Until the end of Italy, our trip had been non-stop intellectual stimulation. This early leg was bittersweet in that I loved the subject matter yet struggled to find time to process and recoup from the fast pace lifestyle. Periodic stints of rain were also a downer when I needed some free time.
I experienced a new kick of energy when we left Italy for a place an hour outside of Salzburg, Austria. Leaving Venice in Northern Italy, we drove through the Alps, which was perhaps one of the most beautiful tours of the countryside I had been on. The contrast between the geography of the past few weeks and what we had just drove into was vast. I had left the hectic and overcrowdedness of Italy for pure natural bliss. Sporadic villages appeared and then disappeared; rolling green hills spotted with sheep and cows led into mountains. It was incredible. Our camp ground was situated on the epitome of a perfect lake. A series of snow capped mountains as a background to the lake was a nice scene to wake up to every morning. I also found a sense of comfort in the German language, which I am much more familiar with than the earlier Spanish and Italian. Communication became less difficult and the quality of beer improved exponentially.
Austria was the first nice break for me on this trip. In Italy I was able to appreciate many of the great works and feats of humankind, but the beginning of Austria was all about an appreciation of natural beauty. I needed it.