Monday, March 25, 2013

Snowzburg and the Incomparable Snowzart!

When I woke up this morning, the fist thing I did was check the forecast for the day.  I had to do a double take, I thought that maybe I had looked at the Calgary forecast by accident.  Salzburg, Austria -2 celcius and snow.  That's right, snow!  The whole day it felt like we were in a giant Salzburg snow globe.  If you look closely, I bet you can see us.

Bottom right, under where his arm should be....

I'm not going to lie to you, I expected the weather to be crappy on this trip, and you know what?  I have been 100% correct so far!  I am also 100% cool with it too.  It was very chilly today, but it made our stops for cafe and pastries that much more amazing.

It takes about 10 minutes to walk from our apartment to the Old Town.  Fin was complaining on Saturday that he had an itchy bum.  On the way into town today, we found this fantastic poster.
I can't believe they made a poster to welcome Fin.  Austrian's = Awesome.
By the time we got into town, we were officially frozen.  
It was so cold, people were crocheting their bikes so they wouldn't freeze.  True story.
Fin was desperate to go shopping, just so he could warm up.  We passed on the shopping and went for the next best thing, a nearly frozen pretzel, and a horse and buggy tour around town.

Fin watches closely as the bus tries to over take us.
Is it me, or does Bronwyn look like a middle linebacker is this photo?  Layers baby, layers.

I had to interpret everything that our driver said.  Apparently I'm the only one in the family that speaks broken english.
One of the things that our driver pointed out on our tour, was the Capuchin Monastery.  You have to climb several steps to get up there, and I mean several.  But once you get up there, it is all worth it.  The monastery is on the opposite side of the river of the Old Town, and it has fantastic panoramic views.
There was a great mural of Motzie in a walkway under the road on our way to Capuchin.
We started climbing...
And Climbing.
But what an amazing view.  The Old Town, and the fortress high above.

Less grump = less takes to get nice photo.

The walk down was a whole lot easier than the walk up.  We had another gumball race on the way down.  I may have won.  We will just leave it at that....

Our next stop was Wolfie's birth house/museum.  This was actually a really fascinating venue.  Apparently Mozart is one of the mostly widely misrepresented famous individuals in portraits.  Several of the images in the museum have been proven to be inaccurate representations of his likeness.  I feel the same way.  I am much taller than the pictures give me credit for.

House of the Wolf.
Oh ya.  No pooping in the park across the street from Mozart's house.
After the museum, we were starving, and in need of food.  Earlier in the day I had read about a famous cafe in Salzburg called "Cafe Bazar".  It was highly recommended as one "the" places to have a cafe in town.  Cafe Bazar has served many writers over the years that have come in search of inspiration.  The atmosphere, and the food was fantastic.  Even Picky Pickerson loved his meal (back down, I was talking about Fin!).

Inside Cafe Bazar.  Looks like more readers then writers to me.... stupid guide books.
Great view of the Old Town and the Fortress from just outside Cafe Bazar.
Cafe Bazar is in the building on the right.  It has a great view of the Old Town on the opposite side of the river.

After lunch we made our way to the tram that would take us up to the Fortress.  But before we made it to the tram, we had to stop for a battle royale!

Bronwyn gets an early lead.  Or is she leaving with that horse?
But too many mistakes lead to a Fintan win.
The Man with the Golden Ball was the ref.  Well played sir.  Well played.
An old timer tries he luck at a Baroque VLT.

I asked them if they could see "The Frog in the Well".  But apparently it was just a bowl.  "The Frog in the Bowl" sounds more like an Asian thing.
On to the Fortress!  There has been some form of tram that carries people up to the fortress since 1892.  For some reason, the family wasn't keen on climbing anymore stairs, so we took the tram.

The fortress itself isn't all that spectacular once you get up there, but the vistas, even on a snowy day, were fantastic.

On the way out of the Old Town, we stopped at one last church.  This was the very interesting Franciscan Church.  The interior has a very interesting mix of Romanesque and Gothic features.

Well, that's enough for one day.  It's time to make our way out of Salzburg.  In the morning, we will be on our way to Prague.  Until then, something for you to ponder.

