Tourist Info Desk

Welcome to Fernweh, a blog concerning the (mis)adventures of one Fulbrighter during a year spent in Europe teaching English.
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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sayonara to Salzburg and Investigating Innsbruck

Another train, another date on my Eurail pass. We've said farewell to the lovely city of Salzburg on our way further south and west through Austria to Innsbruck where hopefully, if the vast improvement of the weather today is any indication, the sun will come out and we'll be able to do some hiking.

Innsbruck is a perfectly adorable little city somewhere in the Alps. It's got everything an alpine European should have: interesting, brightly colored buildings, twisty alleyways, pedestrian areas lined with shops and inviting cafes, and everywhere you look, mountains peeking through the cracks between buildings. The only problem is that it's Sunday, so half the town is shut. Ah well.

We arrived midafternoon and quickly discovered that the sensory (read: Internet) deprivation we suffered in Salzburg could be cured by the free WiFi at the McDonalds, so here from a Europeanized version of an American classic do I write to you. Despite dire warnings of rain in the next few days, today was sunny, if cool and breezy, so we explored the Old Town, had a delicious dinner, caught part of a free concert, and had far too much caffeine and laughed far too loud at a cute little cafe in an alley. The two waiters there both have wonderful senses of humor, and they needed them to deal with...well, Janna, mostly.

I don't have much to say about Innsbruck so far since that's really as far as we've gotten. Now, I don't want to sound ungrateful, but I'd like to note here that there is a glaring hole in the English language that I need a suitable plug for. It is a feeling closely akin to homesickness: that strange yearning for another place, somewhere you can't get to but long to be, the name of which makes your heart flutter and ache at the same time. The closest English can really get is "homesick", but this sounds odd if you want to use it to describe anywhere but where you've come from; all other "travel bug" type phrases don't capture the notions of reminiscence and longing for a beloved place. I think the German word "fernweh" (literally, faraway-pain) gets a lot closer, which is why it's the name of this blog. Anyway, I mention this because this is what I feel about Britain.

If you were expecting me to say "America" (which, if you know me, you weren't), the only things I miss about America are proximity to the people I love and free bread and glasses of water at restaurants. Oh, and Hulu. That's about it.

I like Austria. I'm sure I'll like Switzerland and Italy as well while I'm there, and Germany will be my home, so I'm determined to like it no matter what--and I already do, don't get me wrong. But there are two countries in the world where I've felt instinctively comfortable. One is, for no comprehensible reason, Japan. And the other is Britain. Go figure.

Anyway, the McDonald's is about to close, so on that odd note I must end. I hope that whoever and wherever you are, you read this in a place where you are safe, dry, happy, and comfortable. All the best from Innsbruck, Austria, Europe, The World.

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