A Travellerspoint blog

31: The hills are alive...

all seasons in one day 32 °C
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Today was very much my “Sound of Music” Day. Started the day by taking the Sound of Music tour through Salzburg to see the main sites from the film. I was joined by another lady from the hostel, Allison, who is a budding soprano singer who had come to Salzburg to see the opera.

Tour started at the Mirabelle gardens. The Mirabelle is probably about two city blocks full of the most beautifully manicured gardens. The Mirabelle was also the site of the famous “Doe, Ray, Me” part of the movie. Allison and I wandered around for a good half an hour before boarding the bus for our first stop which was the Hellbronn Palace to see the place where the front of the Von Trapp mansion as well as the tree lined street and the glass gazebo. Took some pickies before moving onwards to see another mansion which was the back of the Von Trapp mansion. Many of the outside shots were taken using this mansion you can see the lake (that the children boated on, and fell out of) as well as the patio that was used by the Baron and Baroness for their afternoon tea.

From the lakeside manor we moved into the lake district to see some really beautifully aqua blue lakes as well as the church where Maria and Cpt Von Trapp were married. Our tour guide actually gave us parts of the real story of the Von Trapp’s and not that surprisingly there are differences between the Hollywood version and the real version. In the movie Cpt Von Trapp had 7 children, with the eldest being a girl. In actuality he did have 7 children but the eldest was a boy! In the movie Maria was hired to look after all 7 children, in reality she was hired to look after one of the children who was recuperating from scarlet fever. In the movie Cpt Von Trapp is planning to marry a Baroness, in reality he was planning to marry a Princess. Maria and the Captain weren’t married in the church we saw today but were married in the convent that Maria came from (the convent Nonneburg was actually used in the picture in the opening scenes). They also had two children of their own before they escaped Austria and had another child once they were in America. I didn’t realise either but they actually left Austria by taking the train to Italy and then hiking over the Italian Alps into Switzerland before departing for America! Disappointingly we did not go and see the “hill” where the opening scenes are shot.. I was really hoping for the chance to do the twirl and sing “the hills are alive….”---- (although after hearing Allison sing I really wasn’t too keen to open up my voice box…)

At the conclusion of the tour, Allison and I decided to go up to the fortress above Salzburg to have a look over the city. The fortress was built in the 1500s to defend the city. Today the fortress is really just a shell of a building with a small museum dedicated to aspects of the fortress. The view from the hill was worth the trip though! We decided to walk back down the hill and see the Nonneburg Cloister on our way (its on the same hill as the fortress- just a little lower down the hill)

Most of the cloister is off limits to the public but we were able to enter the chapel where Maria and the Captain were married (and where Maria was planning to become a nun). Allison and I were pleasantly surprised to enter the cool enclosure of the chapel and hear the nun’s chanting their prayer. We spent at least 10 min just soaking up the peace that the chanting evoked. We later realised that the nuns were praying for the dead soul of one of their nuns who had passed away the day previously. Regardless of the reason for their praying it was a very peaceful twenty minutes within the cloister.

By now we were both fairly hot and hanging out for a rest so we went hunting a nice cool spot to sit down and have an ice cream. What we instead found was the most scrumptious strawberry sundae. We thought we were buying a chocolate sundae but were very surprised when out came this strawberry delight. Luckily we had agreed to share.. we would have struggled to eat one each!

Whilst we were eating I was busy learning about operas. Allison has been studying opera all of her life (25+ years) and is hoping to attend a prestigious Opera school in Italy next year as a soloist Soprano. I didn’t realise but August is the Salzburg Festival which means every day there are at least 2 operas playing. And of course they are Mozart’s operas as Salzburg is the home of Mozart.

Not long after our delicious sundae I left Allison as she was heading off to the opera to see one of Mozart’s operas (and it wasn’t one I had heard of before nor was it one with a simple name that I could remember) and I headed off to see if I could find some sort of open air music. I am still quite flummoxed but Salzburg does not appear to have any real outdoor concerts.. I mean this is the home of Mozart you would at least expect to see some buskers plying their wares or some in one of the squares I would have thought there would be some sort of quartet playing.. All I found was an “Omm-pah-pah” band playing in the Mirabelle! No Mozart in site!

After a very tasty wurst and potato salad I headed back to the hostel in time to watch the Sound of Music (as it plays every night at the hostel at 8pm). What a great way to end a very perfect Sound of Music day!

Posted by weary_feet 09:57 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

30: What happens when you don't pay your toll...

sunny 31 °C
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Early start this morning because I was on my way to the city of Salzburg in Austria via Berchtesgaden. Drive down to the Austrian border was very uneventful, the good old Autobahn got me over the border into Austria in record time before heading into the mountains to see Berchtesgaden. (Berchtesgaden is in Germany but is only about 10km from the outskirts of Salzburg so the easiest way to get there is to drive to the outskirts of Salzburg before heading up into the mountains to see the town).

