Staying with Strangers in Salzburg (Day 2 of our trip)
We arrived in Salzburg, Austria on May 21 with jet lag in full effect. Upon exiting the plane, we were greeted with snow-capped mountains, green grass and a blue sky. We (aka: me) decided the most cost efficient way to travel through Europe would be to stay with families.
Our host family, the Schweinbergers, had arranged to let us stay in their finished basement. We arrived in the afternoon and were greeted by the patriarch of the family, whose name I never picked up. He politely showed us our quarters and asked if we had any questions.
“It’s a bit chilly in here,” Stanley remarked.
No Name Schweinberger said, “We don’t turn the heat on until October.”
“You realize it is 43 degrees Fahrenheit?” I asked.
If you know my grandpa, you probably know that Stanley is the most even-tempered, easy-going person on the planet. That was until No Name refused to turn the heat on for a man his elder who was on blood thinners.
The next thing I knew, I was abruptly awaken from a short slumber by a shouting match in half-German half-English.
NO-NAME: YOU ARE BURNING MY HOUSE DOWN.
STANLEY: I AM NOT!
NO-NAME: WHY DOES IT SMELL LIKE GAS IN HERE?
STANLEY: BECAUSE I AM COLD!
NO-NAME: YOU CANNOT USE MY STOVE!
STANLEY: WATCH ME!
Stanley had decided to turn the gas stove on with hopes that it would radiate heat in the kitchen. Six hours later, we not only had a warm kitchen but also had probably been exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning.
To make matters worse, Stanley then proceeded to call every single person he knew in America to tell them how rude the Austrians were. In front of No Name. Along with a thousand dollar cell phone bill, we were more than likely going to get murdered in our sleep. Great start to our trip.
Locals (Day 3)
I had planned an extravagant 8 hour adventure to Berchtesgaden, Germany to see the Eagle’s Nest on our second day in Europe. With the fiasco that happened the night before, I thought this might ease the tension a bit.
However, Stanley woke up with the flu and could not walk, let alone go to Germany for the day. For a moment, I almost bought a plane ticket back to America but then thought, “I can find a drug store in Salzburg!”
After walking an hour, I found a grocery store and bought everything that I could identify, including bananas, protein shakes, cough drops, a ham sandwich, ginger ale and a bottle of wine.
Forcing Stanley to eat the above (sans wine) seemed to help and within 12 hours, he was ready to leave the apartment. With his current opinion on the locals, Stanley decided we should dine where they can understand us. And that’s how we discovered Trattoria Domani.
Upon entering, Stanley belted, “CIAO! Sono Italiano!” (Translation: Hello! I am Italian!)
Confused, the waiter brought us English menus and asked us where we were from. Once he found out we were actually American, he hated us even more and was not amused by our loud antics.
That was until Stanley invited him to sit down and eat lunch with us.
And that is how our first friend was made, and the pattern of Stanley taking pictures of the waiter at every restaurant we went to.
Stanley in Salzburg (Day 4)
We woke up at the crack of dawn with hopes that we would finally be able to hike. The temperature wasn’t rising, which worried me quite a bit. However, Stanley said that we just had to do this and we could go really slow if needed.
After getting ready, we met in the living room and I noticed that we both dressed extremely opposite. I was wearing UnderArmour leggings, tennis shoes and a sweatshirt. Stanley was wearing slacks, a Ralph Lauren half-zip and brown dress shoes. Sure.
We started our journey not really knowing where we were going, and made it to the top of the mountain just fine. We took in the views, and decided it was time to descend. Somehow, some way we got lost on the way down. Not only did we not have a GPS, but we also didn’t have rain jackets. And then it started to pour.
When we finally found our way into Salzburg, we realized we hadn’t eaten all day. Continuing with the trend of not eating authentic Austrian food, we decided to stop in a Mexican restaurant.
Also following trend of making friends with every waiter, Stanley started teaching our waiter English and this is when said waiter decided that WE ALL NEEDED TEQUILA!
Side note: Stanley does not drink.
One shot and “one tiny beer” later, Stanley decided that the tequila was amazing and that maybe the Austrians were O.K. people.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (Day 5)
The last day of our Austrian adventure arrived. Despite previous stories, we did eat at local joints. Stanley was not a fan of Wienerschnitzel and thought the tequila was a much better option than the Hefeweizen.
While Salzburg was beautiful, we were ready to move on. We packed our bags, called a cab and headed towards the train station. We had a two-hour train ride to Villach, where we would then catch a bus to Venice. Words cannot describe the beauty captured in this train ride through the Alps.
Once we arrived in Villach, we had approximately 15 minutes to catch our bus that would depart for Venice. We ran up the escalator with our suitcases in tow, and stared at the 25 buses that lined the curb wondering which one was ours.
With no description as to which direction the buses were headed, we both sprinted in opposite directions to figure out this mystery. I found our bus with 5 minutes to spare, and we hobbled up to the top deck.
We were headed to Venice.
More photos here: