Monday, November 12, 2012

Europe 1.07 - Salzburg, Austria

Actual date of this event: 28-30 October

On Sunday morning, we woke up in Garmisch-Partenkirchen with snow on the ground and it was still falling from the sky. We cooked breakfast, cleaned the apartment and left for the train station.

Something didn't feel right as soon as we walked through the station doors. Apparently, many trains had been canceled because trees had broken and were lying on the tracks. Jen's parents were going a different way than Luke, Jen, Dave and me, so we were each figuring out our own method of transportation. Jen's parents were told they would have to take a train for a few stops then get off and take a bus the rest of the way. We were told that the train may or may not show up to take us to Innsbruck and then the train from Innsbruck to Salzburg may or may not be canceled. Great communication going on over in that part of the world! The four of us decided to wait, and sure enough, the train to Innsbruck showed up as planned! We were actually taking the exact same train that we had taken the day before. This time, we saw snow on the way rather than fog.

Left: Luke making thumbs down for uncertainty
Right: Jen was extremely happy with the snow

When we arrived to Innsbruck, we were back to the same problem we had before... will the train show up? We waited the 30 minutes as planned and luckily our train pulled up on time. Phew! But loads of people were crowding to board this train. I mean shoulder to shoulder with another row of shoulder shoulder behind the first. Seriously, people (me included) attacked this train like they wanted the new Cabbage Patch Doll on Black Friday. We were trying to get a four spot seat with a table so we could all sit together. After stepping onto the train, we realized that was going to be impossible. This train was packed! There were zero four spot tables available, zero two side-by-side spots and you had to ask someone if you could sit in a seat next to them, so they could move their bag. Luke and I were lucky, well not lucky, but we had EuRail passes which granted us access to the First Class cars. We decided that we would go up there where it would be more comfortable and we would be able to sit together at a table. Yes!

Ahhhh, first class!
Before going to Salzburg, I had mixed feelings about the town. I had heard some great things about it and some not so great things. I was hesitant but trying to keep an open mind from the beginning. My friend, Laine (see her blog here), had given me some advice prior to the trip and she also gave me a brochure that came to be very handy! Based on her advice, I had 3 things that I wanted to see/do more than anything!
1.) visit St. Peter's Church, Cemetery and Catacombs
2.) eat ice cream at Cafe Tomaselli (according to Laine, specifically, coffee ice cream)
3.) visit Mirabell Palace and Gardens
I was on a mission to see/do each of those three, and I made sure everyone knew it!

We got off of the train and walked about a mile to our hotel in which we were staying for the next two nights. We stayed at Goldenes Theaterhotel located at Schallmooser Haupstrasse 13. We had two rooms next to each other. The rooms were plain, but we never need anything fancy. In order for the electricity to work, you had to turn your key into a slot which meant no electricity while you were away from your room... no charging computers, phones, etc and no keeping drinks in the mini fridge cold either. The hotel had an amazing free breakfast with eggs, bacon, breads with a large variety of spreads, lots of coffee, fruits, yogurts, and everything needed to make sandwiches for the day. We took full advantage of that!

We arrived to the hotel around 3pm, so we dropped our things and went to explore the town. It was still snowing and the ground was wet so it wasn't the best day/time to love the town. The streets were pretty empty though, so we didn't have to deal with many tourists.

Left: artwork of Mozart in an underground tunnel 
Right: side view of the Cathedral
 Left: statue of Mozart
 Front view of the cathedral
Left: large chess board and pieces
Right: empty street in Old Town Salzburg
Left: device that gives the temperature outside
Right: it says 30 degrees outside

Laine had warned me that things closed early in Salzburg, so we had an early dinner at Sternbrau - Goulash with Sauerkraut and Mashed Potatoes. After dinner, the snow was pretty heavy and the streets were even more empty. We decided to just find a grocery store for drinks and go back to the hotel for the night.

On Monday morning, the four of us met downstairs for breakfast and discussed our plans for the day. We decided we would do the two walks that Laine's brochure described. Apparently both walks gave great views of the city. It wasn't snowing anymore, but there was snow on the ground and it was probably the coldest day of the trip.

WALK #1 - Kapuzingerberg Hill
This hill mountain is in the middle of the city right on the river and actually across the street from our hotel, so we didn't have far to go to begin. According to the description in the brochure, we would be walking uphill most of the time... duh, its a hill!

We started out going up 270 stairs through some stairwells and then followed a path along the river to get great views.

We ended up doing just what it says which caused us to walk through mud, snow, rocks, leaves, and have snow falling from the trees onto our heads. Jacket hoods up!

We went up more stairs and more incline and more stairs and more incline and we were getting hot and sweaty! So I decided to stop real quick to take off my scarf, and my base jacket. While I am completely exposed with only my long sleeve t-shirt on, a tree decided that it was the perfect time to shake off its snowy branches. Buckets of snow dumped on my head and whole body. I flailed about for a few seconds trying to dust myself off because wet clothes is not the greatest attire during freezing temperatures. Thanks trees, now I have wet hair. Anyway, we kept going uphill and eventually we reached a restaurant at the top. It was too early for it to be opened, which we expected, but we got to see more views of the city.

