March 18-22, 2007: Vienna
This is it! I packed into my small trolley and borrowed knapsack my clothes (one week's worth), maps of different European cities, DK Germany travel book (courtesy of There), tourist pamphlets, pasalubong for my hosts, pair of slippers, socks, scarves, bonnet, gloves, tripod, video camera and several mini-video cassette tapes, manual Canon SLR, lomocamera and rolls and rolls of Kodak films. I brought my winter jacket with me (never mind if I felt warm several times during the trip) because the spring weather can be so unpredictable. I double-checked my passport and its photocopy, copies of proof my scholarship grant, tickets, IDs, ATM card and extra Euros.
It was a Sunday and it was my birthday. I attended the 11:00 am mass at S:t Eugenia's before proceeding to Centralen to board the Flygbussarna bound for Arlanda airport. The bus fare then from Centralen to the airport was 65 kr. Aside from the bus, there were also trains en route to Arlanda.
I boarded the 3.00 pm Alitalia flight for Vienna with a two-hour stopover in Milan. I arrived in Vienna late in the evening. It was Tito Mike, husband of Tita Nita Jaramillo, who fetched me at the airport since my host family (Ray and Fannie Magno) had a party to attend to that night. Tatay (Kuya Ray's father) was there to welcome me into the familiar Magno home.
This was my second time in Vienna, a fulfillment to the promise I made back in 2005 that I would visit the Magnos should I ever set foot on European soil again. This time though, I didn't go the touristy route (my family and I did most of the sight-seeing during the first visit) except for the trek to the Gloriette in Schonbrunn which we failed to see back then since we were caught in a snowstorm. All I did was immerse in the typical daily grind of my host family. That meant going to the market, fetching their daughter Anna after her class, making kulitan with Anna, watching TFC, helping make dinner, enjoying Austrian and Filipino dishes with other Filipino families and engaging in fun conversations with my host family. Ate Nita Jaramillo also invited me for lunch at the United Nations Office and showed me around the place for the second time.
UN Office in Vienna
I've always wanted to see Vienna in spring time when the flowers start to bloom and the leaves turn green. It was winter when I first went to Vienna, really heavy winter! I remember declining Kuya Ray's invitation to join them for Christmas because I'd like to experience spring in Vienna. Imagine my surprise when it started snowing in Vienna on the night I arrived in the city. They were kidding me that the sun seemed to shy away from me and that the snow was tailing me. I was just unfortunate. Especially when it stoppped snowing on the day I left the city.
March 22-23, 2007: Salzburg
After a three-day stay in Vienna, it was time for me to answer to the call of the hills which become alive with the sound of music. I boarded the half-empty, half-full train bound for Salzburg and was seated beside an amiable middle-aged lady. When I got off the train and started scanning my map for the direction to the hostel, an old man was kind enough to direct me towards Paracelsustrasse where the International Youth Hostel was located. I checked in at the hostel (it was kinda steep at 17 euros with a refundable 5-euros for the beddings), had my lunch, signed up for the Original Sound of the Music Tour (at 33 euros), watched the figure skating competition on TV while waiting for the tour guide to fetch me at the hostel.
At quarter before two, the Panorama Bus made its way to Yoho. Soon we were picking up other tourists at their hotels and hostels before we proceeded to the Mirabellplatz for the final pick-up of passengers.
There were around forty of us in the bus, mostly big fans of The Sound of Music. A majority of them were probably kids or in their teens when the movie was first released and I think I held the record as one of the youngest in that tour.
Our funny tour guide was a guy named Peter who was from Florida, USA. He was accompanied by Bert who has been in Salzburg for fifteen years and Marcus the driver. For the whole duration of the trip, we were treated to snippets of TSOM, audio clips from the soundtrack and blurbs by Peter on TOSM and some of the "impossible" in the film like how the edelweiss remained fresh knowing that it can only survive at high altitudes. He sang a few numbers and engaged the group in a trivia game. Another thing I learned. Salzburg is always associated with The Sound of Music and the Von Trapp family. But if you ask the Austrians, they'll definitely give you a blank stare. The film and the family are popular elsewhere but not where the film was shot. The tour lasted for four hours and by the time we got to the Mirabell Gardens, we were humming our LSS, either Do-Re-Mi or the movie theme.
We made several stops just to have that feel of being part of the movie.
Leopolskron Castle, the facade of which was used in the movie.
Gazebo where Liesl sang “I am sixteen going on seventeen…”
A view of the Nonnberg Abbey
Mondsee Church where Maria and the Captain tied the knot.
Picturesque Salzburg capped in snow.
Mirabell Gardens where Maria and the children sang Do-Re-Mi.
March 23, 2007: Munich
Packed my stuff for my next destination. On my way out of the hostel, I met Peter the tour guide who suggested that I check out the Deutsches Museum when he learned that I was going to Munich. I boarded the train for Munich, got off the train, stopped by a souvenir shop to buy some ref magnets and then rode the tram to the museum.
And Peter was right. The Deutsches Museum is one of the oldest and largest museum of technology and engineering in the world. It was founded by Oskar von Miller in 1903 and is housed in a building designed by Gabriel von Seidl in 1925 on the island of Isar. I flashed my university ID and got a discounted pass. And gosh, this was definitely a GARGANTUAN museum. It had floors and floors and floors of showcase of human inventions and an observatory at the topmost level. One day isn’t enough to appreciate the creativity and genius of the human brain. Several times I had to stop to catch my breath and rest. After three or four hours, I was already having information overload. I could no longer absorb what I was seeing so I had to wrap up my museum time. My tummy was grumbling so I went down to the cafe where I had mashed potatoes, wurst and schnitzels. Then I rested a bit more, reading several pages of the Germany guide book. When I regained my energy, I hopped on a tram which took me back to the city center.
The steps leading to the observatory at the top of the museum building.
First stop was the Viktualienmarkt. The square was buzzing with people, selling and buying their produce. I sat on one of the benches to enjoy the afternoon sun and watch the people pass by. Then I moved my butt and started walking the long stretch of Marienplatz, eyes raised up admiring the architecture, literally brushing elbows with the locals and foreigners, getting lost in the crowd and listening to the lovely music from the carillon.
Evening came and it was time for me to bid adieu to Munich. Next stop: Heidelberg and this was my base when I roamed around Germany for another week. I was lucky that two of Mommy’s former colleagues were on training in Heidelberg so that meant free accommodation for me. It was almost ten in the evening when I arrived in Heidelberg. The train station was quiet save for the chatter of the other passengers who got off the train. I checked my tickler for the directions to Dr. Exuh’s place. I was to take a certain tram but then when I checked the schedule on the board, the next tram would be an eternity for me. So I took the cab and gave the address to the driver. He drove me right at the doorstep and Dr. Exuh was there waiting for me. It was a good thing I took the cab because the apartment was several hundred of meters from the tram station and I would probably have difficulty navigating the neighborhood. Dr. Exuh and I had some chit-chat while munching some midnight snacks. She was leaving for Paris the next day and she invited me to join her but I told her that I’ve been to Paris and my itinerary for the next week was to explore Germany. She left the apartment key with me and gave some last-minute instructions before we dozed off to sleep.
March 24, 2007: Heidelberg
I started my day by having breakfast and doing laundry. When the chores were done, I went to the Tourist Information Center in the city center to see what's on their schedule for tourists that day. Since there was none, I hopped on a ride to Kornmarkt. I took the funicular up to the famed Heidelberg castle, roamed inside and outside the palace premises, took a peek of the gigantic wine barrel and tried to absorb medical formulation inside the Pharmacy Museum.
The Funicular ride
A portion of the castle
The giant wine vat
Views of Heidelberg from the castle
When I had my fill of the palace and the view of Heidelberg from up in the mountain, I went down (again in a funicular) and lazed in the Kornmarkt. Men and women having cups of coffee and tea at the square. Kids running around. Merchants selling their wares and more. Cobbled stone pavements. Definitely a time warp!