Austria: Salzburg the Mozart City Part 1

Travel Date : 15th -16th June 2013

Location: Salzburg State, Austria

In the second week of our stay in Germany, we made a weekend visit to Salzburg and Hallstatt in Austria.

Even though our hotel was near to the border, we could not go Austria with no transport of our own. Thus, we took a train and made a roundabout to reach Salzburg. The River Salzach that flows along the border of Burghausen actually flows through Salzburg too. By car, it would have taken us about an hour to reach while on train, due to the transfers, we took more than 2 hours.

Getting There 

As usual, we need to take a train from the Burghausen Station to Muldorf, Oberbay.

It was a long journey and as this was the second time (first time was to Munich), we were quite bored. While I edit photographs on my iPhone, Dar was eating chocolates and Vin was playing iPhone games.

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We did noticed a huge field of solar panels for electricity while looking outside. Nice touch of recycling energy.

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Bicycles are allowed in the first compartment of the train. It’s a common form of personal transport in Germany

After that, we transferred to another platform to take the train to Austria. It took us another 1hr 20mins to reach the Salzburg Hauptbahnhof (Salzburg Main Station).

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The station was nicely designed with a dome shape, we admired that for a while. Stepping out of the station, we were quite surprised at the modern high-rise buildings. Hmm, that’s not what we thought Salzburg should look like?

We walked through a long walkway and many buildings towards the ‘Old Town’ area. Soon, the buildings started becoming more European-styled. Ah…we were glad as we enjoy looking at European architecture.

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We were amazed at these Horse-Carriages for tourists that run along the road beside cars and buses. The motorized vehicles have to move slowly behind these!

As it was still early, we decided to go to the Mirabell Gardens first before checking into our hotel. Bad decision…. as we ended up pulling our little luggage along under a hot sun for a long while. Due to a badly printed map and the little roads intertwined with each other, we got lost! And made some bad turns.

Mirabell Gardens

It was hot! Tiring to walk up the slopes to the main garden after getting lost for a while...
It was hot! Tiring to walk up the slope after getting lost for a while…

After asking two people for directions (one of whom must have given us a wrong one), we finally reached the gates of Mirabell Palace & Gardens. However, we discovered we were at the back and needed to walk into the central and front part. There was a long slope to it and it was quite tiring to walk up. I didn’t need to brighten the pictures we took. It was SO bright, we were squinting our eyes.

The famous garden
The famous Palace & Landscaped Garden where some scenes of ‘Sound of Music’ was filmed

The gardens was huge and we took a while to walk in it as there were many pretty photo spots, lovely flowers and fountains. From the top, it has looked small but once we walked in it, we discovered there was a long pathway behind and a huge fountain.

A wedding reception was going on at the palace. The wedding couple stood at the entrance talking with guests. Therefore, we were not able to take a look into it.

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When we reached the long path that leads to the nice fountain, we decided to do some jumping shots. Nobody dared to walk the path or go behind us after that while we were doing the shots. Either they are considerate or thought we need to be avoided..’crazy people’..ha.

Here are some of our ‘Jumping’ Shots. We were mimicking what we did in our Taiwan Trip in the make-believe ‘European Gardens’. Little did we know that we would be visiting a REAL one in the near future!

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Hotel Checking-In 

We made many twists to finally locate our hotel on a secluded street. It was a last-minute booking and the cheapest rate I could find during the week. We walked past a restaurant selling authentic Austrian food first and noted to try it later.

Lunch

It was lunch time so the moment we came out of the hotel, we went to the restaurant we came across just now to eat. We ordered their special set of six cutlets of meat with three flavours. One of them was the Vienna-style Schnitzel (pork cutlet), while the other two were sesame turkey and a herb flavoring of pork (can’t remember the name). We liked the last type the most. The set also comes with making your own salad at the salad bar. The veggies in the salad bar was fresh and tasty and we got to choose whatever we want to put with choice of two types of dressing. It was delicious but the portions for the three of us were a bit too much as it also comes with rice.

It was served on a 'log' plate. Quite special!
It was served on a ‘log’ plate. Quite special!

Walk in the Old Town 

We were on the other side of the river from the historical center. Walking on the bridge, the “Old Town” (Altstadt) was in front of us.

The buildings were the old European architecture (which we also saw in Burghausen Old Town) and the entire scene was picturesque with mountain backdrop and the famous landmark, Festung Hohensalzburg (the city fortress) perched high on top.

It was one of our key destinations for the day.

