No snow, but that's okay, because Silvester is tonight!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Is it freezing?  Yes.  Snowing?  No.

Eva (our new roommate/new favorite person) told us it had been snowing constantly these past few months but that it stopped the morning we arrived.  But that's okay, because tonight is Silvester!! (New Year's Eve).

Yesterday morning I went to Merkur and bought us a few treats for breakfast.  Caroline used to buy these drinks for us there -- 'vegetable shots' -- that consist of pressed fruits/vegetables with no sugar added.  If you take 2 a day, it equals your daily intake of fruits and vegetables, or something crazy like that.  They're kind of expensive, so we stopped buying them as the semester progressed and we began to care less and less about things like our daily intake of fruits and vegetables, but I brought 6 of them home for us yesterday!  Alpen milk was also on the grocery list, as well as the rosinen bread that Caroline and I consumed so much of last year.  I've been known to consume an entire loaf in one sitting, but we don't have to get into that...

We then spent a few hours at Europark (the mall), shopping at Zara and the 2 H&M's there (because one isn't enough).  We grabbed a late lunch at Indigo afterwards and spent the rest of the night walking around the Altstadt, which is so beautiful and wintry right now, snow or no snow.

Happy Silvester, it's sure to be a magical night!

Reyna and O'Malley's (first things first)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reyna Kebap is a little Turkish hole-in-the-wall, and it's so, so delicious.  It was a staple of ours last semester.  Some of the girls from our school still email Reyna, if that tells you anything about our obsession.  I ordered a pizza -- yes, a large pizza, just for myself -- and Lindsay ordered a kebap.  It tasted just as good as we remembered, if not better.  After we ate, there was really only one place to go... O'Malley's.

We crossed the Salzach and headed down Rudolfsaki to our version of Central Perk: the coziest, most special Irish pub in the history of Irish pubs.  I always used to say that I could walk into that pub at any time of day and find at least one person I knew.  As we walked in, an Oasis song was playing (typical) and I couldn't help but smile so widely.  Our 3 favorite bartenders were working and they remembered us, and even started playing Galway Girl (one of "our" songs) upon realizing we were there.

We were both pretty jet-lagged, so we drank a Snakebite (one of "our" drinks) and decided to head home to rest up for our morning plans: trips to Merkur and Europark.  We couldn't wait to go to sleep, but not before we met Eva!  She was home when we made it back and was so unbelievably hospitable and sweet.  She only further proving true my theory that Bavarians are the best!

We are just so overwhelmed and happy to be back; Salzburg is beautiful in the winter (when is it not?), and I can't wait to ring in the New Year in our favorite city on earth!

Nothing has changed, and everything has changed.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Our flight to Munich was fine, and compared to our flight to Amsterdam, it felt like a walk in the park.  Lindsay managed (again) to talk her neighbor into switching seats with me and we ate what seemed like our 7th airline meal of the day (we love eating) (even if it's airplane food).  When we landed in Munich, deja vu began to set in.  We landed in the same terminal that I landed in earlier this year when I first moved to Salzburg, and as we waited to collect our bags from the very same carousel, I replayed the scene in my head: meeting Tim for the first time, meeting Ingrid, meeting Andreas... The nostalgia was real.

We hopped on the S8 from the airport, transferred to the Munich Haupbahnhof, stepped off in Freilassing, and then headed onward to Salzburg.  We took that Bayern route more times than I can count this past semester, and the nostalgia just kept building with each familiar stop.  So when an adorable German/Austrian young woman smiled at me a couple of times on the train -- a seemingly knowing smile -- I didn't give it too much thought, as my thoughts were focused on the fact that we were about to be in Salzburg, and very little else.

As soon as we stepped off the train at the Salzburg Hauptbahnhof, my first thought was, "I'm sorry, what?!"  Apparently,  in the short time since we've been gone, Salzburg decided to go and change a lot of things, the train station being one of them.  We found the Tabak Trafik (in a new location!), bought our bus passes, and jumped on the #3 bus, heading toward IK.  Oh, and of course I bought 10 euros of Guthaben to add to my A1 phone.  Riding the bus, it was like we had never left, and I recited the bus stops in my head along with the "bus stop woman" on the loudspeaker: "Nächster Halt, Rathaus.... Mozartsteg...Äußerer Stein..... Justizgebäude.... Akademiestraße..... Fastauergaße... Josefiau.... Herrnau....and finally, Polizeidirektion!  At least all the bus stops stayed the same.  Lord knows how I would have reacted if that had changed.

In March, one of Caroline's friends came back to Salzburg from the semester before, just to visit.  I went with Caroline to pick her up from the airport, and as soon as she met us at baggage claim, she started talking about how nervous she was to come back.  I didn't understand it, and I couldn't related when, on the walk from the bus stop to IK, she kept saying, "I'm scared I might cry.  I'm nervous.  This is weird.  I don't know what to do."  But as Lindsay and I walked from the bus stop to IK, I suddenly 'got' it.  How many times had I made this walk with Caroline? (Always with Caroline.)  Walking toward our studentenheim with the backdrop of the snow-covered Alps gave me chills every single time.  So last night, walking toward IK with Lindsay, I couldn't help but express to her, "This is weird.  This is weird.  This is weird." about 100 times over.  

Also on the two-minute walk from the bus stop to IK, we crossed paths with the same young woman we had seen on the train ride.  She smiled at us again and this time we smiled back.  After she walked away, I said to Lindsay, "What a coincidence!  She lives in IK!"  

