Sunday, November 27, 2011


Hey Everyone! 

I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving Break.

I'm getting pretty behind on talking about my travel break... which is a bummer because things keep happening and I keep doing things that would be interesting to blog about... So hopefully I'll get to those eventually I guess. Until then, Salzburg!

Okay, Salzburg is the fourth largest city in Austria and is still not very big. It is very close to the border of Germany and is very touristy. It is also where the Sound of Music is based (for those of you who don't know). There is a lot of natural beauty ("hills are alive") and the city of Salzburg's economy is strongly supported by tourism. The city (and region) were initially strongly connected to the Bavarian Empire but later gained independence and were then acquired by the Austrian Empire (more on that later).

The weather while I was there was really nice (sunny and pretty warm). And I saw a good amount of Americans (like families with older kids) going around, which I was surprised at for the time of year. 

Okay, my Salzburg adventure started on the train ride from Vienna (This is on Friday). It was super foggy and then all the sudden it just ended, like there was a very clear wall of fog that we all the sudden exited and then there were blue skies. So then it was very pretty (imagine lots of small towns tucked away in valleys between huge hills). I arrived at Salzburg and made my way to my hostel (which was filled with a lot of Americans and was very suited to youth). After I got settled I took my guide book (borrowed from my friend) and headed towards old town which is where the large majority of things to see are located. 

I walked along the Salt River (named that because a ton of salt used to be transported along that river and was a huge source of profit for the region centuries ago). The city has a huge mountain-hill in the middle which has a fortress on top of it, the large majority of the old town is in the shadow of the fortress and up against the river. So I crossed the river and walked through old town.
Pretty much exactly what it looked like for me on the walk towards Old Town

I started in Mozartplatz which is a square with a statue of Motzart in the middle. Mozart was born in Salzburg (and spent his first 25 years there) and of course the city likes to recognize that. There are two touristy things in Salzburg for him, his residence and his birthplace. I did not go to either but I hear that his residence is pretty interesting. 

Anyway, I continued to the Residenceplatz which has on either side of it the Old and New Residences, which I think are like government type buildings. The New Residence houses the Salzburg museum which I would be returning to later. The top of the building also has an artsy upside down metal heart in flames which is to symbolize God's love for all creations. Inside the heart there are some small bells (7 I believe) which ring out songs that are appropriate to the season (prolly chiming Christmas tunes right now).

I continued on to the Salzburg Cathedral which was enormous and impressive. 
 (View of the Cathedral from the front, statue of Mary beckoning people into the square towards the cathedral)
There is a central dome towards the back of the cathedral with four organs at each corner of the area (Mozart played them when he was younger and living in Salzburg). It was really impressive and a nice place to visit (as cathedrals normally go). It also had three dates in the front. 774 was when the area either decided the cathedral was to be built or it was finished or something. It was a big deal then because it meant that you were recognized as an official providence of the Holy Roman Empire. 1628 was when the cathedral had to be rebuilt due to a fire. Lastly, 1959 was when there was a large amount of repairs done on the building because a WWII bomb had blasted a hole in the dome.
 (Inside of the cathedral, in this picture you can see two of the four organs)

I left the cathedral and went to St. Peter's cemetery and then church. The cemetery was small and quiet and the church was dark and crazy. 

(Church interior, it was darker when I was there...)

Anyway I found myself at Universitatsplatz which has a market everyday (especially on Saturday and Wednesday) except for Sunday. There were locals selling produce (I actually walked through here the next day (on Saturday) and it was much busier).

I then walked down Getreidegasse which is a shopping street with neat wrought iron signs. It was packed and had tons of types of shops, as well as alleys (remaining from the medieval origin of the street) which had more shops tucked inside of them. So this was a pretty neat area and basically ended my tour of old town as it brought me in a huge circle through Old Town. 
(Getreidegasse; it was even busier when I was there)
It was starting to get a little dark and I wasn't feeling that well so I went back to the hostel to chill out. I met this Canadian guy and this Japanese guy playing wii sports. They were nice enough. I got some dinner and then went to my room to read (I was still not feeling well). I then met my three roommates for the night. They were three girls, two from Taiwan and one from Malaysia. They wanted pretty much nothing to do with me and were very uninterested in talking to me (They mostly were on their phones...). Then they started playing cards and didn't even bother to ask if I wanted to join... I did not like them. Whatever, they left the next day. And that was my first day in Salzburg.

The next morning (Saturday) I woke up and headed for the fortress but took the long way because I wanted to see another cemetery which was bigger and had lots of neat things.


