The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of…
Baz (Snowboarding Like A Boss!)
Around a month ago, What Should Baz Do readers voted on where I should travel to in Europe for a mini winter excursion. Austria: home of the 1965 classic film “The Sound Of Music”, and birthplace of the legendary Arnie Schwarzenegger was nominated as my next destination. On a pretty limited budget, planning kicked into gear very soon afterwards, and at 4:30am last Thursday I slunk through the dark streets of London toward a Terravision bus from Liverpool St to the airport.
HOT TIP #003: If you live in London and take advantage of the ridiculously cheap flights out of airports other than Heathrow, check out Terravision buses so you don’t waste those savings on getting to the plane! – Cheap and Easy
True to form, I got on the plane at Heathrow without a plan: just a few things on my “To-Do” list for the week ahead in Austria:
- Do some snowboarding “somewhere”
- Soak up a little history
- Try Hitchhiking
- NOT DRINK BOOZE, EAT SUGAR OR BITE MY NAILS until March 1
- And try to find “Lake Gmunden” for a freezing Wintery swim – courtesy of a suggestion made in a post to the Facebook Page.
Do Some Snowboarding “Somewhere”
Spoiled For Choice!
I’d done SOME preliminary research online the night before departure, by searching for “Ski mountains within 3 hours of Linz” on www.j2ski.com, which yielded a whopping 226 separate ski slopes! This smorgasbord of white, powdery playgrounds was mind-boggling, and I decided to leave this decision to whichever Austrians were in earshot of me during the flight.
After chatting with a couple of people on the plane, and a very nice customs officer at Linz airport, my first destination was decided for me. I cleared customs and set out on foot to the the nearest train going to Salzburg.
Mountains, Mozart, and The Sound Of Music
Nestled amongst the Austrian Alps about an hour and a half train ride south from Linz, is Salzburg, known mostly for two things: being Mozart’s birthplace; and the setting of the 1965 movie “The Sound Of Music” – 50 years on and you still can’t look sideways without a reference to the classic movie. As an obvious example, the hostel I was staying at (YoHo Youth Hostel) had an 8pm screening of the movie every night of the week downstairs in the common area. And yes, of course I partook in this sacred ritual!!
HOT TIP #004: “When traveling… ALWAYS talk to strangers!” – Especially during #SoloTravel
I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again: there is no better way to meet new people than by asking questions. Here are some good themed openers for when you are:
- Sailing: “Arrrrr, matey! What far off lands ‘ave yer first hoisted yer sails, ye old scurvy sea-dog?!”
- In Australia: “G’day, mate. Howsitgoin’?”
- Near ski slopes: “Hi, are you here to get sideways on some fresh powder as well? And have you found it yet?”
- ANYTIME, ANYWHERE: “Hi, have you heard about this guy “Baz” who is living out his life the way others decide that he should?!”
Using HOT TIP #004 (ski slopes protocol), I managed to find a couple of strangers who were catching a free bus to Flachau the next day for their first snow day. We bonded over a shared love of falling down in the snow on the side of mountains – and in this way, one became three for the next two days!
Like Riding A Bike
I’ve snowboarded twice in my life: A high school trip to Victoria in 2002; and in Switzerland while traveling with my brother in 2009…
However, it seems snowboarding is like riding a bike! From the first carving pass of a family of skiers the self-doubt, which had crept into my mind during the bus ride to the mountain, melted away like a lost memory. I was ease on the mountain, the snow was clean, the sun shining, and the views were awesome: snowy mountainous ranges in all directions. Come take a look with me! 🙂
Soak Up A Little History
“Being around other people who are excited about travel and who enjoy experiencing and learning from other places, fuels my own excitement about the What Should Baz Do project.”
Age Is Just A Number
On the third day in Salzburg it was time to explore the “Old Town”, visit the city fortress, and take a look at Mozart’s pad like a proper tourist. Employing HOT TIP #004 once again at breakfast with a “Good morning, is this seat taken?” approach, I stumbled across two girls who were living testament to the notion that “age is just a number!”
A 32 year old American girl who still looked like she’d have to show ID to see a scary movie; and an adventurous, tri-lingual 18 year old Canadian with more intelligence, social awareness, and sense than is common to most people twice her age. For the rest of my time in Salzburg we explored together, and I’m sure I will see these two age masters again in the future!
One of the main reasons I love to travel is for the human connections you inevitably make along the way, and backpacker hostels are perfect for that. They offer an eclectic mix of people from all over the world with unique world views, who travel for different reasons, and collectively hold a vast array of stories and experience. However, one thing is generally similar among this assortment of characters: an infectious desire to explore and experience the world in one way or another. Being around other people who are excited about travel and who enjoy experiencing and learning from other places, fuels my own excitement about the What Should Baz Do project.
TO BE CONTINUED…
I’m Going On An Adventure!