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Adventures Past: Lost in Salzburg

November 12, 2012

Getting lost sucks. Getting lost in a foreign country sucks worse. Getting lost in a foreign country in the bad part of town sucks the most. Thanks to an idiot big brother, I have experience in all three of these sucktastic adventures.

 

 

Location: Salzburg, Austria
Year: 2003
Age: 18
German Language Skills: Null
It took only five minutes for Salzburg to win my heart. Mozart’s birth city is one of the most beautiful I have ever scene. I was exposed to opera for the first time. I tasted wine for the first time. I feared for my life for the first time. These are all vital experiences in a young girl’s life.

I entered Salzburg still riding the emotional high of getting drunk for the first time ever at the Hoffbrau house in Munich (a magical place where beer comes in liters). I was feeling saucy. Independent. A woman of the world. Hear me roar. Et cetera. So when my older brother proposed that we go for a night time stroll around town, I was definitely up for it. I grabbed a jacket in case it should get a little chilly, but that was the extent of our forethought.

At this point, we had just rolled into town on a bus and were barely checked into whatever-hotel-it-was. This was supposed to be a great opportunity to stretch our legs and get a view of the city at night. It was approximately 8:45 P.M. when our boots hit the pavement, my brother and I. We’re jazzed. We’re new in town. We’re ready to go!

Of course, we weren’t total fools. We were not going to wander aimlessly through a foreign city. We decided instead to follow one road until it either forked or ended. So, at the first street name we found, we started walking. And we stuck to that street like glue.

The city was something out of a dream. The buildings were lit up like they each had their own golden sun inside. The combination of domes, steeples, and shingled roofs created an unforgettable and perfectly unique skyline. We passed gorgeous theaters that were older than our home country, alive with orchestral music and passionate operas. The smaller shops along the way had Mozart postcards and portraits for sale in the windows. Pubs of all types boasted original brews and menus we couldn’t read.

The road we had chosen wound in and out of the heart of the city, taking us through magnificent promenades one moment and less reputable alleys the next. We didn’t start to get nervous until we hit the third shady alley. How long had it been since the last Mozart souvenir shop? Quite a while. We exchanged anxious nods and turned back toward the hotel.

An hour later, we were completely and utterly lost in the bad part of town. It was nearing 11 P.M., and the only people we found on the street didn’t speak English. This was several years ago, mind you, so neither of us had cell phones, and even if we did, our parents would have destroyed us if they knew what we’d done.

Finally, around 11:30, we found an English speaker. “Please, sir, could you tell us where the Marriott hotel is in Salzburg?” we asked in our most polite manner.

He gave us the stink eye and said, “There’s no Marriott in Salzburg.”

Oh. Dear. God. We had been traveling from city to city for the last week. Did we stay at the Marriott in Munich? If so, what’s the name of the hotel we’re staying in now?

Absolutely no idea.

There was only one option left: keep walking. How had we even gotten into this mess? We had stayed on the same street the entire way. We were so careful. It must  have split or forked or something, because nothing looked familiar.

Eventually, after more stumbling and blind fear, we found a landmark that my brother recognized. It was a court house. Two blocks further, there was a white-linen restaurant, and then a tourist attraction. Things were looking up. We were back to tourist-friendly civilization. It took another half hour or so before we finally stumbled upon our hotel.

When we got inside, my brother took the room key out of his pocket. Along with the cardboard rectangle, he also found a pamphlet stating the name of the hotel and sporting a nice little map on the back. I almost punched him in the face. Since he did, in a very roundabout fashion, get me back safe, I left him off the hook.

The next morning, we boarded a bus with a tour guide in front. Brad and I were ready to pass out. And why not? We’d already toured every damn inch of the city the night before. We leaned back in our seats and looked out the window, both of us glaring at the street sign that led us astray. I heard the tour guide come over the speaker and say, “You’ll notice the street sign outside of your hotel says Einbahnstraße. In German, this means one way street, and Salzburg has a lot of them…”

We didn’t hear a word the tour guide said for the rest of the trip.

We had walked every damn one-way street in town.

We were, without a doubt, the dumbest American idiots ever to have traveled to Salzburg.

Since that trip, I’ve taken lessons in both Spanish and French. Fool me once, shame on me, but fool me twice…

Take language lessons, people. It’s important.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 15, 2012 10:57 pm

    I absolutely love your blog and nominated you for a Liebster award! Check it out: http://somerbhanson.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/liebster-award/

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