Salzburg, Austria: Yo! Say this blog post title three times real fast. The weather did not improve overnight. It rained on and off, but we were sleeping under our teeny duvets, so did not notice. We lingered a bit this morning, waiting for the rain to stop. We went to the hotel (included in room rate) buffet breakfast. It was super fancy, as one would expect in an old world hotel, and I was happy to find a big vat of natural yoghurt with plenty of granola and fresh berries to replicate my usual morning repast at home. They had anything else one could possibly want, and also anything they did not offer at the buffet could be made to order. No additional charge. The hotel also had open bottles of champagne. (Did not try. Maybe tomorrow?)
Our first trek of the day was to Schloss Mirabell (castle and gardens) directly behind our hotel. This palace was built by some-sort of prince for his girlfriend in 1606. The gardens, and parts of the palace, are open to the public free of charge. If you want to see the fancy interior, it seems you must purchase a ticket to a music concert in the evening. We did not.
All I'm sayin'... The prince's girlfriend musta been something.
One totally strange and kinda creepy aspect of this otherwise serene garden is a section in the northern part devoted to dwarfs. There is a sign reading the "Zwergelgarten" is the oldest dwarf garden in Europe (1695), like a dwarf garden is a thing? Made of Unterberg marble, they are "masterpieces" of an artist collective. One section has 12 dwarf statues in a circle, representing every month (February is missing - sorry, Steve). I've never seen/heard of a dwarf garden before.
The dwarf statue representing March, is called "dwarf with spade" but it seems he just has an itch to me - and may be in need of a dentist?
We were in luck as the famous Schrannenmarkt Farmers Market takes place on Thursdays just across from the Mirabell castle. We had ourselves quite a time exploring the market and actually bought Italian prunes/plums because I know they will be finished at our local markets by the time we get back to California. I was happy to see most of the produce was organic!
All the walking and all the wonderful food smells made us hungry! We stopped to a beer garden for substinance:
After a quick rest in our hotel room, we headed off on our next Austrian Adventure - a trek to the top of Hohensalzburg - the huge fortress on the hill above town that has been protecting Salzburg since 1077. These days, for less than $20, you can take a one-minute tram up the steep mountain and have access to every portion of the fortress.
Walking towards the fortress, we passed a huge square before the Salzburg Cathedral (right). We did not go inside the church, as they asked for $9 admission. What would Jesus think of charging to enter?
Then we reached the funicular to carry us up to the fortress:
Okay - that was a bit fun and a bit scary. It was so fast!
By now, it was after 5p and we were pretty-much done in. Dave thinks we climbed over 500 stairs accessing all the towers in the fortress today. The history is fascinating - and this fort was usually only used when there was some-sort of attack and there really were not many attacks. Due to all the salt being mined nearby, and all of it being shipped via the river through Salzburg, the rulers (church bishops) were very rich and very powerful. They lived in town, in nice palaces.
We rode the tram back down (a bit more scary than the ride up), walked back to our hotel, rested/rehabbed and went back to the bar in our hotel to repeat our cocktail order from the night before. We had the same bartender and he remembered how I like my martini and spent quite a bit of time telling us about himself. Hungarian, married to a Hungarian, but living in Salzburg for centuries. He speaks Hungarian, English, German, and interestingly enough, Mandarin. (He said there are so many Chinese tourists in the hotel, he studied at the local university to learn the language!)
After our drinks we walked a few blocks up the street and found a little place offering traditional Austrian dishes. Again, we dined outdoors, with sweaters to keep us warm. No rain.
Think of spätzle as noodles. Mine (left) was like mac & cheese with fried onions. Dave had buttered spätzle as a side with goulash. Another fun day in pretty Salzburg, and it seems the weather is improving tomorrow!
Until my next update, I remain, your fortified correspondent.
Pedometer: Nearly 17,000 steps - many of them uphill.