Salzburg is arguably the most beautiful city in all of Europe. It’s a storybook setting complete with medieval castle, gorgeous palaces and giant gardens.
The above photo (by elyuyu) is Salzburg’s altstadt, or old town. It’s where I spent the majority of my time when I studied at Salzburg College, a tiny, private, Austrian institution for American and Japanese students. With the exception of the German language courses, all classes were taught in English.
My studies were very diverse, touching on Austrian civilization, conversational German language, Hitler’s Germany, art history, folk dancing, international business and public relations. Every week, my business/PR class visited a different company, such as P&G and SKIDATA, for a tour and marketing discussion. We took several cultural field trips that included art museums, music recitals, architectural walking tours, opera performances and the Venice Carnival. One of the most moving field trips was to Dachau, a Nazi concentration camp.
When I attended, Salzburg College was located in the converted horse stables of Schloss Leopoldskron, a lakefront palace that was used for exterior filming of the von Trapp mansion in The Sound of Music. Today, Salzburg College is located downtown Salzburg. Immediately below is a photo of the palace and the Salzburg College “stables” just to the left of it. Below that is an old college photo of me with the Adidas fancy pants, a prize purchase from an earlier trip to London. That lake is where the von Trapp kids’ canoe tipped over in the movie.
While my formal studies were fascinating, I learned the most from my extracurricular activities and recreational travels. For the entire semester, I lived with a host family that spoke very little English… and I spoke very little German. I quickly became an expert in communicating non-verbally and with gibberish, but I was fortunate that my roommate from Texas spoke fluent German and translated when he was near.
Thanks to Salzburg’s central location, I visited over 30 European cities during breaks and long weekends. I voyaged as far west as Dublin and as far east as Budapest. I ate Chinese food on a sheep farm in the Irish countryside. I arrived in Prague at midnight with no hotel reservation. I road Space Mountain at Disneyland Paris and soaked up the sun in the French Riviera. I ran into a cousin in London and hung out with a friend in Warsaw. I ate waffles in Brussels and celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin. I drank wine along the Rhine and sipped beer from the menu at McDonald’s. I danced to DJ Loutka until 4 a.m. at Klub Roxy and accidentally discovered “Star Trek Night” at a now defunct “discotek” called Stockwerk Orange in Salzburg. During a two-week Eurotrip, I managed to survive many days on only bread and street vendor wursts. I flew on a small commuter plane after it was delayed for having “propeller problems!” I found Michelangelo’s David in Florence, took a roll of film on it, and then found the real one in the Accademia Gallery. I watched the sun rise on the Mediterranean Sea and the Swiss Alps. I “did” the Louvre in one hour! I prayed with one of the oldest living Benedictine monks and drank beer brewed by Augustinian monks. I learned a lot.
Salzburg is, by far, my favorite small city of all that I visited. Prague – see my Charles Bridge photo below – is my favorite big city. I visited both Salzburg and Prague again two years ago, and hope to go again… sooner than later.