Posted by: ourtravelingcircus | June 16, 2010

The royal welcome

We had a four hour wait in Salzburg before our bus for St. Martin left. It was over 90 degrees, we were completely jet lagged, and we all felt irritable and disoriented. There are only three buses to St. Martin per day on Saturdays, so it was very important that we not miss the last one. Tim sat at the bus stop with all the luggage, and the kids and I went to the grocery store to shop for provisions for the weekend. Stores close at five on Saturday night and aren’t open again until Monday morning. We tried to get enough to last until Monday without overloading, because we would still have to wrangle the luggage as well as the grocery bags. (Most people here bring their own bags, because the ones the stores provide are so flimsy you wouldn’t want to carry them far. You also have to do your own bagging, fast, before the clerk moves on to the next customer, otherwise their groceries get mixed up with yours and bad feeling abounds.)

We bought monthly bus passes for Tim, Katherine and I from Salzburg to St. Martin. Children’s passes cost the same as adult passes, but the actual fare is cheaper for them, so we just pay as we go–it’s about $4.50 per kid one way for the hour and a half ride. It was a relief when the bus pulled up and we knew we had the right one. We loaded our suitcases in one of the compartments underneath the bus (another is for the mail; these are post buses), and climbed in. Five out of six Siglins slept at least part of the way up. The mountains got taller and more impressive the longer we rode, and for awhile they were white capped.

The St. Martin station is just a tiny wooden enclosure along the road. The landlady sent us directions telling us to find the church, walk along the graveyard, and across the street would be the house, number 68. We had just bumped down the small hill with the bags when we heard a band playing. It sounded like a parade. As we walked into town, we saw people in Austrian dress standing alongside the road. Sure enough, it was a parade, with soldiers, the band, a large group of people in local costume, and then a bunch of firefighters bringing up the rear. The whole group of them marched into the church, several turning around to stare as we clattered across the cobblestones with our suitcases. We waited until everyone was inside before continuing on to the house.

The woman who takes care of the house for the owner was there to greet us. She spoke minimal English, but she was able to show me how the oven and the washing machine worked. The washing machine is tiny, but I’m thankful to have it. There is no dryer, but we have a clothesline outside and a drying rack inside for rainy, foggy days. I think there are a lot of those. I will definitely have to wash daily to keep up.

I forgot to ask the caretaker about where to take the trash, so I will have to figure that out. She was able to tell us that the parade was in honor of the local firefighters, and that there would be food for the entire village after everyone came out of the church. She said we could come, but we decided against it. It would have been an interesting experience, but we were all ready to drop. We fried some bratwurst and went to bed. Apparently, the festivities went on until four in the morning. We didn’t hear a thing.

The end of the parade. Elizabeth and the little girl in purple kept eyeing each other.

Coming out of the church

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