The hills are most definitely alive...

Trip Start May 06, 2008
Trip End Jun 06, 2008

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Where I stayed
Hotel StieglBräu

Flag of Austria  , Austrian Alps,
Saturday, May 17, 2008

“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” – Rudyard Kipling

Day 10 : 17th May 2008 (Saturday)  The hills are most definitely alive... (with Mozart madness)...

After breakfast at the hotel and another delightful chat with the charming Sofie, we took the U4 to Schönbrunn. It was pretty straightforward getting there, and there literally was a whole horde of Japanese tourists who got off at the same stop and started marching towards the palace. So we just kinda fell in step with them and were swept into the compound. We made our way to the queue's to buy tickets to get in. We didn't have much time, so we took tickets to the smallest tour available. The ticket indicates the exact time to enter and the ushers are very strict about the time thing, everything seems quite hi tech. But gosh, the palace is extravagant. And huge. And the attention to detail, I could get used to living like this, ha ha... Absolutely sumptuous... Frescoed ceilings, mirrored gilded in silver and gold, rosewood walls, bronze chandeliers, beds covered in red velvet woven with gold and silver, silk wall hangings. oh yeah, I could definitely get used to this... Photography is prohibited, so sad, but the interiors are hard to forget. Every rooms speaks its own story and the tour ended in a souvenir shop. Of course. A lot of souvenirs here have Mozart's face on them. His face is just everywhere. On key chains and chocolates. There's even guys dressed as Mozart who come up and try to get you to buy tickets to concerts.

After that early morning overdose of opulence, we ventured out to the gardens, free to visit and free to photograph. Definitely reminded me of Versailles. To say the landscaped gardens with fountains and statues are enormous would be an understatement. There's mazes and labyrinth's and even a zoo not to mention the "Gloriette" perched up on the hill offering fabulous views from the top. There was a Neptune's fountain that we went close up to see (was a little smelly) which had little duckies swimming in it. After the trek about the garden, we took one of many forested paths past the maze to get back to the U-bahn. There were a lot of locals jogging, nice way to get some fresh air and exercise.

So we got back to the hotel to pack, checkout and say goodbye to Sofie. We had a quick early lunch at the same cafe down the street and headed to the station to board our train to Salzburg. The train was on time, of course, and soon we were whizzing by. It wasn't very crowded, but sitting bang opposite me was this (austrian I suppose) woman who was very amusing. Like she had so many gadgets in this backpack she kept flipping out and using. I was amused. But the kicker was when she took out this tiny gadget with a button which when pressed, magically transformed itself into a brush.... (whats wrong with a small comb).... and then she proceeded to comb her hair, then took out another contraption that stored a mirror that pops out and conceals a lipstick. (Yeah yeah I was bored and had nothing better to do than watch... How long can I look out the window at the beautiful Austrian scenery zipping by...) Anyways, she got off a couple stops before the main Salzburg station. I was so sad to see her go...

We got to Salzburg, and I thought we'd pick up a few sandwiches at the station. I also checked out where to buy the Einfach-Raus-Ticket for our trip to Munich with Ashok and Glynis. Lots of savings with this ticket, it allows 2 to 5 people to travel for 28€ as long as you only use regional trains and travel after 9am. We could handle that. I found you could buy this from an automated machine, which was cool. We also bought the Salzburg card that would allow us entry into most of the major attractions, so to speak as well as the use of public transportation. So from the station, we thought we'd just walk to hotel, it wasn't very far. At first, I didn't like the city much around the station but I guess all cities around train stations are a little seedy. What was worse was there was this pungent odor of horse dung everywhere. I noticed the horses hitched to carriages here didn't have their own poop bags like in Vienna, no wonder the whole place smelled a bit. Anyway, the hotel was alright, we got room 49, and we rested a bit before heading out. We were going to meet A and G later today. They had flown from Paris into Vienna and were taking the train to Salzburg. I considered doing the Sound of Music tour, but Godwin was like, really? Then I figured we didn't have the time, and we should probably just explore the city, much as I would liked to sing - the hills are alive - a la Julie Andrews on the mountain top...

So we took the bus into town, crossed the bridge and walked about the old town (Altstadt) getting acquainted to new cobble stoned alleys and winding streets. Again, we were assaulted by all things Mozart. There's everything for sale with his face on it. They even sell chocolates with his face plastered on 'em unfortunately named Mozart Balls. Salzburg is quite the musical place, what with him and then the hills being alive and all that.We were in the vicinity of Mozart's residence, and since its covered by the Salzburg card, we thought we'd go take a look. It was alright, quite small and we were done quickly. We wandered around the streets and found ourselves outside the Abbey Church of St Peters. Right in the middle of Cathedral Square was a statue of the Virgin Mary with angels, one was hitting the devil with a thunder bolt. Interesting. The interiors were Baroque and characteristically impressive. I really liked the stained glass dove on the dome.

From here we thought we'd head to the fortress (Hohensalzburg Fortress) . It dominates the skyline and you can't not notice it, perched up on the mountain like that... There's this funicular "Festungsbahn" train that takes you up, or you could walk. We took the train, which runs every ten minutes, it was covered by the card. It was a little bare inside, but the views of the city from the top were worth it. Godwin was fascinated by the weapons on display inside. There was a marionette theater and other interesting bits and pieces. The city was growing on me, and it was especially beautiful to watch dusk fall over it, with the Alps in the backdrop. We watched the river Salzach meander through the small city and then decided to head back to our hotel and check if Ashok and Glynis had arrived yet. We also took a detour via St Peters Cemetery on the way back. It wasn't mournful in the least and I enjoyed walking through it. Its nice that all the graves seemed well looked after, and there were flowers and candles everywhere.

So, they were here, and we had lots to talk about. Glynis was very impressed I had given her a printout of all the stations between Vienna and Salzburg, timings and when they should hop trains. She religiously ticked the stations off and they got here in one piece. They had a good time in Paris, and we decide to head to the Old Town area so we could walk about the narrow pedestrian only streets. We were also on the lookout for a place to eat. As we were walking down one particularly crowded street, a couple of girls came up to us and said they're selling hugs, for 0.10€ each. Ashok was all game and was looking about his pockets for change while Godwin was ready to run in the opposite direction. LOL. Ashok then caught Glynis' icy stare and abruptly gave up the hunt for the elusive coin. Ha, I missed the entertainment these two provide. Anyways, we found this nice restaurant on the first floor and outside the door, there were spoons and forks laid out on the floor. We weren't sure what that was supposed to symbolize, that its full? or maybe there's room? Anyway, we went in and found they didn't have room in the non smoking section and Godwin is allergic so we thought we'd come back. After walking about some more, we thought we'd head back to the same restaurant, it seemed full and really lively. We had a good meal, a few beers and then headed back to the hotel for some much deserved rest. We decided to go out separately the next day since we had already been to a couple of places already, and we thought we'd meet up in the evening for dinner.

Steps walked: 19462
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