June 1, 2010 Salzburg, Austria

5 06 2010

I woke up at 0645 to the poke of Mrs D.  Always a great way to wake up.  The room hadn’t cooled down at all and it was still 26C   An oven.   We had all decided to go it on our own for breakfast due to the high cost of food.  Mrs D and I had Oatmeal bars that we had packed back in Vancouver.

When we got outside we found it less rainy and cold but it certainly hadn’t given it up.  The rain was working hard at dampening our holiday.  We all bundled up and began our trek out to the fortress.

On our way there, we stopped at the Dom Cathedral.  The cathedral is a magnificent church with lovely frescos and beautiful artwork befitting a cathedral in Salzburg.  I figured out new and creative ways to use my backpack as a tripod, resulting in some great long exposure shots down the centre aisle and some of the ceiling.  We continued on our journey to the Fortress funicular.  Once there, our Salzburg card saved us another 19 Euros and we zipped up the hillside much faster than anything had ever done during the days of the fortress’ glory, I’m sure.

The fortress tour was strange.  We had to go in a guided group but the tour was done by audio guide.  So you listened to the tour and some gentleman ushered you along on your tour.  We saw rooms such as the torture room (having never actually been used for torture) and the dungeon (which actually HAD been a dungeon)  Eek!  We went all the way up to the top of the highest tower and were buffeted by rain and wind. It was tough to hear the audio guide, keep you hat from flying off and take pictures.  We managed :)  As we descended, we crossed across various additions that had been included by various bishops that lived there over the centuries.  Salzburg fortress had never been taken by force, but that didn’t stop the owner of the day from spending the local money and building more and better fortifications, due to the trendy threat of the time.

At noon, we sat down for some “lunch” In all honesty it was tea, coffee and cake as well as Kaiserschmarr’n.  Hard to describe what Kaisersharr’n is other than “VERY good!”  After our repose from the cold and with some energy inside us we headed for the walk down the footpath toward the bottom of the hill on which the fortress stands.

On the way down the path there were more good views of Salzburg.  I’ve decided I like Czech towns better.  Their red tiled roofs are bright and colourful, even in the rain.   The black steel/slate of Austrian towns left things looking pretty monotone and drab.    The rest of the group kept stopping and taking pictures of each other so I just headed down and waited at the bottom of the hill for them.  Good thing too – they took another 10-15 minutes to get there!  They stopped and talked, so I started into the ornate graveyard of St. Peter’s Cathedral.   It really is amazing the grave decorations that the Austrians use with/instead of regular tombstones that we in North America use. 

Mrs D caught up with me and we entered the catacombs at a cost of 1 euro.  Had I known it was covered by my Salzburg card, I wouldn’t have had to pay anything.  A donation to the church – no harm.  To enter the catacomb you climbed a series of steps that were basically carved into the cliff side.  At the first level, you went over to the right and found a lovely, but simple altar.  Going back to the stairs and further up, you came to a more decorative altar and stone casket (long empty).  There was an inscription on a stone in Latin.  I could make out the date 473 AD.  We took some pictures and headed down while the other members of our group were coming up.  At the bottom, I asked the caretaker what the date of the catacombs was and he confirmed what I had seem.  They were from the 5th century!!! Wow – I can imagine early Christians keeping their worship quiet to avoid being killed by pagans.  Perhaps I have my historical periods wrong, but that’s what _I_ was imagining.  While the group sat and talked at the base of the catacombs I decided to head into St. Peter’s Cathedral.  I told one of the girls and headed off.

St. Peter’s is quite an unassuming church from the outside. No fancy buttresses on the outside and it is generally overall quite simple.  When you walk inside, on the other hand, you are wowed by the ornate gilded work, the various chapels and the detailed, lovely paintings adoring the walls of the chapels and the ceilings.  Like other cathedrals, St. Peter’s had an amazing pipe organ.  It really must be something to hear it play.  It would be amazing to hear an organ concert in this or many other churches that we’d seen to date.  I was in the midst of taking some photographs and admiring the hundreds of years of craftsmanship when Mrs D came in and scolded me for taking off without telling anyone. Sigh.  I guess they were all too busy talking to hear me tell them of my plans.

Next on our list was the Royal Residences.  The tour of the residences was in the form of an audio guide again, this time without a tour guide/chaperone.  As we walked from bedroom to anteroom, to waiting room, to audience room, I was reminded very much of Versailles.  There were some incredible pieces of furniture dating from the 18th century and some paintings dated from the 17th century.  As with any royal home – Excess seems to be the word of the day.

The Residences took us quite a while and we realized that we’d be cutting it close to get the Museum in with our Salzburg card within the 24 hour period.  We rain in the rain over to the museum only to find out it was closed on Tuesdays.  why?  I dunno, but it meant that our Salzburg card had definitely come to an end, having got us into approximately 28 euros of attractions for the cost of 25 euros.  I suppose it was worth it. 

There was a faction among us (and Mrs D was one of them) that wanted to go shopping.  Maggie, Francis, Iris and I headed off to find Sachers to buy some Sacher Torte and some hot chocolate.  We couldn’t pass up an opportunity to try their delicious offerings so found ourselves in their cafe next.  We felt a bit underdressed but apparently a lot of the “old” protocol is gone, as were simply told to seat ourselves rather than being seated.  We ate Kaisersschmarr’n again as well as a Viennese Orange and ginger cake while sipping on ice coffees.  It was all quite refined.  By the time we finished, we barely had enough time to go back and meet the others for dinner.

We ate dinner at a restaurant associated with St. Peter’s.  The building had been there since 700AD.  The atmosphere was pretty highbrow but we managed to survive.  The food was great and the ambience was a very good addition.  Dinner was a winner.

We were pretty stuffed after dinner so we all walked back to our hotel and made some brief plans for tomorrow.  We would have to rent the van tomorrow so we had to make sure we had SOME idea what we were doing.

Back in our room, we found the temperature to be a balmy 26 or so – AGAIN.  The hotel reception clerk said that the AC doesn’t kick in when the temperature is cold outside – Sorry it sucks to be you. Other members of our party had opened their windows the night before.  We did so tonight and were serenaded to sleep by the sounds of heavy machinery working on the rail line and bridge just outside our hotel.  This earned this place the lowest rank on our trip so far.

Good Night!

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