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The elegant Salzburg, Austria - Day 2

sunny 20 °C

I was very excited about today as I was about to embark on an adventure that I hoped I would remember for a long time. But first I had to explore a bit more of Salzburg before my next tour. After chatting a bit to my roommates and getting ready, I headed out. I stopped in old town again for breakfast. I had a bun and Fanta. Not healthy but I'm on vacation so who cares.

My mission this morning was seeking out Kapuziner Monastery as I had skipped it yesterday. The trek to the monastry was long and steep.
salzburg__.._09_104.jpg <--a patio on the roof of house. how inventive!
After getting to the top, I took many pictures, walked around and enjoyed the views of the city below.

After this I made my way to town once again for more looking around and enjoyment. I ended up going to a small shop, 'Tea & Co.,' where I bought some lovely gifts for my family and friends.
More walking. I bought some gourmet chocolate which ended up tasting like crap. (After I got home, my friends and I tasted it, gagged and threw it away.) Good times. :)
At this time, I had to have lunch as the tour I was taking would last a few hours long and it was recommended that tourists have a meal before to ensure they have energy. The day before I had seen a restaurant that just made me smile. It is called, 'Pasta and Vino'. Right in the middle of Austria! Loved it therefore I had to eat there. Lunch today was pasta, zuccinni and spetzi.

At this point, I onwarded to the hostel where the bus would pick up the group for the guided tour, Ice Caves!! The bus was about 20 minutes late picking us up but when they finally came, we were transfered to a comfort tour bus where we met up with other travellers and started the journey.

The tour bus drove apprx. 1 hour to the small city of Werfen, where apparently "nothing happens". People just live in this city but that is about it. It is a really small town that has no night life or day life for that matter.
Pics from the bus ride
After arriving in Werfen, the bus made its way up a part of the Austrian alps. At the point where the road for automotives ended, it was time for the hike! We had to walk about 40 minutes in total almost completely straight up hill to reach the gondola section of the trip.
After puffing but enjoying the gorgeous views on the way up, I made it to the lift. On the way, I met two girls (from the same hostel I was staying at no doubt) from Australia. We chatted a bit but we were mainly concentrating on getting up the seeminlgly endless mountainside. I did take some picture on the way and the higher I went, the more breathtaking the views became. But, I was still afaid to go too close to the edge so my photos are all snaps from afar...sort of.
The guide told us that this cable car has the steepest climb in the entire world and after being in it, I can believe it! The experience was alright but at one point, about 3 seconds in total, the car swung a bit too much and I had to close my eyes as I immediately pictured us hurtling through the air and crashing into the side of the mountain. After I opened my eyes however, I discovered the ride was over and we were safe. Next? More climbing.
The next hike was about twenty minutes up. At this point, it had started to rain so the picture taking was scaled back as I just wanted to get out of the rain and feel my legs again.
After the hike, I finally saw the caves mouth and was really excited as now, the adventure would start.
Our guide for the ice caves was an Austrian dude who was not only funny and entertaining but very easy on the eyes.
The tour started with the first ascent of 300 steps within the ice caves! I have to say that thanks to the gym and the gorgeous sculptures around me, I barely even noticed the climb. I was too enthralled with the history of the caves and the ice formations. This Eisriesenwelt (ice giant) is an all natural limestone cave and is the largest in Europe!
NOTE: If you ever take this tour, there are 1400 steps in total. 700 up and 700 down.
The pictures didn't really turn out too beautiful (we weren't supposed to take pictures but everyone was flashing so I followed the leader) but it was spectacular, let me tell you.
This tour was the highlight of my stay in Salzburg by far and I am happy that I chose this over the Sound of Music.

After all the hubbub, the tour ended and we made our way down this section of the Austrian alps and back to the bus. If you ever get a chance to do the tour, please do it! It is great fun, exciting and exilerating all in one tidy package. However, make sure you bring gloves as the temperatures are well below the freezing mark and despite the climbing and freezing sweat, your hands get really cold.

When we came out of the cave, this is what we were enveloped in! A thick cloak of cloud. Stunning!

The cloud cleared quickly but the view on the way down was just as beautiful as coming up.
At the half way point, we stopped for a small treat at a mountain side restaurant which specialized in apfelstrudel (apple studel). Of course the entire group had a yummy piece. I downed mine was a hot chocolate. Well deserved after todays excursion.

Back at the hostel, I met my first email/exchange/hostel friend. Her name is Leila and she is from Brazil. We were both waiting to ask the reception some questions when she asked me if I was traveling alone. I answered yes and she said she was also. I was startled as I saw her on the tour bus earlier today but she was with another woman who I just assumed was her travelling friend. She told me that she just met that girl last night in her room. Leila was travelling around Europe on a 21 day Eurorail pass and having a great time so far. She told me that so far she visited a few places in Italy and was thinking of making her way to Switzerland after Austria but had changed her mind. She explained that she found Austrian people to be nice but not friendly. They smiled but were cool at the same time. I had to agree. They seemed like lovely people but they were just....reserved...not very warm. She planned on going to the train station the next morning to change her ticket from Zurich to Venice as she loved the atmosphere and warmth she received from the people of Italy. She said she couldn't handle anymore cold smiles. I liked her immediately for her honesty.

