A European Roadtrip: The Salzburg Edition

iphone-latest-070…And just like that we were cruising the roads of Germany en route to the beautiful city of Salzburg. It was approximately a two and half hour drive. {FACT: Salzburg is a very small German town. you could easily just do 1-3 days here. We only did about one full day total} The terrain was much different than what we are accustomed to in this desert town. It was enjoyable driving by the green pastures and mountainous terrain. We had originally planned on stopping by the Salt Mine before we got into the city, but it didn’t pan out on the first day, so we decided we would enjoy it the following afternoon on our way to Vienna.

iphone-latest-072Finding our hotel, Hotel Bräu Imlauer, in Salzburg turned out to be a tedious task… Even with Apple maps. That is partially due to the fact that we ended up off the grid on our way in.. We were trying to find our way by memory which turned out to be a task from hell.  We were hungry and we spent a fair amount of time driving around in what felt like circles. We finally pulled into a parking garage to try to re-route and were eventually able to ask a gentleman working there for guidance. He gave us some general directions, and just like that we were back on track. We finally arrived, and were able to get checked in. It was a decent hotel; obviously older, but clean. Our TV didn’t work which was a slight upset that first night.  With our lodging arrangements settled w were able to head back out to find ourselves a true Austrian dinner.

nikon 1 012 -2 .jpgWe found a quaint restaurant on the other side of the crystal clear river tucked back on a small side road. I had the fried chicken (schnitzel) with veggies and brad had duck. It was delicious… Fried chicken in Europe just always seems to be so much better than it is here.  We are quick eaters, so once we finished our meal we decided to go explore the city a bit more. We found the action, which was near the Christmas market in the square. They had a man-made ice skating rink set up for those daring to try. As usual we watched the locals enjoy their evening out, and wandered the market looking for souvenirs & snacks… Yes, I did get another Nutella crepe… I eat a lot of Nutella gelato & crepes when I am overseas. They were not as good here. They were just a tad over-cooked which leads to a crunchy-chewy texture… It tastes good, but doesn’t have the same level of pleasure.

Getting back to the story, it was freezing cold. We attempted to wander the city for a little while, but it was proving to be a daunting task. So, we eventually decided to head back to the hotel which was a long walk down dark streets, and over rivers. At one point, I thought I had lost all feeling in my toes… Even with two pairs of wool socks & my hand warmers that found their way into my boots. It felt like the oncoming of frost-bite. Whether or not it was, we will never know because we ended up stopping in the local McDonald’s so that I could warm up, and so Brad could use the restroom.  We sat there for a little while until I figured I could handle the cold for the rest of the route. It was tough, but we made it. There is something about Salzburg nights that are brutal. Maybe it’s because of it being a smaller city, the streets were mostly empty.

nikon-1-018-2The next morning we had planned to head to the fortress, and do some additional exploring. It was a beautiful winter walk. We passed by these neat homes that were built into the cliff as we headed into the city center. (Don’t you wonder what that would be like?)

We needed to find food… …and so it was, a small bakery/sandwich shop just off the main road.  A good meal to start the day.

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On our way to finding the fortress, we ended up stumbling into a beautiful cemetery, part of which is built up into the side of a mountain cliff. It was very inexpensive to enter this portion, and you are able to get some great views from the small windows. I will say that if you have any knee issues, I wouldn’t recommend it. The stairs are steep and narrow. My knee issues come and go, and I felt like a feeble old woman. But the view of the sites beyond were truly worth the light agony.

From there we decided to continue our journey up to Fortress Hohensalzburg. Finding the path up to the fortress seemed to be a little more challenging than anticipated. Which way was up? We attempted to follow the masses, and it did finally pay off. {FACT: Prior, as we wandered the streets we did encounter several female refugee immigrants sitting on the street corners begging for money. In some areas, it was almost every corner. It was such a different experience that we were not expecting.}

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iphone latest 081.JPGYou do have the option to take the tram up to the top, but we opted to walk. We love to walk. It was a great way to warm up. By the time we arrived, and had paid our entrance fair, we had taken our winter coats off ( it didn’t last long though).

The fortress is much of what you could expect… A museum of artifacts from earlier centuries. Their clothing, weapons, furnishings. A fun exhibit… but for me… you seen one, you’ve seen them all. For me, I go for the views. The views here were stunning.

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The fun thing about this fortress is that at Christmas time there is a small market for the tourists that serves treats, hot beverages, and has trinkets for the adults & toys for the children… This was just another opportunity for Brad to pick up a toy bow and arrow & pretend to shoot me… Sadly, for him, if I die, he doesn’t get much…

nikon 1 037 -2.2.jpgAfter taking in some breath taking views, we knew we needed to get a move on because we decided to go to the Salt mines before he headed to Vienna. We stopped at a small sandwich chain & grabbed our usual sandwiches, Sprite, and a pretzel for the road. We ate our sandwiches inside (Yes, I know, we eat a lot of sandwiches), but then sat and finished our drink along the side the river.  The river water there is so incredibly clear, it was almost shocking to see such clear water running through a European city… When you compare it to that of Paris or London, it’s night and day. Perhaps, that is because it is so shallow and I’m assuming ice-cold.

Once we had our bags in the car, and our route mapped. We were off on the next adventure, and it was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip.  Part of why I selected Salzbergwerk Berchtesgaden is because of Brad’s mining background. I thought it would be interesting to see what it is like to be inside of an underground mine (even though Brad work’s in an open pit). Also, I should point out, the mine has 2 giant wooden slides that you go down.

iphone latest 084.JPGThis experience was so much more than we anticipated. First, everyone get’s a jumpsuit… you put on your jumpsuit, and you wait for the tour train. Once it arrives, you get to get up close and personal with your group and possibly other tour guests, as you straddle the car & personal space becomes a thing of the past. (I should point out that we were the youngest ones in our group, as we got in with a large group of rowdy senior citizens.) It’s so worth it though… You get to walk through salt mine tunnels that offer a faint sparkle. You get to learn about the history of the mine. You get to take a boat ride…. Yes, there is a small boat ride… and that boat ride includes a light show!!  You get to go down 2 slides… and you have the option to purchase a souvenir picture at the end… We did not buy the souvenir photo because Brad didn’t like the way it turned out. I however, thought it was hilarious & decided to snap a photo of it with my phone. FACT:This is truly one of the best things I have done on a trip & would highly recommend it! I will also point out, that I would do this tour again… Maybe every time we go to Salzburg.

It was a great way to end the day before our dreaded drive to Vienna…

nikon 1 043.JPGLESSONS LEARNED: 

1) I am not cut out for cold weather …still….

2) 2 pairs of wool socks & hand warmers in the boots isn’t enough.

3) Salt Mines & senior citizens make for an entertaining afternoon

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The Compulsive Traveler

out to see the world, and snap beautiful photos while doing so.

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