Day 39 – Salt Mine and Salzburg After Steroids

Day 39 = Thursday, April 19, 2012

We really wanted to take Quinland to the Salt Mine in Berchtesgaden, but as we looked at our schedule, there was only one possible day we could go there: Thursday the 19th, the day after my medication day. I decided I would wait to see how I felt, but that David and Quinland would definitely go.

When we got up in the morning, I felt a little woozy and really steroid-puffy, but overall I thought I’d be fine to go.  We took the u-bahn to Ostbahnhof and – after a quick stop at Aldi for picnic food – caught the 9 am train to Salzburg. This was our old stomping ground, as the train runs right through Bernau am Chiemsee, our home back in 1993-1994.

We didn’t stop in Bernau, but we made a plan to get off in nearby Prien on the way back and have dinner at Wieninger Keller, my favorite restaurant.

We got into Salzburg about 12 noon and were mistakenly told by Tourist Info that there was a 12:15 bus to Berchtesgaden. There was not. We wasted half an hour waiting for it, then rushed through town to the edge of the Mirabellgarten, ate our sack lunch, and rushed back to the train station to catch the bus. (Quinland was very unhappy about all the rushing.)

Luckily, the bus ride to Berchtesgaden was drop-dead gorgeous. Beautiful Bavarian farmhouses, snow-covered Alps… all right outside the bus window. We were all in a pretty good mood by the time we got there!

The salt mine, as expected, was amazing. The miner uniforms we all donned before the tour had been updated: David and I remembered them as old-fashioned mining clothes, but these jumpsuits were practically space-age. We rode the train deep into the bowels of the earth, then got off and descended to the mining caverns the same way the miners have done for hundreds of years – on a steep, polished-wood slide.

It was fast. The speed was a wee bit unexpected. This resulted in the best family photo of the whole trip:

Even David, the thriftiest man we know, agreed that we had to buy the overpriced-but-incredibly-awesome photo.

After the salt mine tour, we caught the bus back to Salzburg, got off near the Dom, and walked through town.

As we crossed over the Salzach River, we noticed these locks attached to the bridge railing. Each had names and/or dates on them. I was intrigued. Apparently, I missed the cultural memo about “love padlocks.” Lovers – apparently inspired by a 2006 Italian novel – write their names on a padlock, fasten it to a bridge railing, and throw the keys into the water as a sign of their eternal love. City governments all over Europe are up in arms about them. Now I know.

After finding a place to get some Mozartkugel, we did a little Sound of Music tour of the Mirabellgarten (through the vine-covered trellises, around the dwarf statues, and up and down the steps to the tune of Do, Re, Mi).

Don’t I look relaxed in that photo? Well, that didn’t last much longer. Suddenly we realized that we had to catch our return train and we needed to RUN back to the train station. I mean that literally. We started running. I was in serious agony, but Q kept me going. And then, of course… the train didn’t come. Some kind of emergency on the tracks or something… We waited 15 minutes for an s-bahn, took it around the emergency area, then caught the Munich train for Prien.

Wieninger had the same awesome guy waiting on us, but no Indischer Pfeffertopf. I was sad, sad, sad. (That is probably my all-time favorite thing I’ve ever eaten.) Regardless of that, we all managed to gorge ourselves before we hustled back to the station. We got home about 11 pm – a 14-hour day.

Expenditures: Lunch food at Aldi; train to Salzburg (round-trip day pass that included bus to the salt mines!); photo of ourselves; postcards; Mozartkugel; dinner at Wieninger Brau. Totally forgot to get a magnet in Salzburg.

Experiences: Got to show Q the area we used to live in; visit to a real underground salt mine; visit to Salzburg; dinner at the fantastic Wieninger. If only Schengen hadn’t gotten rid of passport stamps, Q could have gotten one for Austria!

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