Fare's Fair

Trip Start Dec 16, 2007
Trip End Feb 24, 2008

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I left you readers on the cliffhanger of Mum and Dad wondering off alone on the trolleybus to the Laundromat on Christmas Day morning. I can report that they both made it back alive, although they did catch a taxi back to the hotel, claiming that the trolleybus was not due for 31 minutes when they checked at the station. When they made it back to the rooms and offloaded the washed clothing we decided that we would capitalize on the trolleybus success by traveling into the station once again to connect to bus #25 that runs out to the Untersberg[seil]bahn. Unfortunately the success of earlier in the morning could not be repeated with the trolleybus pulling out from the stop just as it came into view around the corner. Instead of wait 20 minutes for the next service (on regular weekdays the wait would've only been 10 minutes) the decision was made to walk further from our hotel to the now familiar Linzergasse, where another obus route runs and try our luck there. Unfortunately for us we discovered that this route runs at almost the same time as the one closer to the hotel so we still had a significant wait if we chose to stay there. In the face of failure our only choice was to walk in the direction of the station, with the hope of perhaps coming across a stop that is served by the 25 and thus negating the need to walk the now 1.6km distance all the way to the route's beginning at the Hbf.

I perused the information at a bus shelter that we were passing near on our walk and discovered that we could alter direction, travel just a block or two and meet up with the 25 at Mirabellplatz. This plan broke the success drought and we were soon waiting in hope that the bus would be coming, despite the fact that the stop's timetable only listed "Sontag" instead of the usual "Sontag / Friertag" combo. Like all public transport in Salzburg, our route 25 "Autobus" (normal diesel bus, in this case a Merc Citaro, Bus of the Year 2007) service arrived perfectly on time. Prior to boarding I mentioned to the family that our Salzburg Cards were valid for travel within the "Salzburg Zone" and that perhaps this would not cover us to the town at the end of this bus route, despite the fact that the seilbahn (cable car) itself was free with the cards. We boarded the bus at the back and never had our tickets inspected, enjoying the 30 minute journey out to the south of Salzburg.

The Untersbergbahn runs every 30 minutes so we waited for around 15 minutes in the warm of the valley station before boarding the gondola for our 1300m ascent. After 10 minutes we had arrived at the summit, where we were greeted by panoramic views of snowy mountains, white valleys and some fog seas. It was a short walk up through the snow to the apex of the particular mountain that we were on, however it was covered with snow and there was only a narrow track of well trodden and compacted snow on which to walk. The height-sensitive and not-so-sure-footed Mum was happy enough with having taken the cable car but, with our insistence, she made it all the way to the apex to admire the full view and the odd iron cross at the top. A few spills and a lot of laughs got us back down to the upper station of the seilbahn, where we enjoyed a poor quality and value for money burger lunch ahead of our descent to the valley once more.

With the bus running every 20 minutes but the seilbahn every 30 the timetables do not coordinate too well so we had a 20 minute wait for the bus back to Salzburg, time that was spent enjoying the urban fabric of the little town we were in as well as the ice in the carpark.

Shock! Horror! Tom, the ReiseFührer, was right! We were forced to board our return bus at the front door with the driver, who informed us that our Salzburg Cards were not valid fare for our journey and that we had to purchase tickets to the zone boundary. This gang of fare-evading crims had been busted, once and hopefully for all!

Back in Salzburg we left the bus and crossed the Salzach River into the Altstadt once again. This time we were making our obligatory visit to the Mozart Family house, which has been transformed into a rather mediocre collection of odds-and-sods associated with Wolfgang Amadeus. Luckily it was free admission with our cards but the ordinary 9 Euro entry would have been a nice rip-off. There were so many rooms and not enough exhibition material; some rooms had just 1 small article in them. Articles ranged from concert tickets to countless paintings and engravings and supposed locks of W.A.'s hair! The most interesting part was the section on life at the time and the views from the house in the charming Altstadt.

The plan had been to then walk to these special lifts in one of the rock faces around the Altstadt to get up to the Museum of Modern Art. Unfortunately the Museum was closed because of the public holiday but we still ascended on the lifts (free with our cards) and enjoyed the view from the top. Despite the Museum's closure there was still fun to be had at the top. Along with the great view there was also a sculpture park that provided entertainment for as long as we could handle staying outside in the growing dark and dropping temperature. By the time we had finished at the top it was time to be down at the bottom to catch the route 21 bus back to our hotel. Again, this service was very timely. Of note was that this bus dropped us off at the start of a local shared street zone, where cars and people are supposed to be equal, the idea being that the streets can once again become centres of activity and be safe for children to play and alk etc.

Our final Salzburg dinner was once again at the hotel's restaurant, which we had booked earlier. Being a public holiday, many eateries were closed and thus the hotel's restaurant was the best option for a guaranteed decent feed.

I am now typing this entry on the train from Salzburg to Vienna. We're covering the same tracks on which we travelled from Linz to Salzburg and then going further, again at speeds of up to 160km/h in comfort on the nice Austrian Railways carriages. The only problem with this service is that it continues on to Hungary so the train crew and dining car are both Hungarian, not offering at seat or take-away food and drink service so Mum and Dad are struggling to survive without a caffene hit.
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