Sunday, November 22, 2009

Europe 2009 Part 1 - Salzburg (Austria)

I start off this travelog by stating that my 2-week trip to Europe was simple an unforgettable one. Once-in-a-lifetime, if I may! Photos here.

Ok, to begin at the beginning; I spent three (and-a-half) days in Salzburg (Austria), five in Switzerland, and two (and-a-half) days in Javea, Spain .. an oh, an entire night at Frankfurt airport too! The three days in Salzburg were for an official conference. The rest was vacation.

This first installment is about the Salzburg leg of the trip.

Salzburg: (Oct 25-28)

I flew Bangalore-Frankfurt-Salzburg. Frankfurt airport is huge, expensive and full of Indians :) No free wi-fi, no free water either. The Airtel calling card that I had purchased in Bangalore did not work at Frankfurt airport; and I was even unable to use my credit card to make the calls from the pay phones there. The Frankfurt-Salzburg flight takes hardly any time. Before you can say hulalala .. the descent starts.

Salzburg is the most adorable little town. Impeccable cleanliness. Beautiful, cold (between 0 and 10 degrees Centigrade), colorful, and very very slight drizzles every now and then. The Salzch river flows through town and kind of dissects the town. My hotel and conference were in the “new town”. Across the bridge is the old town.

Salzburg is a small town, most of the places are within walking distance of each other. Yet, the city bus service seems to be excellent. There are way too many of those electricity-powered buses in the town. I, of course, did not need them. The only transport I used here was the taxi ride from the airport to my hotel. The town is best explored by foot.

On my last day here, I visited the castle. A 20-minute walk on a sunny morning took me there – but it wasn't open yet. So I had to while away some time at one of the several huge “platz”s or squares before it opened. I walked up and purchased the ticket for EUR7.40; which entitles me to a lot many things - entry, museums, "terror chamber", trolley ride down. It was sunny and not really cold - but I don't know why my hands (palms in particular) were freezing and numb. I wore gloves and it was tedious to remove the gloves every time I wanted to take a photo.

The view from the castle is just too good. You can see the airport and the Alps beyond that on one side. On the other side, you see the Salzburg city and you just fall in love with the sight. Its a pity I dint have much time. I spent less than half an hour there - did not take see any of the stuff that my ticket entitled me to - just took the funicular ride back down. I walked back through town and took a different route to reach my hotel.

I left Salzburg on the night of 28th Oct and took the train to Zurich. I walked the 10 minutes from hotel to the station, at midnight, lugging my 20-kg suitcase; and my laptop bag too. But it was perfectly safe. I saw several people, including women, travelling alone at this time of the night.

I'd like to finish off this “Part 1” of the series with an interesting anecdote: On the last day of the conference, just as everyone had about wrapped up, an Indian approached me. He was in the hotel uniform. He was a bit hesitant at first. He introduced himself as an Indian(from Punjab). I was overjoyed to meet him. We chatted for almost half an hour. He has been in Salzburg for 12 years; and he works at the hotel. He told me a little bit about the life and the culture there. He does miss home, his people, Indian weather, food; but he has got used to life there. He liked the fact that there is no dignity-of-labour there. People do not look down upon him because he is “just a worker”.

He then told me something which made me disappointed in us Desis. Apparently, a quite a few Indians visit the place for conferences every year. And my new-found friend makes it a point to talk to them when they are not busy. It feels good for him to meet an Indian after a long time. But, some Indians do not wish to talk to him. He's “just a worker” you see. I just cannot believe that people would allow their false notion of “status” to discourage themselves from speaking to their compatriots in a far-away land. How absurd and completely uncalled-for it seemed to me. We urgently need to change our attitude in such matters.

Anyway, I arrived in Zurich on the morning of Thursday, 29th October. Coming soon – the travelog for the 5-day Switzerland leg of the tour. Stay tuned!


Rohan Narvekar said...

You could have included bit more details - 3.5 days and just 1 page of write up? doesn't give clear picture of life at Salzburg.
I would love to read the experience of the Indian you met in the hotel.
Will be waiting for Part II

sm said...

nice pics
thanks for sharing