HALLSTATT TO SALZBURG  We left the youth hostel at 9:30 and went up to the little church perched on the edge of the lake with a huge granite cliff behind it. As with all Austrian churches, the tiny graveyard was beautifully kept, with ornate wooden headpieces and bright colourful flowers. At the back of the graveyard was a small stone hut with  grizzly contents. Because the graveyard is so small, every 25 years all of the graves are exhumed and the skulls, arm bones and femurs are placed in this tiny mausoleum. The piles of bones along three walls of the charnel house and the skulls arranged on top of them were a grizzly yet melancholy sight: endlessly staring out across the lake.

We caught the Post Bus down to Bad Ishel then another down to Salzburg. At the Bahnhof an Aussie girl gave us directions to the International Youth Hostel: a laid-back, boozy backpackers not far from the station. We checked in there and put our stuff in the dormitory then indulged in a very cheap beer in the bar.

We had arranged with Rebecca to try and meet up in Salzburg so after we had finished our beers we set off to try and find out where among the city’s seven youth hostels she was staying.  After a bit of a search we found out that she was staying in the Main Hostel on the other side of the Old City. We crossed the river and in the centre of the old town was a large square with an imposing Gothic-style Church and the ubiquitous statue of Mozart at the centre of a smaller adjoining square. Eventually, we found the large hospital-like hostel where she was staying. She’d gone out for the day but had left us a message to contact her so we left a return message suggesting that we should meet up tomorrow and hire bikes for the day.

We took a different route back, following the narrow streets at the foot of the huge cliffs upon which the castle of Salzburg’s olden days was built. We sat in the square on the Eastern side of the church and watched a game of chess being played with outsized pieces on a grid painted on the footpath. The square was full of an interesting mixture of drunks, tourists, punks and locals.

Dinner that night was at a joint called Pizza Land then we went back to the hostel to try and ring home. The best way to do this was to ring home and give the hostel’s number and ask to be rung back. So, I rang Joe (waking him up at 7AM New Zealand time!) gave him the number of the hostel and waited for him to ring back. After a while I hadn’t heard anything so I rang him again and told him to get hold of the dialling code for Salzburg and try again. Ten minutes later he managed to get through and we delivered the news that Linda and I were engaged. I asked him to ring Linda’s mother, Helen, and give her the number of the hostel and try to ring us as well. Not long after Joe rang off, the phone rang again and this time it was Helen so we conveyed the same news to her. She said it was about time!!

About half an hour later we were sitting in the bar having a beer when another call came through for Linda. It was her best friend Pippa…news travels fast!! 

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