Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Salzburg, Austria

The Mirabell gardens are so lovely. That's the Fortress up above.

We woke up to a beautiful morning in Salzburg after a good night's sleep. The Hotel Mercure had a fabulous buffet breakfast which we ate out on the terrace. It was modern, elegant and air conditioned too - something Scott and I would never have booked on our own, but were very glad to enjoy it as the weather was record breaking during our stay.  Then it was off to explore the city by foot ourselves before our scheduled tour. The garden park at Mirabell was outstanding with sunny and shady walks and lovely fountains. The gardens stretch along the same river as we had seen yesterday - both it and the city named for the salt that made their fortunes. It was mined by the Celts as early as the 5th Century BC and later became a Roman town in 15 BC "Juvavum". Saint Rupert became bishop here in 700 A.D. He named the city and built it up.
The Pegasus Fountain - "DoReMe" in Sound of Music number
We crossed over the Salzach River on the pedestrian bridge festively decorated with hundreds of engraved locks. I believe this was first a hit in Paris and the weight of them got so heavy that they had to remove the wrought iron panels and cut them off. Here the bridge is constructed so this is easier to do and they regularly clear it.
The day was already getting hot so these shaded walks were great.
The Hohensalzburg Fortress over the Salzach River
There are two small mountains right in the city on either side of the river, the Monchberg and the Kapuzinerburg. One contains an abbey and the other the Fortress Hohensalzburg built in 1077. They rise up steeply and provide a dramatic green background to the city scenery. The historic old part of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and mostly Baroque architecture, but it also has a vibrant shopping district and lots of sidewalk cafes to sit and enjoy people watching. Scott and I got as far as the Cathedral before we had to turn around and return to the hotel. We then walked down again to the Cathedral as a group for the first Concert. After several rebuildings since 774 it finally reached it's present Baroque appearance in the 17th C. The interior was magnificent and the Chorus did an outstanding job for it's first program in Austria. Despite posters announcing the concert I don't believe a lot of people came deliberately for just this, but there were large crowds touring the church that stopped to hear it and were very appreciative. Everyone was thrilled to be singing in such a historic place.
Lock Mania
In the afternoon we had our official walking tour of the city (our third trip in). We had two guides assigned to our group: Margaret and Gerte. Both were delightful company with lots of historic information but lightened with personal stories and humor. The highlight was a visit to Mozart's birthplace.
Scott and I had time for a beer at a cafe before meeting everyone for dinner at the oldest restaurant in Europe, Siftskeller St. Peter. The ancient building and rooms didn't prepare us for the very gourmet and modern cuisine, topped with the individual beautifully arranged symphony of strawberry desserts. Afterwards Scott and I separated; he back to the hotel, exhausted and me, to the concert high in the Fortress. This was one of the highlights of the trip for me. A funicular carried us up to the hill top and then it was endless stairs and terraces to the top, amazing views in every direction. The concert hall was ancient and open windows allowed us to watch the changing light on the city. And the program and musicians were wonderful - so lively that not one exhausted member of our group had nodding heads. And then, the trip down in the moonlight with the dramatically lighted city was magical.
Neither Scott or I had enough sleep that night. We still had not adjusted to the time change. But the bed and room was very comfortable - we got some rest.

The stores were filled with interesting crafts

The courtyard on the side of the Cathedral

The main shopping street, Getreidegasse

Another funicular leads up to the Art Museum

The Chorus head to the Cathedral front

The Rutland Area Chorus

Rip Jackson, our conductor (Scott far right)

Three soloists with Rip on the organ

The staircase in Sound of Music for the escape (fictional)
Our Restaurant is in the corner here
The courtyard of the Siftskeller St. Peter restaurant
The view from the Funicular going up to the Fortress
The wall and view away from the city
Going up the outside stairs to the Concert Hall
View of the city and the Cathedral below center
The concert stage - with ancient pillars and ceiling.
We couldn't resist this sign - Sean worked for Fair Share in the U.S.

No comments: