Category Archives: Salzburg

Salzburg sightseeing and how I almost got stranded on a mountain–Now with LOTS of pictures!

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We had a really busy today today that started really early, a fact which was made less pleasant by our oh-so-considerate roomies who wandered in after midnight. We were already asleep, and they were apparently deeply offended by this, and expressed their irritation by slamming stuff around, talking, turning on lights and otherwise being disruptive to sleep. Jerks. Look here, undergrads, not every world-traveler appreciates a new city by barhopping. Sorry.

Crappy roommates notwithstanding, today was a great day. We went to the Mozart Geburtshaus (the house where W.A. Mozart was born) which was overrun even at 9:30 in the morning. There were some awesome artifacts there, and it was really cool to see. We were not allowed to take photos, not that the restriction stopped anyone else. We are good tourists, though, and abstained. 🙂

I did take a picture of this very classy Mcdonald's right across the street from Mozart's birthplace. Those things really are everywhere.

The view of the fortress from the palace museum.

After that we went wandering around for awhile and accidentally went on a tour of the Prince-Archbishops’ palace, which was totally gorgeous, in a very baroque, overdone sort of way. We had a quick lunch at a seafood place before heading up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress above the city. We got to go up the side of the hill in a little rail car, which offered us a great view of the city, and also a great sampling of Touristy BO. 🙂 The fortress itself was neat, with gorgeous views all around, and a museum inside.

Thew view from the fortress of the city

See, I really was there! 🙂

It also houses several apartments sponsored by the government where artists live. I can imagine this being a mixed blessing–on the one hand you’re constantly surrounded by tour groups, but on the other, you’re living in a freakin Medieval fortress!

We took the aromatic rail car back to street level, and wandered back toward the river. We were pretty thoroughly worn out by this point, and were ready

Prayer candles at the Dom.

to sit still for a bit. We ducked into the Salzburger Dom, the huge, ornate Catholic cathedral

in the Altstadt. It was a beautiful space, but I realized at some point that there were no stained glass windows anywhere in it. This might be because the church was bombed during WWII, and mostly destroyed, or because it just isn’t the style here…I’m honestly not sure, but it looked sort of bare without them.

The veiw from the cable car as we ascended

We wandered some more until we found the bus that would take us out of town and up to the Untersberg, the mountain that sits on the south side of the city. There was a cable car there to take us to the top, which offered some really spectacular panoramic views as we ascended. It’s the highest I’ve ever been without being in a plane, I think (6470 ft). It was incredibly peaceful at the top, and you could see for miles and miles in every direction, including deeper into the Alps. Clouds blew through, and turned everything white for awhile before moving off and leaving the air crystal clear again.

"Man kann nicht bergauf kommen, ohne bergan zu gehen."

“One cannot get up the mountain without going up the mountain.”

This is a quote that Wolfgang gave us during our Work with Words sessions, and it has stuck with me. Here I had the opportunity

to take it very literally. I decided to climb a bit after we reached the top, which was a difficult but beautiful little hike, since I was wearing sandals and a skirt, and the terrain is rocky and steep. I’m so glad that I did. The views were astonishing. I stayed at the top

forever taking photos, watching the birds, admiring the colorful little flowers scattered everywhere and just breathing the air. It was so peaceful.

Jo is at the top of the world! She looks a little underwhelmed.

I may have gotten a little sun...

The fog that rolled in

...and was gone

Then rolled right back out

In fact, I almost stayed too long. I was walking back, taking my time so as not to wipe out down the mountain, and so I could take more pictures as I went, when suddenly I noticed that the whole mountain had gotten really quiet. There had been people talking, kids squealing, all of which carries a good way across the mountaintop, but suddenly it was quiet. I had just started to worry when a guy on a four wheeler came roaring by. He went on past me, then turned around and came back and stopped. “Do you know that the last cable car leaves in two minutes?” Ummmmmm no! I sure did not!

He very graciously gave me a ride back the rest of the way, which was quite scary at times, but really exciting. I’m sure he got a kick out of my face in the rear view mirrors. In fact, I’m almost certain he did, since he sorta hammed it up, gunning it through turns a food away from the edge, and driving me right up to within a foot of the doors to the tram. He got a kiss on the cheek for saving my butt–I’d have been stuck up there for the night sleeping at the restaurant. It’s about a 6 hour hike down the mountain from there, and it would have been dark. Not a chance. Turns out Jo had sent him to find me after they had called 7 minute warning for the last cable car of the day. Lesson learned: double check the schedule.

Now, since it’s Sunday and everything is closed, I’m enjoying a blueberry muffin and a beer for dinner (dinner of champion Alpine mountaineers, I’m sure) in the hostel lounge before booking our train seats to Vienna tomorrow. Luckily, we seem to be in the room tonight by ourselves! Yay! We might even get to sleep in a bit!

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The hills are alive and the bar is open!–Now with pictures!

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Today was our first full day in Salzburg. It’s a beautiful city, surrounded by amazingly gorgeous mountains, but honestly I miss Graz. It seemed easier to get around in Graz, like everything was closer together, and there were way fewer cars in the city center. Also, in Graz there were far fewer tourists, so when we went into the city we were surrounded mostly by residents. Here it seems like we can’t help but be surrounded by tourists like ourselves, which just gives the whole city a very different vibe. Maybe I’m just sad because there isn’t an Eis stand on every block. 🙂

We decided to embrace our inner tourist today by going on the Sound of Music bus tour, which was a hoot. We got picked up from the hostel in an unmarked black van full of Asian tourists. In fact, they had to move and cram an extra person into the back so that Jo and I could squish in the front seat with the driver. We had no seatbelts, so I kept having to brace myself on the roof of the van to keep from smooshing Jo or the driver. So that was fun. We got to the main tour departure spot and thankfully found seats on the tour bus without trouble. There was some seating shenanigans, since apparently they had over-sold the tour. Oops. There were a ton of English speaking folks on the tour; it was strange to hear that much English being spoken all around us.

