4 AUSTRIA, PART FOUR:
Six of us reconvene in the heart of town for dinner at a restaurant which Elfi sought out because it had a piano Alas, the instrument was in terrible shape; many of the keys did not work at all. This proved insufferable… After a few token attempts at “Du Liebst Mir im Herzen” and Beethoven’s “Pathetique” Sonata,” yours truly retired from the keyboard station. Elfi registered her complaint to an apparently oblivious waitress (how do you say, “Whatever…” in German?), and we resigned ourselves to dinner without musical accompaniment. You can tell when you are at a really good, but only-for-locals, restaurant when the menu is only in the native language. Unfortunately this meant I was constantly asking for translations. My “Medallions of –something that starts with a letter ‘Z’” was appreciated largely for the accompanying Gemuse (vegetables); a highlight was the dessert: a small mound of chocolate cake with chocolate sauce served with whipped cream, the name of which, “Mohr im Hemd” translates as “Moor in a Jacket” (or perhaps ‘Othello in a Tux?’).
After about 2 ½ hours we dragged our way out of the restaurant – no one wanted to part such good company. Genuine, gently-sad farewells were shared all around – even between Marta and Elmo.
Monday 11 May – today I’ll be heading back to Salzburg (and then on to Interlaken/Switzerland to reconnect with Dr.Kataria). A phone call from Aron reveals that several of our gang from the “Lehrpfad” in the forest found ticks on their bods, and there is a concern here about a form of encephalitis from tick bites. I dash to the bathroom but see no sign of the irritating critters on my person.
Inspired by the Elmo-attachment which Marta had shown, Elfi and I search “eBay Austria” for Elmo’s, but they have only the hand puppets here. I find one (that actually laughs) on “eBay USA” and have just enough time to send a message to the seller to ask the cost of shipping to Austria. But then I have to head out for the train station. I retrace my voyage of two days ago, riding back through the Alps to Salzburg. Thanks again, Eurail Pass, for the “First Class” compartment - with the electrical hook-up.
We’re getting some substantial rain now… Hahahahaha!
Back in Salzburg, Wolfgang and I drive over to the Mirabell Gardens (made immensely famous in the film “The Sound of Music”) and despite the occasional globs of rain Elmo receives a lot of camera attention – also the adoration of a sizeable pack of Italian schoolkids (around age 12-14). Another young lad nearly ran off with my puppet… I think they would go absolutely nuts if this one actually “worked” and romped around on the ground laughing. Maybe next year I’ll fill up my backpack with some functioning Elmo’s, show ‘em around Europe and drive the natives wild.
For the evening, Margit is off to choir practice. Wolfgang makes us a chicken dinner with the most incredibly delicious stuffing. We chat about family and travels – his English is good but he reliably mixes up his prepositions (always the hardest part of almost all languages). “The next time we come back in Vienna… We had a wonderful evening from the party… Once of a sudden…” I am so grateful for his kind and concerted effort to speak “my” native language, I haven’t the heart to nitpick and correct his grammar; it just takes a little extra effort to understand him. But this is nothing compared to the tremendous effort it takes to try to understand the people who are speaking entirely in German, as I pick up perhaps one word in ten (and often confuse the word they really said with the word I think it is – or WISH it was!). This does get tiring after a while. Margit returns after 10pm and we chit-chat for awhile then all head to bed: “Schlaff, schnell!” (sleep, quickly!). In the morning we must return to the train station for my trip to Interlaken.
Preparing to sleep, I find a tick on my left upper thigh – a gift from the woods outside Graz. Aargh! This awareness makes it challenging to meditate, but I am resolved to continue my trip. On the train platform Margit and I bump into Gabi (from Braunau) who is likewise on her way to Interlaken. Her ticket is in the 2nd class compartment (lucky girl!); I promise to meet up with her later. Once settled in to my seat I telephone Aron on my Handy (cellphone) and learn the scoop on the tick situation: if I get a bad headache in 8 days, go to the doctor; if I have redness/swelling in 14+ days, dash to the doc. Avoiding treatment could result in partial paralysis! For the time being, I am content to keep an eye out for symptoms – and definitely see an M.D. when I get back to the USA. I have too many wonderful projects to complete (like the videos on “Laughing while Driving” and “Laughing in Public Places”) to let a little thing like paralysis slow me down!