Return to Salzburg, Austria
My favorite aunt (mother to my favorite cousin and grandmother to my favorite 2 year old) returns to Salzburg this week. She elected to take the trip to revisit a place she called home during a college study abroad program some 44years ago. She was a 19 year old girl taking her first trip on a plane, then her first trip overseas (by boat!). Imagine for a moment what it was like not only traveling in 1968, but also preparing for a trip — overseas no less! What a different world. As a biz and leisure traveler, I have come to take certain luxuries for granted, ones that weren’t available all those years ago. So, I am especially excited to take this journey with her. She starts with a retrospective of the original adventure, then will follow up with written snapshots of her 2012 experiences. Bon Voyage, Auntie Teresa! – Love, Valerie Quintanilla (your favorite niece)
By Teresa Kao
Back in 1968 when I was a 19 years old college sophomore, I was privileged to participate in University of Portland’s Salzburg Extension Program. We spent a year abroad, living and taking classes in historic old Haus Wartenberg in Salzburg, Austria. That was 44 years ago. I always intended to go back, but it never happened. In fact not long after returning to Portland I started dreaming about returning to Salzburg. At a certain point in these widely differing dreams, my dream self would say, oh I’m trying to get back to Salzburg. Something was recognizable and deeply compelling about the attempt. I’ve had the dreams for all these 44 years years. Sometimes I get very close or even arrive, but it never looks or feels like the Salzburg I remember. So now that I am 62 years old, I have decided to return to Salzburg and see what is calling to me.
I dug out some souvenirs of that long ago journey. Our group took the ship SS United States across the Atlantic, a five day crossing from New York City to Southampton, UK, followed by a study tour through several countries ending up in Salzburg.
We were instructed to pack everything we thought we’d need for the school year into a steamer trunk and ship it ahead to New York where it would be loaded onto the ship and travel with us as “heavy baggage”.
I still have my trunk down the basement, only a little the worse for wear. Not everybody’s possessions survived the journey. One classmate’s trunk was among those accidentally dropped in the ocean while the ship was being unloaded. In compensation they gave her money to buy an entirely new wardrobe in London!
Each passenger was given a printed booklet with a colorful cover that contained information about where to find what on the ship as well as a list of all passengers.
Planning that trip was a lot different from planning my current trip. Of course I was part of a group, but the entire journey was planned by a travel agent, not over the internet as we do now. When I left Portland, I had never before been away from home, not even to college since my freshmen year at University of Portland was as a day student. I believe the journey from Portland to New York was my first airplane flight. We spent the night in New York, then joined the rest of the group on board. It was a five day journey, not a particularly smooth one, but we arrived at Southampton. Starting in London and through the other cities we visited on that first study tour, I tried to get my bearings. Fortunately most of our time was preplanned with museum visits and lectures, because I had no clue what to do in these strange cities with equally strange currency. Germany was the last stop before ending up in Salzburg – only then did I begin to get out to look around on my own with other students.
This promotional brochure for Salzburg itself was part of the packet we received upon arrival. The print quality was not particularly good, reminding me that this was long before digital printing, when all printing was more trouble and more expensive to do, and how much I take for granted the beautiful graphics surrounding us today. I am very curious to know if the map is still accurate. It seems like it should be, but I will soon find out!
I don’t remember what my impression was of Salzburg upon arrival. Mostly I was glad all the traveling was over. My german was adequate. I looked forward to the experience.
What is different from that experience 44 years ago? I’ve traveled to other places. That’s the biggest difference. I have a sense of how to prepare for a trip abroad, though I haven’t had occasion to travel to a country using Euros, so that will be different. We can plan for ourselves now, using internet facilities. Because flying into Salzburg can be problematic, I will fly into and out of Munich, taking the train to Salzburg. I haven’t spoken German in all that 44 years so must assume it is long gone, that I will be lucky to recognize a word or two.
What DO I expect from this visit? What has been calling to me all this time?I have no idea. My plan is simply to hang out in Salzburg, revisiting the places I saw then. Salzburg is an old city so it probably hasn’t changed much since I was there in 1968-1969. I have definitely changed over these years though I can’t tell you how. I hope that this return to Salzburg will reveal to me some of these changes and I will share them with you in this blog.