Monday, 13 June 2011

The Hills are Salzburg-Austria

We left a brilliant clear day behind in Lucerne and headed for Vaduz, the capital of the pocket sized Principality of Liechtenstein. Many on the tour had their passport stamped here as it is one of the few places that still do this. You had to pay for the privilege and as we were still using Swiss Franc I passed on that one figuring that if I didn't have passport stamps for all the other countries I didn't need one from Liechtenstein.

 The drive through to Innsbruck (Austria's Olympic resort) took us through some stunning scenery and close to the Alpine range in all its glory. We stopped off for a couple of hours here and enjoyed a walk to view Emperor Maximilian's Golden Roof. I was able to find a salad roll for lunch, something that we have not seen much of to date so I sat on the steps of a fountain watching the people (and the many tourists) go by.

Mark the TD really keeps us on the go. Last night there were 5 tour groups in our hotel in Lucerne and each tours schedule goes up on a notice board at night but the pattern is the same. Wakeup call (usually 6am) and 45 mins later bags have to be outside your door and that is also breakfast time and 45 mins after that we leave. When I looked at everyone else’s sheets they usually have 15mins or 30mins longer pattern. What this means is that we are often the first bus at the sights and this makes a huge difference. We were first at Vaduz (to use the loo) and first at the Golden Roof so it was not crowded with tourists.

It seemed like a long haul today (but only 470 km) through to the lovely picturesque Salzburg. I think everyone had a few Zzzzzz on the bus today. Most of the travel today was on great motorways at 120 kph...even for the buses. One tunnel was 17 km long and another 13km...It was darkish so you might as well close your eyes! I did.

Salzburg is gorgeous and that is an understatement. The old town was not damaged in either of the world wars and so much of it is, as is, with fresh paint! Salzburg is quite something with the birthplace of Mozart as well as the many scenes from the Sound of Music being shot here. The hotel is about 10 mins walk from town so today I strolled by myself (for the first time) through the exquisite Mirabell Gardens and down the walkway right beside the river and over the bridge into town.

I love the quaint buildings the cobblestone paths, alleyways and the town squares that are frequently seen in European towns and cities. You really do know you are someplace else and each of them are so very very different.

We had a guided walking tour for an hour and a half today and were given lots of the history of the town. We visited the cathedral where a small choir of probably less than 20 were rehearsing. The acoustics were amazing and you could have easily thought there would be a huge choir singing.  We were also shown many of the places that appeared in scenes from the Sound of Music. So I guess when I get home I will watch it again and be able to pick out some of these ....... like the horse fountain ( we walked past)and the graveyard where the family hid behind the gravestones ( we walked through) and the steps where Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti was sung ( we walked down). No we jumped up the steps….just like in the movie.

Almost on cue Mother Superior walked past in her full gown and very graciously stood for a couple of photos. I kid you not......but it was Sister Bernadette.

There was a celebration in the town square today that ended in a huge parade. It was a rather spectacular sight, with all participants in full Austrian costume of many colours and types. There were so many horse drawn carriages (at least 20), twirling flag bearers and bands and it made a very colourful display. We were lucky to be in the right place at the right time as it only happens 3 times a year.  We had been warned that guns would fire, we just weren't told how ear shattering it would be. Despite the warning it gave me and most of the others, a fright.

With so many horses you need to have a clean up plan and that came along at the end of the parade.....shovels!

We wandered back past the lovely marketplace where Austrian sausages, flowers, meat, fish and fruit was for sale. I have been treating myself to the lovely fresh raspberries and strawberries available but today its cherries as we board the bus heading for Vienna.

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