Lonely Goatherd

We didn’t get any souvenirs in Salzburg – looking back, I am not sure why.  Sure it was all super touristy and Sound of Music-y, but why did we let that stop us??  We love the Sound of Music!

Well, in case you were feeling sad for me (and I’m guessing you were – I always feel bad for my friends who take glamorous European vacations) you don’t need to feel sad anymore.

On Friday, my mom surprised me with a gift from my Aunt Laurie.  I had put in a delicious coffee request – I’m fairly certain that outside of Antigua, Fergus Falls has the BEST coffee in the world.  But this gift bag was too light to be coffee beans.

Nope, it wasn’t.  It was the most ridiculous/awesome gift – a fluffy goat puppet that sings (in its ridiculous goat-voice) the marionette song from the Sound of Music.  It might not be from Salzburg, but it will for surely always remind me of that beautiful city.

high on a hill was a lonely goatherd...

Thanks, Laurie!  Perhaps I should be concerned that you thought of me when you saw this puppet, but I’m just going to embrace it (but not too tightly because I don’t want it to start singing again…)

p.s.  Amber tells me she is building a puppet theater and she promises me a starring role.

p.p.s.  This may not actually be true.  I may have misheard her, but I will hold out hope that she’ll be inspired by my lack of listening skills and start writing her puppet script soon!

p.p.p.s. I have a feeling this goat may find a nice home in my kindergarten classroom – out of the children’s reach of course 😉


When I think of the word closure, I think of season two of Friends, when Rachel is out on a date, forcefully/drunkenly borrows a stranger’s cell phone, and leaves Ross a message about how she now has closure.  The next morning he is checking his messages, Rachel remembers what she did the night before and jumps on his back in a desperate attempt to get the phone from him.  I love this episode – specifically the end of it, at the coffee shop, with the rain and all the locks.

surprise! this is me, jumping out from behind a hedge to surprise you with the news that this post is about Europe. New and different, right?

However, this is not a post about closure of fake tv relationships.  I’ve had some complaints lodged about the abrupt ending and lack of closure to Spinster Sister Vacation Part 2: Europa.  In efforts to help you find closure and the strength to move on from my vacation, I would like to share two things.

1: A link to the Women at Hope blog where I highlight some moments from being on holiday.  I am handing out awards like they are candy.  Click here.

2: A viewing of 12 days of vacation in 4 minutes flat.  (it is not actually 4 minutes flat.  It is four minutes and some odd seconds.  Four minutes flat just has a nice ring to it.)

I hope this helps, and that now you will be ready to move on to other things, like cupcakes, paddleboating, and fireworks.  If not, you can schedule a private viewing of the slow motion (not fast forward) version of my vacation slideshow, and I will regale you with stories you may or may not have already heard.

3.  You should read this advice.  It has nothing to do with traveling or closure.  But starting now I will strive to be as funny as this girl… amusing link

Breakfast of Champions

So, like I said yesterday, we were deprived of dinner last night, and we went to bed hungry and sad – I mean, there are only so many granola bars a person can eat trying to keep hunger away.  Well, today made it all worth it.

Our little breakfast nook...

This morning when we got up, we headed over to the Schloss (palace) and headed for the Venetian Mirror Room which was used in the Sound of Music.  Unfortunately, they were cleaning in there, so we had our breakfast in a different, equally magnificent ballroom.  There were high ceilings, huge windows looking out toward the lake and mountains, and a breakfast spread like I’ve never seen.

the spread

breakfast, lunch, and dinner

There were breads and hard rolls, cold cut meats, and cheeses, veggies and fancy cheese spread, fresh fruit, dried fruit, yogurt, nutella, hard boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, and a variety of juices and coffee.  Did I mention the coffee had real sugar cubes to drop in?  No packets of sugar here!  I loaded up my plate like I had never eaten before.  (Mind you, this is also my lunch you are looking at).  Rachel told me she would cut me off if I tried to go back for anything else.  Is it my fault that we hadn’t eaten since our pilfered sandwiches for an early lunch yesterday?  Or that it all looks so scrumptious?  Or that we were getting on a train and there was no way to know where we would find our next meal in our new city?

