Reflections

We have been back in Alberta for a week now, the jet lag has faded and I have had time to look over our pictures and think about the trip. So some final reflections on the places we visited….

Berlin
Berlin is full of history – with such significant 20th century events – and museums abound, telling those stories and those of more distant history, as well as featuring an abundance of art treasures. It is a gritty city; outside the tourist centre, graffiti covers almost any reachable surface and in the early morning, you encounter litter of bottles and fast food wrappers. But it gives the impression of a livable city – unpretentious and vibrant, full of new construction as the former East Berlin still grows, 24 years after the fall of the wall. Also, the local people were so helpful – offering assistance when we hadn’t even asked!

Having visited Berlin, would I return? It’s not on the top of the list, but given the opportunity, I wouldn’t pass it by. I would like to delve a bit more into the history, by taking a walking tour and spending more time on Museum Island. I would also like to visit Potsdam and take a boat ride on the Spree.
20131029-140424.jpgDresden
We arrived in Dresden in the early afternoon and departed the next morning, so my impressions are fleeting. The central core we visited was an interesting mix of the old and new – or perhaps the new and the new made to look old, as 75% of the Old Town was destroyed by WWII bombing and many of the historical sights have been reconstructed. We were in Dresden on the Day of German Unity, a national holiday commemorating the reunification in 1990, so my impression is of a busy, fun area, full of local German families enjoying their day. Probably not the scene every day, but it made for a fun day for us as we mingled with the locals, enjoying wurst and Gluwein (hot mulled wine).

On another visit to Dresden (again, not topping the list, but worth consideration if in the area) , I would take the time to actually know what I was looking at, rather than just admiring the fine Baroque architecture. I would like to visit the interior of the Frauenkirche – this church from 1743 was completely destroyed by bombing, but was painstakingly rebuilt with international donations and reopened recently. Unfortunately, due to the holiday, the line-up was prohibitive when we were there. Other sights to include on a possible future visit are the Historic Green Vault, which houses a glittering Baroque treasury, and Volkswagon’s Transparent Factory where the Phaeton is produced.
20131029-140549.jpgPrague
Ah, Prague – what a beautiful city! I would describe ‘Praha’ as charming, historic and so unique. The architecture is amazing – the city of spires and an eclectic mix of architecture, ranging from Gothic and Renaissance to Baroque and Art Nouveau. All of the people we encountered were so friendly and made us feel welcome in their city. The opportunities for entertainment are many and varied – street performers, classical concerts, black light theatre…… And the food – we ate in small, local restaurants that rival some of the best I have encountered anywhere.

I would love to return to Prague – to wander the streets, to try more small restaurants and to further explore the sights – more time in the Castle and Jewish Quarters, a concert at the Opera House and a paddle boat on the river.
20131029-162451.jpgCesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov is a well-preserved fairy tale town. The narrow streets are fun to stroll through and the castle gardens are beautiful. The small town is probably crazy during the height of tourist season, but on an October afternoon and evening, it was delightful.

If passing by Krumlov in the future, I would probably stop in for a night at the wonderful Penzion Delanta and enjoy the ambiance of the town again.
20131029-162828.jpgVienna
Vienna is an elegant, opulent city, with wide boulevards, beautiful architecture, grand classical music and shopping for the rich and famous. But away from the central area, it is home to small excellent restaurants and coffee shops, concerts in historic venues and everyday people enjoying their lives.

I can’t quite put my finger on why, but Vienna captivated my interest and I would love to return. I would visit the Opera House, attend another concert and a church service in one of the beautiful churches, watch the Lipizaner Stallions practice or perform and spend an evening at a wine tavern. I would love to take a day cruise through the Danube Valley or return to visit the Christmas market in December!
20131029-163430.jpg Salzburg
The hills really are alive in Austria. Travelling through the countryside, especially with the fall foliage, was awe-inspiring – similar, and yet very different, from travelling through the wonder of our Rocky Mountains.

Salzburg shows a different side of Austria from Vienna. It has a well preserved old town, a foreboding fortress, beautiful gardens, pride in Mozart everywhere and the Sound of Music! But it also seems fresh, outdoorsy and fun!