Left: restaurant on top of the hill
Right: people had made snowmen on the wall looking out to the city

Going down was THE WORST! We decided to take a different path going down. A path that wasnt even a path. It was just open ground covered in snow. Waterproof hiking shoes, where are you?? Going downhill in snow that has ice underneath is not the easiest so it took us forever to get back to the bottom. Amazingly, none of us slipped on our butts, but we had many close calls! Great success!! Expect for the fact that we all had wet feet now. We eventually found an open path, which was still icy, and made it back to those first 270 stairs.

Jen wanted to go find a pair of boots to buy to cure her wet feet, so we split off in different directions for about an hour. Luke and I went to my must-see spot #1, St. Peter's Church. We took a look into the church and the cemetery before finding out that the Catacombs were closed. What??!!! STRIKE 1! Booooo!

closed catacombs
I was getting miserable at this point. My feet were cold. My hands were frozen. I was trying to stay warm, but the wet shoes were not helping. I don't think I complain much, but I was at that time.

very very very very very miserable
We walked by the Cathedral, which we had seen the night before, but we went in again to take a few more pictures and also because it was warmer inside.

We met back up with Dave and Jen and had a few drinks at an Italian Restaurant (because that was all that was open... at noon). We warmed up a little bit and determined the next plan.

WALK #2 - Monchsberg to the Fortress
If this walk was through the snow, I literally was going to scream. By the description on the brochure, this walk didnt seem as tough. And since we were walking to a castle, I figured it would be a paved path because it would be more popular.

This walk was located on another hill on the other side of the river but still in the city. Pretty crazy how a town can be flat and then boom, cliff and mountain! We stayed along the edge of the cliff to see views of the city, different views, prettier views! There were a few look out points that made for some great shots.

the hill that is closer is the one we hiked earlier
We kept walking until we eventually ran into the castle. We walked up its pretty severe incline to see how far we could go and couldnt even get anywhere near the castle without paying. So we decided not to pay the 11 Euro admission and went back down.

Walked around the corner where we ran into a bier hall. Sure!

After a beer, we decided that we would do Debbie's must-do #2 since it was not too far away. We found a table in Cafe Tomaselli, and took a look at the menu. The cafe has a great selection of hot toddy drinks and would be a perfect spot for lunch or an afternoon snack, but we were I was there for ice cream! Yes, I know, I was just miserably cold two hours ago, but this was a must-do! Anyway, waitress arrives...
Waitress: "What can I get you?"
Me: "Do you have ice cream? I dont see it on the menu."
Waitress: "Ice cream is finished for the year."
Me: silence, steam flowing from ears, get up and leave
Okay, I wasnt that rude, but I was very disappointed. "Finished for the year"??!!! Pitiful excuse! People still want ice cream!! Right? I'm not crazy. Don't you still want ice cream in October? I know I am not the only one. Well, anyway, STRIKE 2. So we kindly say "Danke" and leave the cafe.

Left: Cafe Tomaselli
Right: Mozart's birth home

We leave and were now on a mission to find warm pretzels which lasted a whole two minutes. You see, Bavaria has pretzels galore, but these are no Auntie Anne's Pretzels. They are not warm. They are not salty. They are rarely soft inside. They taste like pretzel, yes. But they are no Auntie Anne's. We walked to a small market where earlier we saw tons of pretzels. We asked one of the ladies if she had an oven to heat a pretzel  that is sitting outside in 30 degree weather. She said no... who is going to eat a frozen pretzel? Someone who wants ice cream in freezing weather might... MIGHT... I didnt want a frozen pretzel. So again disappointed. But we cant have everything we want, right? (BTW, the not war pretzel problem is not strictly in Salzburg)

We headed back to the hotel to warm up some and determine where we were going to stay in Vienna which is where we were headed the next day. We go out for dinner where the dessert menu was on rolling pins... pretty creative.

We were all in the mood for a few extra drinks, so we headed to a street near the University where we assumed would have bars. Yes, there are about 10 bars, but only about 4 of them are opened. Really? It was 8pm and the place is like a ghost town. Don't people drink? I'm sorry, let me say that again. Don't college students drink? We found an Irish Pub where Luke met an Irish friend drunk who wouldn't leave him alone. Pretty funny annoying. But we did see a Saints flag in the pub. Who dat!??!

On Tuesday morning, we ate breakfast and packed up for our departure to Vienna. On the way to the train station, we stopped along the way for Debbie's must-see #3. I already knew what was going to happen, but I was determined to see it anyway just because. STRIKE 3! The gardens were of course dying because it had just snowed the day before. Gardeners had already begun to tear out the flowers and any flowers still left were wilted and frozen. The labyrinth shrubs were losing their leaves which made it a not so fun maze to hide/play in. Complete bomb for my three must-sees/dos. But I still enjoyed Salzburg, frozen feet and all. On to... Vienna!

boooo, for strike 3

Why do I love Salzburg? Still loving those small streets and alleys! I liked the hills in the middle of the town which offered great views of the city and also the mountains in the distance. There are many towns near Salzburg that can easily be accessed by train, bus or car. We would love to go back for another visit to see some of the other areas near the city.

Salzburg means Salt Castle.
On the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth, all 35 churches in Salzburg rang their bells at the same time to celebrate the occasion.
Oh, and if you didn't already know, this is where Mozart was born and raised as a child and a composer. Later in life, he moved to Vienna.


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