The bus ride from Prague could have been enjoyable, there was even a bus stewardess offering coffee or tea, but all I wanted to do was sleep. We made multiple stops along the way (smoke break? leg stretching? I'm not sure) which would have been appreciated during the day, but at 2, 3 and 4 am, not so much. What was worse though is that when we arrived in Salzburg I had no idea where we were, okay sure my own fault for assuming Ariel figured it out, but being dropped at an abandoned parking lot at 5 am, on minimal sleep, was not my idea of fun. I felt stupid once we reached the city as catching the bus there was actually extremely simple, but my lack of sleep confused everything.
We had made plans to escape the city for a day, spending a night at an air BnB outside of town, but that plan was quickly foiled - again blame the lack of sleep, and terrible 'Information desk' workers. We knew what bus we had to catch, but were misled as to what time it departed and where to find it, platform G or H, that one letter completely altered our plans. Not wanting to waste half the day at the station waiting for the next bus we gave up, found a hostel and went for a walk. Of course, we couldn't check in anywhere at 8 am, but we were able to drop our bags and change clothes before taking on the city. Neither of us had any idea what we should or wanted to do so we just wandered towards the center, all of these places have an old town square, don't they?
We considered visiting Motzarts house, but then we saw the entrance fee, pass. We walked around some other streets and the river, but details are blurry. We soon found ourselves on the steps of a (steep) path up which would eventually lead to Hohensalsburg Fortress (Festung), but were unsure if we should venture up or not. Exhaustion was setting in, but we knew it was unlikely we'd return, so despite our hesitation we pushed on. The first five minutes nearly killed us but after the initial ascent it was smooth sailing and filled with beauty. Being the terrible travelers we are we bypassed an actual visit inside the fortress but instead enjoyed the views from the outside, overlooking the entire city of Salzburg. Our last stop before running to our beds was a walk through Schloss Mirabell, otherwise known as the place they sang "Do-Re-Mi" in The Sound of Music. I nearly fell asleep on a park bench before Ariel ushered me on the way, back to the hostel where we tucked in for a much-needed nap.
I have no idea if there's any real nightlife in Salzburg and neither Ariel nor myself could be bothered to find out, instead, we had one thing on our mind and that was pizza. We took our chances with a restaurant along the main road into the city center, but a few minutes after being seated were saved by the angels sitting next to us. They had overheard our hopes for delicious pizza (Ariel admitting to being a pizza snob) and advised us to "Run, fast.." as this was not the place to find such. Instead, they gave us directions to a place only a few blocks away and thank god they did, 10 euro for an enormous, delicious, cheesy, yummy goodness....this was one time I appreciated Ariel's obnoxious comments.
Saturday we decided to be adventurous and made a trip to Hallstatt, an idyllic town that was repeatedly popping up on my Instagram feed, along with a buzzfeed article. More on that later, for now on to Sunday...the wine and beers from the night before led to a slow start to the day. I had to pack my belongings to prepare for another, last minute decisio (yes, I'm insane) overnight bus, but it was going to Italy! After I stashed my bag I talked Ariel into a hike, this time up Kapuzinerberg, with an entrance path only a few blocks from our hostel we had no good reason not to go. There were a few good look out points and another fortress, but Ariel didn't seem impressed by much of it while I was simply enjoying a little exercise.
Chugging water to make up for my morning dehydration soon caught up with me which led to an urgent search for a bathroom. This is actually a pretty normal occurrence for me, I think small bladders run in the family, but that means I've become a pro bathroom spotter. The trees would have been an option, but we really weren't in the wilderness, it seemed every time I considered veering off course another group or couple passed by. When we finally came down from the hike, about to explode, we found solace in a film house, Ariel felt bad just using their bathroom, but I had no shame. We did one more walk along the river and through town before returning to the hostel to rest and prepare for the next leg of our journeys. That evening I was set to board a bus to Florence while Ariel had one more night to relax before his flight to Lisbon in the morning.
I'm not sure if it was the timing of our trip or our similar personalities, but we synced perfectly during our time together. Although we were both getting tired with our travels we had a great time exploring a few new cities together. It was awesome catching up with an old friend, discussing the endless opportunities for our futures while at the same time soaking in some European culture. It was funny though, the goodbyes were not heavy or sad, but rather came as a bit of a relief. I think we both agreed "It's been great and I love you, but I'm ready to be back on my own", this is how you know you've found a good travel partner. For me, traveling alone is the most thrilling, entertaining, challenging and yet relaxing form of travel, so to have a travel companion that understands and appreciates this I am grateful. As for Salzburg, I'm not sure I gave this city the attention it deserves, although I don't think many do. The sole purpose of a visit here is to experience the surroundings, whether it be the hills - alive with the Sound of Music - or old towns like Hallstatt or Bad Ischl, I encourage you to take a few days to soak in the beauty.