On our 10th anniversary, I bought my wife a hot dog.
Now ladies, don’t break out the “what a cheapskate” pitchforks and torches just yet, there’s more to the story.
After all, it was a pretty good hot dog. It came highly recommended, and true to form, it was quite juicy and had little hints of cheese embedded in its various bites. I too, had a tasty one, it was a spicy/garlicky dog and if anything I liked it even better. Then, to top it off, we shared a slice of Sachertorte we’d picked up the night before. What’s an anniversary without a bit of cake to celebrate?
Still not impressed? Still sharpening up those pitchfork tines?
Well, there are those who say this is important, and there’s even a famous adage: location, location, location. In this case the location was sitting on the steps of a cathedral, looking out over a European open air market. On the other side of the plaza was our lunchtime view; the birthplace and childhood home of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. For our anniversary, we treated ourselves to a trip to Europe.
We had arrived in Salzburg, Austria that morning, and were met by a local guide at the Mirabell Palace gardens. The palace had been built by Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau in 1606 for his mistress, Salome Alt. Raitenau didn’t let his status as the catholic archbishop of Salzburg slow down his love life any, he and Salome had 15 children together.
The gardens have an unusual effect; they cause some of the visitors to break into song, specifically a tune from The Sound of Music. It was here that Maria taught the Von Trapp children to sing “Do-Re-Mi” while dancing around the horse fountain and other parts of the garden. Here too I failed my bride; I did not caper around the fountain or do-re-mi her ala Von Trapp, so I did not elicit laughter from her or strange looks from the locals.
From here we ventured on into the old town part of Salzburg.
Guides are both a blessing and a curse. When they take you around to the highlights and fill you in on the history, they add a nice flavor to what you’re seeing – it becomes more than an anonymous group of buildings with no backstory. But try remembering what they said two months later! (Or maybe it’s just my memory approaching geezerhood that’s the curse). I’m sure we were told lots of wonderful things about old Salzburg, but the only thing that stuck was that the local big cheeses liked the large plazas they saw in Italy, and opted to create a similar feel in Salzburg. Once the spiel was finished, we were cut loose for a few hours and we had the chance to check out both the more crowded sections of old town and the larger plazas.
Maybe it’s not a coincidence that the more crowded areas were also the areas that had the most shopping and the narrowest streets. But we weren’t here for crowds or shopping, it was time for lunch. So off we went, in search of that artery clogging hot dog, and our fated lunch appointment on the steps of the University Church.
After our repast, having no particular place to go apart from our meeting place three hours hence, we meandered aimlessly around the old section of town, looking to see what we would see. From just about anywhere we went, one thing we did see was the Hohensalzburg Castle.
One of the more interesting encounters was a street performer of the human statue caste. This fellow was not trying to be dead still, in fact he was actively giving candy to the kids, and selling postcards and photo ops. But it was his platform that was truly unique – he gave the distinct impression of floating on thin air!
We eventually tired of our aimless amble and decided to head off to MozartPlatz and kill some time with a cup of tea at one of the outdoor cafes before our group meetup for the return to the hotel. I had a cup of Chai Latte, and must admit it was possibly the best I’ve ever had. Think and mentally taste – rich, frothy, creamy flavors, redolent with cloves.
For our evening excursion we attended a farmhouse dinner out in the Austrian countryside. We started off with a tour of the barn, and a welcome shot of homemade schnapps. It was potent and eye watering. (The aroma of manure more than the schapps.) The farm had about 20 cows, a couple of donkeys, several goats, pigs, and of course those cute bunnies that led off this post.
Our dinner began with bread and a plate of various tasty cheeses. For the main course, we had roasted pork with carrots and potatoes, swimming in a nice brown gravy. We finished with a traditional Bavarian dessert. Homemade apple juice and wine finished the menu. Everything was homemade, homegrown, and organic. Our farm hosts were genial and welcoming, it was clear they wanted our group to have a good time. While we didn’t share the fact of our anniversary with the group, it gave the dinner a little extra enjoyment to my wife and me.
Although 10 years is a nice milestone, is it important what we did or what gifts we might share on that particular day? In the big scheme of things, maybe not so much.
What is important is that after 10 years of marriage, plus a few warm up years before that, my wife and I still love each other. That we’re still best friends. That despite being joined at the hip for all that time, we still want to do things together, be they as grand as taking in the view from the top of a Swiss alp, or as simple as sitting on some steps and sharing a hot dog.