Hit the border with the “Final Countdown” blaring on the radio and I was feeling pretty all right! Took the turn off to Berchtesgaden and was immediately stopped by the Austrian Police. I wasn’t too worried it looked like a RBT so wound down my window and fished out my license. Only problem was that it wasn’t an RBT it was the police pulling me over because I hadn’t paid the toll for driving on the Austrian part of the Autobahn (which wouldn’t have even been 5km). Apparently you are supposed to stop at the border and pay the border police the toll. I didn’t (because I didn’t realise you had to/ didn’t realise there was even a toll on the Austrian side) so copped a 120E fine for not paying the toll. Well to say that I was dirty was probably the understatement of the century—I was sorely tempted to push my luck and ask the police what was going to happen if I refused to pay the fine, but I meekly handed over my credit card and then continued to drive towards Berchtesgaden.

Berchtesgaden is really a pretty town. I can understand why the Eagle’s nest (Hitler’s residence) was built here as it is truly picturesque. Unfortunately, I was really ticked off about the toll fine so didn’t enjoy the town as much as I probably would have but the Apple Strudel I treated myself to did sort of help my mood!

After driving into Salzburg (telling TomTom to avoid all toll roads) I went looking for the sites of Salzburg and some lunch! By now the temp had risen well over 30 deg so I started my walk down by the river. I have to say that this is the first real summer’s day I’ve had in Europe.. I still bitched to myself about how hot it was though!!!!! (Up til now I’ve just bitched about how cold/ rainy it was.. as soon as the tables are turned…………….)

Wandered around the Old Town for a few hours (downed a wiener schnitzel and another ice cream) and returned to the hostel around 6ish to do some laundry and emailing.

Posted by weary_feet 09:45 Archived in Austria Comments (1)

29: Picking a Master

sunny 28 °C
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Got going nice and early today as I wanted to cram into my day the Alte and Neue Art Galleries as well as the Deutsches Museum.

Headed down town via the now very well used S Bahn to start with the Alte Art Gallery. The Alte and Neue (Old and New) Art Galleries in Munich were built by Ludwig I King of Bavaria (Grandfather of the Mad King Ludwig). The collections are based on Ludwig’s original collection.

The Alte Gallery is for artwork up until the 19th Century. I had no preconceptions of what sort of art work I would see in the galleries I had just looked up my trusty guide book for “three starred” attractions and wanted to make sure I saw the best of the best. Well both the Alte and the Neue managed to more than live up to their “three starred titles”. Because I had no preconceptions I chose to just take my audio guide and just start wandering.. quite different to how I chose to see the Hermitage… I had read extensively on what art works and artists were displayed and deliberately went hunting certain works.. This time around I just moseyed my way around the gallery stopping whenever the fancy took me.

Therefore after walking through a couple of rooms I came to this dark red walled room and had my usual glance around. Immediately a couple of works really drew my eye.. As I got up closer I realised that all of the works I thought were impressive were all from the great masters of Italy.. It was such a pleasant surprise (bordering on shock) to discover a Da Vinci just hanging on the wall.. no pomp, no hoard of people (ala the Hermitage).. just this gorgeous painting sitting at eye level near the exit door with absolutely no one standing or pushing their way up to the painting. It was absolutely glorious to be able to sit down on a chair in front of a great work of art and spend as long as I wanted admiring it! The room also housed a Botticelli and many many works from Raphael. I was most impressed by the Botticelli and the Da Vinci.. the Raphael’s were good but…………….

And that’s the thing that I now totally understand.. the great masters are… well… absolutely great! You can easily tell who the master artists are if you walk through a gallery like the Alte or the Neue.. You walk into a room, do a small twirl in the middle and slowly look at each of the paintings.. I can guarantee after being to a couple of art galleries you will be able to tell who are the masters and who are just attempting to emulate them!

The Alte also housed works by Rembrandt, Rubens, Caravagio, and El Greco.. And I’m proud to say that I was able to pick them all out.. It is just fantastic that for such a small amount of money you can actually see these works of art.. Gosh I’d love to have them hanging on my wall at home.. they are so beautiful!

After ogling at the Alte for a couple of hours I headed across the road to the Neue. I knew a bit more about the Neue—well to be honest the main reason I was going to galleries today is because I wanted to see more Van Gogh—and the Van Gogh’s are all in the Neue.

The Neue just houses works from the 19th Century. The Neu was set out quite differently from the Alte in that each master had his own space where his work was displayed.. (there didn’t seem to be as much jumbling together which made my game of guess the artist a fair bit easier!) I again spent plenty of time just admiring the Van Gogh’s on offer. The Neue had one of Van Gogh’s Sun Flower paintings as well as two farm scenes and surprisingly one of his earlier works that is painted in a more traditional style (not the little tiny flicks of paint that add up to a beautiful painting). The Neue also has Monet, Cezanne, Gaugin and Matisse and many German artists from the 19th C.

I’m not the hugest Monet fan but I did discover a really interesting thing about his paintings today.. when you stand up close to them they are just a bunch of strokes and sploshes of colour… you step back a couple of metres and you can see the painting.. you step into the next room and the painting just comes alive! The greater the distance the better the painting looks—so much more expression to the painting!