We didn’t have enough time in Salzburg and I would love to return to visit the Fortress, Hellbrunn Castle, spend another evening at the Augustiner Braustubl and travel to the lakes district.
20131029-170157.jpg Rothenburg ob der Tauber
It was a treat to visit Rothenburg. This well-preserved medieval walled town is visited by 2.5 million tourists per year, and there is a reason why! It is magical, transporting you to the Middle Ages when it was a free imperial city and a major trading stop. There are sights to see, and we enjoyed visiting some of them, but it was such fun to just explore the many small narrow streets, walk the wall, wander through the beautiful countryside outside the wall and snap photos at every turn. The Nightwatchman’s Tour is a must, again accentuating the feeling of being in the Middle Ages while outlining the history of the town.

I think we covered most every street inside the walls of old Rothenburg, so as much as we loved Rothenburg, we probably wouldn’t return – unless it was to share this fabulous experience with someone who hadn’t previously visited.
20131029-170637.jpg Wurzburg
Wurzburg wasn’t even on our trip itinerary, but we had some time to kill enroute from Rothenburg to Frankfurt, so we stopped in and were pleased that we did. We only spent a few hours, so again my impressions are from a quick look. As we drove in and out of the city, it could have been most any large city anywhere – there appeared to be urban sprawl and we could see a city skyline of tall buildings (not something we had typically seen on this trip). The Old Town that we visited was a lively, downtown area with a mix of old and new and we enjoyed wandering there.

If I were to have some time to spare on a future trip beginning or ending in Frankfurt, I might again stop in Wurzburg and further explore the Residenz Palace and the Marienberg Fortress.
20131029-170951.jpgIt was a marvellous trip – we saw so many wonderful sights, learned so much history, ate great food, drank great beer, wine & coffee and walked many kilometres. We are so lucky to be able to take trips like this and I can hardly wait for next time! Stay tuned for the next stops along our long and winding journey!

Cheers,

Bev & Harvey

We Need to Get Out of Town. . . Fast

Debbie again, with another review, this time of dinner and theatre in Rothenburg, Germany.

It did not start out to be dinner and theatre, but that is how it progressed, ending with a potential scandal and the need for us to get out of Rothenburg quickly.

The original innocent plan was to have supper at the Burgerkeller (which has nothing at all to do with burgers American style) followed by the Night Watchman tour. As the Night Watchman tour is known as the thing ‘to do’ in Rothenburg, and as the Burgerkeller came highly rated by Rick Steeves, Lonely Planet and Wonder and Wanderlust, we felt we were in for a safe evening.

We need to set the stage a little. After spending an evening and a full day in the old town of Rothenburg which remains protected by a huge fortress, and after walking virtually every street (about 10 in total!) and literally walking the wall (the enclosed walkway on the top of the fortress), we soon came to learn that it is a small place where everyone probably knew everyone, but we did not yet know just how true this was.

