Monday, December 14, 2015

Europe 2015 Day 6 - Of Fairytale Villages & Monastery Beer

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Europe 2015 Day 6 - Of Fairytale Villages & Monastery Beer
Salzburg, Austria - 29th September 2015
It's our second day in Salzburg; the previous day we had arrived and spent half a day in the city. That half day was a good introduction to the city but it was just a teaser. Today it's a full day here and we are raring to go, after all Salzburg have so much more to offer, so much more for us to experience.

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The places we went to on Day 6 in Salzburg; zoom out to see Hallstatt on map.

Looking back, I am surprised that we managed to squeeze so much into one day! We kicked off with wonderful breakfast, went to a church with a quaint cemetery, took a funicular train up to a hill fort, visited a beautiful cathedral, went to celebrate Oktoberfest at a monastery.... er, we even managed to make a road trip to a fairy tale village!

Waking up early, we took a brisk walk over to Mozartplatz, the girls were enchanted by some of the shops here, especially the ones selling all things Mozart. It was really a nice shop, red and bright and selling the famous Vienna chocolates too.

It was still too early and most of the shops were still closed, so we took a walk around the plaza paying homage to Mozart, and then had a quick look of the Salzburg Museum and Salzburg Cathedral (from the outside as at that hour they were still closed).

St. Peter's Church (Stift Sankt Peter) ground's were opened, so it was a walk over there to view the church and it's old cemetery. The cemetery (Petersfriedhof) is real old with some of the tombs/mausoleum being quite elaborate. Starting the day with a visit to a cemetery? Hopefully there is no superstitions about this, just to play it safe though, I said some prayers and kept fingers crossed.

 Woohoo... the shops are opened and we dropped into Glockenspiel at Mozartplatz. Although at €14.00 (RM75 thereabouts) it was a bit pricey with our poor ringgit exchange rate, their servings were quite large and we shared one order to two persons.

It was a treat in a way, as the breakkie set came classily presented on tiered trays with three courses included eggs and pastry. It was mid-morning already and this was good enough for brunch!
(... read more of Glockenspiel)

Hohensalzburg Fortress (Festung Hohensalzburg) viewed from the plaza was rather imposing and impressive, we had to get up there and see the fort for ourselves. And what better way to get up there than to use the funicular railway; the station was just a stone's throw away.
There is a group fare for the train for a group of ten... but we were only eight. The resourceful girls managed to convince a friendly old couple to join us in getting the group fare. Individual tickets are issued for group fare, so it was just nice as we did not had to stick together and could all head our different ways up there. The old couple must have let out a breathe of relief... as they probably wanted their own private time without being imposed by us crazy but cheerful lot.... Phew....

Sitting sitting high on the Festungsberg, the fort was in a good strategic position to defend Salzburg of old. There I was looking out of one of the port holes with a canon pointing out, imagining myself defending the city from invaders. "Yoh! don't fool around with me, I have got a big canon!"

Other than it's location overlooking and giving a good bird's eye view of Salzburg, I found the fort to be a bit plain, nothing much to see, no great architectural feature to admire. Okay, it's a fort... a Spartan fort meant for defence and not for beauty.

It did have some nice towers though.

To liven things up, the local tourist board have turned part of the fort into a Puppet Museum (Salzburg Marionette Museum). Many a puppets to be seen there, and most of them were elaborately dressed with fine and detailed clothes just like the one of Marie Antoinette seen above. This one is probably of her when she was the Archduchess of Austria.

And there are puppet theatre sets with whole ensembles of puppet casts like this one of the Von Trapp family at the lawn of Hellbrunn Castle...

And this one of royalty enjoying the Hellbrunn's Trick Fountains.... I won't be surprised if water actually shot out from this set!

On display were also different parts of the wardrobe; like these shoes and feet also done up in detail.... Jimmy Choo would have been beaming in delight on seeing these.... and probably Donald Duck would be quacking away in complaint seeing those duck feet!

Back down in the old town, our brunch had vaporized after walking around the castle, time for some top-up eats. From one of the shops we ordered some Frankfurters; since we were at Salzburg, I tried ordering a Salzburger,  the lady at the counter just gave me an odd stare... Okay, better take note... these Austrians have a different sense of humour before I make another inappropriate funny remark.

Back down at Mozartplatz, the Salzburg Cathedral (locally called the Salzburger Dom... no wonder the Frankfurter lady felt offended when I tried to order a Salzburger) had opened and it was time to pay it a visit.

