Composed by Kelsey Griffin and Emily Fitzgerald
The retreat started off with a lecture from a local historian who came in and gave us a one-hour lecture on faith and religion in Salzburg. The lecture covered the somewhat notorious Prince Archbishops who ruled both secular and religious life in Salzburg, the strict Catholicism that took place in the middle-ages and the brutal persecution of Salzburg’s Jewish and the Protestant population. We also learned briefly about the witch trials and witch burnings, which were awful, but compared to the rest of Europe in the Middle Ages, Salzburg was relatively mild in its witch-hunts.
After the lecture we went on a walking tour of Salzburg, . We went into some of the smaller corners of Salzburg like St. Sebastian’s cemetery, the spot where the Witching tower used to be (it was destroyed by a bomb in WWII and now it’s a Laundromat), and the old Jewish street with the old center of Salzburg tucked away behind the main squares, ending our city-excursion at the foot of the Festungsbahn up to the Fortress.
We finally found ourselves at the Fortress, the imposing icon of Salzburg. After a quick trip on the Festungsbahn, we were greeted with impressive views over the city. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day, which made the following tour through the stone building fairly pleasant.
Inside, our tour guide Leonhard showed us the incredible maze of passages and rooms, all designed with utility rather than beauty in mind. That isn’t to say the whole of Festung Hohensalzburg is drab and barren. The Fortress has a distinct Gothic aesthetic and contains some wonderful gilded rooms – which served as the Prince Archbishop’s living quarters, of course.
After discovering the hidden gems of the Fortress, we were deposited in the old dining room to enjoy a typical medieval dinner, complete with warring kingdoms and a little friendly competition. Two warring kingdoms battled for ultimate sovereignty of the Center: Walli Land, led by the fearless Dr. Horcicka, and Roland Land, governed by our local history major Pearl Kahle. Throughout the meal, the two teams would face three challenges. Every round, 7 people would participate, contributing to the final score based on their success. The loser had to bow before the winner, and if one team won all three challenges, the loser would have to fulfill one wish. I found myself a citizen of Roland Land, and the opportunity to best our dear Dr. Horcicka made the dinner all the more enjoyable.
Our first challenge: horseshoes. Competition was fierce, but Roland Land came out victorious.
After enjoying meat, potatoes, and Knödel (a bread dumpling commonly served in Austria), our next competition took place. We had to shoot a crossbow, gaining more points the closer we scored to a bullseye. Roland Land won by one point, ensuring that the King of Walli Land had to bow before Queen Pearl. Now, we set our sights on securing the wish.
In our final competition, each team was forced to run a relay with one catch; one foot had to always be on a small wooden plank, forcing the runner to constantly swing it forward. It was a close competition, but, naturally, Roland Land triumphed.
In quite the spectacle, Dr. Horcicka was forced to kneel to Pearl and the Roland Landers, and he also had to grant one wish. Pearl, being a generous queen, requested that a keg of the finest Salzburg beer from Augustiner Bräu be served at our farewell barbeque. Needless to say, we’re all looking forward to our reward. Prost!