Frohes Neues Jahr!
Frohes Neues Jahr is German for "Happy New Year!" I'm sorry it's been a while since the last post; it has been a crazy ride since the holiday season started. In the past couple weeks I've been able to enjoy the company of friends & family, say hello to the new year and new opportunities, and unfortunately say goodbye to one of my best friends as she embarks on her adventure abroad in Ireland. Seeing her leave the country reminded me of the excitement, angst, and fear I felt right before I left the United States. That ride to SFO was not only long, early, and stuck in traffic, but a time to reflect on what was about to come for the next 9 months.
Austria, a beautiful, German speaking country nestled between the Alps in Central Europe, was the first European country I ever stepped foot on besides my supposedly brief, but seemingly long layover in Frankfurt, Germany. It only took me 2 flights: one delayed, one missed, to turn a 3-hour-layover into a 7-hour-wait, but eventually I made it to Austria. Had someone been filming my travel experience, it would've been a hilarious montage of running through the airport, exhausting all of my knowledge of the German language, and waiting while drinking German bier.
In German, Salz means "salt," and Berg means "mountain," therefore Salz + Berg = Salzburg, which translates to "salt mountain." The city of Salzburg was named because of its precious salt mountains, which back in the day made this area very prosperous, as people used salt for trade or as currency.
Within the first week of being in this beautiful new country, my classmates and I explored the city of Salzburg, the salt mines, a Celtic village, the Hohenwerfen castle, Halstatt, and Kaiservilla: Imperial Hunting Lodge Eckartsau.
Downtown Salzburg is covered in beautiful, old style buildings with round, teal roofs and cobblestone paths. Many know some of Salzburg's main sites because of the film The Sound of Music, such as Mirabell Gardens. There is a mountain path in which one can walk around the entire city with an eagle eye view of the downtown. It's beautiful and requires little exercise, meaning for those of you who aren't rigorous outdoorsy-type people, this is your kind of hike.
The Imperial Hunting Lodge Eckartsau is where the Habsburg family would go and hunt, acting as a playground and a residence. This beautiful villa is painted yellow because all royal residences, or important buildings, were painted yellow. Emperor Karl I and his consort Zita were the last to reside in the lodge in-between 1918 and 1919. All of the Habsburg Monarchy's trophies are inside the walls of this lodge, literally placed all over the walls of several rooms inside.
The Beinhaus, meaning "bone house" in German, is one of the last and most remarkable collections and place of second burial in Austria. Located in Halstatt in the basement of the Church of St. Michael, this place of burial is known for its painted skulls and has been standing there since at least the 12th century next to the lake.
Hohenwerfen Castle is a castle nestled in-between the Berchtesgaden Alps on top of the Austrian town of Werfen in the Salzach valley. It was built in-between 1075 and 1078 by Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg as a strategic move, military wise, hunting wise, and residence wise. It was also used as a prison throughout the ages, giving it a somewhat ominous reputation. The castle was also used as the main backdrop for the song "Do-Re-Mi" in The Sound of Music.