Posts Tagged With: Austria

Seeboden

After Salzburg, I only had a few days before my Slovenian language course started in Ljubljana (Slovenia), but I decided to break up the relatively short trip there and stop for a night in Seeboden, which is on Lake Millstatt in southwestern Austria. This is not a typical town on most Austrian travel itineraries, but it has a special significance to me because it is the place where my mother was born.

My mother’s family, like many other Slovenian families, fled into Austria after the end of WWII. They lived in a displaced persons camp in nearby Spittal for several years before emigrating to the US. During this time, my mother was born in a local maternity ward -formerly a villa- in Seeboden that was later converted into a hotel. (She was three years old when they came to the US). I was luckily able to see this hotel on my first trip to Europe 20 years ago, but as those memories are fuzzy, I thought it would be nice to stop by again since I was in the neighborhood, so to speak. Sadly, the old hotel was razed and has been replaced by a modern hotel and recreation center (which wouldn’t be such a terrible thing if it wasn’t so garishly designed. Boo).

I stayed on the main street running through the town and was able to walk around the whole town in about two hours. I passed by many beautifully decorated homes and guest houses, all with the signature carved wooden balconies and flower boxes that I have come to associate with Slovenia itself. There was a Friday night festival going on right across the street from my hotel; live music played while vendors sold wooden handicrafts, baskets, and local meats, cheeses, and honey. I also spent some time in a small park that is right across the street from the site of the old hotel; I spoke to an older woman (who was walking both her dog and her cat!) who remembered the presence of the hospital there. I was actually in search of a bridge that is infamous from one of my mother’s stories: while living in the DP camp in Spittal, my grandfather had worked as a bicycle delivery man. He would work at outside farms that would pay him in produce, which he would then take by bike back to Spittal to sell. (It was illegal to go outside a 50km radius of the camp, but my mother states that my grandfather didn’t care and even convinced one of the policemen into loading his bike onto a train so he could travel to more distant farms for work!) Apparently he was taking a crate of 13 dozen eggs from a farm back to the camp when his bike crashed and fell on one of the bridges in Seeboden. My mother says that he always claimed that the eggs survived the fall unscathed, save two, which suffered only small cracks.

Here are some scenes from the picturesque town of Seeboden.

IMG_3661-0.JPG View from train between Salzburg and Spittal-Millstättersee

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This is what the front portion of the new hotel looks like. Notice how it blends in so nicely with the rest of the town’s architecture. Ouch.

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These are a few of my favorite things

Word to the wise: buy a Bayern ticket -unlimited day travel- if you will be traveling from anywhere in Bavaria to Salzburg. The Austrian town is so close to the border that the German rail system considers it part of Bavaria, which will save you a lot of money if you depart after 9:30am. Since the ticket is good for the entire day, several people at the train station in Salzburg approached me and asked to borrow my Bayern ticket to return to Germany!

Salzburg. How has it taken me this long to visit? It’s such a perfect and quaint little city. I fell in love with it the second I arrived. After a rest in my hotel, I spent the first night exploring the town.

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These are a few of my favorite things:
1. Travel
2. Bike riding
3. Singing
4. The Sound of Music. OK, it’s not technically on my favorites list, but I do love this movie. I can recite whole sections of it by heart. When the movie was shown on TV every year on a Saturday night as I was growing up, I would stay up as late as I could to watch it and then sob when little Gretl had to go to sleep. I have been known to claim that Christopher Plummer’s Georg von Trapp is my ideal man. I once sang “The Lonely Goatherd” at a karaoke bar in South Korea. I’m a fan.

So when I heard of something called Fraulein Maria’s Sound of Music Bike Tour in Salzburg, my inner geek nearly lost bladder control in my excitement to book a spot. It made for one of the best days of my trip thus far.

We met near the Mirabellplatz gardens in the morning. There was a forecast for rain in the afternoon, but we were fortunate enough to have a beautiful sunny morning for our tour. I was also lucky that there were several other movie geeks on the tour. When I would take what might otherwise be an embarrassing tourist photo during the tour, it was always followed by some relieved person saying, “Oh thank God you wanted to do that, too!” and then taking the same shot :). It was a fantastic mix of Salzburg history, movie anecdotes, current city culture, and the nearby natural environment. And I swear that I was only singing “The Lonely Goatherd” in my head as I sped along. (OK, maybe just a little yodel here and there).

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Tea with jam, jam and bread

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I have confidence in me!

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Our tour guide, Claudio, was fantastic and even suggested an idea for a video for anyone interested. So of course I accepted.
CAUTION: the video you are about to watch contains gratuitous dorkiness. It may not be suited for cool people or agoraphobics. Viewer discretion advised.

[My apologies for being anticlimactic and not being able to post this video at this time.  I have been having video issues again with this site but was delaying any further posts until the problem could be fixed.  But I’m tired of waiting!  Please try to visit this post again in the future, and I will do my best to provide the aforementioned cheese :),  ]

After the tour, I had arranged to meet Peter, my train buddy, for lunch and coffee at one of his favorite places near the river. I got to watch some of his video footage of a recent trip he had taken to Mongolia. We then took an elevator ride up the side of one of the cliffs and leisurely made our way back down to the city. Thank you, Peter: it’s always nice to get a local’s perspective!

IMG_3642.JPGMcDonald’s in Salzburg (not where we went for lunch!)

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Love locks on the bridge

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That evening, I went to see a show at the Salzburger Marionettentheater. Puppet shows are not typically a “must-see” for me, especially in a town that I would only be visiting for one full day, but this was highly recommended. The calendar showed that the evening’s performance would be Die Fledermaus, but I was happy to find when I arrived at the theater that the show had been changed to Die Zauberflöte, or The Magic Flute by Mr. Mozart himself. I have to admit, it was incredible. I was amazed at how fluidly the puppets moved. It was difficult to perceive how large they were due to the setup of the stage, so within minutes I began to feel as if I were watching life-size marionettes. (I was also getting major flashbacks to Being John Malkovich). What a shock came at the end when the proscenium lifted, showing the puppeteers above the stage and their puppets only about two feet tall!

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Before returning to my hotel, I stopped for a drink at a floating bar that was docked along the river. It was one of those moments where every inch of me felt gratitude for being able to enjoy a day like this.

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