Eis, Eis, Baby!

Trip Start Jun 21, 2008
Trip End Aug 03, 2008

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Breakfast - my experiments with different food mixtures continue - canned pineapple, yogurt, and muesli.  We have another winner!  Too bad they didn't have any chocolate cereal to throw into the mix ... I also ate the usual vast amount of mundane breakfast foods, and again, felt sick after. 

But I felt better after a group of senoritas sat down for breakfast - OK, everyone has heard me rave about how naturally beautiful Spanish women are, and today was a perfect example.  One particular senorita was in her pajamas, hair in a ponytail, no makeup, and had obviously just rolled out of bed.  Yet she was still as stunning as when I first saw her in the hostel last night!!! 

Of course, it's possible that it's all a lie perpetrated by Spanish senoritas - maybe they all actually get up at 5 AM and spend three hours every morning to make themselves look so beautiful!  And it's a good thing that they seem to be immune from having "morning voices" - their voices are still sweet, and still sound like a choir of angels and doves singing in heavenly, harmonious unison ... yes, I know - I have a problem, and should seek professional help ...

Disturbing moment at breakfast - this giant fly landed on my table, reared up on its hind legs, stared at me, and started rubbing its arms together.  It looked like it was readying to attack me, it was grotesque!  It made it into my top three repulsive insect travel moments of all time (see blog entry entitled "Is that a cockroach, or a small dog?" http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/pwong/canaries-2007/1198797120/tpod.html?tweb_UID=pwong, and entry entitled "Halfway home and another year closer to death" http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/pwong/europe_2006/1157273400/tpod.html?tweb_UID=pwong).

It was another long train day - almost a seven hour journey, including three changes.  Having a first class rail pass is nice on a busy day like today, because second class was almost full.  I do prefer sitting in second class, however, because there are more backpackers that you can chat up, and first class isn't sufficiently comfortable to be worth paying an extra 50% over the second class fare.

I changed trains in the Munich station, and purchased a crappy fish sandwich that was NOT Nordsee-quality.  I didn't realize at the time, but the worker (who I shall now refer to as Evil Fishmonger) gave me a crappy, unfresh sandwich that was in the back, not the delicious-looking fresh ones at the front of the display case.  Evil Fishmonger, why did you do that to me?  

Another change of trains in Salzburg - it's funny, because I remember the train station, but not really the town, itself.  Sometimes European travel is just a blur!  This girl I boarded the train with asked if I could help put her rather-large bag up on the luggage rack.  I told her not to worry, I could do it without her help, but she insisted.  It's a good thing she did, otherwise I would've dropped it on her head!  It was full of textbooks!

I was quite surprised to find out that she's from Buenos Aires, because she has a European accent that sounds nothing like a Spanish one.  She's of Italian descent, and going to Welz to study to become an opera singer.  Turns out her name is Virginia, the second one I've met in two days!  Perhaps it's a sign that I need to start stalking a European girl named Virginia, and stop stalking a Spanish one named Isabel ... Having not spoken Spanish in a long time, it was very good to practice to chat with her for the 45 minute ride to Attnang-Puccheim.  But it totally put me in a Spanish frame of mind, and I almost said "excuse me" in Spanish to an Austrian guy as I got off the train. 

Attnang-Puccheim - hot, probably almost 30 degrees.  Everything was closed at the station, which is unusual, even though it was Sunday - usually something is open at the train station.  I definitely could have used a drink.  The final train to Hallstatt - beautiful scenery, but it was unpleasant because there was almost no airflow in the car, even though almost all the windows were open.  The heat was making me pass out ... I couldn't wait to get out of there - I was stuck on trains all day and was very restless.  It was one of those days where you wonder "why did I buy these tight boxers in Holland, and not the larger ones??

Finally, we arrived at the Hallstatt train station - but the journey wasn't quite over yet.  The actual town is a short ferry ride across the lake.  Having run out of water long ago, my first stop in town was the kebab joint for an iced tea.  At first I thought the guy said it cost 4.50 Euros, but it was only 1.50 Euros.  

I checked in at the Gasthof Simony, a neat guesthouse that feels like an old granny's home.  Hallstatt is actually one of Europe's oldest towns, and the Hallstatt era (running from 800 to 400 BC) is actually named after the town.  Hallstatt has always been famous for salt mining. 

First up - the Catholic Church and Bone Chapel - boring.  There are lots of strange bugs buzzing around town - I think they're flies, but their appearance mimics bees.  I walked around town and came across a stall selling baked goods and candies.  I tried some almond meringue candy and accidentally ingested some of the styrofoam wrap that it was made on.  Mmmm ... I also had a cookie that seemed to be half shortbread/half cake, with slivered almonds and jam.  Very soft, I kind of liked it.  I had wanted to have an early dinner, but this cookie filled me up - I didn't realize that it was two cookies sandwiched together; I thought it was just the top half. 

Dinner was a kebab - blah!  Bad sauce, and it was served in a big hot dog bun.  It was nice to eat it on the lake, however.  Not feeling very full, I went back to the kebab shop for some awesome fries.  They were twice fried, the secret to good french fries - incredibly crisp, and when you bit into them, they exploded into a powdery puff of potato ecstasy.  Unfortunately, they were a bit salty. 

Off for some eis, German ice cream.  I love the name - it sounds so forbidden, like an illegal drug "Hey man ... wanna buy some eis?"  I tried the panna cotta at Giovanni Eis - I was worried that it couldn't approximate the taste of panna cotta, but it was very close.  It had the same creamy, rich depth that panna cotta has, and almost felt the same as when panna cotta melts in your mouth.  Wow!

Overall, it was a quiet night - it's a peaceful little town, and I'll most likely be pretty bored here tomorrow.  I'm going to have a hectic final week coming up, so maybe it's good to have some time to relax.  I am getting a little bored and homesick in all these small towns - it's time to hit up some bigger cities! 
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