When I first decided to travel to all of the cities that Jeff saw during his European adventure last year, I was pretty excited that Prague was on the list.
I have tried for more than a week to write about Vienna. But I can’t. Because the story isn’t about Vienna. As much as I loved the city, it was a backdrop for me. A place that Jeff loved, and the place where I chose to spend what would have been our one-year anniversary.
This story begins like so many others: With a kiss.
Salzburg is one of those cities that utterly befuddles Google Maps, sending unprepared wanderers – like me – into helpless follow-the-blue-dot circles. More than once I took a narrow lane or a steep staircase thinking this can’t be right, only to have the little passageway empty into a sprawling square or a surprise beer garden.
This is why I decided early on to ditch the maps and get impossibly and delightfully lost in Salzburg. That and the fact that the massive fortress at the top of the hill – visible from nearly everywhere in the city – pretty much guarantees that, as long as you know where you live in relation to the fortress, you won’t be lost forever.
Some time ago, Jeff’s dad and step-mom decided to do a once-in-a-lifetime trip with their sons. When they asked Jeff and his brother, Greg, where they would like to go, I am told that Jeff was immediate with his response: Prague, Vienna and Budapest.
So, a little over one year ago, they walked mile after mile through those three cities, with Jeff often insisting on long walks rather than trains or cabs. (Greg long ago nicknamed Jeff “the Yeti” for his long strides and love of fast-paced walking.)
Just two weeks after Jeff and I started dating, he gave me a book with a note written on the inside cover. It was the first time that I would see Jeff’s beautiful handwriting, meticulous grammar, and the use of his famous red pen.
It was also the first time that I realized just how easy it was going to be to fall in love with him.
In his note, Jeff wrote of his excitement to write more chapters and to share more adventures with me, adding at the end “I hope you enjoy this tale, and our tale, as much as I do.”
I’m just going to come clean and say the thing that elicits gasps and open-mouthed stares. Here it is: I don’t like the beach.
Before you even ask, no, I do not hate children or puppies. I just hate sand and sunscreen, and especially the combination of sand and sunscreen.
Also, I look stupid in sun hats.
I know, I know, I’m a horrible person. Send your hate mail here.