Goodbye, Salzburg

Goodbyes are so very difficult. After six wonderful weeks here in Austria I must once again brave the Munich airport (I am hoping against hope that they’ll be lenient on my overweight luggage and carry-on!) to go back to the US.
I’ve had to say goodbye to the wonderful friends I’ve made here, to all the people who helped make my experience so wonderful. In a short while I have to say goodbye to Salzburg—its wide open sky, its fortress and church domes, the beautiful Salzach, its markets and bus stops. I will have to say goodbye to my host mother, who has been so good to me.
I will miss everything; the greenery, the mountains, the tiny dumpsters, the city. I will miss the lovely walk to my piano lesson. I will miss the endless stairs in my school built into the mountain. I will, of course, miss all the food.
So it’s with a slightly aching heart I have to tell myself it’s time to say “Auf wiedersehen” to Salzburg. But then I realize that “Auf wiedersehen” means “Until we see again,” and I will see Salzburg again at some point in my life.
Therefore this isn’t a permanent goodbye; Salzburg and I are merely parting ways for the present.
Auf wiedersehen!

MacGyvered thank-you cards/Why I am so cool

My time in Salzburg is winding down and I wanted to thank the appropriate people; however, I forgot to bring some of my nice cream-and-blue embossed thank you cards to Austria. I went to a wonderful stationery shop and while it had an astounding collection of soft leather-bound books and Moleskines (I caved in and bought a pocket-sized The Little Prince edition) and paper, I had trouble finding nice thank-you cards. I did get a gold-embossed card for my host mom, but wanted to give different cards to each person.
Being me, I decided to just make my own cards. I went to a children’s store and bought a cheap pack of blank cream-colored cards with scalloped edges, and a 69-cent blank notepad. My idea was that I’d 1) draw something nice on the notepad paper and then 2) stick it to the card. Since I can draw reasonably well, and I’m pretty good at this paper-craft thing, I knew I’d be fine.
I found scissors, tape, and a cup of colored pencils in the desk in my room. That’s all I needed to set forth.

For my piano teacher here, I drew a picture which may or may not be based on the photo of me I used for the background of my page. (All drawings are done with my Pilot Varsity fountain pen!)
For one of my teachers I sketched out one of the views of the Attersee I’d snapped.
For one of the administrators I replicated one of the ink sketches I’d made of the Salzach and shaded it in.
When it came time to assemble my cards I realized that a drawing on top of a plain card just isn’t that aesthetically pleasing. So I turned on my inner MacGyver and hunted around for material to make the cards look nicer. I ended up discovering the little collection of colored Post-It notes I keep in my planner, and the honeysuckle-colored netting that came with the rose my boyfriend had sent to my Austrian house.
I used my white gel pen to write “Thank you” in some form on cut-out pieces of Post-It note, snipped off pieces of netting, and taped it all down. The effect was way more “charming handcrafted stationery” than “Well, you get an A for effort.”

(Oh, and to complement my Attersee sketch, I took a little bunch of unidentified floral arrangement from my rose and stuck it to the card.)
All in all I’m pretty stoked that I was able to make pretty sweet thank you cards out of minimal supplies. Lack of resources can’t keep me from thanking people properly!

In which a Taiwanese-American girl walks into a Japanese restaurant in Austria and speaks Chinese

Sunday was particularly lovely; despite sleeping past my alarm and waking up at 1 PM, I enjoyed the entirety of the day.

As soon as I got into town I set my mind to obtaining lunch. I seriously entertained the idea of getting kebap again, but then decided that for experience’s sake, I should try something new every time I eat—well, while I’m here, anyway. So I headed to Getreidegasse to try Austria’s take on Asian food. I passed by one Chinese buffet and found myself in the quiet courtyard of Restaurant Nagano.

I was a little thrown off that I didn’t get tea automatically; I had to ask for it. When my bill came I found that it cost €2.80…oi. To the restaurant’s credit though, it was delicious: loose-leaf green tea (no tea bag!) with a hint of peach.
I’ve heard that the sushi in Austria is awful, so for the sake of trying I ordered a two-piece plate of salmon nigiri. It was pretty good; kudos for the fish not being cold, and it tasted fresh and milky. The only thing was, as you can see from this picture, that the fish was sliced THIN. Sigh!
I felt a little self-conscious when I took out my Moleskine to take notes on the food. I probably looked like a very insecure Anton Ego. I hope no one mistook me for a food critic…

For the sake of my wallet I ordered a simple bowl of udon soup. The price was still a little painful at €8.90, considering that I make myself udon soup all the time for next to nothing. Oh well. The noodles were nice and chewy, the broth was savory, and the vegetables and seaweed tasted fresh. I suppose you can’t ask for more!

While it was unnecessarily pricey, I do have to say the food was satisfying and delicious. The highlight of my meal, however, was my conversation with the waitress. While I chewed my noodles and read a book, I overheard all of the staff speaking in Mandarin Chinese.
So rather than speaking in my limited German sprinkled with English, I addressed the waitress in Chinese when she came with my bill. She immediately brightened up—considerably—and eagerly asked me about myself. “And you came here all by yourself?” she asked in awe, when I told her I had come from the US. She thanked me over and over again, even though I only tipped 50 cents, and even though I had done nothing more than order food and eat it all.
It was a lovely, warm moment; it makes my day every time I make a connection with the locals, though funnily enough I have far more extended conversations in Chinese here in Austria than in German. There’s something indescribably beautiful about breaking out from the confines of a limited vocabulary in one language and finding another soul who speaks your native tongue; even if you have nothing else in common it creates an instant bond.
It may sound silly, but I feel like we are all grains of sand being flung from place to place and we rejoice when we are thrown against another particle that came from the same stone.