The next day started off the same way as the day before. We had breakfast; Nutella for me, of course. The only difference was that there were a few other families present. That day, Christian wasn’t with us. The driver took us to a gondola station where we would get in a gondola to reach the top of Kitzsteinhorn. It was the mountain that we were supposed to go on the day before. We were told that it was a very high mountain and that it was very cold. We had to take a gondola thrice to get to the highest peak.
After the first gondola ride, we went to a nearby rental store. Mummy and papa rented some boots as it would be snowy above, and they didn’t have appropriate footwear. I was already wearing my boots. When we stepped out of the second gondola ride, we were ankle deep in snow. I loved it, and tried stepping in fresh snow. It was fun, until I fell knee deep into the snow. My parents managed to get me out and quickly walked away from that place.
I looked around and figured that I was having trouble in seeing. Black spots appeared in front of my eyes. I told this to my mom and she said it was probably because of the snow.
Snow reflects the ultraviolet rays of the sun, which are especially strong at high altitudes. This is one of the reasons that people wear glasses while skiing or going on high altitudes. Mummy gave me a pair of her spare sunglasses to wear.
We finally reached the topmost point. There, we were shown a short film about the various animals residing in that area. It was apparently a national park. We went up two flights of stairs and reached somewhere which looked like a balcony. It had a board with ’Top of Salzburg’ on it. This was confusing, because we were in Zell am See, not Salzburg!
We had been told by Christian to ask for a guy called Roland, who was to be our tour guide. We went back to the staircase and the first person we asked turned out to be the one we had been looking for. We went on a tour of the tunnels in the mountain.
When we started out, the path was quite empty. Then we came upon the display of a huge crystal. We were told by the guide that it was the largest natural crystal that had been found in the mine. There was a machine, which looked like a gramophone. The guide told us that it amplified the sound of the mountain, which was basically the sound of tectonic plates moving. Roland told us that they kept on moving slightly all the time and the mountain slowly grew in size, which I think is really cool.
We also saw a chest full of gold and silver coins. We were told that these were mines once upon a time but not anymore as the deposits had depleted. We walked along, till we reached the end of the tunnel. At the end, we came to the highest point of the mountain. Before going on the ledge, we saw a collage of different creatures that lived in the national park. We went outside on the ledge, where the view was exquisite with the sight of snow covered peaks and the sun shining down.
I started feeling cold, so I went inside and sat on a bench. Mummy and papa came back after a while. We started back the same way; through the tunnel. It became a bit difficult to breathe but the guide told us it was normal. While going back we had to climb up and the oxygen in the tunnel was less.
We went down the same way we took while coming up. We returned the rented shoes. By the time we reached down, it was almost two in the afternoon. We had started out late that day. We decided to have lunch which was a sandwich bought from a nearby food-cart.
We started back towards the hotel. We reached the point where buildings began to appear, after the expanse of trees. We asked the driver to drop us off was we recognized the area and would be able to find our way back. But we were realized soon that we were very wrong. We went down the nearly empty roads and saw another supermarket and bought some snacks. When we resumed walking, we took out a packet of crisps and started eating. The road widened a little and we could see a stream running along the road. We started walking alongside it, until we reached a fork and had to choose the other path.
There was a staircase leading up to a small building. We decided to go up the stairs. It led to a church. We went inside the church and from the looks of it, it seemed an event had been held here quite recently. There were flowers on the floor which were being swept up by nuns. We went out and roamed around a little. We found the churchyard beside, with few graves covered with various flowers and plants. Vibrantly coloured climbers and creepers covered the tombstones. I thought that it was a really beautiful to have life spring out from the resting place of the deceased.
Papa had put the address of the hotel on Google Maps but since there were many hotels of similar names, we ended up at the wrong one. We started out again, to look for the right one. It started raining and we started running as fast as we could as we didn’t have raincoats. The downpour stopped as suddenly as it had began.
We reached the hotel in about a few more minutes. We went up to our room and had some tea out on the balcony. We prepared dinner from the ingredients left over from the day before and spent the rest of the evening lounging around, packing for the next morning. We would be leaving for Munich, from where we would take a flight to Mumbai.
My experience in this country had been incredible. I had had the time of my life, travelling from one place to another, exploring something new every day, meeting new people, learning about different cultures and getting to be so close to nature every single day. I returned home with more knowledge than ever before. Its one thing to learn about something in school and another to actually experience. I learnt more about World War II than I had ever learnt in History. I learnt a little bit of German by hearing it being spoken so many times. I learnt about health and how healthy eating and exercise affects you. Lastly, I learnt that the world is a huge place. We don’t think much of it, but there are so many things we haven’t seen yet, so many people we haven’t met yet. It made me realize that one should go out and try to explore the world as much as they can. Because what is the point of staying in your comfort zone, the same place you have been in since forever?