We’d whittled those 30 members down to a more manageable and intimate group of four when Jimmy and I, and friends Joan and John, went in search of a place to eat. I’m not sure how the others were feeling, but I was feeling pretty footloose and fancy free in the City of
Remember when Maria came bounding over the hill in the opening scene of the movie, The Sound of Music, arms open wide, singing at the top of her lungs, ‘The hills are alive, with the sound of music.’ I’ve got nothing on Julie Andrews when it comes to singing, but I can bound with delight with the best of ‘em in the streets of Salzburg. I know; I wish I had a picture of me delightfully bounding to share, but alas, the spontaneity of the moment often gets lost when I have to stop and hand the camera over to Jimmy for a re-enactment.
I think it was the medieval charm of Old Town’s narrow, cobblestoned streets matched by an unseasonably warm, sunny day for early November that put a spring in my step and a twinkle in my eye as we settled on lunch at Salzburg’s K & K Restaurant am Waagplatz.
piece of history), I could see no obstacles to becoming a part of that history after standing in that square.
We ate in the ground floor dining hall just off the bar in what’s called the Restaurant S’Gwolb.
I felt somehow emboldened by our successful exchange with our waiter, our very first experience ordering food as true world travelers along Europe’s Danube River. Don't I look emboldened in this picture with said waiter and friend Joan? If he could learn broken English after years of waiting on inept hungry tourists, the least I could do is show some appreciation despite the risk of appearing gauche.
I just realized, left to my own devices, I rather liked getting my feet wet, even though I’m likely more inclined to tiptoe into the chilly waters than dive in headfirst. I like people. They’re a curious blend of colors and customs I find both foreign and enticing whenever I’m far from home. To quote a favorite song, "We are the world;" we share a common humanity, a common moment in time that will be history in no time. Given the chance, I’d love to share a real meal, too.
When had I become so middle aged? Let’s not discuss the semantics of that rhetorical question. Just suffice it to say the years had carried me to a place I suddenly found a bit unattractive wrapped in my ignorance of all things German and Austrian.
Years ago, in another world and time, I’d spent 10 days in Italy with my first husband. We’d explored Rome with nothing but a map, a bus token and wide-eyed innocence. We used public transportation to make our way, day after day, to the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, Tivoli Fountain, the Pantheon and the Colosseum, and back home again. Fueled by our curiosity and a strong American dollar, we managed our own meals, arranged our own transportation and decided where to go and when. We learned to carry change for the public toilets and to stop traffic by stepping out with panache into the busy, cobblestoned streets at just the right moment.
I learned as much about myself as I did Rome and her people in those ten days. I learned to give back all I had to give as an ambassador to the world. That’s what I want when I travel. To give as good as I get; my money talks, but it doesn’t always convey the right message across cultures, especially when money changes hands with the minimal please and thank you delivered in my native tongue.
I didn't even understand these thoughts that day while dining on the best Beef Goulash I’ve ever had with the best of friends, but I do remember feeling a sense of loss imprisoned in my cultural cocoon.
I remember not wanting to give up this moment, this meal, this place. Our Austrian neighbors had lingered at their table too; we Americans are notorious for eating and running. Europeans, on the other hand, view dining as a chance to nourish relationships with family and friends as much as it is simple sustenance.
And so, when our dining neighbors got up to leave, I caught the eye of the gentleman dressed in Lederhosen, smiled and then pointed to my camera as he reached for his coat. He donned his jacket then stood tall and proud with a smile that said everything neither one of us could articulate across the cultural divide. I didn't get the picture I intended. I got much more than my best intentions.
What he and our waiter took away after our exchange that day will remain a piece of their view of the United States, too. They don't need to see the Statue of Liberty to understand American culture. The cities and monuments are but the bare bones of our country. Those bones are missing the heart and soul of any culture - her people. The personal stories impart greater meaning into anything we can ever hope to learn by simply seeing the world rather than experiencing it.
The bottom line on Salzburg's K & K Restaurant am Waagplatz:
Verdict: Best authentic dining experience of our entire trip. The food, service and atmosphere can't be beat, although I can't guarantee our wonderful waiter will be there to serve you or you'll run into locals as friendly as ours.
How to Get There: Just north of Mozart Square in Salzburg's Old Town.
Insider Tips: It was off season when we stopped in for a late lunch. We were seated right away, but my impression given the location and the quality of food: reservations would be in order during peak hours. There are actually four rooms for dining and a beer hall in the basement. Apparently customers with reservations are usually taken to the upstairs dining halls. If you can speak even minimal German you'll probably won't have to leave as big a tip as we did.