If the exterior of the cathedral was impressive, the interior was even more awesome. It had very detailed carvings on the soffit of the arches, column headers and cornices. The ceiling was even more remarkable.

The ceiling below the dome.... see what I mean?

Ken at Wolfgangsee lakeside.
It was back to Mirabell Gardens, not to see the gardens again but to take a half day tour to Hallstatt that starts from here. The tour is run by Salzburg Panorama Tours at cost us €53 per pax. It was a five hour tour that starts at 1:00pm, with a journey that took one and a half hours each way. So actually we just got to spend only a couple of hours in Hallstatt. Well Lynn had mentioned that Hallstatt is a place that should not be missed, so two hours would be better than none.
The bus trip up was actually quite pleasant, passing by the Austrian country side, it gave us some time to rest after a hectic morning. Along the way we stopped at Wolfgangsee Lake for a short break in the journey and a wonderful panoramic view of the lake.

At one point along the road, Luciano our tour guide told us to get our cameras ready for some photos. Slightly ahead, we passed by a building with bulls rushing out of a building. What's this, bisons in Austria? Well the bison is one of the strongest bull and they were appropriate as this building is the headquarters for Red Bull, the energy drink. Actually Red Bull was founded in Thailand, a joint venture between Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz and Thai Chaleo Yoovidhya. It is by a Thai energy drink Krating Daeng, and the bull was actually a gaur, an Indian Bison which is not so furry.

Hallstatt was all that it promised to be and even more. With timber houses sitting on the hill slopes looking like they did centuries ago when the place was a salt mining village...

and houses lining the lakeside, it exudes a fairytale atmosphere from the medieval days of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm.

Fairytale houses at the town square.

The streets of the village enchanted us and brought back childhood memories of those fairy tales. Our hearts lightened up and all worries of modern days seems like light years away.

It colourfulness of the place was also good for photos too, especially at the town square.

A picture here for keepsake - us with Luciano our warm tour guide. He's from Italy and has taken residence in Austria.

We said our goodbyes to Luciano and took a walk to Asia Kitchen. We had notice it the day before and was now hungry for some familiar food. Asia Kitchen has a buffet of food from various Asian countries like Thailand, Japan, Korea and China. It's all you can eat from their extensive spread for only €8-90 per pax, drinks are not included.
Asia Kitchen is located at Ernest-Thun-Strasse 13, Max-Ott-Platz, (Kongresshaus), Salzburg. GPS 47.808236, 13.041254. Lunch hours from 11:00am to 2:30pm and dinner is from 5:30pm to 10:30pm. Tel.: 0662/871600.

After a quick refreshing at our hotel, we are off again!
It's still Oktoberfest and after our cellar tavern experience at U Flecku in Prague we were eager to experience the drinking festival in Salzburg.
We strolled along the Salzach riverbank to head towards our destination... a cool zephyr and the quiet night with a slow flowing river must have triggered our melodic mood. Soon we were singing songs from the Sound of Music; even skipping like the Von Trapp children!

Our drinking destination was the Augustiner Monastery....
Yup, we are going to try out those beers that have been brewed by the Augustine Monks for centuries. The corridors and staircases of the monastery was rather quiet and we were wondering whether we were at the right place. Down at the bottom of a staircase, a statue of St. Augustine beckoned us onwards.

At the bottom another corridor led us to the entrance of the tavern hall. Right at this entrance were a couple of these huge pillar fountains with taps on them. No, I was wrong to think that beer were dispensed from these taps. They are only for washing the beer mugs with water that comes from some spring from the hills behind the monastery.
At one counter we each paid €3-00 and were handed a large mug, went over to these taps and washed our mugs. Then it was over to the counter next to these fountains where a lark happy bartender dispensed beer to each of us with friendly smile.

The drinking was done at a large hall slightly ahead. The mood here was not as boisterous as in U Flecku; most just sat chatting among themselves and there were no waiters with huge trays of food/beer waltzing around. But the drinking atmosphere was there, every once in a while there were loud shouts of cheers. 

They did have nice roast pork here, it's self service from another counter at the corridor. Ken got us two types of roast pork, one fatty belly meat and the other one a lean shoulder meat. Both were good, tender and slightly salty. Other counters served sausages and salad.

It had been a long, varied and exciting day.
Remembering that we were in a monastery, I said a prayer and then took a swig!


(For more photos of the day Click Here)

This is page 6 of a 12-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.

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