be a great opportunity, but having no idea when we would be able to make it out to Salzburg. The opportunity came much more quickly than I thought!
Next on the list was the Residenz, where the prince archbishops held court until the state became part of the Hapsburg empire. The interior was amazing, clearly showing the wealth of those who lived there at the time. Alexander told us that each chandelier in the building would cost the equivalent of 2 million euros in the present day. I had to work to keep my jaw from dropping after hearing that number! Alexander then took us to his university building, which is hundreds of years old, to show us the painted ceilings in the libraries and wonderful courtyards where students come to study when the weather is nice. It was very cool to get a private tour of a building we probably would not otherwise have seen! After the university, he showed us where the Museum Der Moderne was and told us that we should definitely try and visit that while we were there, as it generally has some interesting work and an amazing panorama of the city from the top. We did eventually make it to the museum and the work was definitely interesting.
On our way past the museum, he showed us the way to the old monastery, Augustiner Braustubl, which was a ways down the river. He did not have time to take us there himself, but we did manage to find our way there during the weekend. We then headed back to the city so he could show us his apartment, where he had invited us to dinner with his cousin and some other friends. On the way there, he took us to a statue of Mary and told us that if we walked toward it from a certain direction, the crown that was embellished on the building behind it would appear to be lowered onto her head. We didn’t question, but followed his instructions, and it happened just as he said! It’s amazing the thought that goes into designing cities, as this was obviously planned. Another thing I never would have known if I did not have a local showing me around!
By this time, Alexander had to return to his university for class, so my fellow Mines student and I continued to wander around the city, making our way to both of the Mozart houses located near the city center. It was a bit strange when we discovered that one was part of the same building as SPAR, the local grocery store. I soon realized why, even though many tourists come to see Mozart’s birthplace, Alex had said the building was nothing special to see. The locals go there all the time to buy food for dinner! We continued to wander through the city, making our way to Mirabellgarten, the famous gardens in Salzburg where scenes from the classic movie, “The Sound of Music,” were filmed.
Good-bye for now!