We arrived at the downstairs Burgerkeller to find all tables marked ‘Reserved’ but the place was empty. We asked if there was room, and the sole waiter pointed us to one ‘Reserved’ table. We perused the menu, ordered, and started talking to the ‘waiter’ who turned out to be the owner. He explained that the tables weren’t really reserved, he had let all the staff go for the month while he and the cook took charge as this was their slow season, and he wanted to ensure top quality of food, so by marking the tables ‘Reserved’, he could decide how many people were in the restaurant (and, we decided, just who exactly he wanted as customers). We clearly made the cut. We continued to chat or, rather, he continued to entertain us by telling jokes, some off colour, and showing us his newest toy, a remote helicopter. One of his jokes had to do with the Night Watchman who apparently takes two months off in winter to go to Thailand with his wife – “He goes to Thailand with his wife? That’s like taking a bottle of beer into the Hofbrau House.” In the course of his tirade, he told us that his lease was up at the end of December and, after 27 years, he is going into another line of ‘business’, of which he was not about to share. He did share, however, when Larry complimented him on his perfect English and asked if he has lived in an English speaking country, that he had honed his language skills during his two year stint in Quantonomo! His banter continued with perfect comedic pause as he chose to let some people in the door and denied access to others . . . . The meals arrived, and they were exceptional. We left feeling great and thinking that perhaps he should go into comedy for his next career.
20131019-182850.jpgOnto the Night Watchman tour just up the street. The night was dark and windy with little spits of rain, perfect for a spooky walk through old town Rothenburg.
20131019-183015.jpg The Night Watchman appeared out of the dark. He was tall, had long curly hair, was dressed in black robes and carried a lantern and a menacing all-purpose tool, good for stabbing or cutting off heads or whatever was required at any given misdemeanour. We followed him down the cobble streets, stopping at strategic points to listen to his stories. He told us the history of Rothenburg, of fires and of bubonic plague and of battles that were saved at the last moment because some American army general’s mother had visited Rothenbug in 1914, and he felt that was worthy reason to save the city. It was a highly entertaining tour, made so by the Night Watchman’s manner, voice, and sense of humour.
20131019-183108.jpgWe started heading back to our pension for the night, commenting about what a great night it was. Then it dawned on me that when I was trying on a dress in a little store earlier in the day, a tall man with long curly hair had walked in and pointed to the dressing room. Hmmmmm. We started to think that everyone in this town was connected, and I commented that I could just see Walter, our pension operator, and the Night Watchman drinking beer together.

Fast forward to morning. Larry and I are in the breakfast room, and Larry starts chatting with Walter and is telling him about the Night Watchman Tour and the supper at the Burgerkeller. He told Walter that the owner of the Burgerkeller might be closing his doors very soon and going to another line of business, to which Walter responded, “Hmm, that is very good information.” Larry then asked him if he happened to know the Night Watchman, and he responded, “Yes, he is my brother in law.” Well, then I told him that I had been into a little dress shop and bought a dress, and Walter told us that the Night Watchman is married to Walter’s wife’s sister, and they own the dress shop.

Now the problem is that we had toured the Crime and Punishment Museum earlier that date, and one of the worst offences in medieval times, punishable by head yokes and any other means of violence, was to spread gossip. We looked at each other and decided that we needed to get out of Rothenburg, fast, in order to preserve our lives as we just know that Walter walked back to the kitchen, told his wife the “good information” he had received, and she promptly called her sister, who told her husband (aka the Night Watchman) – and the little community inside the walls of Rothenburg would be abuzz. By my calculation, the operator of the Burgerkeller would have the ‘news’ that he was shutting down by the time he opened for the evening.

Seriously, we had a hilarious evening. We strongly recommend the Burgerkeller and the Night Watchman tour for a great evening in Rothenburg. Just don’t spread gossip in this town!

PS. Anybody out there think we might have been set up???

Now that’s an interesting bit of information….

One last day on the road. Farewell to Walter and the beautiful city of Rothenburg and we set out north along the Romantic Road. This narrow windy road took us along the Tauber River valley and through a number of little villages. Leaving the river valley, we travelled through open farming land, actually quite reminiscent of Central Alberta.

We stopped in a small town upon noticing an interesting showroom in an auto dealer.
20131018-204945.jpgContinuing on our way, we came to the city of Wurzburg and decided to head to the old city centre for a bit. Good decision – it was lovely. This city suffered major damage during WWII but looks great today. We had a refreshment break and then strolled around town. We saw a number of great church exteriors –
20131018-205041.jpg a lovely market –
20131018-205240.jpg the Old Main Bridge (crossing the Main River) –
20131018-205418.jpgthe Marienburg Fortress (13th century fortified retreat) –
20131018-205605.jpg and finished up exploring the gardens of the Residenz Palace, which was the home of the Prince-Bishop.
20131018-205712.jpgWe headed out on the autobahn and passing through countryside that became more hilly & forested, we once again enjoyed the beautiful fall foliage. We arrived at the Holiday Inn Express, checked in and then did a trial drive-by of the airport and fuelled up the car.

For dinner, we crossed the street to an Italian restaurant that was recommended by our friend Glen. We all thoroughly enjoyed our meals – B&H shared a rocket salad with Parmesan (thought of you, Kels & Dylan), Harv had pizza and Bev a calzone. D&L had mixed salads, Deb really liked her liver strips in white wine sauce and Larry had yummy penne with four cheese sauce.

