Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Salzburg: The Salt Fortress

We’ve decided to stop in Salzburg meaning Salt Fortress and named after the barges that carried salt on the Salzach River.  The barges were subject to a toll in the 8th century as was the custom for many communities on the river.  It’s Steve’s fist visit to Austria so he is excited.  Salzburg of course is renowned for the fact it is Mozart’s birth place and that the hills are alive with the Sound of Music.  Funnily enough, many Austrians have not even seen the movie, which I find quite incredible!
We have found a lovely airbnb experience in the suburbs of Salzburg and find ourselves standing outside a beautiful house with a Japanese garden.  We are shown to the basement where we open the door to a cheerfully decorated bedroom complete with its own little kitchen and fridge.  Each of these airbnb experiences has been slightly different.  Our new host Barbara has kids, so the guest accommodation is separate from her house, giving both the guests and her family some privacy.  She always comes down in the morning though to make sure we have everything we need, which adds a nice personal touch that you would not usually encounter in a hotel.  
We arrived a bit late in the afternoon and decide that we will eat locally rather than find our way into town.  We walk around the neighborhood and realise that we are in the ‘North Shore’ equivalent of Sydney.  We discover beautifully manicured gardens and luxurious houses.  It feels nice to be in the suburbs and we walk down to the local beer garden for a drink and a meal.  We must be the only non-locals eating here.  The place has a lively atmosphere and is buzzing with activity.  I settle for some barbequed ribs while Steve decides to try the chicken schnitzel, a local favourite.  We relax and enjoy the meal and the atmosphere.  We can sleep in tomorrow and spend the day in the old town.
We wake up to a rather cloudy day.  We have been pretty lucky with the weather so far but today it looks like rain.  We walk into town, relaxing on the way down there and enjoying the
scenery.  The Baroque architecture of the old town is lovely but after the spectacular Old Town of Prague set against bright blue skies, I find it hard to get as excited about Salzburg!  We get a couple of pretzels for breakfast and take a break to people watch. 
After our snack we continue walking and enjoy the cathedrals before finding our way to St Peter’s cemetery.  The cemetery dates back to the 1600’s and is the place where the Von Trapp family hid out in The Sound of Music.  The graves have been lovingly decorated with wrought iron fences and planting.  There are fascinating Christian catacombs in the rock above the cemetery. 

I like the character in this part of the city and notice the funicular leading up to the Hohensalzburg fortress, which looks down on the city from its high vantage point.  We spend a nice afternoon exploring the fort, the medieval weapons museum complete with gory instruments of torture and learning a little about its history! The views of the Alps from up the mountain are quite breathtaking.  
On one side, we spot a lonely house and learn later this is the executioner’s house.  Apparently, it was considered bad luck to live in close proximity near his house!
We don’t do too much more in Salzburg and leave early for Lake Como and our rendezvous with Betta!

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