Europe – Part III

***Continued from previous post.

{October 12 – 8:20 pm – Salzburg, Austria}
Another long, productive day. We haven’t spent much time in our little hotel room; too busy exploring! This morning I got up at 7 am to get ready. Ate breakfast a little after 8 o’ clock. After food, I purchased for each of us a 24 hour “Salzburg Card” (50€ total). This is a great card for the price – free bus rides and entry to a whole bunch of attractions in the city. This is a great website with lots of information about the city and the “Salzburg Card”. So, we walked down Linzer-Gasse, crossed the bridge to Old Town (Altstadt), and waited for the #25 bus in front of the police station. It came at 10:20 am. The #25 bus goes to the Untersberg cable car in Grödig / St. Leonhard and even though the bus ride is outside of the city, we were still allowed to get on for free when we flashed the “Card”. We reached our destination sometime after 11 am if I recall correctly. Inside the station we showed our cards and were given tickets for the cable car. We waited for the next car and climbed in with a huge group of people – it was quite packed! I’m afraid of heights, so I was apprehensive about going up the mountain, but there was no way I could go to Salzburg and not go to the top of the Untersberg! Luckily it was really foggy so I didn’t see much of the ascent. Jordan took pictures for me. Once we reached the top at 1776 m in altitude and went outside to the trails, I noticed it was much warmer than down at ground level.



We walked up the trail to the first peak marked with a huge cross and took some photos. Then we decided to walk the trail to the next peak, which was quite a hike! Probably took us a good 30-45 minutes to get there. I got so warm I removed my light jacket, and I had to constantly stop to drink water and catch my breath due to the altitude. But it was a wonderful walk and I’m so glad we did it. Around noon we climbed back down the trails to the station and hopped on the cable car for the next descent. At the main station we bought apple & cheese danishes for a snack. What a morning!



Our next stop on the #25 bus (free with the cards) was Schloss Hellbrunn. We got off at the right spot and walked down the long road to the palace grounds. Remembered this place from the “Sound of Music” tour from the other day, although this time we can explore on our own and spend as much time here as we want. First stop: souvenir shop! I bought a “Sound of Music” book, a book about Hellbrunn Palace, a postcard, and an Austria flag patch for 26€. Then we went into the palace and picked up two English audio-guides for the self-guided tour. I found the audio-guides were a little boring; I enjoyed just walking around and inspecting the rooms without it. Next we found the booth for getting tickets to the Trick Fountains show (included with the “Salzburg Card”). The next show was at 2:20 pm so we had a bit of a wait. The Trick Fountains were pretty cool. Had to keep my camera tucked away when I wasn’t using it so that it wouldn’t get wet. First we were led to see the stone table and seats that were the brainchild of Markus Sittikus. He got a kick out of his guests being sprayed in the bum by water jets when they were sitting down to dinner! The guide led us through the grottoes to see the statues, etc. As we walked through many of us got a little wet from the hidden water-jets spurting water at us – usually when we were stepping through a doorway or some other inopportune moment! The mechanical theatre was cool, too. It was fun, though, and worth the 40 minute stroll.



After that little adventure, Jordan decided to wander down a path that looked like it went into the woods, but actually led us to the Folklore Museum on the grounds. Free entry with our cards. Neat to poke around in there for a bit. Left there and found ourselves near the Salzburg Zoo so we used our cards for free tickets and had a great time exploring the zoo. The animals are so close and easy to spot for the most part. Took lots of photos, of course. The highlight of the zoo, however, was definitely when I came around the corner of the lemur pen and suddenly about four or five lemurs started jumping over and running around the path in front of me – way cool! For a light snack we ate some delicious French fries at the buffet. In the souvenir shop I purchased a miniature snow leopard stuffed animal for my sister (2.60€). We spent a long time at the zoo but finally returned to the palace grounds to take some pictures in front of the “Sound of Music” gazebo (no crowds this time). Then back to the bus stop to catch the #25 back to town around 5:30 pm. Transferred at the bus terminal to the #3 and got off in Old Town. We walked over to the elevator that takes you to the top of the Mönchsberg at the “Museum of Moderne” and got tickets to go up because they were included in the cards. (We discovered the elevator after our trek up the mountain on that first day.) However, once we reached the top we were told that the museum was closed for a special event so back down we went – good thing we didn’t pay for the tickets!