Tomorrow morning, we climb aboard the A330 once more and have a non-stop flight to Calgary. In some ways, time had flown; in others, it seems like we’ve been here a long time – we have seen so much.

I will still make a couple of more posts – some pictorial views of architecture, etc. and some final comments on the places we’ve visited.

Cheers,

B,H,D&L

Honey – back in the war, we would have been happy to have just a bit of butter

It was a windy, cool morning in Rothenburg but the sun came out and the wind died down as the day went by, resulting in quite a pleasant afternoon. We started the day with a very nice breakfast provided by Walter and his wife, Heike. Little touches like mini-yogurt parfaits and egg slices with caviar on top were quite a pleasant surprise.

Our first excursion of the day took us to the Kriminalmuseum (Medieval Crime and Punishment). This was a very interesting experience. The exhibits describe the judicial system and the punishments doled out. Many of the actual instruments of torture (for this was used as a way of obtaining a confession) and punishment are on display.

Public shaming was very common for minor offences.
20131017-221216.jpgMore serious offences usually resulted in a death sentence – with quite a variety of ways to handle this.
20131017-221345.jpg The torture and punishment exhibits were quite disconcerting and regardless of what we may think of today’s judicial system, we have certainly come a long way in humane treatment!

The museum also contains a number of exhibits of ancient documents – personal papers (e.g., birth & marriage certificates, work papers & certification), Royal decrees, papal election records, etc. These were very interesting and the age of many of them was quite amazing (e.g., 9th century).

After the museum, we felt we needed something more uplifting. D&L popped into a few shops, making a couple of purchases, and then took a coffee break. H&B took in the German Christmas Museum. This museum traces the history of the celebrations and traditions that are part of our modern Christmas. We really enjoyed the displays of Christmas trees & decorations, the origin of Santa Claus, advent calendars, Christmas cards, etc. We then spent quite a bit of time browsing through the many rooms of the attached Christmas store – to find the perfect souvenir ornament.
20131017-221948.jpgMeeting back up at Marktplatz, we made a brief foray into New Town for Harv to stop by the Ford dealer and pick up a few brochures for his collection (it seems he can read German when it is auto related).

We stayed outside the wall and followed a path through the woods and down to the Tauber River, where we saw the Tauberschlosschen (Toppler Castle). This tiny tower was built partly as a defensive tower, partly as a moated castle residence in 1388.
20131017-222223.jpg
20131017-222354.jpgWe had a bit of a picnic by the side of the road and then undertook the climb back up from the valley. Continuing on paths outside the wall, we passed a vineyard, exclaimed at the magnificent views and arrived at the Kobolzell Church, which dates back to 14th century. Next to the church stands a Roman-style double bridge.
20131017-222903.jpgBack in the the old town, we stopped for a coffee and schneeballen break. These Rothenburg specialties are everywhere you look in the town. Basically a ball of pastry that has been deep-fried, they come in varieties that are coated with various things. Yesterday we had tried a sugared variety and were not very impressed. Today we decided to give it one more shot with the chocolate covered version and it was much more tasty – also, the pastry seemed much lighter at this shop than the other. One other note – apparently, schneeballen have an 8 week shelf life. This helped to answer our question of what they did with all the ones that hadn’t sold at the end of a day.
20131017-223345.jpgWe had an excellent evening – but I am going to leave that to our entertainment critic to review in a blog posting tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Cheers,

B,H,D&L

Mr. Diblik is probably from Dinkelsbuhl…..

It was raining this morning as we had to say good-bye to Sandra and the Haus Katrin, after another excellent breakfast. We would definitely recommend this pension to anyone travelling to Salzburg.

We headed out on the Motorway – which became the Autobahn when we entered Germany. It rained quite heavily, but eventually stopped, settling into an overcast day. Harv enjoyed the speed of the traffic, cruising at about 140 km/hr and hitting a high of 200.

