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Salzburg - August 2007

Today, I am off to Salzburg Austria to Check out an international wheelchair tennis tournament and check in on a booth space that one of the companies, Lasher Sport, has at the tournament as well. I am taking the train from Lausanne, Switzerland where I am staying with a good friend for a while. Getting on the train in Lausanne goes well. I get my ticket and make my way to the platform where I am greeted by one of the staff with their lift to help me on. The first train takes me to Zurich where I change trains with a bit of a layover. I meet an older couple from Australia as they remark about the Australian flag patch on my pack. It is amazing those little conversations with random people that brighten your day.

The view from the train is incredible as I make my way from Zurich towards Salzburg. Somewhere outside of Salzburg they are working on the tracks so the train stops at a different station and the entire train’s passengers are off loaded and put on buses to take us past the construction and onto another train to take us to our final destination. This was the most well-orchestrated and organized transition I have ever been a part of. It was flawless in every transition on and off from each train and bus. I am thoroughly impressed.

The hills on the way into Salzburg, I later found out, were actually the scenes from the movie “The Sound of Music”. I had remarked at how beautiful the lush, green rolling hills were. No wonder they opted to film a movie there.

Once off my last train, I took a cab to the hotel and dropped my bags. The hotel was a decent walk from the tennis club where the tournament was being held, but I was up for the fresh air. I met up with the owner of Tappe, one of the main sponsors of the tournament and also a medical supply company looking to sell the Lasher Sport wheelchair line.

I found that most spoke an Austrian dialect of German, but quite a few spoke English, even if it was a bit broken. This made it a lot easier for me as my German is pretty non-existent.

I had a great lunch of sausage and pretzels in the gravel café at the tennis club with a few of the competitors. The tournament was a lot of fun. There were some amazing athletes including some of the top 5 in the world. The Salzburg Tennis Club was very accessible, but with only one disable toilet for everyone it made for some long lines at times. Both of the days of the tournament I had the pleasure of pushing down a nice bike path that went along the Salzach River to the tennis club each way.

I had a blast at the tournament and made many new friends. One of which offered me a place to crash if I wanted to extend my stay. I thought this was a great idea and took her up on her offer. She had an apartment not too far from the tennis club as that was where she worked as a waitress most of the time. She was also a nanny as well part time.

I now had a great tour guide as well and we spent a good amount of time exploring the city. Katerina gave me a great history lesson on the city of Salzburg and was very knowledgeable about the city. The Old Town was a lot of shops with cafes all over and was really quite accessible. The shops had maybe one step in as a normal. There were some slight hills in scattered places around the city, but all in all it was quite flat.

One night we stopped into O’Malley’s Irish Pub on the river in the Old Town area. This was a great little spot with old pub-style decorating and cool stained glass at the back of the bar. The bathrooms were tight and I couldn’t close the door, but no worries. And they were 2 steps down, but the bouncers were very helpful. A couple of pints of Guinness and laughs with friends is a good night in my book.

The next day, Katerina and I took the funicular, or cable car, up to the Hohensalzburg Castle. At the ticket counter the lady had said it was “going to be very expensive” for us to go up to the castle. I didn’t quite get the joke until she handed me our tickets and didn’t charge either of us. Everything was very accessible getting up to the castle, but once up there we couldn’t enter unless cat was willing to piggy-back me up the long flight of stairs into the interior of the walls. We could, however get to the nice little café there in the main area that had a large terrace where we had a good coffee and gazed at the incredible view over the city and of the hills.

After our trip back down the mountain to the city we wandered around even more of the city streets. I am amazed at the old architecture and the ornate designs all over the city, even seeing the old horse baths near the cliff edge bordering the back of the city. This is such a beautiful city!

Over a couple of the days it was cold and rainy with some hail even falling. I of course, opted to stay inside for those days..

For dinner one night we ventured out to the ZipferBierHaus for a good local dish of sausages and potatoes. The potato soup was very warming and helped dry me off from the incessant rain. I had to use the public handicap toilet across the street, which I didn’t find any issue in. In fact, I found it quite refreshing that they even had one available..

On a nice and sunny Sunday a group of us gathered and headed out to the Salzburg Zoo. This was an awesome zoo, located in the hills which made for a tough push, but most of the paths were paved. And, for only 2.60 euro, you can’t beat it. We even had lunch at a cool restaurant in the zoo and fed the local ducks wandering around the café area.

Right near the zoo were the Hellbrunn gardens surrounding an amazing mansion. These hidden gardens are a must of you go to Salzburg! It is very accessible even with all the gravel paths and disabled toilets in a few spots to boot.

Finally, I had to call it a day, so to speak and the next day I took a train on to the next destination. This is yet another time where it is good to be flexible in your travel plans and willing to make new friends. It makes for an experience you might not have never had.