Riding in style!

I’m pretty sure our tour guide was either completely nuts, or on something, or both. He certainly thought he was funny… I just thought he was irritating. We drove around town for awhile and saw some of the filming sites like the gazebo and the back of/back garden and lake for the Von Trapp villa (these were acutally two separate things!), then headed out into the lakes and mountains country. Of course they played music from the film as we drove, with frequent and obnoxiously timed interjections from the tour guide about buying drinks from the on-bus bar. Oh yes, you can buy and drink not only soda and water, but beer on the Sound of Music tour bus. There were also trivia questions, and lots of references to the movie that made me painfully aware that I’ve only seen it once…Perhaps I should sit down here in the Hostel lobby tomorrow and watch the daily screening.

We stopped to see some truly amazing vistas. The lakes are clear and brilliant blue, the mountains are huge and rocky and gorgeous. It’s really a breathtaking bunch of scenery.

We spent about an hour in Mondsee, where St. Micheal’s Basilica is located (the wedding scene, for those following along with the movie). The church was unreal on the inside, very ornate with these amazing, colorful statues surrounding painted biblical scenes.

Look familiar?

We poked around in town a bit, had an Eis (we were going through withdrawal–today’s new flavors were pistachio and honey) and walked down to the river’s edge for some pictures. I wish we could have stayed longer–Mondsee and the whole lakes region is something I’d like to come back to (I’m looking right at you, Jason). We did a little bit of touristy shopping in the gift shops there. I was hoping to buy a dried Edelweiss, but had no luck–sorry Carl.

I could get used to that view

We headed back to the city on the Autobahn, and were treated to more of our tour guide’s “jokes”–including one that started out with a family named Hill, Dracula and a piano, the punchline for which was, of course, the Hills are alive with the sound of music… There was an audible groan from the passengers.

That one fountain from that one movie.

Hippimarkt

After we left the tour, we walked through the Mirabel gardens and saw a few more Sound of Music related things before heading out into the Altstadt. We walked along the river through a line of tent vendors that we dubbed the Hippimarkt. There was some cool stuff and some weird stuff, but we are both feeling a little extra broke at this point on our trip, so we abstained. We eventually sat down at a café and had a drink before walking back to our hostel. It was a really low-key kind of day, and we were both glad to have it. Tomorrow is going to be much more exciting: we’re going to buy a Salzburg Card, which gives us free entrance into most places of interest in town as well as unlimited use of the public transport. We hope to hit the Mozart Wohnhaus and Gebursthaus, the Hohensalzburg fortress and the Untersberg. To that end, I’m going to turn in!

Adventures in Hostel Living–Now with photos!

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Jo and I are staying in Hostels while we travel, since we are both on a tight budget. We are trying to stick to nicer ones, but have been staying in the 6 bed dorm style rooms instead of private rooms to keep the cost down. This means that you have probably 4 other roommates sharing the space with you, people who don’t always keep the same hours that you do, or speak the same language, or have the same ideas about hygiene…We’ve gotten really lucky so far, and have only had nice, fairly quiet and considerate roommates.

So here’s the hostel we’re staying in right now:

Pretty swanky, huh?

Not half bad!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are trying to be as cheap as possible, but we did decide to pay a little extra for the all female dorms instead of the mixed ones. So imagine my surprise last night when I walked into our room after spending a couple hours in the lounge and found two American guys sitting there. We all just looked at each other for a second, them friendly and me just flat out confused. I thought I’d somehow walked into the wrong room. I checked my bed, found all my stuff…right room. Huh. They introduced themselves as Peter and something-or-other. They were totally nice, but despite assuring me that they were not creepers, the fact remains that they shouldn’t have been there. I told them that I didn’t really mind them being there so much (perhaps a little…their presence would complicate life a bit), but that there were three other girls living in the room who might feel differently, and since this was supposed to be an all female dorm, I offered to go down to the desk and ask what was up.

In the lobby, I met Jo on her way up. Dude, there are dudes in our room! Indeed, they had screwed up at the desk, and the two guys were supposed to be down the hall. The front desk person went back up with us to break the news to Peter and Other Guy, who had unfortunately already totally settled in, made their beds, hung laundry…I felt like a total tool for asking them to leave, but really. I paid extra to be able to sit around in my bra if I felt like it, and I was hesitant to give that luxury of guylessness up. They were totally nice about it, and quickly moved to their new room. We stayed up for a bit, I started watching 2001: A Space Odyssey on itunes, and we both crashed out pretty early. Our other two roommates, a couple of undergrads in a study abroad program, came in pretty late but were quiet.

This morning we both got up as quietly as possible and went down to breakfast. It’s hard to move really quietly in a dim room without your glasses on or contacts in. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember where I had put either, and wasn’t going to be able to find them without making some considerable noise, so I went to breakfast blind. Both girls were sacked out when we left, alone in their beds.

When we returned from breakfast I didn’t notice anything different, being still blind. Just sleeping undergrads, snoring gently. But Jo informed me that we now had a male roommate, there in bed with one of the girls. He materialized while we were at breakfast, and was now laying there in his boxers (thank you God) and a shirt, sleeping fitfully while we tried our best to stay quiet and not disturb anyone. What the crap. We should have just let Peter and Other Guy stay! We both went to the bathrooms to get ready, and she kicked him out, and apologized profusely for letting him in and letting him stay to sleep. Oh hostel living–what an adventure.