Found a “McCafe” while looking for dinner. Bought a caramel macchiato for myself and a slice of chocolate cake for the husband. Kept walking and stopped at “Spaghetti & Co” around 7:30 pm for dinner. We always have a difficult time deciding on restaurants, even here in Canada. By now I am starving! Jordan ordered Hawaiian pizza and beer, and I had the carbonara pasta with ham and bacon. Our dinner only cost 16€! And finally, back to the hotel after that amazing meal. So tired!



{October 13 – 4:30 pm – Salzburg, Austria}
We tried for another early day but we’re still so tired that we slept past 8 am. After eating breakfast at the buffet, we headed out into the grey, foggy streets through town to the funicular (cable railway) for Hohensalzburg Fortress. If we’d had time to go to the fortress yesterday, it would have been included in our “Salzburg Card”. Use of the funicular cost 10.50€ each. Once in the fortress we explored the grounds, checked out the panorama views, even though it was cold. Definitely the worst day for weather, our first yucky Europe day. We walked into the fortress and inspected the state rooms, etc. Signed up for audio-guide tour of the inner rooms to see things like the torture chamber, which was actually used to hold convicted prisoners. All in all, we spent a couple hours at the fortress and then took the cable railway back down in the afternoon.



Next we ended up at St. Peter’s Cemetery & Catacombs. For 1€ each we were allowed to walk up the steep stone steps into the catacombs and explore. It wasn’t that interesting. The view from the windows on the way up is pretty nice, though. After finishing there, I bought a yummy pretzel for a snack (2.50€). Went looking for lunch and by 3 pm we finally found a place that looked alright, “Il Centro”, an Italian restaurant. Very cozy inside, great to warm up the hands. I ordered black tea, Jordan had a beer. For food I had tortellini in a creamy tomato sauce with mushrooms, ham, and salami (divine), while Jordan ate a bowl of vegetable soup and pizza bread, all for 20€. I’m quite pleased with the cost of food here in Salzburg. Back at the hotel to drop off the days purchases (water, snacks, etc). Shortly we’ll need to catch a bus to the train station to buy our tickets for tomorrow’s journey to Munich Airport.

{October 13 – 7:15 pm – Salzburg, Austria}
Went out around 5 pm to catch the #2 bus to train station. Purchased our tickets to Munich Airport (66€ for both of us) and caught the next bus going to Altstadt. Found a toy store and decided to check it out. Bought a Disney Princesses sticker book for Jeena (9€) and a small notebook for myself. Then to the grocery store for Sprite and some Lindt chocolate. Next, we found the store “Interio” and I bought a whole bunch of small glass Christmas ornaments in my colour scheme (dark purple, red, and silver) all for 34€. Time to head back to the hotel to make sure everything is packed!

***Continued in next post.

Europe – Part II

***Continued from previous post.

{October 9 – 11:30 am – Düsseldorf, Germany}
We are on the Air Berlin flight heading to Salzburg, Austria at the moment. This morning I woke up at 5:15 am to shower and make sure our luggage was ready. Cereal for breakfast. Tyler drove Jordan and I to the train station in Geilenkirchen to catch the 7:37 am train to Düsseldorf Airport. Our train was a double-decker and we sat up top. At the hauptbahnhof in Düsseldorf, we transferred to another train going to the terminal. Finally we reached the airport just after 9 am and checked ourselves in. Both of us set off the alarm going through security, which is funny since I wore the same outfit I’d had on going through Toronto security and nothing happened. Once our flight was announced, we boarded a bus which took us onto the tarmac to the plane. On the plane we were given a snack but I just had water and ate my Nutri-Grain bar because I didn’t like the apple biscuits that were served.



