I read once an article about how we create our own luck. As far as I can remember, the idea was that those who we consider “lucky” are in fact not endowed with a magical serendipity (propensity to accidently fall into lucky situations) but rather exude positivity, flexibility and a general interest in trying something new.
Before I headed across the pond to Austria, I felt too stressed to maintain the demeanor of a “lucky” person, so I didn’t, and I wasn’t lucky…or I didn’t have serendipity. Nothing particularly lucky ever seemed to happen to me. But I was able to recharge during winter break, allowing me to arrive in Salzburg with the qualities—a positive attitude, willingness to change my plans, and desire to meet new people--of a serendipitous person.
And guess what? I have totally found serendipity in Salzburg!
Let me elaborate. It began when I was sitting in a nice Italian restaurant with a friend at the end of the first week of my stay in Salzburg. We were chatting, enjoying our delicious four-cheese pizza, when the couple sitting two tables over approached us. “Where are you two from?” the man, whose American accent was by now apparent, asked us. We chatted for a minute about our hometowns and why we were here. And then, before departing, he said they had paid for our meal, and he handed us each a Salzburg Card, which gives you free and discounted entry to attractions around the city.
Bam. Serendipitous moment. Accidental, out of the blue, very awesome.
Some time later, I was sitting in a café with the same friend. Again, we were chatting, enjoying our coffees and complementary Mozartkugeln, when an Austrian couple took a seat at the table beside us. We struck up a conversation about Mozartkugeln factories and, this really meant a lot of me because I love Mozartballs, the couple gave us their Mozartkugeln.
Yet again, a serendipitous moment.After arriving at four in the morning from a bumpy night train ride from Venice, I attended Salzburg’s Butcher’s Leap celebration in which nineteen young men, apprentices of butchers, jumped into a giant bucket of water to wash away the mistakes they’d made as apprentices and usher in their new lives as butchers. I exchanged smiles and glances with a friendly Austrian women. We soon were chatting (in German!) about the celebrations. I had just been thinking earlier how I needed to meet more Austrians and improve my German, so talking to this woman, Christine, was really wonderful. When the celebrations had ended, she told me that her and her husband’s tradition was to eat a sausage that was being sold at a nearby vendor. But, she said “Mein Mann ist krank” and asked me if she could buy me a sausage instead. I choose the white sausage, which, because of the casing you have to peel off, is an experience in itself. After eating our sausages, Christine and I departed. I felt pretty awesome because I’d practiced my German, watched a fascinating Salzburg tradition, and gotten a free sausage!
Serendipity strikes again.
And finally (at least for now), after I’d visited St. Peter’s catacombs and an authentic Austrian restaurant (where I was served cheese sausage wrapped in bacon on a bed of fries), a friend and I wandered into a ceramic store/studio of a cloister. The shop was jam-packed with ceramic odds and ends (most interesting were the ceramic snakes curling around candles). We were about to leave when the shop owner stopped us and handed us each a little ceramic angel. We were both surprised and honored.
And there we go, serendipity.
The serendipity I’ve found in Salzburg, I believe, is proof that the article I read was right- we do make our own luck, simply by being positive and open-minded.