After eating at our fancy table, we took the opportunity to poke around and see more rooms in the castle.  We LOVED the library.  It was filled with old books and tiny spiral staircases that led to the balcony, filled with even more books.  I updated my blog, and then we continued on our way.

oh, just doing a little blogging (now you see why my posts are not up to date with our current day of travel... it is easy to get behind when you blog on a typewriter)

At one point, Rachel pretty much had to drag me away from the Castle grounds because I couldn’t stop looking at it or snapping pictures of it.  Prettiest place ever.  I could just sit for hours taking it all in.  Of course, I didn’t.  I took it in for maximum 15 minutes, because it is time to call a taxi so we can get on a train to Vienna: destination 2.5 of our trip (the .5 is for Munich, because we were barely there).

I held on tightly to the horse statue while Rachel tried to drag me away from the beautiful grounds. Then she reminded me Vienna was waiting for us, and I went willingly...

High on a hill was a lonely goatherd

When I watched the Sound of Music in the past, I always found the Marionette scene rather random.  However, as it turns out, this area of the world is known for their Marionette Theaters, and the one in Salzburg is apparently the best in the world.  So obviously we deemed it necessary to attend a show there. 

I had no idea what to expect, but knew it would be fairly ridiculous.  The theater itself was very small (but still ornate and old) and had a cute little stage area up front.  Every moment of the show was delightful… and a bit bizarre, but in the most engaging way possible.

Picture puppets of all the Von Trapp characters swooping through the air, jumping and frolicking, and overacting (as you can imagine a puppet must do in order to convey emotion) all while speeding through a slightly abridged version of Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical. 

Now add in a life size character of Mother Superior at the Abbey, who looks like she could squash a marionette at will because she is so giant in comparison, but even though she is a real person, she doesn’t actual speak her own lines, and moves her hands as if she were a puppet.  Totally weirded me out.

a little hard to see, i hope this doesn't hurt your eyes. But you can kind of make out the giant Mother Superior on the right...

The only thing were a bit sad about is that they didn’t do the Lonely Goatherd song from the original production.  Because what could be better than marionettes putting on a marionette show?  But wait!  Don’t be alarmed!  The show concluded with a curtain call of that song, showing the hands of the puppeteers controlling their marionettes dancing and singing that song.  Yes, our marionette dreams have been fulfilled.

I would definitely recommend this show to a friend.

And don’t even worry – since the original production was in English, this version is as well.

Rachel suspiciously eating trail mix in the back. This is what we are reduced to when dinner catastrophe strikes.

p.s.   i promise that tomorrow soon you will get to start hearing about Vienna… being that we are now officially in Prague.  I just have so much to tell you!

SInce I don't get to teach summer school, I have decided to try my hand at being a puppet for my summer job.

Did you know Hall means Salt in Celtic?

We do, because every single tour guide we talked to told us that tidbit at least twice, if not thrice.  We were taken on a personal salt mine tour by Markos – our tourguide from Bob’s.  While we were once again in a taxi-van instead of the orange tour van, Markos at least seemed a little more legit.  He took us to Hallein, a city on Duerrnberg (a mountain near the German border).  Hallein means a Salt City, just like Hallstatt did.  Oh the Celts and their “hall” meaning “salt.”  It will be the one fact I remember from this trip, since we heard it approximately 207 times. 

Upon our arrive at the Salt Mines, we bought out tickets and spent a few minutes wandering the Celtic Village outside the mine entrance.  Salt has been mined here for over 2000 years.  Even though there is still salt to be mined, it was discovered that the mine was more profitable solely as a tourist attraction.  Once we entered the tour, our first stop was to put on a set of white coveralls over our clothes; very attractive.  Actually, a bit creepy to see all these people dressed in white herded together.  And hard to keep track of Rachel, since when we got separated she looked just like everyone else in the dimly lit mine.

