Hey, so...I bet no one's gonna read this one but my Mom said I should finish it for history's sake so here I am. Plus she can't print it if it's not complete.
I've been home for over a month now and it's definitely interesting. I'm not terribly Salzburg sick, although I do miss a bunch of people and food and sites. Coming home and jumping back into things makes it feel as though I've never left. Sometimes I see things I got over there and brought home and that opens up a ton of memories.
I've made a scrapbook with all my tickets for those of you who know I collect tickets. It's like a little Salzy yearbook. My parents and brother came on the 17th after a stressful evening of delayed flights and non-working cell phones. I met them at the train station, we got dinner and I dragged Dave out for beers and Kultfest.
It was great having my family there, but it was weird to explore Salzburg all over again with them. The weather was pure Scheiss the whole time. Not once did the three of them get to see an Alp, as it was dark when they arrived Wednesday and raining straight through until Monday when we left. Despite the dismal weather, I tried to give them the most accurate Salzburg experience. I think we hit it all except for a late night sausage. We walked around the Christkindlmarkt a few times, took a trip out to the charming markt at Hellbrunn, visited numerous coffee shops, including Mozart's favorite, took in the dinner concert again, took the Festungsbahn up to the Fortress and clearly...visited the Augustiner Brau DAILY. That's right folks! My dad, the previous non-beer drinker, swiftly came to love Augustiner's Marzen and the atmosphere that we found ourselves walking there quite a bit.
The weirdest part about Wednesday night was not getting to see everyone before they left. I wanted to, but because of my family's travel mishaps, I missed both the dinner and the bar crawl. Then the Boston bound people left at 2 AM. It was as if people were actually disappearing into the night. Ja left early that morning when I was in a sleepy haze and suddenly my room was empty. Throughout the weekend, others tapered off. The saddest scene though was helping Catherine, Jess and Piotr move everything out of Saint Sabby's on a rainy Sunday morning. The four of us awkwardly hugged underneath our umbrellas and as they walked away from me and I joined my family in a nearby cafe, I knew that all the life that was breathed into Salzburg was suddenly sucked out. Saint Sabby was a ghost town.
It started with Geoff leaving on Wednesday. My phone hung silent on the wall, a stalwart way of saying, "If I'm not ringing with one of Geoff's prank phone calls, then I'm not ringing at all!" The excellent Fussmassages were over, the wacky 20 minute parties in Zimmer 307 were no more. After Ja had left, I suddenly felt like I was renting a hotel room. All I was missing was my two-in-one shampoo and conditioner and my individually wrapped Q-tip and I would have been living a single serving life. My side of the room carried on with it's usual disorganization but it felt insincere and bizarre. Jess slowly moved into IK, but it was a strange transition because she was still in Salzburg...but now a lot further away. Now there was definitely no hope of Zimmer parties. Jeff disappeared Friday night. Eric and I saw him off in the rain as he left for his train to Munich. I held back tears as I hugged goodbye my first and very important study abroad friend. Eric left the next morning. I'm still hard pressed to find someone as awesomely cynical and hilarious as he is. "Frage" will never be the same question. Catherine was the final straw. As I walked down the hallway for the last time, I thought of all the numerous times I had clunked down the inexplicably colder than the rest of the building hallway in a pair of heels and a bottle of Wodka under my arm. I thought of all the times I approached eager to watch Gossip Girl and force Catherine to come with me somewhere because I was too insecure to go alone. In my walk two flights down, I reflected on all the Omelettezeits we had, pouring over all the debaucherous details of the night before, and pooling our food resources to make the most delicious breakfast. Nothing better to bolster the spirit than a hearty meal. That and a long shower.
When my time came on Monday afternoon, I'm sorry to say I couldn't leave Saint Sabby with a definitive click of the door and a wiping of my hands. My thoughts instead rested on how many times before people have had to literally close a door on a huge part of their life and walk blindly into another. I was no different than anyone else in that situation, but I was sure those people got through, and I have too. I tore off the band-aid quickly and never looked back. Okay, well, maybe once...to wave to Murat.
We decided to skip out on our last night in Salzburg. A combination of the weather and my antsy-ness and frustration of being the last AIFSer in town as well as our early flights Tuesday morning prompted us to go to Munich the night before. We dined at this delicious Augustiner Brau (What! Mere hours out of Salzburg and I'm already cheating on the original!) and made our way to the Hofbrau Haus. I was pissed at myself for not going while I was in Munich the first time, and finally on my last night I was able to make it up. I also got some Kaiserschmarrn and knew that Geoff would be smiling in Cleveland and not be sure why he was.
The last day was wildly eaten up with travel, transfers, waiting, small food portions, more waiting, sleeping at the airport, exchanging money in JFK and getting back more than I should, promptly ordering Starbucks with the extra money that I had gotten, turning on my cell phone for the first time in three and a half months, waiting for a phone call from my family saying they had arrived in Newark, finishing Into The Wild, waiting again, and finally climbing into the car for the ride home...
So...here's the part that's caused me to wait to write this entry. Cliche time! So, to all of you considering a travel experience:
Should you go? Yes.
What should your philosophy be? Mine was to not turn anything down as long as I wasn't too tired. Can't translate what you're thinking about ordering on the menu? Order it.
Should you travel alone or with someone? Definitely with someone. Obvious safety reasons aside, not everyone is going to want to hear your stories when you get home; it's nothing personal, it's just impossible to relate to. Find a partner in crime. Find two. Just find someone and you'll be forever happy you have someone to share everything with.
Will you learn something about yourself? Yes, and whatever it is, you won't be expecting it going into it. Also, it might not be pretty. Sometimes you need that kick in the butt though, and hopefully it causes a strong enough impact to rouse you to action. Also, I learned I have a pretty kick-ass sense of direction.
Where should you go? Anywhere. Just go. Do. Keep your eyes and ears open at all time. Try things that scare you. Interact with people you wouldn't normally. Don't think too much. Eat things that look weird (unless their head is still attached). Try to learn the language. Get gifts for loved ones. Be a good ambassador. Wear sunscreen. Take thousands of pictures that royally screw your hard drive. Talk less and listen more. Talk less and listen more. Talk less and listen more. There are hundreds upon millions of people in the world just dying to tell their story. Make their day and listen to it. You just might learn something.