The fall foliage was wonderful – brilliant yellows, oranges and reds. And for those of you who know us, you will know that we are connoisseurs of fall foliage.
20131016-212232.jpg
20131016-212523.jpgWe arrived in Rothenburg ob der Tauber and after manoeuvring through the gate in the town wall and the narrow cobble-stone streets, Petula & Harvey deposited us at the Kreuzerhof Hotel. Walter, our host, met us and got us all settled in. We then set out to explore Rothenburg.

Rothenburg is Germany’s best-preserved medieval walled town. It was a major trading stop from 1150 – 1400 and today, exists as a tourist haven. However, despite the tourists, it’s charm is undeniable. Luckily, it appears that this is not the time of year for major tourist traffic, especially later in the day.

We just wandered around the town for a couple of hours, including a walk on the town wall. Around each corner was another amazing scene. Here are just a few of the 104 pictures I snapped.
20131016-213443.jpg
20131016-213459.jpg
20131016-213514.jpgFor dinner, we stopped at a restaurant recommended by Walter. Debbie, Larry & I all had the pork ribs with salad while Harv ordered the sausage & sauerkraut (knowing that I will never offer sauerkraut once we are home). All of the dishes were great, as were the wine, beer and the skewer that a new friend of ours’ from Florida received. 🙂

20131016-214333.jpg We returned to the hotel to enjoy the sparkling wine provided by Walter & Heike.

Cheers,

B,H,D&L

Now That WAS Brilliant . . . and We Know It

Here’s Debbie, back with another theatre review.

Of the top 10 things to do in Vienna, attending a classical concert in a church that dates back hundreds of years is high on the list.

As fortune would have it, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was advertised at the Karlskirche during the time we were in Vienna. Serendipitously, Karlskirche (St. Charles Church) was a mere five blocks from our rental apartment. Once again, we scurried for tickets, laying out 25 Euro, or about $36.00 each for the most affordable seats which we felt was most adequate given our collective lack of musical ability. We picture beautiful strains of music in a grand cathedral with a large and knowledgeable audience.

Again, we eat supper early for our big night out. It is a dark, cold, rainy evening. Once again, we arrive early to get the best of the poorest seats. We enter through the magnificent marble entry into a gorgeous, stately, white and gold domed cathedral with ornate and intricate paintings on the walls and dome ceilings. We find our seats in the pews in the front of the back section. The cathedral fills up with a majority of locals (some dressed very well for a classy evening out) and a few tourists.

The 10 musicians and one vocalist entered the front alter area and, precisely on time, the concert began. For one and a quarter hours, beautiful notes swirled around the cathedral, some energetic and some slow and soothing, I suspect to reflect the emotions of the four seasons. Now, let’s be honest – none of our party could really identify Bach from Beethoven from Mozart from Vivaldi. And none of our party could really identify if the musicians were ‘tight’ in their performance. But we do know that, to us, this concert was perfect. On a cold, rainy night in Vienna, we were all together, in an amazing cathedral, listening to classical music, feeling soothed and peaceful.

We exited the cathedral with clarity of mind – there was no doubt after this concert. It was brilliant!
20131016-185245.jpg

Well, That Was Interesting. . . . . Probably Brilliant – But Maybe Not

You may recall that we attended a Black Light Theatre presentation in Prague. Our theatre critic, Debbie, provides us with a review of the production. (She reserves her talent for such matters of importance.)

Black light techniques were first used minimally in ancient China to enhance artistic productions, but it was the Czechs who perfected the art and introduced Black Light Theatre. The Czechs thought that a different kind of production was needed to trigger imagination (probably an antidote to all that ancient classical music and jazz). By chance, we saw a black light theatre production advertised in Prague – “Yellow Submarine or a Small Story From the Great Time of the Beatles”. Our favourite, the Beatles! In black light! We just had to go. We scurried to the ticket outlet and laid out 550 Czech kroner each, about $30.00 each.

Picture a huge packed auditorium with hundreds of plush seats, one Beatles hit after another, amazing light and sound effects – Utopia! We ate supper early in order to be the first ones at the gate wanting to choose the best seats but not in the first four rows as that was known to diminish the artistic effects.

