Fugen. Venice. Florence.
Our time in Salzburg was short and we woke up Wednesday to rain. So we spent a relaxing morning in the hostel lounge booking stays and transportation for the next leg of our trip before catching a local bus to the meeting point for our blablacar to Innsbruck. Miklos was a courteous driver – carrying two other passengers, a dog, and a chinchilla riding shotgun – and kindly dropped us off at the hostel we had booked in a mountain village just outside the larger city.
I liked the way it smells in Fugen. Like wet earth and mountain air and cow manure. And Salzburg was not small, Fugen is small. Our hostel sat overlooking the village from the edge, making it a whole two second walk to the old town center. Eliska is endearing. Her bubbly, hilarious, and thoughtful personality made us feel instantly at-home and was evident throughout the comfortable and carefully decorated Sonneneck Haus.
We did our first load of much-needed laundry then spent the remainder of Wednesday walking the still-damp, hilly streets of Fugen – after the non-stop all-day rain finally stopped just in time for our arrival. The surrounding mountains made Fugen feel like home, and the striking, seemingly permanent blanket of fog contributed to a dreamy, mystical vibe.
Thursday was for hiking. We took the ski lift up the slopes and hiked a peak our lovely hostel host mapped out for us. We spent five hours getting lost in the mist and heavy fog, surrounded by what we are sure must have been beautifully pristine mountain views. After calling it quits we grabbed groceries and made a warm veggie tomato soup to pair perfectly with probably the thing I will miss most about European cuisine – cheap tasty bread!
Friday we travelled. We took a bus, then a train, then another train to Innsbruck to reach our blablacar that would take us to Venice. A couple hours and no dark grey Citroen later, we took another expensive, but scenic train all the way to Venice. Well, we hopped off early actually, once realizing we were passing through Padova where our air b&b host Maria’s home was, located just outside Venice, saving ourselves another train ticket backtracking to reach our final destination.
Venice was even better than I expected. Though more touristy, as was predicted, even as the day wore on it never ceased to feel like walking through a movie scene, with each street as interesting as the last. We relished our first taste of Italian pizza and spent an effortlessly enjoyable Saturday happily disoriented in the mess of canals and streets strewn across the island.
Sunday we hit the road bright and early via train to Florence. Trains are so nice. It’s amazing how they are exactly where they say they will be when they say they will be there.
Our hostel in Florence was ideally situation within walking distance from the train station and to the main attractions in the city center. Florence, however, was slightly less impressive in my opinion. It might’ve been all the hype, or our limited finances, but I couldn’t help comparing it as even more touristy and crowded, more expensive, dirtier, and less charming. We walked around Florence all day after our arrival on Sunday.
Monday we were more thorough and proper. We climbed the Duomo and toured the Cathedral, Baptistery, and Crypt. We admired Michael Angelo copies, went for round two at a free taste test expo, ate a lot of bread, and drank home-made spritzers with store-bought wine after exhausting our budget.
Yesterday was Tuesday. We awoke at 4:15 to catch our cheap train to Rome where we arrived at our air b&b a bit after 10. Like every other destination thus far, Rome has not been what we expected. But also like the others (except Florence), so far it has been better.