A few weeks ago, when my Dad was still here with me in Germany, he left for a few days to bring a family friend and his family around other cities in Europe. Those were the first few days that I have ever spent completely alone, and it was pretty much a shock to my system. Yes, I do enjoy my time alone when I find myself needing to recalibrate and just breathe. However, I mean it in a way in which I would go for adventures during the day on my own and come home to a warm household, ready to share the joy and excitement in my heart. After all, “Shared happiness is doubled, while shared grief is halved.” When I had 24 hours on my own, days on end, the apartment just grew so cold and foreign.
As I went on with school and after-school adventures during those few days, I found myself feeling gradually drained and downcast as the days blew past. It was as if my spirit left the apartment with my Dad. Calls would leave me teary-eyed, messages would be sprinkled with emojis denoting woe, and every second with the company of none seemed like a millennium to me.
I began to sleep earlier because the time difference renders a pause in any conversation I have with my loved ones (in Singapore). Nighttime is the loneliest, and staying up would only mean acknowledging the reality that I’m on my own.
I began waking up extra early in the morning to watch the sunrise because I know they watched the same sunrise a few hours ago. Sometimes I get jealous that the Sun ‘travels’ to both countries every day and wrap its warm rays around both country’s populace. I wish I could wrap my arms around my loved ones too.
I began rushing to school, never failing to be at least 30 mins early, because I liked the idea of being able to have other thoughts occupy my headspace. I’d rather have the longing to be in the midst of my family muted, for it did no less than bring tears to my eyes.
I began to stay away from my apartment because every corner reminded me of who had been there.
I began to switch the radio on for longer periods of time and adjusted it to the higher volume range because it managed to decrease the audibility of my own thoughts.
I moved my yoga practice to the meadow because interaction with animals and little critters temporarily replaces my need for human company.
I included the lake at the Olympiapark in my running route because I walked that same path with my Dad and it allowed me to recall the conversations we had.
That was until I followed my heart and took the train to be reunited with my Dad in Salzburg. A smile spread of my face as I walked out of the apartment, armed with cherries for the train ride, my trustee camera and a tad bit of homework.
The lady beside me kept looking over her shoulder at me, or rather the cherries I had in my hands. I offered her some and she took them with a huge grin on her face. She was hungry, really really hungry hahahaha she ended up eating 2/3 of the container. Sighpiecherriepie. On the bright and sparkly side, we shared a wonderful conversation about animal exploitation and how Germany has stepped up on animal rights in the recent years. :’) #givesmehope
1 hour 43 minutes later, I arrived at Salzburg Hauptbahnhof and I sped down the escalator beside Gleis 9 (Track 9) to find my Papa waiting right there for me. It was such a beautiful moment for me when I hugged him, and I just. felt. SO. HAPPY!! Just putting it out there that there is scientific research to show this. A good hug is the fastest way for us to get oxytocin flowing in our bodies. Oxytocin, also known as the “love drug”, calms our nervous system and boosts positive emotions.
At that moment, any ounce of negativity I had in my system was completely wiped out.
Happiness is such a magical feeling to possess, and if one can have happiness surface within them without any charge, why not make it a habit to make yourself and those around you happy? Ganz einfach! Life doesn’t have to be as complicated as we sometimes make it out to be. :’)
Upon meeting up with my Dad and his friend’s family, who were absolutely pleasant and lovely, we immediately went about with our plans for the day in Salzburg (literally translating to ‘Salt Castle’ in English). As we walked across one of the bridges (fun fact: almost all of these bridges are ‘lovelock bridges’, with locks locked around the metal netting by lovers *awwwww* :’) and subsequently having the keys thrown into the river to lock their love forever.) over the Salzach River which runs through Salzburg, I couldn’t help but notice this group of youngsters literally living life on the edge.
I recently did something like this on the edge of Dachau Palace in Dachau, and I remember the adrenaline rush, fear and excitement that surged through me.
Q(uentin): “I feel my heart beating in my chest.”
Margo: “That’s how you should feel your whole life.”
– Paper Towns by John Green
I’m not saying that one needs to put oneself in danger* to feel alive, but rather do something that fears you (while having things under control at all times) to get your heart beating outrageously and your mind conditioned into thinking that fears can be conquered and that life can be lived to the fullest if you are brave enough to let yourself do so. I believe that it is only through such ways that one will slowly realise that life doesn’t constrain anyone – the only thing that stops any of us from truly living is ourselves.
*Disclaimer: It was dangerous, yes, but I had it under control.
Our day went on as follows:
We visited the Salzburger Dom, otherwise known as the Salzburg Cathedral.
“It is the seventeenth-century Baroque cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Salzburg in the city of Salzburg, Austria, dedicated to Saint Rupert and Saint Vergilius. Founded by Saint Rupert in 774 on the remnants of a Roman town, the cathedral was rebuilt in 1181 after a fire. In the seventeenth century, the cathedral was completely rebuilt in the Baroque style under Prince-Bishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau to its present appearance.
The finished church is 466 feet (142 metres) long and 109 feet (33 metres) high at the crossing/dome.
Salzburg Cathedral still contains the baptismal font in which composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was baptised.”
Fun fact: Mozart’s birthday is a day after mine!
It was a beautifully built cathedral with mesmerising architecture and absolutely breath-taking artwork. What struck me as most remarkable, mind-blowing and slightly incomprehensible was the fact that there were no cranes or any other mega construction machineries for that matter in Germany during this period, and yet they managed to achieve such a great feat with the help of ladders and suspension systems. This entire project took decades, considering the amount of detail that had to go into it AND the inefficiency of the working conditions – these are exactly what makes the construction all the more special, don’t you think? The human touch is present within these walls! I actually had a neck ache after walking through the cathedral because I was looking upwards for majority of the time – I mean, how could I not? Look at the magnificence of the ceiling! The artwork was different in every room/ hall and I just could not let myself miss out on taking every inch of beauty that this cathedral had to offer. :’)
I was initially a little bitter about how they would commercialise a private and religious location for Catholics for tourism, however it was heartening to find out that respect for the religion and its followers was nevertheless maintained and areas of worship were cordoned off from the public and privatised.
