Here is a view of the town as we descend from one of the two mountains which surround the town.
Salzberg exists to trap tourists and make money. Clean, well-lit, polite money. I don't know why we didn't take to it. We had good company. We had a great time walking around after a late morning spent taking pictures of each other. Somehow I ended up with two photos of Vida, and none of Jovica. It got confusing for a while. They kept making jokes about Mozart balls, which I heard as "Mozart bowls," imagining souvenir bowls with Mozart's visage or some music or something. When I discovered that these were chocolate balls, I began thinking about chicken soup and Mozart balls. "It was lovely, dear, a bit of a molé taste, not quite working with the chicken fat, but not too bad...". When I learned that there were fake ones made in Germany, I was ready to die laughing, except that, as we subsequently discovered, they were everywhere, and expensive.
Maybe it was that we couldn't find a hardware store with faucets that Jovica needed because he forgot to pick one up in Hamburg. Vida said that there had been one, but that rising rents had forced it to move to the outskirts, away from comfortable walking distance. Maybe the problem was that we saw nice expensive tourist stuff everywhere, but really, very little to do unless you wanted to spend money to buy, to see theatre or concerts, or to buy more. Coffee, at an outdoor cafe, was twice as much as should be. And perhaps we were more sensitive about money because Vida had little and we didn't want to be in a situation where she would insist on paying and we would know that she really couldn't afford what she was treating us to. The final blow, certainly came when there was only one good used book store in town, and that had nothing of real interest. Lots of expensive books, but nothing to get excited about. And, along with Mozart balls, the stage for contempt was set when I spied "Mozarts Geburtsplatz" (Mozart's birthplace) in humongous letters across the apartment building in which the prodigy was born. ("You know, he composed his first symphony at seven!" "Yes, and he was long decomposing at 37.") I mean, heaven forbid some tourist would miss it, or heaven forfend they put some small plaque visible at eye level.
There is a Judenstrasse in Salzberg, but I didn't see anything Jewish there. Could there be Jews here? It is hard to imagine a more goyish place. A pastrami and swiss sandwich is closer to "kosher" than Salzberg.
Everywhere you go in Salzberg you see advertisements for "alter schmuck." It took a while to realize that the occupants weren't advertising the fact that the aged of this community are jerks. "schmuck" is German for jewelrey--the better to attract the rich tourists. Who, after all, would be interested in "neuer schmuck". (Although I have known older women, men too, now that I think back on my acquaintances, who might be interested in younger ... oh, never mind.)
Salzberg is also home to the monstery whence came Maria, the former nun of "Sound of Music" fame, and much of the movie was filmed here. According to Jovica she sold the family's book to Hollywood for $10,000 and gave none of it to the kids, who called her an "old bag." They hated singing and performing, too. (At least, in this version of the story.)
It was about a twenty minute walk from Vida's condo to the main tourist center. We crossed a river, tunneled under the mountain in the center of town, had "Bosnia dogs," local spicy hot dogs with mustard and onion and paprika that tasted great and satisfied Vida's nostalgia urge ("Not that hot dogs in the former Yugoslavia taste anything like this!"). We climbed way up one of the city's two mountains and had a beer overlooking the most interesting parts of this allegedly typical Austrian burg. We walked down and saw the vistas. We joked with poor Vida, who actually enjoyed the small town atmosphere of Salzberg, mixed with the serious culture--"you go to the market and there is that Spanish guy, Placido Domingo, getting vegetables". We, of course, are big city slickers and know better. There is music in Salzberg, and good avant gardeish theatre--but the acceptable, Schoenberg, dead fifty years kind of avant garde theatre. And a folk festival. But this is not a dirndl place. This is high, expensive, culture.
And I guess it annoyed us. Of course, I never trust Austria to begin with. In Germany there is some awareness that a Holocaust happened. In Austria they say, "we had no choice" and elect Kurt Waldheim. In any event, we ignored the little outdoor vegetable market and went home where Vida prepared a curry that couldn't be beat, and we watched a British show with the world's funniest commercials, and listened to klezmer music until late.
One of the notable events that second evening came as we were listening to a bluegrassy number that one klezmer band was playing, and Jovica and Vida looked at each other and said, not knowing bluegrass, "but that is Roumanian!". As I travel further I am getting a sense of what they heard, and they are right. I am going to have fun playing some new tapes for bluegrass afficionado friends on my return. Bill Monroe was obviously descended from wild Roumanian gypsy fiddlers.
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