Monday, September 9, 2013

Germany Part III - Salzburg

(For Part II click HERE)


After leaving Füssen we headed down to Salzburg in Austria.  We had hoped to make it down by dinner time, but the 3 hour drive turned into a 5 hour drive thanks to construction everywhere.  I understand that Germans love their roads, but what's the point of an autobahn if you have to slow down every 15km for construction.  It made for a very long drive with a cranky baby by the end.

We finally arrived in Salzburg around 7pm and checked into our hotel: Haus Arenberg.  As it turns out, this was the last weekend of the month long music festival in Salzburg, so finding a hotel was pretty difficult, even a few months out. Although had originally wanted to stay in the old town, this place was only a 15 minute walk out and was actually really nice.  The breakfast was delicious.  (breakfast was my favorite meal of the day.  Probably because it gave us a chance to sit and relax and just enjoy each others company without sightseeing or being out and about with other people.  Plus the european bread and butter is really good)

A walk around the town

Although we originally had planed to take a salt mine tour outside of Salzburg, we decided it would be more fun to spend our only full day there exploring the old town.  We started off by following the Rick Steves guided tour of the city.  This is a really cool city.

We walked along the river and over into the old town to begin our walk in Mozartplatz, an open square with a big statue of Mozart.  While the statue was mildly impressive, what was really cool was the hundred or more large bean bags spread across the square with several tall columns of books dotted throughout.  There were people just hanging out; walk over, pick up a book, grab a bean bag and sit back and relax.

We then continued around the town admiring old buildings, cathedrals, and the beauty of the mountains.  We stopped to listen to some street music and even purchased a CD from one of the performing trios.  After walking through St. Peter's Cemetery we decided to break off from the guide book and head up to the Fortress.

Hohensalzburg Fortress

Instead of taking the funicular up to the top, we took the long steep walk around.  Although we decided not to tour the castle, we did enjoy the sweeping views of the city.

We then continued along following the recommended Mönchsberg Walk as described in the Rick Steves book.  This walk takes you on a nice 30 minute hike through the woods high above the city.  We stopped at the Gasthaus Stadtalm cafe along the way for lunch, and while we ate outside taking in views of the city below, the bees swarming the tables proved too much and we ate in haste and left quickly.

Augustiner Bräustübl 

Continuing along our walk, we had a very specific destination in mind.  The Augustiner Bräustübl beer garden.  This huge 1,000-seat beer garden is located within a monk-run brewery.  It was awesome.

Located inside are two large ornate indoor rooms, one for smoking and one for non-smoking.  There are also about 10 food stands serving up everything from sausage and potato salad to salty spiral sliced radishes, large pretzels, and apple strudel.  Leaving the building you step out onto the huge courtyard shaded by chestnut trees.  Although they have some waiter service, for beer only, it is best to go self-serve (schank means self-serve and its cheaper).

The process for getting a beer is this.  Walk under the awning and pay the man 3E for 1/2 liter or 6E for a full liter.  With receipt in hand, pick up your mug from the wall and wash it in the large sink.  Hand the mug and the ticket to the beer meister standing in front of the large wooden barrel (yes barrel) of beer.  Enjoy.

Don't both asking about types, unlike most beer gardens there is only one type on tap... and it is delicious.  I wish we could get this stuff in the states.

When we first arrived we specifically picked a table outside way in the back where we hoped no one would sit near us.  Unfortunately after about 20 minutes it started to get really crowded and the tables filled in.  We were doing okay until a group of 4 sat down next to us and all whipped out their cigarettes and started puffing away.  Like literally 6 feet away from the kid.  Come on!  I know you can smoke outside, and I know most Europeans can't sit down without having a cigarette in hand, but you think you could have picked a different table?  Ugh.  We tried moving to another table, but we quickly realized that we couldn't get away from the smoke outside, so we moved into the non-smoking room inside.  It was still pretty cool.

Hellbrunn Castle

The next morning before heading out, we stopped by Hellbrunn Castle.  I remember visiting this castle 13 years ago when I came here with my parents and I was excited to show Jeremy.  The castle itself isn't anything exciting, but the gardens are really neat.  Prince Archbishop Stittikus created these gardens to play tricks on his friends when he entertained.  They are lined with water driven marionettes, trick fountains and water traps ready to surprise his visitors.  Even Max got a little wet.  :)

After visiting the castle it was time to head off to Rothenburg ob der Tauber...

(continue to part IV HERE)

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