Fintan:  "Dad, since I have your DNA, will I love wine when I grow up?"

Chess, a Church, and a Man with a Golden Ball.

Today was our first day to start using the train.  It was a chilly morning while we were waiting outside the hotel to catch the local train to the main station, Zurich HB.
Amazingly I had to fight with Fin in the hotel room to put on more layers.  He was cold....
Zurich HB is home to our priciest treat of the trip.  Yesterday, after we validated our Eurorail pass and were on our way to catch the local train to the hotel, the kids wanted a warm pretzel and a Fanta.  I'm guessing in Calgary it would cost $2 per drink, and let's say a generous $3 per pretzel for a whopping $10.  You know you are in Zurich HB main rail station when that tasty little treat costs you, wait for it....$25.  Gulp.  Oh, we went to the Coop when we got back to the hotel....same Fanta  $1.25.  So it was about this time we had a talk with the kids around timing of their treat requests....

Speaking of treats, Eurorail had a special on this spring for families up to 5 traveling together. You could get a 17 day totally flexible 1st class rail pass for, well not a real discount, but you could get it!  We were are all pumped up when we made it on to our first train that was actually going to the city we intended to go to.  Look how happy we were.

Then the conductor came by and asked for our tickets.  Turns out we were sitting in Business First, which is apparently much nicer then first.....
Pod boy's sister reacts to the news from the conductor.
After the walk of shame back to the regular old First Class car, we settled in for our 5hr journey to Salzburg, Austria.   Despite the whining, the dreaded First Class car was very comfortable and spacious (mind you, we have some big journeys ahead, so we may have to dig deep to find some sheckles to pay for the upgrade.  I will just think of it as buying pretzel's and Fanta's everyday for the next 10 days...).  

We were very excited to learn that there was free WiFi service on the train.  I can tell  you this, we enjoyed it much more during the 20 minutes that it actually worked.

Salzburg.  How many of our millions of followers have been to Salzburg?  I was here as an 18 year kid with my two friends Brian and Niels as part of our 1987 European domination tour.  Even back then, this little town captured my heart and imagination.   

The "Old Town", which UNESECO listed as a world heritage site in 1997, sits below the stunning 11th century Fortress Hohensalzburg.

One of Europe's largest 11th century fortresses.

The architecture of the city is incredible.  You will find Romanesque and Gothic churches, as well as Renaissance and Baroque inspired structures.
I'm not sure who this fella is, but he's got a helluva beard and colourful sword.
After we passed this fellow, we walked through an archway into a massive courtyard and this was directly in front of us.
Bronwyn and Fintan were captivated by the massive cathedral.
There has been a cathedral of sorts here since 774, but over the years there have been builds, rebuilds, fires etc.  The current Baroque styled cathedral was completed in 1628.  World War II wasn't kind to the cathedral. A single bomb crashed through the central dome and restoration work wasn't completed until 1959. 

So ya, not bad....

Just outside the cathedral, on the right hand side, is another large square.  In the square, is a large street chess game.  The crazy thing is, I remember this street chess game from when I visited here 26 years ago!

The kids and I watched on as the duo battled for Austrian chess supremacy.

The man with the Golden Ball watches out over the match.
Salzburg Cathedral with Golden Ball just outside the entrance.

I'm not sure what the motivation was for Golden Ball, but I'm sure he caused a ruckus with some of the old folks.

Probably the most famous thing about Salzburg is that it's the birth place of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, you may have heard of him?  Well, if you haven't, you clearly didn't have kids that you bought the Baby Mozart DVD's for.

So, a funny thing about this sculpture.  It was unveiled in 1842 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his death (1842 was 51 years after his death), the sculpture shows Wolfie holding a pencil.  Well apparently, according to the Berlitz guide, the pencil wasn't invented until 20 or 30 years after his death.  What's next?  A sculpture of Jesus with an iPhone?  

All things Wolfie!
The old town is loaded with streets just like this.  Stunning.
All things Easter!

Well that's it for tonight, we will explore the rest of the town in the morning.