Falco was right: Mozart rocks

In an effort to see snow, we spent the first few days of 2007 in Salzburg, Austria. Did I mention that Europe forgot to order snow this year? Apparently, all the snow is still stuck in Colorado. I felt slightly better when I saw the dozen or so ski-couples in matching ski-suits getting off our plane, looking up at the nearly bare mountains with that 'what the hell?!' look.

Still, the city itself quickly made itself into one of our new favorite European destinations. Even walking around the old part of the city where our hotel was on New Year's day, when everything was closed, it was still a really magical place. There were still a few stalls up in the plazas from the Christmas markets selling gluhwein and crafts. Because it was a holiday, they had loudspeakers set up throughout the city, blaring waltz music, and people were dancing in the squares. There seemed to be a direct proportion of mulled wine consumption to dance likelihood.

Mozart is to Salzburg like Roy Clark is to Branson, Missouri. He is a freaking god to these people. We saw Mozart's house, Mozart T-shirts, and a special Mozart chocolate, invented especially to sell to tourists in 1890. 18-frickin'-90. That's a heck of a marketing run.

By far and away, the Critter's favorite part of the trip was ice skating. We had done this before, and this year, she moved up to 'grown up skates', with the single blade. I was smart enough to stay off the ice, and let my Bride take her out, rather than embarrassment or injury again. By the end of the first evening, the Critter was feeling pretty good. By the second night out on skates, she was better than I've ever been. This she gets from her mother, who seems to have passed on the well known Filipino ice-skating gene, the best I can figure it.

About the only thing I couldn't figure out in Salzburg was the profusion of a seafood-to-go restaurant chain called "Nordsee". This place was everywhere, and featured giant platters of octopus, squid, and prawns the size of a small guinea pig. I'm a fan of the prawn, and I'm not surprised that given the availability of that kind of seafood, it's popular with the locals. I'm more confused as to why I - who live on a freaking island - can't get the same thing near my own house.

Dear England: Please get with the seafood program. The last time I checked, Austria has no ocean-front property, and they seem to catch on to the goodness that comes in freakishly large crustacean shells.

In other news, the banjo-transplant to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia has passed along a blogging 'tag' my way, challenging me to write 5 Things You Didn't Know About Me (And Likely Don't Care About), which borders on an email chain more than a little. On the other hand, if I respond in the next 72 hours by sending this out to 1.3 million of my closest friends, Bill Gates will personally donate a nickel and his left kidney to a needy Nigerian ex-pat child whose money is locked away by the government but has a way to wire the money out into my bank account if only I'll write him a check and verify it with my PayPal account. So I mean, it's for the children.

1: When I was 13, my buddy Ryan and I took a bulldozer at a road construction site for a joy ride in the middle of the night. 'Joyride' to a 13 year old, incidentally, means driving it about fifty feet alongside a deserted Georgia highway 238 and then running like hell so the cops (who were nowhere in sight) can't track you down.

2: When I was 14, that same buddy of mine and I took my father's convertible Chrysler LeBaron for a spin in the backyard. That sounds stupid, but the backyard was several acres in size. And ended in a swamp. Which is where the car got stuck. Like really stuck: the tow-truck that came to tow the car out had to call another tow truck to come get it out when it got stuck.

Yeah, ok. It really was as stupid as it sounds.

3: I was named after my father's aunt Kenny.

4: I hate mayonnaise with the burning white heat of a thousand suns. That goes for mayonnaise on things (sandwiches) and mayonnaise in things (e.g. my grandmother's potato salad). This is so very anti-Appalachia cracker that even with owning 3 banjos and my nearly inappropriate level of love for boiled peanuts, I have to liberally sprinkle my conversation with "y'all" and references to my grand-pappy's moonshine still at the Georgia border to be let back in the state. Also: I prefer my iced tea unsweetened. Please don't tell my kinfolk.

5: My Spanish is limited to the following phrases:
- 'My pencil is big and yellow'
- 'Where is the library?'
- 'How much for the small-chested woman?'
- 'My pony has a bad hoof'
I also have learned the words for 'bathroom, 'chicken,' and 'beer'. I believe that these are the only words and phrases which you need to get by in any country.

All my secrets, they are exposed.