Once Upon a Time…

There was once a young woman named Mandi who decided to have the adventure of a lifetime in Salzburg, Austria.

The other day in German class, our activity was to write a fairy tale (Marchen) in German. Knowing how utterly obsessed I am with fairy tales, you can imagine that I threw myself into this one wholeheartedly! I loved my fairy tale so much, I copied it down in calligraphy in my art journal.

Spending a few minutes doing this, I had fairy tales on the brain!

So much of my journey in Salzburg so far has been like something out of a fairy tale.


First, my little red bike. Have you EVER seen anything so cute? Frau Blagojevic had this waiting for me on my first day in Austria. It even has a bell—and a light! I feel like the most adorable, romantic, classic girl riding that thing.


Mirabell Gardens… wow. How can I even begin to describe how gorgeous this little spot is. The castle itself is gorgeous, but I have had so much joy from just sitting in the park, eating my lunch or reading a book. It is unbelievable to me that this place is open to me every day, and that I can just walk casually into such beauty anytime I wish. Being there makes me feel like a princess.


One Saturday I took a day-trip to the small town of Seeham to visit the “Handkunstwerks Markt”—the Austrian handmade arts market! I walked around (in the rain) for hours, speaking with a million interesting people and learning their stories. Artists are some of the most intriguing people in the world, no?


I also met a friend—a delightful girl named Sigrid who works with her father, a glass-blower, and attends school in Ophthalmology in the city. We enjoyed a delightful afternoon today at the Salzburg Festung (fortress)!


Last weekend, my dear friend Morgan and I took a nice evening out together. We first had dinner at a “fancy” restaurant in town, where I tried my first authentic Wiener Schnitzel. Of course I loved it. We enjoyed a delightful four course meal, and then headed out to a Jazz Club in town!


This place holds a happy space in my heart. We got to “Jazz It”—a small music venue with a seemingly-punny name—around 9:30, and were some of the only people there. Before long, though, we struck up conversations with some very interesting people.

While gems from the American songbook soothed our ears, we watched as several accomplished couples got up to swing-dance. I struck up a conversation with one of the girls, and she has become one of my first Austrian friends! Her name is Sybille—how beautiful.

A couple hours into the evening, after speaking for a while with a nice German boy, I got the pleasure of swing-dancing myself! He took me onto the floor and showed me the steps, and I couldn’t help smiling as he twirled me and led me into the music. I will probably never see him again, but those moments were so fantastic.


Austrian pastry tasting… sitting in a small cafe, sipping Apfelsaft Gespritzt and Hot Schokolade, tasting five different Austrian pastries… what’s not to love?? This was a fairy tale for my taste buds.


However, there is a reason that fairy tales aren’t true– some things invariably make life harder.

  • After walking miles every day, my feet were literally bruised. I didn’t feel much like a princess walking up hundreds of steep steps visiting castles with aching feet. No wonder the princesses were always so slim—if you live in a castle, you must climb a billion steps every day!
  • At one point, I was tricked by a couple on the bus. They spoke nicely with me, and then ended up begging for money. I was so angry, I had to have a come-to-jesus in the grocery store.
  • Rain. Enough said.
  • Fatigue, mild illness, and poor sleep follow the anxious traveler like the plague! I am trying very hard to give myself enough sleep, good food, and rest. It’s so hard when there are mountains to climb, sights to see, and people to meet!
  • Funny story: I ordered my first authentic Austrian beer at that club. After explaining to the bartender that I didn’t like beer but wanted to try, I was handed a “Radler”—a supposedly delightful mix of beer, soda water, and orange juice. Can I just say that was the most disgusting thing I have tasted in a long time.

Yet, these little things seem to make the fairy tale all the more real to me. The perfect moments of bliss are even brighter when they come after moments of frustration or exhaustion.

And, if you know anything about the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales, you know that all is not peaches and cream as Disney would like us to believe!


One final story:

I came to Austria wishing to find a beautiful copy of the original Bruders’ Grimm Marchen in German, so that I could one day read them with some fluency in their original language! I have looked in many bookstores already, without result.

Sybille, whom I met at “Jazz It,” happened to work at a beautiful bookstore! I visited her there this week, and she had a stack of Grimm books behind the desk waiting for me to peruse. I chose one, and immediately took it with me to my favorite spot in Mirabell. There I sat, enjoying the sunshine, reading my Marchen softly aloud to myself, while I listened to the gentle tones of a street-harpist.

Some fairy tales are indeed real.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *