I feel glad to be alone here. I’m often at peace, but the calm is especially pronounced as I wind through the Bavarian Alps. The crystal clear water probably splashes clarity.

Talking with some Argentinians in Amsterdam, they find out I’m traveling alone. Then they relinquish a group “awww” and look at me with sad brown eyes, saying preciosa and pobrecita. Poor me, indeed! Achieving my travel dreams whether or not someone will accompany me on them! And then this thing called cultural relativism kicks in: to them, it’s extremely unorthodox for a young blonde woman to go without steady companionship for extended periods of time, especially in foreign places.  But I say in Spanish with that unique Argentine flare as I point to their arguing friends on the street: “the loss is yours, boys, because I’m going where I want to go while you’ll be here, running in circles.” Waiting for others is often a disappointment and a colossal waste of precious time, so I don’t.

Which is why I can cross Konigssee off my bucket list!

The sea foam green rivers run hurriedly as if they have somewhere important to be. The mountain air, crisp and sweet, rejuvenates my lungs and my energy.  My vision is overwhelmed with deep hues of pine and sky. Wherever I end up, it must not be far from Bavaria. If it isn’t Bavaria itself.

I hiked to several summits; I’m paying for it today, but it was worth it – when the trail wasn’t a treacherous mountain ridge lined with innocuous flowers, it was mossy rock scrambles bathed in the occasional ray of sunlight. Each presents its own danger: it is easy to break an ankle or leg there, and the higher you climb, the less people there are to help you. The ridge is precarious for obvious reasons, but at least when you fall to your death you’ll have an amazing last view.

Exhausted visitors remain silent on the return. You can only hear the hum of the engine and the splash of small waves and the occasional refreshing gust of cold air.

Considering this bucket list item has been highly anticipated since last year, it would be improper of me to leave without a keepsake. On a side note, I’m considering starting a collection of “WTF” postcards. Because, honestly, WTF?? I have a new favorite postcard.

If German is the language of love, then Salzburg is the city.

Strike a pose.

Sunset at the Freilassing station.

I can’t believe I’ve neglected the obvious. Recently, I talked about “country shopping”, finding a new home that isn’t New Jersey. And while Austria isn’t new to me, Salzburg is. I’m walking on a foot bridge across the river, and I think: “this is it! I should live here!” Salzburg isn’t too large or too small. The city itself is stunning, the nearby mountains and fields even more so. There’s world class hiking and skiing nearby, and great bars even closer. It’s the kind of place where crickets rattle in tall windswept grass, classical music emanates from undetectable places, and church bells ring softly in the distance. I could live here, I really could. I could play my violin everyday and eat bratwurst with mustard and go on long walks with my dog and learn German and do all sorts of things. Maybe one day soon I’ll call Mozart’s home my own? We’ll see.

Padlocks of love: a worldwide phenomenon finds itself a place in Salzburg. Very cute, but it must be a miserable experience for a person recently heartbroken to walk by their permanent symbol of seemingly everlasting love.

A popular late-night street dinner. The man in front of me asks: “Do you have anything other than pork products?” The woman, busy, stops what she’s doing and says: “No.”

Talented but ignored. Untalented but famous. The world is upside-down, at times.

I return to Salzburg from Konigssee late at night. I hunt for some street food, find it, then plan to walk through the hills to get back to my bed. And then, I hear beautiful music. I’m tired, still hungry, aching from the day, but something propels me forward. I find the end of a dark street, at which point I see hundreds of Austrians viewing an Italian opera on a large screen – a free summer concert! Small children are there, as well as old children. Everyone fixated on the stage and the music. The music echoes against the plaza’s buildings. It is nice to lay on the ground and watch the opera with Salzburg’s famous white castle illuminated on the mountain in the background; it all amounts to be the perfect summer night.

I love you, Austria. I’m sorry I didn’t say it before, because I’ve known it all along ever since you taught me how to ski as a young, new robot, but I’m saying it now, I love you – that’s all that matters, right?