Nom de Plumage

January 12, 2013

The City To Fill The Senses

I awoke this morning, resolved to continue my journey in the best of spirits and determined that no depression was going to ruin a life-long dream. I had no choice really. The two options that I had was either spend money and time in a doctor’s surgery hoping for a remedy or to continue travelling. The latter was more appealing because I had no idea of the cost of any medical procedure or what the remedy would be. Any medication was not a viable option. There is one small characteristic that I possess and that is; once I make aware of some difficulty/problem, I face it head on and survive. No life is ever easy and without dramas and mine has certainly thrown a few curve balls, but I would continue to put one foot in front of the other and live to the best of my ability. Depression cannot be cured, only managed and that will always be an ongoing struggle, but put the right people and actions into place, your chances are always that much better.

If ever there is a city that resonates within my heart and that I looked forward to more than any other; it would have to be Salzburg. My name must surely be a clue as to why the city of mountains and music is special to me – Maria. My childhood memories are of balmy evenings, fighting with my sister again because the ever popular musical is on- again and my parents always siding with me on this one. The ‘Sound of Music‘ was not just about the main character and I sharing the same name, it was more than that. It was the love story between a nondescript nun and a handsome captain, the children’s laughter and joy, the music, the scenery and the joy that the whole musical would instil again and again. No matter how many times I would watch it, I never got bored. And yes, my sister and I still fight thirty plus years later.

A modern and comfortable new train called the ‘rail jet’ departed Budapest’s Keleti Station before noon and lead me on a six hour journey of peace and reflection through the rain and alps of Austria. The gentle and soothing music from my iPod, offered comfort as I watched the beautiful scenery laid out before me. Six hours was over before I knew and my train finally rolls in to Salzburg’s main train station. What struck at me first, was that I was in the wrong city. The train station was not as I remember it. My recollection was a small, old and single platform station, not a huge, modern and  several platform station. Confused, I followed the crowd and walked into a more modern city.

I visited Salzburg for the first time in 1999 and fell in love with it a first glance. But I only had the chance to spend half a day there and promised myself that I would return one day. Eleven years have passed and many changes have occurred and not all that bad. There is now a major bus terminal and it was here that I was able to find the correct bus to lead me to my hostel. As the bus travelled through the city, I felt somewhat lost and could only marvel at the new changes. But it also brought with it an eagerness to explore this new gem.

Finding my hostel was not easy. The directions given was very obscure and in the end I had to knock on someones door for directions. But in the end I found it. Modern, clean and very hospitable, it would serve me well for the next few days.

Mountains lay behind the hostel and the telltale signs of winter approaching was evident in the subtle shadow of snow covering the peaks. The temperature had plummeted quite rapidly and not prepared as yet to the harsh winter that lay before me, I raced to the shops desperate for some thermals, jacket and gloves. The choice in clothing was reasonable, but I had little money or time to find the ideal clothing. I needed warm clothing and I was desperate. A thick black jacket, a woollen hat and matching gloves and my mother’s knitted scarf, I was prepared and ready to explore.

My first mistake, was not pre booking the ‘Sound of Music’ tour. I stupidly thought that being the ‘off-season’ that tickets would be available without too much trouble. Big mistake! All companies were booked out for the next couple of days and I would miss out again. Heart broken, I was determined to make do and bury my sorrows at the Christmas markets with glu-wein and huge cinnamon doughnuts. Warm spiced mull wine is the perfect winter warmer and is always a special treat when travelling through any German/Austrian country at winter. It slides down into the stomach, bringing warmth and pleasure all the way. It will be safe to speculate, that I will be drinking a lot more of this heart-warmer whilst travelling through Austria and Germany. Their markets are the best without any argument. The food is delicious and varied from hot, artery clogging belly warmers, to the delicious sticky, cavity inducing delights. Then of course there are all the decorations and activities. But my main reason for visiting, is the atmosphere and food. Diet be damned and I will enjoy every morsel while I have the chance. The smells that permeate through the cold air, is something that I cannot describe. It is the smell of winter and Christmas – spices and all good things nice. One can never be depressed in a place like this. Then maybe again when I think about all the food that I will not be able to savour. Oh well!

Belly filled and my senses warmed, it was a quick journey by bus back to my hostel for some rest and meeting new friends.


Salzburg (Photo credit: ecv5)


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