Leila invited me out to dinner with a couple of her friends she met at the hostel and I readily accepted. We went to a small Italian restaurant down the street and enjoyed a meal. Leila was hilarious as she ordered soup but was disappointed in the portion. There were about 4 noodles floating in the broth and she said, "As my father says, this can't even fill me eye tooth". I was dying of laughter as I had to agree. Her meal looked kinda sucky but mine was divine. Fettuccini alfredo with shrimp.

After dinner, we made our way to the hostel and quicky changed again and hit up the Austian night scene. We ended up at some Irish Pub (what's new?), O'Malleys where we threw back a few cold ones and enjoyed some good conversation. I was a bit disappointed as I really wanted to dance but the other girls were tired from the hike earlier today so I acquiesced. We headed back around 1am and I stumbled into the room and tried not to trip over things and make too much noise as to not disturb my slumbering roommates.

The next morning, I had nothing planned so I hung around with some hostel mates and watched The Sound of Music until it was time to board my train. Salzburg is pretty small and I was Salzburged out at this point. I saw what I wanted to see and explored what I needed. I craved to move on. I am not really a lounge around the pool all day kind of girl on vacation so I was itching to move on. Eventhough moving on meant leaving Austria and returning to Stuttgart, I was excited. I had new things to tackle at work and I was excited to talk to my family and friends. Basically, I liked Austria and would like to visit more of it, but it was time to go home.

On the train, I settled in and I think I slept the whole ride as I can't remember too much about it. The one thing about train rides, at least most long distance ones, is the comfort and no-stress factor. After your ticket is checked, it is basically time to sit back and read or drink beer/wine/whatever or sleep or look out the window or chat. Just a good time to veg. Despite sleeping on the train, I stumbled into bed early that night. It was great being home.

Posted by CanaGerm 08:41 Archived in Austria Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

The elegant Salzburg, Austria - Day 1

sunny 21 °C

I have always wanted to see Austria. When I was planning the trip with TT, Austria and Croatia were two of the countries that I desperately wanted to visit. Austria for the Alps and Croatia for Lake Bled. I have not and probably will not see Lake Bled this time but maybe on another trip, I will squeeze it in. However, I was able to fulfill a wish and see the Alps. I not only viewed the alps from afar, I was able to hike them! It was a real treat.

So, my trip to Salzburg started out bright and earlly. Two Saturday's ago, I was up and out of the hotel around 6am and at the Kornwestheim banholf 10 minutes later. My train was leaving from the Stuttgart hbf a little before 7 and I was more than on time. Once on the train, I basically sat back and relaxed. I read, dozed and read some more.

My train was originally supposed to arrive in Salzburg after 12pm but when I checked my watch and it said 11:55 and we were still in Germany, I knew it was going to be late. No big deal since the hostel is 24hr check in but they have 2 Sound of Music Tours per day, one at 9am and the other leaving at 2pm and from the looks of things, I wouldn't be able to catch my intended, two pm. I was right. We got in about 45 minutes later than scheduled and the 2nd group was already gone by the time I reached the hostel.

The hostel was really easy to find and about 10 minutes walking distance from the main station.
After checking in, dumping my bag and booking a tour for the next day (Sound of Music), I headed out. As a note, there was a Mozart 3-course dinner and music show that I would have loved to do but I was not aware of this so I didn't bring the appropriate clothing for such an event. When I get back to Salzburg, and I will (IGSML), there is this and one more tour I would like to participate in.

Using my map I got at the hostel (remembered this time Anita), I walked around marveling at the pretty buildings, the gorgeous colors and the nice cars! Yes, the cars are HOT in Salzburg. It seems that everyone owns a Audi or BMW!
Some observations so far on Salzburg:
-From the train I knew we had entered when I saw the gorgeous Alps.
-It is colder temperature wise. Obviously the mountains have something to do with that.
-There are a lot more open, green spaces. A lot of patures and cows. This was all viewed on the train while coming into the city.

What I really wanted on this trip was mountains, beautiful views and some serenity.

I set down Paracelsustr., the street the hostel is located on, intent on seeing Kapuziner Monastery but was easily sidetracked by the beauty that surrounded me. Salzburg is CLEAN!! I thought most parts of Ontario and Stuttgart were clean but Austria is almost pure, it is that clean. It was so clean that I took a big breathe and inhaled....nothing!! I tried a few more times and my lungs were rewarded with clean, pure, alps purified air. It was so nice to be in this environment, even for this short period of time.