the green is the seat of the train that we rode into and out of the mine

It was really quite amazing in the mine.  I’ve never been in anything like it.  We took this train in, where everyone straddled a green bench and was careful not to lean in either direction, lest they fall off or bump their head.  We got off the train and walked 1 km into the mine, stopping along the way to watch overly dramatized movies teaching us the history of salt mining in Hallein via conversation between Arch Bishop Wolf Dietrich, who owned all the mining rights back in the day, and Jakob from Duerrnberg, who apparently was clumsy and burned down half of Salzburg once upon a time.  There was fighting, seduction, greed, death, and salt. What more do you need in a movie?  Oh, and it was divided into three cliffhangers that we watched at various stops throughout our walk.

at the bottom of the first slide

98% of the mine was rock walls with minimal beam support - not the wood paneling that I apparently chose to photograph to represent out time in the mine.

The tunnels we walked down were just like you imagine – narrow, curved tunnels, and a bit muddy.  We walked on the tracks and it was quite dimly lit, especially when someone was tall and blocked the light for a stretch.  We also went down two wooden slides.  You go down in groups of 2 or 3 and sit with your legs on either side of two wooden beams.  Then you lean back, put your feet up, and enjoy the ride.  It was SO fun!  I think that one slide was 27m and the other was around 42 m long.

We also went on a slow boat ride across a tiny lake in the mountain.  There was a trippy light show and psychedelic music playing on our journey.  Crazy sauce.

trippy ride across a subterranean lake

After much learning and much journeying, we took the train back out into the light of day.  It was a really neat experience!  Definitely a trip highlight!  And I was glad to be safely outside the mountain again.  They say, “Glueck Auf” which basically means “good luck coming out of the mountain again” – success!

A Comedy of Errors Runs into a Giant Nun


A Hitch hiker’s Guide to Salzburg

Our strictly Itineraried Day:

  • tour a salt mine with Bob’s Special Tours
  • Picnic lunch pilfered from breakfast and joined by some fresh fruit from a stand in the city
  • Make our ticket reservations and go check in at our new hotel
  • Take in the grandeur of our hotel grounds
  • Visit the Hellbrunn Palace
  • Go home and change for dinner and the marionette show
  • See the marionette version of The Sound of Music (theater at its finest)

Our actual day:

Today started out perfectly.  We had breakfast in the hidden gardens, and packed a secretive lunch of a hard roll, cold cuts, and cheese in ziplock bags we brought for such occasion.  Then we headed out front and waited for our Bob’s tour van to pick us up.  And we waited.  And we waited.  And we waited for 35 minutes (to be fair, they give a 30 minute window in which they might arrive).

Then Galinda pulled up in her Bob’s van (we were relieved to not take Hans’ special taxi today) and she said, “you can go this afternoon?” and we said, “um, WHAT?!”  that does not fit in with our scheduled itinerary.  After some pleading and begging and crying (or just some polite conversation) Galinda decided to let us join her Sound of Music tour up until they reach Leopoldskrohn Schloss (the mansion/castle in which we are staying), at which point she would drop us off.  Thanks Galinda!  You’re the best!

When we arrived at the lake to view the castle/back façade of the Von Trapp family home, Galinda asked us how we liked her compared to Hans.  I immediately said, “you are much better” and then we told her that while Hans did share some bits of Sound of Music folklore with us, he seemed somewhat disinterested in the Sound of Music and had a lot more to say about Salzburg’s history.  While that was interesting, we just would have like more Julie Andrew’s anecdotes.

For example, today we learned that Christopher Plummer (Captain von Trapp) complained that Gretl was too heavy to carry to Switzerland over the mountain, and requested a stunt double for her.  And we saw the hotel Liesl stayed in.  And that the real Maria came onto the set and demanded to be a part of the decision making to involve more truth and sadness.  The director said, “I love you Maria, but film making is my business.”  Denied.  We also learned about the movie Knight and Day being filmed in Salzburg, and saw the “hotel” Tom and Cameron stayed in, AND Galinda watched them film a scene where Tom Cruise did his own stunt diving into the Salzsach River that runs through Salzburg.  Afterwards, he waved at the people gathered watching the filming.  She said, “I think he especially waved at me.  Can you imagine, Tom Cruise, waving at ME?”  now repeat that in an adorable German accent.  Loved it.  And it seemed like something I would say to a tour group. Or just to my friends, since I am not actually a tour guide.

