The land of music

Trip Start Dec 20, 2010
Trip End Jan 01, 2011

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Where I stayed
Arena City Hotel

Flag of Austria  , Austrian Alps,
Saturday, December 25, 2010

So I arrived last night by train to the lovely city of Salzburg. The train ride was plenty comfortable and was also quite short.  Aware that it's Christmas, I went ahead and got a hotel with lots of amenities in case things were closed in Salzburg.  In fact, when I arrived at the hotel, I was greeted by name and was quite astonished by the friendly service.  I am very pleased with the hotel.  It is a bit away from the actual center but it is directly next to the beginning of the #1 bus line which is direct into the center by way of the central train station.  the staff is very friendly and have everything you may need available.  I was able to book my tours directly that night as well as purchase bus tickets directly at the hotel.

This hotel proved to be a very good choice.  Given the Christmas holiday, it was very quiet when I checked in and I had a very comfortable room.  Because I am not used to anything above a 3 star, i had to ask if they got the room mixed up.  It was that nice.

I had a good night of sleep and then a very nice and well prepared breakfast care of the hotel. The hotel service was excellent and included a HOT breakfast.  I expected a few hot trays laid out with stale eggs and some sausage or something like that, but they cooked the eggs fresh and had several types of meats and breads to add as well.  The table service was also quick and friendly. Remember this name: Arena City Hotel.

I began my day taking the bus into the center.  The number 1 bus goes every 10 minutes from directly across form the hotel.  It ends up after about 10 minutes in the very center of Salzburg.  I wasn't quite sure which way to go off the bus so I followed some other folks who seemed to have a sense of direction.  I think they were Italian.  I followed the winding roads through arched alleyways and then on to the Chrstkindlemarkt (Christmas markets) which are located in the center of town.  Being Christmas day, I was surprized that the markets were open.  the markets in Munich had all closed the morning before.  I did a small amount of shopping.  These markets were full of very special local goods and chocolates, chocolates and even more chocolates!!! I then proceeded to make my way through the winding, rennaissance streets of the quaint town. Every surface was covered with fresh white snow and it was cold but so very picturesque.   I found myself at the foot of a mound with a fortress on the top.  I was wandering a bit aimlessly as i was taking in the artistic scenery and all the charm of this jewel like city. I decided the best views would be from the top of this fortress so up the hill I went.  I did find the fanicular that was just ready to leave for the top and I jumped on. as i exited at the museum at the top, it turns out there was a very nice tour just beginning.  the history is pretty typical of this region.  First it was a fortress occupied by nobility, then a fortress to protect the people from invading armies, then it became a prison and so the story goes pretty much through out the regions of europe. 

After the spending some time on the tour i found myself at the gift shop where I saw some interesting souveniers. Namely what looked like road crossing signs but with a kangaroos image on it.  As I laughed at the caption: "No kangaroos in Austria" the shop owner began to explain how he and his partner started up that product line after his buddy went to austrailia and saw these signs everywhere.  Now you see these signs in Austria as a joke but the story was a good one and I bought a key chain for a friend who is Austrailian.  She'll really think it's funny.  

I sort of wandered my way through more of the town without really knowing what I was seeing.  The scenery is just breathtaking and very romantic. As usual there was also some very interesting and unique architecture, especially given the technology at the time of construction. Some of the buildings actually look like they are actually built into the front of the mountain caves.  I later learned that they in fact are facades over caves and there is an actual profession in the area called cave cleaning.  They remove debris before it can fall and cause damage or injury. 

 At about mid afternoon, I returned to my hotel for a nice sauna/steam in the clean well kept spa.  As i have never enjoyed these types of amenities before, I really enjoyed the comfort of warming up after being out in the cold.  I used the sauna and steam facilities each day and got spoiled.

After my relaxation time, I went back out to brave the bitter cold and find some dinner for my self this Christmas day eve.  Most stuff was closed or closing so after about an hour of strolling through the very romantically lit streets, I decided to go back to my room and get some rest for my all day "sound of music" tour tomorrow morning!

So far I find Salzburg to be one of the loveliest cities I've ever seen.

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