I took many pictures of the gorgeous colorful buildings and soaked it all in. Instead of heading straight to the monastry, I walked slowly along the old town street of Linzer Gasse.

It was at this point that I stumbled across an old yet gorgeous graveyard and wandered in. It was purely by accident but it was really nice. It is beautifully maintained and clean. I discovered that Mozart's wife, Constanze, and two of his children were buried in this yard. I don't think I happened upon Mozart's grave site.
I never made it to the monastry as I kept walking Linzer Gasse after my lunch. I did however see the monastries entry and kept the location in my head for tomorrow. Next was the city center. It is all about old buildings, color, history, beauty and the Salzach river.
I saw a boat that was circling the city and thought I would catch it but after meandering too long, I missed it and didn't stick around for the next ride. There was just too much to see and do.

I kept walking and crossed a bridge and walked some more. Looking beyond, I was intrigued by a big white imposing structure I saw off in the distance. When I looked at the map, I discovered it was a castle so off I went. I walked with a purpose as I was excited to see this structure.
Right before I was to take the funicular (expensive at euro 10,50 return!!) up, I was distracted by another graveyard. I know the people who laid in this yard had to have mega bucks just looking at the ornate structures and grounds.
Now onto the fort. It is said that, Hohensalzburg Castle, is one of the largest and well preserved forts in Europe. Once off the funicular, I made my way to the front (I think) of the fortress and took a few pictures the buildings edge. I was scared because I was really, really high up but I took them anyway. The sights of Salzburg from this height was breathtaking.
I walked up some stairs, on spaghetti legs mind you, so that I could explore more. My first stop was at the Marionette museum. I've always thought these dolls are slightly creepy but I still checked the place out. The museum had a old and musty scent. I think it is partially due to the marionettes themselves which was seriously antique. And scary looking.
I walked further along the fortress and stopped at another section (the place is huge) to check out the city view from another angle.
After taking some pictures and soaking it all up, I moved on.
Back in the old town, I headed in the general direction of the hostel but I sort of detoured. I stopped in a park and relaxed a bit. Then I decided to head back to the hostel for real but was once again distracted!
There was a mob of people and a beautiful yellow building in front of me. I had to check it out.
It happened to be the Palace of Mirabell (Mirabelle schloss). I took pictures including a unicorn, pretty flowers, a gable that for some reason reminded me of the book "Anne of Green Gables" and a miniture green maze.
More walking and then the hostel. This afternoon, when I originally arrived, I booked a Sound of Music tour for the next day but my heart was not into it. Don't get me wrong, I wanted and still do, the sound of music but what really drew me was a tour called Ice Cave Tours. At the hostel I quickly changed the sound of music for this adventure tour. A bit more up my alley. I was a bit more interested, in my limited time, in climbing the Alps and part of a sculptures shaped purely by water, nature and God.

Dinner was being prepped at the hostel so I went into the dining room to see what was happening in the meantime. I met and chatted with some girl there as we both struggled to get a movie playing on the tv/dvd/vcr combo thingy. I ordered Pizza Margarita for my dinner and ate while reading. I have to admit that after my day of travel and exploration, I was getting tired. Instead of heading in though, I went online for a while and then met my roommates in the room.

Posted by CanaGerm 08:00 Archived in Austria Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Finding inspiration in others

21 °C

I am at the Yoho Hostel in Salzberg, Austria right now and I am in awe of the people I have met. My roommates ranged from students, to a rodeo bull rider, from Australia!!!

After we introduced ourselves we all started in on the customary, what do you do, how long are you here for etc., etc.. Only this time, I was really impressed by these girls. 3 were from the US studying engineering in Berlin. They have taken ripe advantage of their time here and have travelled a great deal in Europe. I remember when I was in university, I didn't travel because 1, it was not an option, 2, I didn't even know such things were possible (small vision and all that) and 3, I would never have left home even if I did know about these options. I was impressed with these girls, who were no more than 23, as they have been all over Germany, visited Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Italy, The UK, France. And, they are just starting.

I was truly inspired by the other roommate from Australia. She was on her way, via an ATW ticket, to Alberta, Canada to work as a bull/horse rider. I was shocked. If you look at this woman, you would never tell that she gets down and dirty like that as she is very girly-girly. But, what made me admire her was the passion and fire she had in her eyes when she was talking about her passion. She loves what she does and couldn't wait to arrive. Talk about passion. Not only does she ride bulls, she is a teacher by trade. Wow!! Some people just seem to do it all.

I also met 2 other women who also love to travel and took chunks of time off from work to explore the world. Once again, I voiced my concern about money and obligations and they were nonplussed. Why should they not follow their passions because of a job? That was just stupid. All this information renews my already burning passions to change my life. Now I know that the only thing that stops me, would be me.

Posted by CanaGerm 01:12 Archived in Austria Tagged educational Comments (0)

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