Adventures in Salzburg Austria: Going back to Haus Wartenberg
By Teresa Kao, guest blogger
Sleep, it turns out, is a magical thing. I was so sore and tired last night that I doubted if I could even get out of bed this morning, but amazingly I felt vastly better so set off for my original Salzburg home, Haus Wartenberg. I had intended to take the route we used back then, that goes through a rather terrifying tunnel through the Monschberg and ends up in old town but Google Maps suggested a different route that was shorter and looked simpler. Ha ha ha, everything would be simpler if there were street signs but with so few it is very easy to get lost, which I did, but not seriously so. My mistake gave me the chance to walk through the medical school campus.
I thought my sons (two Dr. Kaos) Dave and Dan (I list them in order of birth, not preference) would enjoy that! The internet says this medical school only started in 2003 but something has been here a long time because I remembered walking around and seeing many, though not all those buildings back in my time. There are many branches of the University of Salzburg distributed around town, so maybe it was originally one of those branches because I definitely remember students with books.
Reidenburgerstrasse is more heavily traveled than it was, and the homes have been spruced up. They are and were quite large. They don’t look like multi-family dwellings but are a lot of room for one family. The gasthof (German-style inn or tavern with a bar, a restaurant, banquet facilities and hotel rooms for rent) that was just down the street, where the old men sat for hours putting those iron rods in their beers to heat them is gone. The snack of choice was black bread with grease (instead of butter) onto which you put salt and pepper. It was surprisingly good. When we went to that gasthof for beer, the regulars tolerated us by mostly ignoring us. I haven’t seen any of these kind of gasthofs this trip. They also had a few rooms for rent. Maybe that very low key style can’t exist in today’s world.
I tried to look up beer warmers on the internet to find a picture but didn’t find any of the old kind. Apparently now they use a metal tube filled with warm water. NOT the same at all!
I arrived at Haus Wartenberg with the oddest feeling. Yes, it was the same house, more spruced up in fact. Same color scheme outside. The ground floor that had been dining room and living room to us was now all restaurant. The proprietor (who was in a rush to go pick up her kids at school) invited me to wander around. That dining room brought back vivid memories. As my many of my friends and family know, I am a slow eater, and since we were served family style, I never got a chance for that second helping! The living room was a congregating place. Waiting for the mailman, talking, occasionally there would be a big party. I remember especially the one before the Vienna Opera Ball. We had all learned to waltz for the occasion. I didn’t attend the ball but learning to waltz was neat. So this party was to practice dancing in whatever fancy clothes we could dig up! We invited friends of the house to this function. Everybody looked so pretty!
Not everything went smoothly at the Haus. That was one reason why I didn’t want to stay there during my visit. TOO many memories. Also the rooms are all on the second and third floors and I have trouble with steps, especially these steps. Being an old house there are many uneven places inside and out, and I tend to trip.
I had a delicious lunch out in the garden. It was nice to see that this old house had a new chapter to its story. I took a picture of what had been my room and wondered who has it now.
When we lived there, the University of Portland rented part of the house from Baronin Wachter. She lived in the other half. I remember her very well though not as a friend or anything, just that she owned the house and looked very stern most of the time. The story was that her husband had been a nazi officer. There was a great deal of vagueness about what exactly he did and where and when and how he died. When I saw this painting, I recognized the Baronin immediately! Haus Wartenberg is being operated as a hotel by her grandson and wife! I’m impressed that they have taken this on and are doing such a good job. From what I see, the big hotel chains have taken over many of the hotels and they have so much more capital with which to fix things up. The Wachter family has a big job on their hands.
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