By the time I had finally left the Neue it was well passed my late lunch time and was nearing 4pm so I had to stop and have a bite to eat. By the time lunch was over (Caesar salad w Chicken) I had to resign myself to missing the Deutsches Museum.. It was going to close at 6pm and I knew that the 40min or so I had left wouldn’t even scratch the surface.. I’ll just have to add it to my “next time” list!

Rounded out my day by doing some window shopping before heading back to my hotel for a hot shower and some internetting. All in all one of the most satisfying and peaceful of days!

Posted by weary_feet 08:59 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

28: The Mad King's Castle

sunny 28 °C
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Early start today as I was booked to see Neushwanstein Castle. Neushwanstein is one of the top attractions in Europe and deserves its title. It is about 2hr by train from Munich so we all jumped on a train in the morning bound for the Bavarian Alps.

Neushwanstein was built in the late 1800s by the Mad King Ludwig II. Ludwig had quite a sad life. He was brought up by nannies and barely knew his parents and at the age of 18 his father died leaving him the throne of Bayern (Bavaria). (The Bavarian throne was created by Napoleon B during his reign). He then got hoodwinked by Richard Wagner (who nearly bankrupt the Bavarian throne). Wagner was a famous German composer who had huge debts that Ludwig paid off after Wagner came to live in Bavaria with Ludwig. (It is supposed that Ludwig was homosexual and potentially had a relationship with Wagner.. although there is no real proof of this claim). Later he had to sign over his sovereignty to Prussia after losing the 7 weeks war and broke off his engagement to his cousin (most likely because he was gay).

After losing the war (and having his country swallowed into Imperial Germany) he became a recluse and started on his process of building castles. Neushwanstein is built near to another Bavarian castle where he spent time as a child, Hohenschwangau. Hohenschwangau is built on the banks of the Swan Lake; the lake made famous by Tchaikovsky’s ballet.

Unfortunately, Ludwig never saw Neushwanstein finished. In fact he only spent about 170 days in the castle before he was condemned as a lunatic and taken away by his government. He was found dead the following day after going for a walk to a lake with his psychiatrist (the psychiatrist was also found dead). His death is surrounded by mystery as is the claim that he was clinically insane. It seems more likely that he was just a sad lonely man who only wanted to keep building castles!

The castle itself is as beautiful as the photographs make out. The interior is disappointing although with only 16 of the 100 plus rooms finished (and construction ceased on Ludwig’s death) it is probably unsurprising. Lets face it, you don’t go to see the interior you go to see the exterior of the castle amongst the mountains and waterfalls. It is really really beautiful and deserves to be one of the top tourist attractions in Europe (if not the world).

Had a fantastic day (weather was warm and sunny so just perfect photographic conditions) and rounded it out with Chinese with some of the other members of the group.

Posted by weary_feet 12:56 Archived in Germany Comments (4)

27: Glockenspiel

rain 24 °C
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Had a bit of a sleep in this morning as knowing it was a Monday I knew that many of the attractions wouldn’t be open so I would have a fairly quiet day siteseeing wise. First stop was to the tourist office and found out that I could get a train/ bus and tram ticket for three days for a cost of 12 E. After buying myself a ticket I took the subway to downtown (two stops a way) to see Marienplatz.

Marienplatz is the main town square in Munich and houses the old town hall and the Glockenspiel. The Glockenspiel is the clock that is housed on the steeple of the old town hall and at 11am and 12pm the Glockenspiel comes alive. Like most big clocks it chimes out the hour and then the actual moving figures come to life. The Glockenspiel is pretty amazing.. there are even two horses with steel clad knights jousting!

After watching the Glockenspiel I decided to go for a walk around downtown to see some of the other sites. As I started to walk I realised that heaps of the shops and attractions were closed.. I mean it is a Monday (which means some stuff in Europe will be closed) but surely not the whole town! It also started to rain quite heavily which was not fun (considering there was no where to hide from the rain).

I finally found a café that was open so sat down to fill out some postcards, have a coffee and wait for the rain to abate. Finally the rain let up for a while so looking through my guide book I decided to go out to the English Garden (big park in the city) as I knew it would be open! Rode the subway the couple of stops before arriving at the English Garden. With a name like English Garden I was expecting lots of box hedges, flowers etc but was pleasantly surprised to find that the English Garden is just the name for this huge big park. It is that big that there are horse riding trails through the park! There is also a river running through the park which was flowing at a pretty fast rate (quick enough to go rafting on!)

Spent a beautiful afternoon just walking around the park (the rain held off for a couple of hours!). Finally had a break from walking in the middle of the park at the HofBrau. The HofBrau in the English Garden is the beer garden that is often shown in travel brochures etc for Munich. I stopped had a beer and some pomme frittes and just soaked up the atmosphere.

Finally left around 8pm and headed back to the hotel for a quiet night in. Off to Neuschwanstein Castle tomorrow (Mad King Ludwig’s masterpiece).

Posted by weary_feet 12:45 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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