MAY 15, Sunday: Passing on Salzburg, Grooving in Braunau (Goodbye to Enschuldigung and Frohlich Dah-veedt) (Day Nine – the Bus Departs)
At breakfast, Marisa lets me copy her pictures (she will be staying here to catch an early-evening flight out from Vienna). Everyone shares many warm hugs with her, until the bus heads out, leaving our dear Marisa on the steps of the Hotel Hohnecker. It is raining quite heavily now. Only five of us remain on the bus.
We get to Salzburg quickly; before 1:00pm. We’re not scheduled to meet our contact here (Ines Salfer) until 4:00pm. Road signs warn that the bus cannot legally stay in the city longer than for a quick drop-off; graphic images show Big Buses being Towed Away. And in Enshuldingung, we certainly have one of the Biggest! Rather than hang out in damp museums for 3 hours while the bus parks outside the city, we (in unanimous relieved agreement) change plans and head out from rainy Salzburg towards the suburb of St. Peter Am Hart (near the town of Braunau).
My phone is now electrically exhausted and of no use. Driver Dah-veedt allows me to use one of his backup phones (after switching internal SIM cards, so I pay for the calls) to call our hostess, so she can talk us in to our final destination. Later, Dah-veedt gives me a brand-new Nokia cellphone, for future use. It’s a gift for a time yet-to-come, as it must first have its battery fully charged. (A few days later I learn that the phone is “locked” by the manufacturer, and by design won’t become “unlockable” until July 2012. Our dear Frohlich Dah-veedt gave me a phone which I cannot use for a year and two months! Hahahaha… It’s the sentiment that counts.)
We arrive at the home of Gabi Fink and unload all of our bags. From here, Enshuldigung the bus - and Dah-veedt the Driver - will head back home to Munich Germany, about two hours’ drive away. Gabi invites all inside for hot drinks; Dah-veedt joins us for a cup of coffee; eventually two cups. Then he eases his way out… and off go Jabba The Bus (and Dahveedt the Driver) at last. The “on board” portion of the first Laughter Club Bus Tour is now complete.
Gabi is a warm and welcoming hostess, with her two teen sons and pre-teen daughter; as well as her rockin’ guitar-playing husband Rainer (a doctor - Radiologist - by profession). Some online and phone research reveals the train schedules necessary for Celeste and Anne (who will leave this evening to be in Zurich for their plane departures tomorrow morning).
We have enough time for a little jaunt, so Gabi’s friend Brigitte drives us into the town of Braunau for a quick tour of the city’s highlights. “The aluminum factory which gave the town’s 5,500 inhabitants jobs starting in 1939… the hills where 18,000 refugees needed feeding after 1945. “From this park, the Americans gave the citizens the chance to surrender or the town would be obliterated. The two bridges were destroyed… the town finally did surrender, just five mutes before the deadline.” We visit two ornate churches: one, very baroque and gilded, with mummies on display; the other, “post-baroque”, 1/3rd as decorated and devoid of any mummies.
After the tour (which lasted about 75 minutes) we dash back to Gabi’s house for a Session with most of her Laughter Club regulars… but first, Celeste and Anne are driven away for their train (Braunau to Salzburg; then Salzburg to Zurich). Warm hugs and words of friendship and affection are shared by all. The Tour may be ending, but the friendship and camaraderie will likely never end.
The evening Laughter Session is to have a theme: Laughter Bus Adventures! We kid about the no-English and no-Bathroom issues. Then it becomes open for suggestions. I do “Taking Pictures - of each other Taking Pictures.” All our remaining crew (Dave and Ruthe) also lead exercises. The whole gang (numbering about 14) have a pasta dinner (Gabi also whipped up some veggies per my request) at a long dining table. We return to the playroom for music-making and fun. Once again we act out my Musical Melodrama, this time with: Ruthe playing the Heroine, Dave the Villain, and Gabi as the Hero. Much singing follows - all of Gabi’s family sing, including harmony parts (her mom, Ingrid; sister Gerli, Gabi; plus Gabi’s husband Rainer). They easily toss of some songs with lovely harmonies which are just heavenly-pretty.
As the music-making winds down, Dave gets a ride to Gerli’s house where he will spend the night; Ruthe and I will stay here at Gabi’s. Ruthe loans me the memory card from her camera. I stay up ‘til midnight looking at photos from the trip (including those I got from Marisa earlier this morning).