Salzburg from Above

Trip Start May 31, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

The next morning I peaked through the curtains of our hotel room and saw a white Salzburg looking back at me. It had snowed the night before, just as Ed had predicted and now everything was covered in snow. Having lived in tropical climates all my life I am still mystified by the presence of snow, and seeing the baroque domes and the tall pine trees bleached white had the same effect.

Dressed as warmly as we could, we walked out into the chilly morning, stepping on the slushy snow, making our way towards town. We took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in what used to be a large green park. The now white field looked stunning as it highlighted the mighty Hohensalzburg fortress just above it, perched on a rocky hill.

The funicular which was supposed to take us up the steep hill to the fortress was closed for repairs which meant we had to walk up. It had started raining again but we made our way up with other stray tourists who were interested in seeing the castle, despite the weather conditions. Hopefully it would be warm inside.

The views of Salzburg from the top were gorgeous, grey skies and all. We could see the not too far away snowy peaks of the mountains guarding the city and the dark steeples of the church towers of the Old Town all covered in snow. We made it to the entrance and soon after found a bar decorated medieval style with a full armours and swords, shields and torture wheels. We decided to stop for a beer before continuing to check it out, even though it was barely 11 o'clock. Inside, Ed discovered there were medieval hats and robes one could try one plus the props which were swords and crossbows. Ed tried everything on and played the medieval warrior while I sat and photographed him.

We took the guided tour of the fortress through the dungeons and torture chambers, the beautiful medieval state rooms, and the towers with the best views of the city. The tour culminated in the Golden Chamber, a magnificently furnished room of the royal chambers of the archbishops. Two long walls were taken up by benches decorated in lavish vines, golden grapes, rosettes and small animals.

We were let lose on the courtyard to explore the fortress on our own, but it was so cold and windy up here we just wanted a hot cup of whatever was available. We explored themarionette museum and the arms room before eventually exiting the castle. As we were walking out Ed spotted a tower in the distance which he wanted to take a closer look at, but I just wanted to get out of the freaking rain, cold, and wind. He won this time and pulled me by the hand through a path away from the castle and towards a park.

I had to admit I was glad Ed convinced me to follow him to the hilltop park because from up here we could see the best postcard-perfect views of the city: the blue-grey color of the River Salzbach complementing the greenish roofs, domes and steeples, framed by the white capped mountains behind. It all made me forget about the icy wind......for a few minutes.

As we got ready to leave Salzburg at dusk, the smell of fresh pines enticed us to a small hidden courtyard behind the St Peters monastery. We were probably trespassing as it looked like private property, but we couldn't help it as we were enchanted by the 20 something natural Christmas trees decorated with tiny yellow glowing lights, like small fireflies hovering around the branches.

Overall Salzburg had been good, a little more expensive than expected but the people were generally kind and helpful, something which is hard to find in a city that has more tourists than habitants. It's a place we'd come back to but in warmer times of the year, when the verdure of the many trees and nearby mountains of Salzburg are sure to be spectacular.
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