July 12, 2011
Tuesday 12 July 2011
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Greetings from the OBB!
We are on the Austrian National Railway (OBB) this morning. Manuela and her parents will meet us at the train station in Linz today and together we will visit the Mauthausen-Gusen Concentration Camp near Mauthausen. My mother, Maureen, Scott, and I have spent the last two days visiting Salzburg.
For Americans, Salzburg is best known for The Sound of Music. Austrians have little interest in the Julie Andrews movie; for them Salzburg is the birth place of Amadeaus Wolfgang Mozart. Regardless of one's point of view, Salzburg is a beautiful city with a history that dates back to the 5th century when it was an important source of salt and located on a central trade route.
We arrived Sunday afternoon after a four hour train ride from Graz, settled in our hotel, just a five minute walk from most of the interesting sights in Alt Stadt, and took a brief walking tour. We had dinner at an outdoor cafe in the Alt Markt plaza. It was quite warm and humid until a thunder shower cooled the evening.
Monday morning was much cooler. We began with a tour of Hohensalzburg, the fortress that sits atop a hill beside the old city. The views from the fortress are amazing, though perhaps the most interesting sight was inside the fortress - a real dungeon and torture chamber used to for "intense interrogations." We spent about an hour wandering around the grounds before taking the 30 minute audio guide of the interior. Because of the many stairs, my mother was limited to riding the funicular to the fortress base.
We walked through the cemetery beside Stiftskirche St. Peter in the shadows of Hohensalzburg. There are many beautifully ornate grave markers; unfortunately, the adjoining catacombs were closed. Stiftskirche St. Peter is just one of three big churches within a two minute walk of each other. Beside it is the Dom, the largest and oldest church in Salzburg.
After visiting the churches, we strolled through plazas and narrow streets and toured Mozart Geburtshaus, birth place of the composer. We also visited Mozart Wohnhaus where Mozart spent the latter part of his childhood. It is across the river from Alte Stadt, but only a five minute walk away. Of the two Mozart museums, I found the geburtshaus more interesting; displays in both consist mostly of documents and information.
Schloss Mirabell, a large palace built by an Archbishop for his mistress and their 10 children, is next to Mozart Wohnhaus. Tours of the interior are not offered, but the beautiful gardens are worth the visit. After visiting Schloss Mirabell, we all went our separate ways for some individual shopping. I spent an hour relaxing with a cup of coffee at a cafe on Mozartplatz. In the evening Scott and I watched Canada handily beat Austria in an American Football game on TV.
Taking a taxi can be risky as a tourist in any city in the world, but when I saw that the driver for our ride from the hotel to the Salzburg Hauptbahnhof Tuesday morning was a woman, for some reason I felt much more confident we would not be taken advantage of. And she had the nicest taxi I had ever ridden in - a new Audi with leather seats. Both taxi rides, to and from the hotel, were only 10 euros.
After visiting Mauthausen-Gusen today, Manuela will join us for as we return to Vienna. We'll spend one last day with my family visiting Austria's capital before they fly home Thursday morning.