Europe 2014 – Salzburg – The Heavens Open and the Rain Comes Down

Timeline: September 11th – 13th

Vienna to Salzburg

Vienna to Salzburg

Editors Note:

I forgot to include one very important article of clothing in my list in the last post. These would be the socks I have lived in, two different styles of Smartwool products. With tennis shoes and shorts I’ve been wearing the mini sock and with my Gore Tex Merrill’s, I have used their light hikers. They can go multiple days without any sign of wear, odor, or discomfort. If you like good socks, these are the ones to buy.

On the way to Salzburg we stopped at a gas station and purchased a toll sticker. It was only 8.50 Euros and good for ten days, it is an inexpensive and convenient way to deal with tolls. We arrived at Camping Nord Sam and set up the tent under threatening skies. The weather forecast for the next few days was dismal, sprinkles, showers, rain, and then some more rain. A great climate to be camping in.

We’d come understand from many who had spoken to us that in this part of Europe it had been an awful summer for rain. We had been fairly lucky so far, with the exception of Prague, to have escaped most of it but it now appeared that our luck had run out.

When we arrived in camp the reception area was closed and following the instructions posted at the reception office we selected a campsite that looked like it could handle rain well (good drainage, gravel surface) and set up camp. We made a quick run back to a Spar Market we’d seen on the way in and picked up simple ingredients for dinner, some canned ravioli and the makings of a salad.

Nord Sam Reception

Nord Sam Reception

By the time we’d finished dinner and cleaned up reception was open so we made our way there, paid for our two nights stay and settled down in one of the comfortable wood lined booths provided for camp guests, purchased some very good Wi-Fi and worked until they closed up shop at the early time of 7:00 pm. We repaired to camp and closed out the evening sitting in the car, reading, drinking a little bit of some local schnapps, and talking.

As Dry as it Gets

As Dry as it Gets

The next morning, Friday the 12th we walked a few short blocks down to the bus stop for a quick ride into town, which dropped us off at the edge of the Salzach river. We started our walking tour at Mozartplatz, the site of a statue erected in 1842 on the 50th anniversary of Mozart’s death who spent much of his first 25 years (1756-1777) here.

Mozart Statue

Mozart Statue

Also ringing the square is Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau’s (who ruled 1587-1612) palace, the Old Residenz that is connected to the Salzburg Cathedral (Salzburger Dom) by an arched bridge.

Residenceplatz

Residenceplatz

The Cathedral is one of the first Baroque buildings north of the Alps and was formally opened in 1628 during the Thirty Years War.  With its rich salt production Salzburg had enough money to stay out of the conflict and carefully maintain its independence from the warring sides, earning it the nickname “Fortified Island of Peace.” (Rick Steves’ Germany 2014 (Kindle Locations 4781-4782), Avalon Travel, Kindle Edition).

A statue of Mary sits in the middle of the square in front of the cathedral. If you stand in the rear of the square, towards the middle, it appears that she is positioned to be crowned by the two angels on the front façade of the church, a fascinating optical illusion.

Mary and Angels

Mary and Angels

Dates on the cathedral’s iron gates refer to milestones in the church’s history: In 774, the previous church (long since destroyed) was founded by St. Virgil, to be replaced in 1628 by today’s church which was partially reconstructed in 1959 due to damage received during WW II. Built in just 14 years (1614-1628), the church displays a harmonious architecture not often found in other cathedrals that took longer to build, presenting a pleasing and unified appearance.

Cathedral Interior

Cathedral Interior

We left the Cathedral, walked through the Kapitelplatz and stopped to buy a pretzel from a street vendor. Joanna insisted on a cheese version, thinking I needed some protein, but I zeroed in on the one I knew she needed more, an éclair pretzel. Yep, think of a pretzel with puffy dough stuffed full of creamy goodness and laced with chocolate icing. I cannot begin to describe how good the thing tasted; our only mistake being that we didn’t buy two of the things.

To the right of the Platz is a gate that leads to a waterwheel and St. Peter’s Cemetery. The waterwheel is part of a canal system that has brought water into Salzburg since the 13th century. Water from the river is divided into smaller canals and channeled through town to provide fire protection and to flush out the streets (Thursday morning was flood-the-streets day). Because of this ingenious system, providing relatively good hygiene for the time period, Salzburg never suffered from a plague.

Waterwheel

Waterwheel

We walked through the cemetery which dates back to the middle ages and abuts a cliff full of a few old caves, a chapel,
and a nice view of the city below.

View from Cliffs

View from Cliffs

As we exited the cemetery we passed the entrance to Stiftskeller St. Peter, which claims that it is the oldest restaurant in Europe due to the fact that Charlemagne ate there in 803. We’d dined there in 1992, not quite as long ago as Charlamagne, and had a fine meal. We thought about returning but with the promise of many meals out coming up for us in Munich, decided to save the budget this time around.

Stiftskeller

Stiftskeller

We finished our day after seeing some other sights in the old town by walking across the river on one of a number of pedestrian bridges to the new town to take a short tour of that area.

Salzach from the Bridtge

Salzach from the Bridge

We spent a little time at the Mirabell Gardens and Palace, that laid out in 1730 for the prince archbishop have been open to the public since 1850. The statues and the arbor there were featured in The Sound of Music, as are many other locations in town.  We opted not to take any of the Sound of Music tours that are offered, but did download the movie itself and watched it a day or so later in Nuremberg.

Mirabell Gardens

Mirabell Gardens

We finished up our tour of the new town and hopped on the bus for the ride back to camp. Joanna had spotted a pizza restaurant the day before about a quarter mile up the hill from the campground and that was our destination for the night. Before we left to eat, we stopped in at the reception area, logged on to internet and made a bargain basement reservation (weekend rates at a business hotel) for 40 Euros a night at an Ibis Hotel just outside the wall in Nuremberg, seeking to escape the wet and cold, given the forecast of rain for the next few days.

We walked up to the restaurant and entered what was clearly a local establishment, a somewhat rare moment in our travels given our itinerary. We split a large bowl of pancake soup (strips of pancake in a mild broth) and a ham and mushroom pizza, enjoying a couple of beers as well. It was very filling, so much so we couldn’t consider desert and were thus amused when we observed a table full of residents next to us, pretty much normal sized folks, ordering a desert apiece after each one had consumed their own pizza.

It had been a good return to Salzburg. We could have covered more of the city and the area with additional time, but for this go round two nights was enough. We were looking forward to seeing Nuremberg again, a town we’ve been to twice (1982 and 2002) and most of all, staying indoors while it stormed outside, particularly important with a tent that soaked up moisture like a sponge (more about this and our dealings with North Face to follow). We returned to the tent, full and happy, a good place to be on a long trip.

St. Peter's Cemetery

St. Peter’s Cemetery

Links

Smartwool: http://www.rei.com/product/626974/smartwool-light-hiker-socks

Camping Nord Sam: http://www.camping-nord-sam.com/en/268/die-gruene-oase-der-mozartstadt-salzburg.html

Spar: http://www.spar.com.au/

Salzach River: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salzach

Church of St. Michael: http://www.salzburg.info/en/sights/churches_cemeteries/michaelskirche

Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf_Dietrich_Raitenau

Old Residenz: http://www.salzburg-burgen.at/en/residenz/residenz-salzburg/index.htm

Salzburg Cathedral: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salzburg_Cathedral

St. Peter’s Cemetary: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petersfriedhof

Stifskeller St. Peter: http://stpeter-stiftskeller.at/en/the-restaurant.html

Mirabell Gardens and Palace: http://www.salzburg.info/en/sights/fortress_palaces/mirabell_palace_gardens

D&S Pizza: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g190441-d3411061-Reviews-D_S-Salzburg_Austrian_Alps.html

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