Festung Hohensalzburg, otherwise known as Hohensalzburg Fortress/ Castle, was next on the list.
“It sits atop the Festungsberg, a small hill in Salzburg. Erected at the behest of the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg with a length of 250 m (820 ft) and a width of 150 m (490 ft), it is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. Hohensalzburg Castle is situated at an altitude of 506 m. During the early 20th century it was used as a prison, holding Italian prisoners of
war during World War I and Nazi activists (before the Anschluss with Germany) in the 1930s.
Hohensalzburg Castle was refurbished from the late 19th century onwards and became a major tourist attraction with the Festungsbahn cable car, opened in 1892, leading up from the town to the Hasengrabenbastei. It stands today as one of the best-preserved castles in Europe.”
*The cable car has since been replaced with a railway system (funicular) which consists of a ca. 500m railway track from the bottom of the heal to the peak.
The picture above was the view we were granted upon riding to the top of the hill using the Festungsbahn rail system. It surprised me to note that despite the steep inclination of the hill, the tram managed to bring us to the peak at an astounding speed. The experience was
simply amazing, and to be rewarded such a fantastic view of Salzburg from the top was the icing on the cake. I could see the mountains from miles and miles away, and I was left speechless at the grandiosity and majesties of Mother Earth. :’)
This was a café we sat at for afternoon tea! It was 41.2°C that day and all we could think about was to hydrate ourselves. I had Herbal tea! It warmed my system up significantly at first, and it probably was a mistake, but herbs can refresh one’s system and that’s all I really needed at the mercy of the Austrian Summer heat.
We also visited Salzburger Altstadt and Getreidegasse.
“The charm of the Getreidegasse, probably Salzburg’s most famous Shopping lane, is not only generated by the high, narrow houses tightly nestled together, the enticing shops and the wrought iron guild signs, but also to the romantic passageways and courtyards. The name “Getreidegasse” underwent an interesting transformation. Initially it was known as Trabegasse, Trabgasse or Travgasse, derived from “traben” (to trot). Later it transmuted to Tragasse, Traidgasse, Getreidgasse and finally to Getreidegasse. Thus, the street originally had nothing to do with cereal (Getreide).”
The fountain in the centre of the picture consists of 4 or 5 horse statues and what is quirky about it is that the water spouts out from its nostrils and mouths hahaha it certainly was a sight!
The picture above was taken at the entrance Mozart’s Geburthshaus (birthplace), and if you look closely on the right side, you’d notice some wires strung on the wall. Those were used in the past to carry up and lower down items in baskets, e.g. food, newspaper, letters, etc. It’s pretty cool how they kept it till this day for us to witness the mode of delivery in the past. 🙂
Inside the Geburtshaus, we were fed tons of information about Mozart’s upbringing, his career, his parents, his own family, his work partners, und so weiter. They documented EVERYTHING about Mozart, even how the shape of his ear differed from the norm, how only one of his sons inherited it and how this particular son had amazing discernment for the different musical notes, just like his father – it was concluded that this special shape of Mozart’s ear was what allowed him to be the prodigy that he was.
A picture of my favourite bakery in Salzburg!
This is ART – simply out of this world. It was unfortunately closed by the time we reached (5.12pm). It was a Saturday and shops in Europe close around 4-5pm on Saturday before having a compulsory day off on Sunday. This is how it should be!
CAFÉ TOMASELLI!! Every time I walk past this very café, I can’t help but think about how remarkable it is to have survived more than 2 centuries in this very location – since 1703! Once could conclude that this café is a landmark in Salzburg.
Ending off this post with beautiful Schloss Mirabell, otherwise known as Mirabell Castle. In English, a Mirabell is known as a Mirabelle Plum – yellow or orange, succulent and fresh! How wonderful is it that a castle was named after a fruit!
Statues as regal as this one peppered the entirety of the castle grounds and walking through the Orangerie felt akin to walking through a museum.
The Marble Hall, formerly the prince-archbishops’ ballroom and concert venue for Leopold Mozart and his children, Wolfgang (Amadeus Mozart) and Nannerl, is considered to be one of the “most beautiful wedding halls in the world”. I’d reckon that this couple captured in the picture has plans to use The Marble Hall for their special day. Aww how blessed is this couple to be able to have their wedding AND get their wedding photos taken at such a spectacular historical location. :’) Simply wonderful!
I chanced upon this cutie who was clearly in love with the idea of bubbles – GIANT ones. The lady (she wasn’t the little boy’s mother) was using a special contraption, consisting of two ropes with its ends tied to a stick each, to create the bubbles amidst the Orangerie. She wasn’t paid to do so, I found out that she did it just to see the cheeky grins on people’s faces when they’d witness the forming, floating and bursting of bubbles – bringing out the kid in them once again. Isn’t it lovely how she’d take time off her day to bring happiness to others, just like how she did for this boy? :’)
“I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful — an endless prospect of magic and wonder.” — Ansel Adams
As I sit here in my study room, listening to the raindrops on my window and reminiscing about all the heart-warming moments I had experienced in the past, I begin to think about the special ones in my life.
I miss you all dearly.
I just thought I’d let you know that I’m doing well and that I’ve learned how to handle living on my own. It became less difficult once I realised that I didn’t have to have you all physically by my side if I simply acknowledged the fact that all of your spirits have been in my heart all along – that you’ll all always be with me, wherever I or you may be.