Continuing on with our day, we arrived at our hotel around 10:20 and dropped our stuff off in our room.  Turns out the “servants quarters” that we are staying in are in the adjacent building to the main house.  And we were expecting minimalistic accommodations.  Turns out our room is SOOO cute.  We love it.  It is decorated in white and silver and purple.  We wandered the grounds, took fun pictures, and then headed to the Hop On, Hop Off bus.  Based on what that man at reception told us when he gave us our complimentary tickets, we assumed this was some sort of shuttle that would take us to the Line 25 bus, which we could take to the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) to get our seat reservations.  We hopped on said bus, but the driver didn’t care so much about our tickets that reception gave us.  He even offered us headphones.  At this point we were very confused, but put on the headphones.  We noticed it had a retractable roof. Then some calming classical music came on, and then a pleasant voice began narrating the journey for us.  The hop on man drove right past our bus stop, and so we took the free ride all the way to Hellbrunn Palace (sight of the gazebo, and more importantly, the trick fountains).

this is my, "what is going on - i am very suspicious of our situation" face

Let’s talk about the trick fountains.  First off, the archbishop who built this palace had no bedrooms in the floorplan – he merely used it to entertain.  Secondly, he had this incredible area of the garden filled with trick fountains (wasserspiel).   We were so stressed the whole time because we were not in the mood to get wet.  We had lots more photos to take during the day and didn’t want to go with the wet dog look.  Walking on edge, we kept a careful eye on where the path was wet, and where the tour guide was at all times.  We were pretty successful.  We were misted upon as we left through an archway of fountains.  It was beautiful!

looking down toward the first trick fountain - a table where the Arch Bishop would entertain his guests and then attack them with water spraying up from the seats around surround the table. Apparently it was good manners to stay seated until your host got up, so his guests were screwed...

Then we caught the line 25 bus to go to the train station and get to those reservations finally.  Then we decided that perhaps we were going to run out of time, and once we finally got oriented to the city and the bus route, we opted to just go straight to Bob’s Special Tours.  Turns out we were going in another taxi van, but this one was a Mercedes Benz (first Mercedes minivan I’ve been in) and it was driven by Markos, who was much less awkward than Hans.

He took us to the Salt Mine, which perhaps will get it’s own post, and afterwards we went to a cute little town.  However, it was pouring rain and so we sat under an awning at an adorable café and drank cappochinos and shared sachertorte and strawberry torte.  Delicious!  On the way back to Salzburg, we went drove along the Koenigsee River (which flows out of the cleanest lake in Austria) and learned that a fishing license in Austria costs 300 Euro.  Yikes! 

Markos was kind enough to drop us off at the train station, where we finally got those reservations, and then we attempted to grab a quick bite of dinner before seeing the Marionette theater show of the Sound of Music.  I think this perplexingly amazingly intriguingly ridiculously awesome experience also deserves its own post, but I will say that a full sized person came out as the Mother Superior Nun, but she moved as if she were a puppet.  It was disturbing to say the least.  But all in all a one of a kind experience that I would totally recommend to a friend.

So there you have it – the day that went nothing like we planned, but other than the dinner complete fiasco which I don’t even want to talk about, it was wonderful!  We felt like hitch hikers because we were riding so many random things today that we were not completely sure we actually had tickets for most of them.  It was all very confusing.  But surprisingly enough, we got where we needed to go!  AND it rained all afternoon, when we’d planned to be out at the palace in the gardens, but those things were rescheduled to the morning, and during the rain we were primarily 600 deep into the mountainside on a salt mine tour.  I’m thinking God consulted the weatherman, and then rearranged things with our Bob’s Tour so that we would have the best day possible.  Thanks!

Touring the Sounds of Music.

The day started out in the best way possible.  We got ready to the Sound of Music Soundtrack, then headed downstairs to the breakfast room, where the most delicious traditional German breakfast buffet awaited us.  We feasted on hard rolls with jam and with nutella, hard boiled eggs nestled in their special hard boiled egg plates, and juice.  Tomorrow we will take advantage of the meat and cheese options to pack a lunch to go 🙂  We braved the incredibly fancy coffee machine, and came out caffeinated winners.

