Play "My Favorite Things," from The Sound of Music

One of my favorite things to do when I go to other countries is to make wild generalizations about them based on the tiny sliver of exposure I get — like if someone from India flew to, say, Poughkeepsie and reported back, "Americans seem to love cheese fries!" Today, I flew into Munich and took a shuttle to Salzburg, stopping in several small villages in between to drop other people off. Now that I’m an expert on Germany and Austria, some observations:

  1. There are no ugly buildings here. There are old buildings in a particular Teutonic-village style, with stone exteriors and brown tile roofs and wood-hewn doors, and there are some new buildings, built in what I guess you could call the Modern Sustainable style (lots of colored panels, very squared off, big glass doors and windows), but I have not seen a single one of what you see in virtually every American town these days: the cheap, disposable, thoughtless strip-mall-and-McMansion style.
  2. The streets in these villages are incredibly narrow, there are tons of storefronts and houses butting up against them, and there are people walking all over them. These places are quite conspicuously not built around automobiles.
  3. There are people on bikes everywhere. And gardens.
  4. There are vans for cargo, and there are small cars for people. I haven’t seen a single SUV, or even very many full-size sedans. (How can they tell who has the biggest penis?!)
  5. Somehow Google knows I’m here, and is serving up its homepage in German. Now that’s just creepy.

Oh, and about the Schloss Leopoldskron? Sure it’s beautiful and all (that picture below is the view from outside the back door), but there’s no AC, and it’s hot here. It’s gonna be a sweaty night.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

the Schloss

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!