We entered the single wooden door . . . picture a dark little theatre with a total of 120 seats (wooden chairs) with an audience totalling 17 people, all tourists. Picture dusty puppets on the walls and a crumpled curtain with holes in it. The production began with a rather lengthy slide show of the Beatles before the combination of floating yellow submarines and big floating lips, two main characters acting and dancing, a backup ensemble of loosely termed ‘dancers’, about five Beatles hits, and some strange artistic effects. The show progressed in story format, starting with an elderly couple playing some LP’s and whirling back in time to the origin of the Beatles and time travelling through the main historic occurrences of the Beatles’ reign. At one point, Bev burst out laughing and commented that this was one of our stranger adventures, not to mention the skill, or lack thereof, of the backup dancers. Larry became quite appalled and reminded us that “all you need is love.”

Barely one and a half hours later, including a 15 minute intermission, we exited the theatre, a little bewildered. Was that an amateur money grabbing performance or was that sheer brilliance? After ruminating on it for awhile, we decided that the two main actors were very good, the backup dancers were amateur, the black light effects were great, and some of the techniques such as John Lennon’s death were brilliant. The whole production certainly made us think and forced us to use our imagination to reveal the story lines behind the strange portrayals.

We do not regret our black light experience and it certainly achieved the original Czech aim of triggering the imagination. My view is that our pre-conception was vastly different than reality, and I think we would get a lot more from the production if we were to watch it again.

20131016-111646.jpg

Why is there a shoe in the fountain?

The hills are alive – with the sounds of music – with songs that have been sung for a thousand years (or at least since 1960)….

After a lovely breakfast at the pension, Harvey and I were picked up by Panorama Tours for the Original Sound of Music Tour. As this had been my favourite movie forever, I was naturally very excited.
20131016-190118.jpgThe tour started through the streets of Salzburg as Peter, the guide, told us some history of the city and the movie. Our first stop was at Leopoldskron Palace. This man- made lake was where the lake and backyard scenes were filmed. However, the actual facade of the back of the mansion was never shown – another location was used for all exterior shots of the “Von Trapp mansion”.
20131016-192813.jpgNext we travelled to Hellbrunn Castle, a palace built in 1610 by Prince Archbishop Sittikus. In the gardens sits the gazebo used for the ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen’ film sequence. The gazebo was actually not here for filming – it was moved here later as a gift. The gardens also contain a long tree-lined lane similar to the one where Maria and the children hung from the trees.
20131016-193331.jpgFrom a distance, we saw the mansion used for the exterior shots and the actual tree-lined drive. All of the interior scenes were filmed on sound-stages in Hollywood.
20131016-193654.jpg. Our tour took us past Nonnberg Abby, where the real Maria served as a novitiate, and which was very realistically created in Hollywood for the movie.
20131016-193929.jpgLeaving Salzburg, we travelled to the Salzkammergut Lake District. The scenery – mountains, alpine meadows and blue, glacial lakes – was breathtaking and the warm, sunny day was phenomenal. The photos really don’t do justice to the beauty.
20131016-194328.jpgWe stopped briefly in St. Gilgen and then continued to the town of Mondsee. Here the Mondsee Cathedral was used for the wedding scene in the movie. The cathedral is beautiful, although the wonder of film makes it seem much larger in the movie.
20131016-195710.jpgWe had 1.25 hours in Monsee so after seeing the cathedral, we picked up sandwiches at the local Spar supermarket and enjoyed lunch sitting next to the lake.
20131016-200126.jpgSorry, Kris, for the shot of the swan family – they really were quite majestic!

The drive to and from the lakes district included great commentary from Peter, music from the movie soundtrack and video excerpts from a documentary on the making of the film. We thoroughly enjoyed the tour, both the movie aspect and the area scenery and historical information. Peter was animated, informative and very friendly (and also said that Harvey looks like a young Sean Connery?), as was the coach driver.

