Saturday, October 06, 2012

Into the Clouds

What made my heart sing was the cable car ride we took to the peak of the Untersberg Mountain. This is one of the largest in the area and extends into Germany, creating a natural border. The cable car travels at 7 miles per hour from the base station at 456 meters above sea level to the top station at 1,776 meters, making an altitude difference of 1,320 meters. The ride on a two cable system lasts for 9 minutes, but the viewing is spectacular from the cable car and once you arrive at the peak. There was some religious ceremony going on at the next to highest peak, with the highest there was a huge cross. Neither attraction prompted me to venture beyond the hiking that I did do over loose rocks, steep inclines and no guard rails along the way. If Julie Andrews or Jesus were appearing at the top peak, it would not have motivated me further.

Spending over an hour here, we were first in line for the cable car down, which was luck as we shared it with many of the people involved in the celebratory mass. This was clearly evident in their soldier costumes that spanned many centuries. We never did find out what it was. Normally, the cable car ride would be 21 Euros per person. You are stuck with a round trip, as you cannot get down without the cable car unless you are a mountain goat.

The bus that leaves the cable car also stops at Hellbrunn Palace with their 'world famous' trick fountain. Shortly after ascending to the throne in 1612, Salzburg's Prince Archbishop Markus Sittikus von Hohenems didn't waste any time spending the monies collected from the serfs and tradesmen under him. This palace served as a country residence, a place to entertain guests, but not to accommodate them. The prince loved Italian art and culture, so had this elegant entertainment center fashioned on that style. Admission 9.50 Euros.

Hellbrunn Mountain has many water outlets in it, thus making the main theme for Hellbrunn Palace one of water. It is famous for its "trick fountains". Having heard too much about them beforehand, they were disappointing in reality. Perhaps this was because they are only available by tour which is bilingual. The German narration goes on and on, people laugh, and there is more narration still. The English version when translated is a couple of sentences long with no instilled humor. The main attraction was the Wasserspiele, an impressively oversized Baroque village where hundreds of human figures completed a days routine around the village all powered by water.

We toured the gardens or so we thought. They were rather extensive, but what we did not realize is that it does go on for acres more behind a line of trees with a pathway in the center. Rather than walk more miles around flowers, we put our energy into touring the interior. Lavish! Expensive! It may have been more impressive if you were not a minimum wage earner that had high taxes to support the lifestyle of the rich and famous. 

As tempting as the zoo was, being just one bus stop back to town and free with the card, the number of people jockeying for room on the bus dissuaded us from that idea, besides it was late in the afternoon anyway. There would not have been much time to taunt the animals. We decided that tourist watching in the Dom square would be just as much fun. Ron had forgotten his camera yesterday, so we did a rerun of the cemetery for his photo ops. Everyone was still resting in peace or pieces as the case may be. 

Having performed our great feat of using our feet, by 6pm we needed a hotel break for an hour. Although we have utilized the buses fairly well, we have still racked up the miles walking up and down the river and around town. From our hotel to the center of Old Town is about 1 1/2 miles by river route. The exercise is exhilarating. Before we put our feet up, we went to the corner restaurant to check it out as a dinner possibility. As quaint as could be, we decided this was a contender for our dinner money. Just to be certain, we spent the time it took to drink a beer to get a feel of the atmosphere.

After a respite, we walked back to the Old Town to see what happens on a Saturday night. Not much of anything happens, actually; most of the stores close up by noon or 1 pm just like much of Europe. There were a few stores still open, those that prey on tourists and pray those tourists will spend some cash. Even a number of the restaurants were closed, so that solidified the decision to eat at the local place, Steirische Weinstuben. Rather than the traditional veal, I had pork Wienerschnitzel. It was the best I have ever had. The lady who runs the restaurant along with her aunt was lovely, bouncy, and full of energy. They came to say good-bye, thanked us for coming and wished us a pleasant stay.

One thing that impressed me about the Salzburg people is everyone seemed to speak English. Normally, this would not surprise me in a touristy setting like restaurants or shops, but we asked strangers on the street for directions or for assistance in reading the bus schedule. Their English was flawless. Kudos to you!

Our Salzburg Card tally now is at 30.50 Euros in our favor.
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