{October 9 – 3:10 pm – Salzburg, Austria}
After disembarking from the plane and finding our luggage, we hopped on Bus #2 heading toward downtown. We got off at Wolf-Dietrich-Strasse (as advised by someone on Trip Advisor) and with the help of a map printed off Google, we managed to find the Goldenes Theaterhotel (in New Town). The bus ride cost 2.10€ each. Checked in and collected some brochures, and came up to our room. Probably going to book a couple Panarama tours through the hotel for the next couple days. We’re going to head out in a few minutes to explore the city on foot and hopefully find some dinner.



{October 9 – 10:15 pm – Salzburg, Austria}
Our afternoon consisted of a LOT of walking. We never stopped after leaving the hotel. First we walked down Linzer-Gasse, looking at all the shops. Popped into a stationary store and bought a pop-up baby card for Michelle (3.50€). Then we veered off the main road under an archway and found ourselves going up a very steep street that has a magnificent view of the city and the Salzach River. There’s a church of some kind at the top, and a Mozart statue, and other Christian statues in niches on the way up. I think the building is Kapuzinerkloster on Kapuzinerberg. After taking pictures, we made our way back down to the bottom of the Kapuziner mountain and crossed over to the Altstadt (Old Town) on one of the pedestrian bridges. Found a grocery store and bought some rolls, cheese, fresh slices of ham, a bottle of water, and two juices for under 10€. We ate this yummy lunch down by the Salzach on the grass, on the New Town side, with Hohensalzburg Fortress slightly to our left. Beautiful!



After lunch we wandered back across the bridge to Altstadt. I don’t know how we did it, but we managed to find ourselves on the Mönchsberg (another mountain across from Kapuzinerberg). We walked past churches and a big fancy hotel, and through trails in the woods, not really knowing where we were. Saw a sign showing the kilometers to the fortress’s funicular (cable railway). Found the “Museum of Moderne”. We wandered so far into the evening that we ended up 300 metres from the funicular site. Finally we turned around, not having a clue where we were, stopped for a beer at a little shack selling snacks (by now it’s dark and cold), and then returned to ground level after another long walk. On the way back to our hotel we ate pizza at “Saboron”. We ordered a large pizza to split and black tea. The waitress must not have liked the idea of us splitting the food because she gave us one plate, one fork, one knife, and a single napkin! I used tissue from my purse to wipe my hands. lol The pizza was delicious, though, for 14€. Back to the hotel to write this entry and then bed.



{October 10 – 10:45 am – Salzburg, Austria}
Our wake-up call didn’t happen this morning so we woke up at 9:30 am. That meant we had to rush to get ready and go down for breakfast (closes at 10:30 am). We’d also planned to book a full-day tour, but without the wake-up call we were too late. Instead we’ve bought tickets to go on Panarama’s “Sound of Music” tour this afternoon at 2 pm. The tickets are 37€ per person. I’m pretty excited! Jordan and I both love this movie and are looking forward to seeing the locations where the movie was filmed. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll be up early enough for a full-day tour. So, breakfast was alright: lots of breads, rolls, croissants, fruit, yogurt, cereal, milk, cheeses, tea, coffee, etc. I found the grapefruit juice too bitter. Breakfast and wireless internet is included in the room price.



{October 10 – 8:00 pm – Salzburg, Austria}
Back at the hotel for the evening. This morning after breakfast we walked to Mirabel Gardens for a stroll through the grounds. Stopped at a few souvenir shops along the way. I picked up a couple postcards and a cloth Salzburg bag for 12€. Mirabel Gardens is free to enter and the flowers were absolutely beautiful! What beautiful weather for October! After our walk, we returned to the hotel to drop off my shopping and have a snack (leftover apfelstrudel from yesterday). Went down to the lobby at 1:45 pm to catch the Panarama shuttle. Time for “Sound of Music”! At St-Ändra Kirche we boarded a tour bus and drove through the city. The guide pointed out different areas that were in the movie. We stopped to take pictures of Leopoldskron, which was used as the back of the Von Trapp villa (canoe scene, etc). Also stopped at Schloss Hellbrunn to visit the gazebo from the film. Next we drove out to Mondsee in the Lake District (Salzkammergut) where we had an hour of free time to eat, view the cathedral that Maria and Captain Von Trapp were married in in the movie, and drink in the lovely scenery. Spent most of the hour trying to find a bathroom! Before boarding the bus to go back to Salzburg, we bought some truffles. Returned for 6 pm to St-Ändra Kirche.



