Trip Start Mar 29, 2006
Trip End Feb 28, 2007

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Flag of Austria  , Austrian Alps,
Thursday, October 19, 2006

THURSDAY, 19th October
Breakfast was not very good. Cereal and bread rolls was all I could enthuse about. The only other person in the dining room was a lone man who was helping himself from the bread basket on our table as we entered and who then proceeded to eat the rest of the half bricks on the buffet table. He was obviously a bread freak. I had some cream cheese with mine...those little triangular squares (now there's an oxymoron) that we used to have as kids. The view from the window was of green fields, yellow trees and flowers in window boxes. What will they do with those window boxes in a few weeks when, surely, those wonderful red flowers will disappear. We, incidentally, were still wandering around in our T-shirts and it is late October!
Our destination today was to be Saltzburg, one of those exotic names that conjures up images of everything that is Austrian and 18th century. We set off up the autostrade which is now the A12 following the Inn River which according to the map continues for hundreds of kilometres north into Germany before it disappears off my page. Where did it go I wondered. Possibly into the Danube. So the question arises...where does the Inn come outt?
Unfortunately we missed the exit which was to take us across country and were forced to plough on in a northerly direction to cross the border into Germany again. We were now on the E45 or was it the E60...who knows. [The numbering system for European roads is very confusing and not helped by the fact that I have a map in German. Each country has its own road numbering system but the EU has also started giving out its own ID's to all the continental trunk roads and they start with a E. So we went from the A12 or E60 or E45 to the B93 or E60 or E45. Anne was a blubbering wreck by the end of the day. Please don't mess with the UK system, I say] Crossing on to the 8 or E52 heading east we were caught up in a 5km line of traffic caused by an overturned truck...not that we knew that at the time. [Why can't drivers be informed of the reason for major traffic delays on toll roads. It is so frustrating not knowing why one is stuck in a stationary line of cars.] That particular journey was very dull compared to the previous day. We were now on the flat but we made good time and arrived in Saltzburg by midday.
We parked in a covered car park near a river (the Salzac), near a railway line, near some road works. Decidedly not the best part of town but on my map it showed an information centre to be close by. We scrambled over the road works and walked along the road to the advertised street. But all we could find was the Hilton and a bathhouse or Badhaus. We asked a taxi driver who directed us around the corner to the rear of the bath house where a receptionist directed us to a small lift that sent us up to the fourth floor where, off a narrow landing, was a door that said something like Tourismus Salzburg. It was just an office with an embarrassed female eating her sandwiches but who called out to a young man who, in quite good English, explained that they were a distributor for all those brochures we could see stacked around the walls. We were looking for a hotel and the young man was kind enough to indicate on one of his maps the directions to two or three including an Ibis.
We walked to a small hotel nearby which was classed as **. We asked to look at the room and had to walk up six flights of stairs to see it. Waste of time really. Much too small and, well, just grubby. And anyway there was no parking and no way were we carrying cases up there. Bye'ee. We retrieved the car and went in search of the Ibis in the north of the town, right on the city boundary above a McDonalds at the top of Vogelweiderstrasse. Say that one quickly! But...they had no vacancies! The lovely young lady at the desk phoned another hotel called the Vogelweiderhof which did have rooms and was only a few hundred metres back down the road up which we came. Because she was so obliging we asked her to ring ahead and book us rooms in an Ibis in Vienna...which she did.  
However, before we stepped back into the car nature called and so did a double beefburger and fries!
Refreshed we drove back down the street and whilst I sat in the car Anne went inside the new hotel to negotiate with the receptionist. My company seems to give us bad luck. Anne does much better on her own. Every time I go in to hotels we get knocked back. This time, no problem, and we carried our bags to the lift leaving the car parked safely around the back off the main road. The hotel was decorated in the Austrian style with lots of wood panelling. It was very clean and comfortable and great service.
Taking just the day bag we caught a #21 bus from the stop not far from the hotel which took us to the centre of the north side of the river where we booked ourselves a bus tour with Panorama Tours. A city tour that would take in most of the town and its surrounds and which would give us a fair idea of where to go when we returned. However, we had 50 minutes to wait so took the opportunity to investigate the Mirabell Palace Gardens opposite. Saw lots of roses, formal flower beds, arboretums, some enormous statues and lots of American tourists. Emerging from the other end we found ourselves outside the opera house and a marionette theatre...a puppet show in which the strung out characters play out an opera  to the singing of their handlers. 
We hopped into our little red Panorama bus joining up with four ladies from Florida and a gent from England who had come over for just the day as a gift from his wife for his birthday. We could not see a great deal out of the bus. It was one of those 8 seaters in three rows and our heads nearly touched the roof disabling us from seeing out especially if one was in the middle. However, we had a lady guide who kept us informed of where we were as we did the old town, drove through the Monchsberg tunnel and stopped at a lake and a palace. It was a colourful town with yellow being the predominant colour on the buildings. We passed a zoo at one stage and saw a big brown bear basking in the sun much to the delight of the American ladies. In spite of the numerous bear figures we had seen in many German towns the European bear is practically extinct but occasionally they roam through from the east.
We were dropped off on the northern side of the river again and Anne and I walked back to the old town on the south side across one of many bridges across the Salzach river. We strolled along the narrow shopping streets which the bus had been unable to negotiate and found Mozart's house which didn't do much for me except that it was yellow, was decorated with flowers and was closed. That meant that I did not have to go inside! At the end of that street we followed the cliff face into which many of the old homes had been built including the old stables which was now their concert hall.
We found the Dom which was just closing. It was dark inside, lit only by candles which added to its cavernous immensity. It was heavily decorated in the baroque fashion again with carvings and paintings on the walls. From the main square outside we could see the castle or Festung Hohensalzburg up high in the distance. Too far to walk and probably closed now anyway.
Back to the main street to look for a Salzburg dining experience. It was not easy. Most of them were too expensive for us so we settled for what appeared to be a pizzeria but when we climbed the stairs to the second floor restaurant we discovered that it had a full menu of Italian food. My mind had been set on a pizza however and we both ordered same with salad. The surroundings were very comfortable and the waitress very friendly and remarkably talented in that in the short time we were there she spoke to customers in English, German, Italian and some unknown Baltic lingo. Restaurants are the only places where you can get an English text to explain the menu. Sad really. All the informative signs and descriptions at tourist destinations such as museums and galleries become unfathomable.
Back to the river front to catch our bus back to the hotel.
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