Our tour brought us back to Mirabell Gardens and Palace, where we met up with Deb & Larry. They had spent the morning hiking around the area. First, they made their way up to Hohensalzburg Fortress, where they explored the grounds of this imposing castle that overlooks the town. They chose to go via foot rather than the funicular.They then travelled along the Monchaberg Cliff Face along a tangle of paths, roughly following the foreboding stone wall that was built on 1634 to protect the city from the 30 Year War. They enjoyed incredible views of the valley below and the mountains in the distance before arriving at the Modern Art Museum and descending by our favorite Augustiner beer hall.
20131016-200542.jpg Making their way across town, after a coffee break, D & L took on the challenge of climbing the other side of the river valley, Kapuzinerberg. This daunting trek was of course no challenge for our hiking duo and they were rewarded with interesting sights and a well-deserved feeling of accomplishment. The server in the coffee shop had said that the walk was very steep but “wonderful”, and she was right. The ‘walk’ began with slow progress up a very steep road to a 17th century monastery. The road was lined with frescos of Catholicism. Given the steepness, Deb wondered if this was where the great European cyclists train because she would not have been able to turn a wheel on a bicycle! Then, there were old stone steps built all along the stone wall (again built to protect the city), and this route was much steeper than the narrow road through the forest that could be taken to Frankchlossel. Interestingly, there appeared to be two squatters who had taken up residence in one of the old guard stations along the route, high above the city. The hike was a tease for a much longer visit to Salzburg when they will bring hiking boots and bicycles!
20131016-201311.jpg
20131016-201333.jpgThe Mirabelle Palace is now used as a government office building but the beautiful gardens are open to the public. The red roses were in fragrant bloom, and a number of people were seated enjoying this area. Pansies were colourful and were the flower of choice for this time of the year.
20131016-201658.jpg The garden is of course the spot where the famous Do-re-mi frolicking took place. Deb & I tried to recreate some of the action – perhaps not too successfully and to the amusement – or not – of some of the on-lookers.
20131016-202137.jpgWe spent part of the afternoon doing a bit of shopping, picking up a few souvenirs. Our afternoon coffee break was at the Manner Cafe and store. It was delightful, although Debbie could not enjoy the Mozartball that accompanied the coffee. The 17% hasslnuss (hazelnut) content would not have had a delightful result for her!
20131016-202426.jpg A look at the statue of Mozart in Mozartplatz (he really is everywhere here) and we made our way back to Haus Katrin for a short break.
20131016-202801.jpgFor dinner, we chose SOG, a restaurant recommended by Sandra at the pension. Our pizza, spaghetti and salads were just great, and perfect portions.
20131016-203050.jpgSalzburg is a great city – we know there is so much more to see and do here and we would love to return.

Cheers,

B,H,D&L

How many Canadians does it take to open a gas cap?

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our Canadian readers! We hope that you have had a wonderful weekend!

We left Vienna this morning, feeling that we had seen so much and understand the city, but would love to return to become even better acquainted with it.

First job – retrieve the car from the car park where it had rested peacefully for several days, mixed in with rows of BMWs, Mercedes, Peugots, etc. – oh and this morning an Alfa Romeo that Deb quite liked. She was very interested when Harv told her they will be for sale in Canada soon.

Then luggage in, a stop for fuel and off we went on the autobahn. We detoured off for a bit to travel alongside the mighty blue Danube. It is easy to see why it is one of the world’s truly great rivers!
20131015-204105.jpg We arrived at the pension we had booked in Salzburg mid-afternoon and were very pleased to find the Haus Katrin is just delightful. The proprietress, Sandra, was very welcoming and informative.
20131015-213004.jpgAfter depositing our luggage, we headed into the old town area of Salzburg. The Hohensalzburg Fortress sits 400 feet above the Salzach River and it is easy to see why the town was not attacked for nearly a thousand years – it is so formidable.
20131015-204853.jpg Salzburg did however surrender when Napoleon stopped in.