After that I walked down a modern shopping street, into old town, and then to the base of the hill that the fortress is on. Having the option for an overpriced ride up an elevator thing or a hike with good views I choose the hike (of course). I thought I could get in for free if I hiked but that was not true, I had to buy some fortress pass to get admission to all the museums in the fortress (I was not planning on visiting them) so that was annoying. I explored the fortress and took some pictures and took in the view (gave really nice views of the city on either side of the fortress and of the surrounding countryside). Then I went to a museum which was pretty interesting. It had old weapons, tourture instruments, musical instruments among other things from the fortress. Also some information about life in the fortress. 

After that I opted for a walk through Monchsberg which is another part of the mountain-hill that the fortress is on. It is really pretty and some people (presumably really rich) have houses up there. There were some old outposts and some cafes on top of the cliffs. It was a good time. I eventually got to a museum of modern art and took a much more reasonably priced elevator ride down (was the only way down at that point of the walk). Then I found some lunch at this kooky cafe that had an African theme. It was extremely delicious. 
Then I went to the Salzburg museum and that was pretty cool. I got some background to the region. Many artists have been inspired by the natural beauty there so there were a couple rooms devoted to paintings of the region. There was also information about the religious artifacts from that area throughout history. The region was pretty rich until the early 19th century which is when Austira acquired it. It struggled for awhile and in the mid-1800s it built its central station which is when the whole tourism industry started. This brought wealth the region once more and is a very obvious part of the city today. 

Then I went to the Salzburg Panorama which an artist did just to do a 360 painting of the city and surrounding country from the fortress because he loved it so much. It was not really that exciting. There was a temporary exhibit on the real Von Trapp family (the family from the Sound of Music). It was kind of depressing because the real Von Trapp family's story is pretty different from the one told in the movie. The man (Mr. Von Trapp) was in WWI and was an important military person. He had hard times once the war was over, so he and his family started a singing group (in Salzburg) that eventually made its way to America and did performances (and were quite successful) there. I think they were just called the Von Trapp family (side note, some of the grand children have started a musical group called something like the new Von Trapp group or something). The mother of the family I think was actually somewhat disappointed in the movie's fictional take on their life. There was also a Sound of Music tour (focused on the movie not the real life), that takes you to see many of the main sights. It is actually supposed to be pretty good but was crazy expensive and I didn't have time for it (plus I was not that interested anyway). Also, according to this exhibit, if you were to ask locals about the movie, most will not even know what you're talking about.
I then headed over to the Mirabell Gardens just to see it. There are scenes from the Sound of Music here and you can tell why. It is a very nice garden area. There is also a palace where I think they have museum things and also concerts at night.
Then I went back to the hostel (it was dark) and I met my new roommates. They were pretty cool, they had just arrived, there was one guy from Argentina, one guy from Chile, and one guy from Sweden. They were friends and they were trying to see Salzburg in one day. I gave them some info on the things to see as best I could and then I left to go get some dinner. I went to a cozy restaurant and got some dinner. Then I went over to a cafe to chill. I got a monstrous (and delicious) ice cream dessert (I did not realize that it was going to be so huge). A DJ showed up so there was some music. It was nice to hang out there but I left after awhile because the place was starting to fill up and I felt bad for taking up a table. 

I went back to the hostel and just hung out in the lounge as a lot of other people were doing. There isn't that much to do in Salzburg at night. At other times of the year different things are opened late but at this time there are only classical music concerts (which I already did in Vienna and are pricey) and the bars are pretty local and small (if I were more adventurous perhaps I would have found a bar and tried to chat up a local I guess). 

Anyway, I just hung out and crashed. The next morning, I packed up and checked out and went to the train station where I stored all my crap. Then I walked back to old town (again...) and went to the cathedral for church! I wanted to hear the music because I heard that it was really good. The mass was entirely in German, but the choir was really really good (Random fact: this city has like thirty something Catholic churches). Then I left and was feeling not too good so I just got myself to Munich and the hostel and took it easy. The train ride was really pretty, it was pretty much entirely through Southern Germany, which featured more small towns tucked against hills. Many of the houses had solar panels on the roofs (which was awesome). 

So overall, Salzburg, pretty darn touristy, but very pretty. You can spend a full day there and see a lot that there is to see, but if you want to do everything I would recommend two to three full days. There are also things in the surrounding area (including Sound of Music sights) that are apparently worth seeing but I did not make it to any of them.

Anyway, next time I'll tell you guys about Munich! 


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