When we reached the IK buildings, I ran into the green building to grab Rikee's keys.  Rikee is our friend who so graciously left her room for us to share, since I don't have a room there anymore.  She is native Austrian, and lived in the blue building this past semester, which is how Caroline and I got to know (and love) her.  We were to stop by the green building to collect the keys from Claudia, a friend of Rikee's, as Rikee is spending the holiday in spain.  As soon as we stepped inside, the smell stopped me in my tracks.  I'm possibly the world's most smell-oriented person, in that every memory is connected with a smell, so as soon as I walked into the green building, I 'smelled' so many memories.  Laundry memories!  Vending machine memories!  Heimbar memories!  

Claudia was so nice -- she had waited there for us all night -- and happily handed the keys over to me.  We then ran on over to the yellow building, where Rikee lives, to get into 'our' new room.  Rikee had told me she has a roommate -- a girl named Eva who is on Erasmus from Germany.  When we walked into Rikee's room, I peeked into Eva's room to introduce myself.  She wasn't there, but when Lindsay saw her backpack sitting on the floor, she gasped.  "Jennifer, it's the girl from the train!  The one we just saw leaving IK!"  Apparently, Lindsay had noticed her backpack on the train ride in (I guess I had been too busy contemplating all the current similarities between me and the characters from LOST when they return to the island).  But what are the odds that that girl would be our new roommate??  I always say that Salzburg is the smallest town... maybe I shouldn't be so surprised. 

We started unpacking, and charged my A1 phone so I could load the minutes.  As we settled in, we realized we were starving.  We walked back to the bus stop (it was about 20:00 at this point) and crossed the street to use the Bankomat (protocol for passing time if the bus isn't coming for awhile) to withdraw our money for dinner.  We discussed our options for dinner and knew there was only one place we could go: Reyna.

And that explains the happiness you see in these photos.  You'd be this happy, too, if you were about to eat at Reyna Kebab for the first time in months...

To be cont'd!

Merry Christmas! Now back to Salzburg we go.

Monday, December 28, 2009

It's somewhat fitting that Lindsay was the last person I said goodbye to in Paris, and then the first person to reunite with me in Salzburg.  We met up in Memphis and there, boarded a plane to Amsterdam.  That flight would normally not be worth mentioning, but for the fact that on that flight, we sat between the 2 most ridiculous people on the plane and maybe on the planet.

We were not initially seated together, but Lindsay rectified that within moments of taking our seats.  I was at the front of the plane, she was at the back.  As soon as I sat down in my window seat, however, I hear my name being called and I turn around to find Lindsay waving me towards the back of the plane.  Apparently, the young man who was seated next to her never even made it to his seat; as soon as she saw that he was moving in her general direction, she said, "Hey!  Wanna sit up front and trade seats with my friend?"  He didn't speak English, but he complied.  God bless him.

So that's how Lindsay and I found ourselves sitting in the middle row of the plane between 2 Dutch women (one of the left of Lindsay and one on the right of me).  Before take-off, the cabin was filled with conversation (let's note: airplanes are not libraries!), and Lindsay and I talked amongst ourselves, still so happy to be reunited and bursting with eagerness to get back to Europe.  Apparently, the woman to Lindsay's left had never been on a plane before (maybe she sailed to the USA on a silent ship?) and became visibly annoyed with the fact that we were conversing with one another.  Not only was she turning in her seat to glare at anyone making a peep, but at one point, she leaned over to Lindsay and I, and in broken English, said to no one in particular, "THEY TALK SO LOUD."  She rolled her eyes and I fake-smiled passive aggressively while Lindsay offered a sincere apology.  The woman's reply: "You're sorry....HA!"  When we heard her mutter under her breath some some of generalization about Americans, the English language, and our collective desire to take over the world, I decided to unzip my hoodie, revealing beneath it my vintage 1976 Olympic Game Team USA commemorative t-shirt.

The airline offered a really fun movie selection with an interactive menu where each individual passenger chooses what they want to watch on their own screen.  We lined up Inglorious Basterds and 500 Days of Summer in our queues (seen them both, love/like them both respectively), but before we pressed "play", decided to use the bathroom.  By using the bathroom at the same time, we figured we would annoy our seat-neighbors less by preventing them from getting out of their seats twice; nobody likes to be the person making everyone in their aisle unbuckle, shift around, stand up, etc.  Well, that was a false assumption if I ever made one.  We deliberated for about 30 seconds which aisle we should use and which 'neighbor' we should bother.  Considering how outrageous our last experience with Dutch Lady No. 1 was, we opted for the aisle to my right.  I turned to the woman and asked very politely, "I'm so sorry, but would you mind if we used the bathroom?"  Normal question, right?  I mean, some people wouldn't ask -- they'd just unbuckle their seat belts and raise their eyebrows at you until you move out of their way.  She didn't appear to understand right away, but based on our body language, realized we wanted to step around her.  Not only did she look extremely annoyed, but she took 30-60 seconds unbuckling her seat belt in slooooow motion, another 30 seconds to put away her book and fold her blanket, and then another 30 seconds to store both items neatly beneath her seat.  I thanked her about 7 times (she glared at me in response), and then we repeated the same charade when we returned from the bathroom a few minutes later.  

Later during the flight, Lindsay's neighbor decided to store all of her trash in Lindsay's seat, while my neighbor, Dutch Lady No. 2, elbowed me no less than 7 times, coughed and sneezed in my direction repeatedly, and pushed my elbow off the arm rest each time I rested it there.  Wondering if she would understand me if I said to her in German, "Honey, I paid just as much for this plane ticket as you did" -- and cursing myself for not knowing how to say that to her in Dutch -- I ultimately resigned myself to keeping my mouth shut, in the interest of everyone around us.

In conclusion, it was the longest nine hours of my life.

Our flight to Munich was much, much better.  Otherwise, I might have swam back home and never looked back.  

More to come.