Then we awkwardly sat on the curb while waiting for our tour guide to pick us up.  He was a chatty fellow, full of historical information.  He really liked talking about various arch bishops and their girlyfriends, and didn’t as much like talking about the Sound of Music.  Thankfully we’d read a lot in the tour books, so we were still able to fully appreciate all the moments of the day.

So, without further ado, I present to you:

The Sound of Music Tour of Salzburg

At the beginning of the movie, Maria is spinning around on a meadow that we drove past, but did not get to stop and take a picture of.  It was lovely, and quite a ways up on the mountainside.

Then she is at this abbey with the little red top: (In real life though, she was a school teacher.  We have a lot in common). 

Then she is off to the Von Trapp family home.  She has confidence while she walks past this fountain, and the next fountain, and this other fountain, and the down a row of trees to the front facade of the house. 

During family dinner, Liesl sneaks away to be with Rolf and they frolic in this gazebo.  Maria and the Captain later kiss here.  In the movie it is on their backyard property.  In reality it is at Hellbrunn Palace, quite a ways away. 

Later, the Captain heads to Vienna and Maria teaches the children to sing in the aforementioned meadow, they cross a bridge to Mirabell Gardens, where they skip through this tunnel, dance around this fountain, and jump and sing on these steps. 

Captain Von Trapp and the Baroness arrive home just in time to see them fall out of the canoe in back of the family home. 

Soon the Captain and Maria gaze into one another’s eyes while dancing and realize they are in love.  Goodbye Baroness, hello wedding.  At this church.  Down this aisle.  (I may have quietly song How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria while walking slowly and bride-like down this aisle) 

The family then escapes by pushing their car out the front drive, performing at the theater, and then climbing every mountain.  Or more specifically, this mountain.  Which is also interesting because in the movie this mountain leads to Switzerland.  Look at a map.  Yep – geographically not happening.  This mountain actually leads to Germany, so I’m glad that they didn’t actually escape that way in real life.  In real life, their home was on the other end of Salzburg and there was a train station in back of it that they escaped via train. 

The End!  It is like you were here with me to experience it all!  Fun!

Raindrops on Roses

You may think I titled this in efforts of preparation for the Sound of Music extravaganza tomorrow, but today we literally saw raindrops on roses as we meandered through the Mirabell Gardens on a day spotted with sprinkles. 

Let me share some highs and lows of our day:

Train Low: Crazy lady and confused people who were in the wrong seats and we had a perfect storm of 3 languages represented, several travelers just picking and choosing seats, and a lot of confusion.

Train High: First glimpse of mountains!  Farms in the foreground, complete with horses, cows, and cute little black goats; purple shadows of mountains in the background.  It warmed my heart.  And made me think of the story of Heidi.

Arrival in Salzburg High: seeing creepy ice cream baby’s twin on our bus ride to our hotel (you might remember the original creepy ice cream baby from our Vancouver pictures).  We clapped in delight!  (in our hearts we did this.  We did not want judgement from our fellow passengers)

Arrival in Salzburg Low: No one being at our hotel when we arrived for check-in. But then the lady came, and we want to be her friend.  We taught her the word Funicular (which we only know from our travel books)

Hohensalzburg Fortress Low:  Getting (figuratively) trapped in a museum of things we didn’t really care about.  “Let us out!  We just want to wander the fortress grounds, not see stick men suspended with weapons.”

Hohensalzburg Fortress High:  The view.  It was amazing. 

Mirabell Gardens High: How can I list them all?  It was beautifully sculpted with flowers and trees and fountains.  We even took our picture with a unicorn!  Which afterwards we realized was the Do Re Mi steps from the Sound of Music!  So great!!

Mirabell Gardens Low: It started to rain.  For a long time though it was just sprinkling, so we sat on a bench under our umbrellas, enjoying a lovely afternoon of reading in the garden.

Mirabell Gardens. Beauty.

Now we are watching a refresher on the Sound of Music so we can appreciate tomorrow to it’s fullest.