After the ultimate of lazy days on Sunday (I never even left the dorm), we went as a group to Burg Hohenwerfen, which is about a half hour south of Salzburg and well into the Alps. We parked at the base of a rather large mountain, and our “culture expert” and tour guide, Andreas, calmly informed us we would simply be walking up the hill. Our epic 4 hour city tour last week taught us that Andreas tends to underestimate the amount of effort involved in things like mountain climbing, so we we weren’t all that surprised when he directed us towards the dirt hiking path that led up the mountain instead of to the incline train that started in the parking lot. Some of us got bored with the endless switchbacks and started climbing straight up the mountain. Lots more effort involved but we had some laughs attempting not to fall over backwards on the steep trail. When we finally got within the walls of the fortress we still had another steep climb and dozens of steps to go until we got up to the building itself. Really Andreas, a walk up the hill? But the fortress was gorgeous and the view from that high even more so. Hohenwerfen also has several birds of prey, from local falcons to a bald eagle, and the staff puts on demonstrations to help illustrate the way people would have used birds in hunting way back when. We sat on the side of the hill and watched the birds soar over our heads and occasionally dive straight for us. The falconers used whistles and bells to call them and tossed them pieces of food every so often. I only understood about every eighth word of the spoken presentation, but I don’t think it mattered. When the show was over we trekked back down the mountain, a much easier feat than the climb up. Our bus driver decided to take the scenic route on the way back to Salzburg. We drove through the mountains for a while and then through our driver’s hometown. He even took us past his house, which involved squeezing our huge tour bus down a narrow small town street. Sometimes I wonder about Austrians.
On Tuesday, when we discovered the supplies in our cupboard basically consisted of stale bread and Nutella, Rachelle and I decided it was time to either brave grocery shopping again or starve. We chose a different store this time and managed to have a much less spastic shopping experience. We’re really enjoying working our way through the cookie aisle. Chocolate covered gingerbread? Heck yes. Also, Pringles are huge over here. I feel as though there are about twenty different flavors in the snack food section. Most exciting though was that we found all of the ingredients to put together a pseudo-Mexican dinner for that night. Some of the girls got together and, though we made a huge mess and had to borrow stove space and silverware from friends, Taco Tuesday was quite the success. I think it boosted our confidence in our abilities to cook in our little kitchen closets, too, so meals more elaborate than canned soup may be in our future. The rest of the week appears to be devoted to figuring out how to do laundry and studying for our German final exams. Real classes start on Monday!