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On the streets were horse carriages carrying tourists around the place, old and new trams and many people from different countries. The roads and streets were very busy but doesn’t give a rushed modern feel. People were strolling, taking pictures or sitting by the river in a relaxing sort of way. Restaurants and shops lined the sides of the road. We walked down the underground pass and discovered a graffiti of Mozart!

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Salzburger Dom 

The Salzburg Cathedral (German: Salzburger Dom) was our next destination. It was our first visit to a European Cathedral and we were really curious how it would be like.

There was a large open space in front of the cathedral with horse carriages for tourists. The ride was quite expensive for a tour around the city and we had that experience already in Neuschwanstein so we didn’t bother.

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It was the first time we walked into such a massive church and we were really fascinated with the Baroque art-style. Baroque architecture usually consists of large ceiling frescoes (mural paintings done on fresh plaster), decorated with figures, trimmings made of wood, plaster and marble.

While walking in the cathedral, we kept looking up at the paintings because they were so nicely painted. From the plaque below, we found out that some parts of the building was destroyed before and rebuilt. Wow, it is very, very old!

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St. Peter’s Cemetery (Petersfriedhof)

We went up to the Fortress next but after we came down and it was still early, we headed to St. Peter’s cemetery at the foot of it, which is situated next to the Dom. It sounds strange to visit a cemetery as an ‘attraction’ but it is famous due to the beautiful graves erected. It is also the oldest cemetery in Salzburg.

Indeed, we ended up strolling slowly through it and admiring the well-kept graves tended to by their families. They were decorated with fresh flowers on the grave, interesting ornaments and carved ornamental plaques. Some had a few family members’ name together on the plaques at different years so we wondered if their ashes were sprayed onto the small plot of land? Strolling through this place, you feel a sense of calm and quietness and it makes you think about afterlife. I guess all cemeteries give this sort of feelings, not very ‘auspicious’ for us on a tour. 🙂

Another interesting area was the graves behind metal grilles. These graves were massive and decorated with paintings or statues. Most of them with holy ornaments to bless the souls.

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St. Peter’s Abbey

At the end of the cemetery was the entrance to the Benedictine monastery. We walked into St. Peter’s Abbey and discovered another beautiful baroque church. The mural made all visitors look up into the ceiling. Even though it was not as big as the Dom, we felt it was still worth a visit for people who like beautiful churches.

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Accommodation

Location : Altstadt Hotel Garni Trumer Stube
Choice due to: Near Old Town Area and not too far from railway station.
Costs: Triple-bed ; 138 Euro/ Night with breakfast for three.

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Even though the hotel looks old and small, there was an elevator and we were glad not to have to climb four storeys. We got the highest floor and there was a nice view of a clock tower out of the only window in the room. The room was barely furnished but good enough for our needs since we would be out the whole day anyway. Vin volunteered to sleep under the inclined ceiling but he kept hitting the light switch on the wall during the night when he turned and didn’t sleep well. 🙁

What I find inconvenient was that the washroom did not have any towel hanging bars. There was no place to hang our used towels or clothes. Only one pathetic stand to place everything on it. Other than that, we were glad there was a fan for us in case it’s hot. It’s not common in Europe hotels to have air-conditioning or fans because summer hot days are so little. It turned cool at night so we used the fan for some circulation. The wireless network didn’t work in that room we had. It seemed expensive at this pricing but it was one of the cheapest among the hotels in the Old Town Area in summer.

Breakfast – Second Day

Yummy breakfast in cozy room
Yummy breakfast in cozy room

They kindly prepared breakfast for us an hour earlier because we had to rush to Hallstatt. The breakfast room had a cozy setting and the buffet spread was good with a large variety of the common items, such as ham, egg, cereals, bread, tea/coffee and milk.

[ History ]

(source: Wikipedia)

“Salz” means “salt” and “Burg” means “castle”, therefore the name Salzburg is translated as “Salt Castle”. It derives its name from the barges carrying salt on the Salzach River, which were subject to a toll in the 8th century, as was customary for many communities and cities on European rivers. The Festung Hohensalzburg, the city’s fortress, was built in 1077 and expanded during the following centuries.

Salzburg’s “Old Town” (Altstadt) has internationally renowned baroque architecture and one of the best-preserved city centres north of the Alps. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Host to three universities and a large population of students, Salzburg is noted for its attractive setting and scenic Alpine backdrop.

Salzburg was the birthplace of 18th-century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In the mid‑20th century, the city was the setting for parts of the musical and film The Sound of Music.

{Next : Salzburg the Mozart City Part II – Our Exploration of The Fortress & Mozart Square}