Thursday, May 6, 2010

Enjoying Coffee with Mozart to the “Sound of Music”

This past evening we had a city tour of Salzburg.  It started with a driven tour through the outer areas of the city to the sites where the movie The Sound of Music was filmed.  A few key spots for this part were seeing the houses that were in the movie (the palace actually consisted of two separate buildings for filming purposes), the gazebo, and the gardens.  From the coach, we began walking through old town with a hired guide.  This tour consisted mostly of seeing the area shops and churches with the last stop being at Mozart’s birthplace and free admittance into the Mozart Museum.  The museum is located in the house he grew up in and had several paintings and family objects including his first pianos.  I was able to snap a quick picture of one of the pianos even though photography was not allowed.  The guard offered to walk away and basically suggested if he didn't see it, then he can't stop us.
After the tour, we were left on our own, and so a small group of us set out to explore the city.  The culture of the old buildings and streets are quite fascinating.  Although most of the areas have been renovated and are now homes to modern shops and stores, all of that fundamental medieval feeling is left there.  Even some of the original iron shop signs remain outside the building.  Signs such as a picture  of a shoe for a shoemaker’s shop since many people of those times could not necessarily read or write.

We had another group dinner back at our hotel around 7pm and then a large group of us walked for coffee afterward.  The time at the café flew by and then it was off to Old Town again to explore most of the city. Since we had the chance to see some live music in Switzerland, we wanted to try to find something similar in Austria.  We walked for quite a while up and down side streets with no luck, so we began heading back the scenic route towards our hotel when a young girl handed us a small flyer for a club.  My first instinct was not to take the paper since my experience in South America was that these are typically for…. Lets just say, very adult clubs.

But, we grabbed a flyer and almost miraculously, it was for a small bar/café that was having live acoustic music.  We headed that way and came to a small place at the end of a hallway off a main street.  Inside was a man playing Austrian Pop with his guitar and a small foot drum to keep beat.  Our group of four was really the only ones in there, and so I think he played to our small crowd.  Instead of the Austrian pop that we walked into, he began to sing and play American songs such as Wonderwall and West Virginia.  The performer was great, but we thought it was a bit odd we were the only ones there, but decided to stay and enjoy the setting where we talked about everything and anything. At about midnight, we realized that we were way too earlier.  People just started pouring in the door, singing and yelling, and so on came some dance music and strobe lights.  This kind of ended our conversations as it became loud, but watching the way people interact and dance with each other is always fun for me.  

During the coffee trip and the time at our local bar/café area, I realized how much more our American culture is too devoted to time and money.  While drinking one cup of coffee, over two hours passed before we knew it.  That’s something we just don’t do back in the states, or at least I don’t.  Even if we go out for coffee with friends, it’s usually drink the coffee, get our points across, and get out to do the next thing.  We’re always thinking about what’s next and try to be as efficient in everything possible.  The places there work 9-5 and that’s it.  People think we are crazy if we go into work at 8 or leave after 5 or 6 in the evening.  The phrase “Americans live to work while the rest of the world works to live” is becoming more and more clear to me.  Even today, our coach driver told us that he will have to take one day off during the trip because he will actually get fined if he works more than 6 days in one week.  Can you imagine that? He’ll get a fine for putting in extra effort to his job.  For us, extra effort is now expected.  I think we have a lot to learn about the culture here around Europe, especially when it comes to social life and work.  Maybe if we lived life a little more, rather than worked at life, we would all have less stress and be a little bit happier through our day.  These people are content with where they are at, and I think that’s because friendship and family will top any amount of money they can make.  They have a patience for life that we do not.  If you’re going out to dinner, expect to sit there for a good few hours between courses and drinks, but know you’ll be in good company.  It’s going to be tough, but for me personally, I think it’s time to just develop a little patience, let life happen, and enjoy a 6 hour cup of coffee with friends once in a while.

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