The guide suggested we walk through Mirabel Gardens again and told us where to find the pegasus fountain, the “Do-Rei-Mi” steps, etc before he said goodbye. Jordan and I decided to take another walk through and realized we had missed an entire section earlier that day! We found the pegasus fountain, took pictures on the steps from the “Do-Rei-Mi” scene, walked through the arbor. Magical! It was getting late and a bit chilly so Jordan and I decided to walk back to Old Town to find something for dinner. We ended up buying chicken shawarma sandwiches from a vendor and brought them back to the hotel to eat. That sandwich was the best I have ever eaten! Time to relax and watch “Burn After Reading” on our Netbook.



{October 11 – 6:30 pm – Salzburg, Austria}
Started the day early with a 6 am wake-up call. I hopped in the shower and we were down to breakfast by 7:45 am. After eating quickly, we booked the full-day Panarama “Bavarian Mountains / Hitler’s Eagles’s Nest / Salt Mines” tour. We were picked up at the hotel at 8:20 am by the shuttle and brought to St-Ändra Kirche where the tour bus was waiting. The tour cost 180€ for both of us.



First we drove out of Salzburg to the Obersalzburg mountain area. Beautiful scenery and mountain views along the way. Because we were on a special combination tour, first the bus had to drop some people off at the salt mines before continuing on to Berchtesgaden, Germany across the border. Up, up some crazy hills and finally we reached the base of the “Eagle’s Nest” where we had to switch to a special bus that would take us on switchback roads the rest of the way up to Hitler’s teahouse. Once we reached the top, we walked down a long dark tunnel to the original brass elevator. A bunch of us all squished inside. There was a sign that I accidentally took a picture of before getting inside; I think it meant I wasn’t supposed to take photos of or in the elevator. The ascent took 45 seconds. Inside the teahouse, or Kehlsteinhaus, that was given to Adolf Hitler for his 50th birthday, our group was shown a brief video, as well as the fireplace from 1938. Then we were given just over an hour to wander around the mountain. Jordan and I went outside and it was very cold but the sun was bright. I realized that I had left my mittens on the tour bus! We could see Hohensalzburg Fortress from our vantage point – that was amazing! We took quite a few photos of the breath-taking landscape and then met back at the elevator for the 11 o’ clock descent. By noon we were in the picturesque town of Berchtesgaden. Jordan and I spent the hour of free-time eating lunch (cheeseburger and fries in a cone) and poking into a few souvenir shops.



Next stop, our turn for the salt mines. Only three of us got off the bus for this part of the combination tour. We introduced ourselves to Hussein, a friendly young man from Bahrain, and we stuck together for the rest of the tour. We dressed in large overalls (mine were absolutely huge) and waited around for the next underground tour at 1:30 pm. Hopped on the underground train, started the audio guides, and away we went! Even with fluorescent lights on the walls, it was still pretty dark. Flash photography is not allowed (although some people still used flash). At the end of the track, we could either go down the walkway or slide down the original slides that the workers used back in the day. Jordan decided to slide, while I just walked down. We were shown all sorts of equipment, there were little videos to watch along the way, and we even got onto a boat and slid across the salt lake – it glittered and sparkled and was really neat to see. Came across a second slide and I went down with Jordan; it’s very quick but takes your breath away! At the end we were given miniature shakers of salt from the mine.



Back to the tour bus for 3 o’ clock. Drove to Königssee, just south of Berchtesgaden, which is the cleanest lake in Germany. A bit of a hike from where the bus parked to the lake itself, but it was worth it. The weather was just perfect. We had 45 minutes to explore and most of us walked all the way to the look-out point and then back, all the while chatting with the tour guide who was very knowledgeable and friendly. He took good care of those of us who were doing the combo tour so that we wouldn’t get off the bus at the wrong time. After this enjoyable but exhausting day, we returned to Salzburg for 6 pm. Now I’m starving – leftover pizza for dinner. We watched “Bangkok Dangerous” on the Netbook before falling asleep.

***Continued in next post.