Domplatz is dominated by the Salzburg Dom.. This cathedral was consecrated in 1628, built on the sight of the previous church founded in 774. A partial reconstruction of the cathedral was completed in 1959 due to damage by a WWII bomb. This Baroque church is very beautiful, in a different way from some of the others we have seen on this trip. We marvelled at the detail of the interior sculpturing and paintings.
20131015-210530.jpg
20131015-210651.jpg Also in Domplatz were a giant chess set and some men that are really on the ball.
20131015-211241.jpg We enjoyed walking through the streets, looking at the buildings and statues we encountered.
20131015-212132.jpgThe Getreidegasse was old Salzburg’s Main Street and continues as such today. It’s famous for the old wrought- iron signs – the stores today are required to follow this same tradition. Oh – and I found a treat I had been wanting for our whole trip!
20131015-212834.jpg As it became time to think about dinner, we headed along the river and up the hill, encountering some great views along the way.
20131015-213555.jpg Our choice for dinner tonight came from a Rick Steve’s recommendation. The Augustiner Braustubl is a 1000 seat beer hall (well actually several halls), located in the monastery where the Augustiner beer is made. It was such a fun time. First, you pick up a mug, rinse it, and give it to the keg master to fill. Then you head to the various food kiosks to purchase whatever you desire. We picked a huge pork knuckle, potato & beet salads, sauerkraut & buns, which we all shared, family style.
20131015-214256.jpg What a great Thanksgiving Dinner!!

We walked back along the river, marvelling at Salzburg by moonlight, and contemplating how much we have to be thankful for.
20131015-215036.jpg
20131015-215119.jpgWe miss our families on this Thanksgiving Day and send them our love!!

Cheers,

B,H,D&L

We took the 71…..but we came back alive

Today, we awoke as we have every day in Vienna, to the church bells of Saint Elisabeth, located just steps from our apartment. We had such a variety of activities planned for our last day in Vienna.

First we walked a few blocks to the U-Bahn station and caught the train to Schonbrunn Palace (Schloss Schonbrunn). This was the summer home of the Hapsburgs and is one of the two largest palaces in Europe.
20131014-201617.jpgThe opulence of the Hapsburg life that we saw yesterday at the Hofburg, was emphasized here at Schonbrunn. The highlights of our visit were a tour of the Royal Apartments and strolling through the palace gardens. The palace consists of 1441 rooms; we toured 21 of them. The audio guide provided us with great information, much again on Franz Josef and Sisi, but also Empress Marie Theresa.

The palace gardens occupy about 435 acres and consequently, we only saw a small portion. They are amazing and I can only imagine what they look like when in full bloom. However, I’ll trade that sight for what I can only imagine the summer crowds are like, as Schonbrunn is Austria’s most visited spot.
20131014-202414.jpg After leaving Schonbrunn, we took the train back to city centre and hopped on a tram.
20131014-203019.jpg Arriving at our destination, we first stopped for lunch at what sort of looked like a haunted house. It was in fact a very interesting restaurant with great soup!
20131014-203444.jpgWe crossed the street to the Zentralfriedhof, Vienna’s central cemetery. This is one of the largest cemeteries in the world, largest by number of interred in Europe and the most famous cemetery among Vienna’s nearly 50 cemeteries. The cemetery spans 2.4 square kilometres with 3.3 million interred here, up to 20-25 burials daily. It was amazing to see the grandeur of the headstones, family mausoleums, and statuary.
20131014-210126.jpgIn the cemetery is a section devoted to great composers. Not all of these were originally interred here, but they were moved here to encompass a great musical tribute.
20131014-210925.jpg
20131014-211245.jpg After a very interesting time at the Zentralfriedhof, we were back on the tram, over to the U-Bahn and we emerged at the Prater. The Wurstelprater amusement park, commonly called the Prater, is a large public park filled with permanent attractions. The 220 foot Riesenrad Ferris Wheel is the most famous attraction. It was fun to walk through the park and watch Viennese families at play.
20131014-212538.jpg Our final plan for the day involved another trip on a tram – this time to a Heuriger district. These areas are home to family-owned wine garden restaurants. They sound great but unfortunately, we picked a small district and the Heurigers were either closed or very busy. But there was a Biergarten restaurant in the area so in we went. It was a great choice – small tavern atmosphere and great food and beer. Larry had an amazing Styrian Beef salad, Deb enjoyed a salad with chicken strips and Harv & I shared pork schnitzel, a baked potato with feta & spinach and salad.
20131014-213902.jpg It was another grand day in a grand city!

Cheers,

B,H,D&L