Sunday, July 1, 2012

No kangaroos in Austria!

So what happened to Zurich? Well we did go to Zurich, but it was mainly a through trip, we got in late and left early, barely enough time for dinner and a place to sleep. So nothing happened in Zurich.

The same was supposed to happen in Salzburg, only there for the one night, but since the train got in so early we had half a day and the night to go walking, and so we did :-) The hills did not come alive with the sound of music (that was Vienna, but more on that later) but it did come up with some amazing and unexpected sights that made it clear why it was chosen for many of the scenes in the movie. Our main aim was to reach the Hohensalzburg fortress way up on the hill.

Not that way, behind you!!!
Locks from one end to the other
So off we went and the first bridge we come across is covered in locks. No signs or explanations but every conceivable type and size of padlock was secured to this bridge. We debated possible reasons but rather than confuse you I did look it up on the internet later and they are called love locks. The idea is that you attach the lock to the bridge and toss the key into the water, symbolising endless love. We came to a church with three arches for each of the major turning points in its life. It had a captivating atmosphere inside which included a live organ player.

We also saw many other sites, statues and monuments but finally made it to our destination, the fortress. But our quest was far from over, it was way above us, and instead of taking the cable car to the top (complete mystery to me) we decided to walk up a steep set of stairs and cobbled slopes to finally arive. It was so late many of the exhibitions inside were closed but we paid the reduced fee to get in just to look around anyway. Inside the views of Salzburg and the grounds itself were magnificent and I will include a few below. We were also surprised to find a restaurant inside with amazing views and had a fabulous dinner. The unusually low price did not reflect the quality of the food or location.

On our way back to the hotel Paul was challenged to a chess game on a board abandoned by a giant (apparently). It was a tough long game but Paul finally conceded when all he had left was the King and his opponent had a King and a pawn. We drifted back to the hotel tired but very pleased with what we accomplished in just one afternoon in Salzburg, eventually looking back to say goodbye to the fortress on the hill.

The next morning we were on a train to Vienna, it was hot and we were hotter by the time we arrived at our hotel, so refreshing to be offered free cold water when we arrived. Vienna certainly lived up to its reputation for music for as soon as we went on one of our orientation walks we came upon a concert on the street.

The next day we purchased a 48 hour public transport pass. Awesome value at around $12 as the subway system is very easy to understand, fast and is everywhere. We found a park to wander through and came across a very modest statue of Johann Strauss, as well as some more lively free concerts. Considering the great composers that this city boasts we decided we had to actually go to a concert, so we found a venue next to the park and purchased tickets for that night.

The concert was brilliant, not only were the great composers represented (mainly Mozart and Stauss) in all their glory but it was done with skill, flair and humour. The concert included guns going off from the drummer, a robbery of one of the band members, the champagne waltz done by dancers getting progressively more drunk and dueling singers. A truly amazing evening.

The next day we went to the Volksgarten, famous for its roses, and also saw the Theseus Temple. This temple was built to show a single work from an outstanding artist and this tradition continues today. Inside was a sculpture of a living 2000 year old gnarled tree in Italy, done in white. I found it fascinating as a tree can tell you so much about the past and what it has gone through.

Finally we went to the huge amusement park ferris wheel to get views of the city and afterwards we checked out the souvenir shop that was full of proof of the kangaroo envy this country suffers from. In the form of ashtrays, fridge magnets, T-shirts and the like were images as seen in the T-shirt being held up by Paul. Maybe we should send them some kangaroos...

Well 17 countries and 5 continents down and counting in our year of discovery and without winter :-) Next stop Hungary and some discoveries we did not expect.

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