This past weekend, we went our first weekend trip during our six weeks in Europe--Salzburg! The city of Salzburg is probably one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen. It's set in the mountains, and is exactly what I have always pictured Austria to look like.
We left for Salzburg on Friday afternoon after classes were over. Before arriving in Hallein (a small town outside Salzburg), we stopped by at Melk Abbey, a former monastery. It was truly amazing, especially the church.
Melk Abbey from a distance.
The front of Melk Abbey's church.
When we finally reached our hotel, we put down our stuff and headed out to find the town. Most of the group stayed together, since we were told about a great outdoor champagne bar. Luckily, we found it pretty quickly, and all sat down for a glass of wine. At first, the locals looked skeptical about the American kids, but after awhile of talking with us, they had a good time. One guy even bought our table a bottle of wine! It was a fun night.
Saturday was a lot of fun, too. We spent the morning touring the city and the fortress, and explored during the afternoon. Michael and I accidently got separated from our friends for lunch, so we decided to go find food on our own. We went to a nearby Billa (grocery store), got some sandwiches, and sat along the river bank. It was a great lunch with great company! On our way back to our hotel, we stopped by Hellbrunn, a water palace. The emperor (not sure if that's right) that once lived there had a quirky sense of humor, and put water traps all throughout his house. It was a perfect day to get soaked, since it was so hot outside. We had a lot of laughs, too!
The view from the fortress!
The river where Michael and I ate lunch.
The Sound of Music gazebo at Hellbrunn/Michael showing his love for the movie.
Sunday, we visited two extremes. First, we took a tour of the Salt Mines. We got to wear these white jumpsuits, and take a train down into the ground. We even got to go down a couple of slides to get closer to the salt. We all enjoyed doing something different, since we've been doing a lot of city tours recently. Then, on our way back to Vienna, we stopped at Mauthausen, one of the concentration camps during WWII. The entire area was surrounded by sadness--it was a truly sobering experience.
One of many pictures from Mauthausen.
One more important thing happened this weekend. As many of you may already know, two of my closest friends, Caitlin Lamade and Brent Boersma, got engaged!! Of course I am very happy for them, and I can't wait to attend their wedding in 2009. I would tell you the story of their engagement, but I think it would be better to just hear Caitlin's account of it.
About 10 seconds after everyone found out they got engaged.
Overall, Salzburg was wonderful! I'm really hoping I love the rest of my weekend trips as much as I loved this one. Next weekend--Prague! :)