For having absolutely no information, Owen and I have been doing pretty well. Today we went sprinting from one platform of the train station to the other, trying to find the FlixBus that would take us to Vienna. We got so desperate that we started asking random people on the side of the bus station where the platform was. With just a few minutes left to go,we ran back inside the train station where a woman told us, “There isn’t a bus that goes to Vienna.” There was a train though, so we sprinted to the platform and toward the wrong train. Catching sight of the departure time, we redirected ourselves onto the train in front of it at a dead sprint and into first class. “Do you think this is the right train?” I asked. And Owen replied, “I don’t care. We’re staying on it.”
Traveling has had its ups and downs. In Munich Owen and I went to a concentration camp, which can only be described as the most horrible place I’ve ever been in my entire life. I didn’t write a blog post for a while because I didn’t think I could do one without making it too dark. The tour was 5 hours from start to finish and by the end of it I was mentally and emotionally exhausted from hearing all of the things that the prison guards had done to the people there. It’s the only thing I’ve ever experienced where my imagination of the sort of horrors that people did to one another was actually better than the truth of what happened. We walked through the entryway and then through the place where the people would be stripped of their clothes and given numbers and then into their living quarters and finally down the yard to the gas chamber. Horrible isn’t even a sufficient word. I walked through the facade of the chamber, trying to picture the moment when people realized the showers weren’t going to come on.
There have been some really good times here as well. Salzburg, Austria has been my favorite place on this trip. I’ve been here for the past two days roughly recovering from that. It’s beautiful and reminds me a lot of Prague. It’s been mostly cloudy but occasionally the cloud cover will retreat, smacking us in the face with the Alps. They look like they’re two buildings away and they’re HUGE. The Sound of Music was filmed in Salzburg so there’s everything from a sound of music tour to a playing of the movie every night at 8 pm in the hostel lounge.
Salzburg has also been my favorite place because of the people. Two nights ago I was sitting in the hallway (I needed an outlet and the only one was outside the women’s bathroom) and a group of young Pakistani guys came out of their room and invited me to have drinks with them at the bar below. We stayed down there for hours, laughing and drinking until the bartender kicked us out. He played the song “closing time” to get us to leave, something I hadn’t realized was on my bucket list until it happened. And even then, we just went into the dining room of the hostel and continued to talk.
Austrian and German beer may in fact be the best in the world and I’m only saying that because I liked it for the first time in my life. Like all things, I’m sure it tasted better because I wasn’t paying for it, but I had pizza and beer the next night for dinner (and Snickers for lunch) and I liked it then too.
Most surprising about this trip for me has been how much my legs hurt. It’s amazing how walking can do that to you. I think it’s the repetition of the motion because I went for a run yesterday (all I had was my pajamas, so the Austrians stared at me like I was nuts) and nothing hurt untilI started walking again.
After our hectic morning, Owen and I are off to Vienna. We’ll be there for roughly two and a half days and then we’re taking a night train back to Florence. Neither one of us is quite sure why we thought that was a good decision, but that’s what we’re doing.