Friday, May 13, 2011

Europe Vacation, Part 2: Salzburg

So after riding the bus, train, plane, and train, we finally arrived in Salzburg. After spending so much time sitting on our butts, we decided to walk to the hotel. Of course we didn’t have a very good map and the street signs were sometimes non-existent. Let’s just say that we walked a little farther than necessary but made it to the hotel just fine.

Once we were all settled into the hotel, we took a walk around town. We visited the tourist information office where we purchased Salzburg Cards. The cards were expensive (22 Euro) but they were such a good bargain. The card gets you into all the sites in the city and allows you to use public transportation as well. In the end, with all the sites we saw, we would have paid over 54 Euro each. Now that’s what I call a bargain!

After the tourist information office, we headed out to get dinner and beer at Augustiner Brau. For some reason, we turned off the road just before we got there and ended up walking a few extra miles. I think we’ll blame the extreme exhaustion and lack of knowledge of the city layout. Eventually, we found our way and enjoyed a nice dinner and a large liter of beer – it was quite wonderful after all that travelling and walking!

After dinner, we walked back to the hotel and promptly fell asleep. The next morning we headed off for breakfast and a very full day of sightseeing.

We started off by going up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress that sits on the cliff above town. We took the funicular to the top and toured through the museum and enjoyed the view. The fortress has gone through many different changes throughout the years but the original buildings were started in the 15th century. The fortress was never actually attacked – the only time it was surrendered was when Napoleon came to town.

Once we came back down the cliff, we headed for St. Peter’s cemetery, catacombs, and church. The cemetery was used as the inspiration for a “Sound of Music” scene (when the family is hiding behind the tombstones on the roof of the abbey). Also, each grave site has beautiful landscaping that is tended by family members of the deceased.

The catacombs were built into the cliff face behind the cemetery. The stairs to reach the caves were very steep and very long – it definitely made us realize how out of shape we are now!

After descending from the catacombs, we went inside the church. It was very beautiful. There were a lot of small altars all around the walls of the church with plenty of murals.

Near the university there is a small farmer’s market. We bought some strawberries from a stand and then got a got lunch from a small sausage stand (you’ll notice this happening many different times during our trip).

After a nice picnic lunch, we headed over the river to the Mozart Residence. The residence was half destroyed during WWII but they have restored it with exhibits about Mozart’s life. The museum focused not only on Mozart’s life and music but also on the accomplishments of his family. We got audio guides there to walk us through the exhibits. At each stop the beginning of the audio was a sample of a different composition – it was nice to hear but also rather distracting.

We then went on a cruise on the Salzach River. It was a very forgettable trip but at the end of the cruise they did a “Viennese Waltz.” The only nice part was that we were able to sit down for awhile.

We wanted to go to the Stiegl brewery for a tour so we took the bus to the right stop and walked around trying to find it. Unfortunately, we could not find any signs to find the right area. We walked and walked and walked – eventually we gave up and headed back to the hotel.

Before dinner, we walked up on Monchberg (the plateau at the top of the cliff). The road to get to the top was very steep and narrow but the houses had amazing views.

On Saturday, we got up early and took the bus to Untersberg Mountain. We took the cable car to the top for some spectacular views.

We took the bus back into town, checked out of the hotel, and walked to the train station. On the way, we stopped by Mirabell Gardens (another “Sound of Music” scene). There was a wedding party there taking pictures and a ton of tourists but the flowers were lovely.

Up next, Hallstatt…

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