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Published: December 6th 2013
Dressed for Saturday morning shopping
So on to Salzburg we went. We got off to an early start and driving with our map, we took the road we thought was correct, but a lot of it was in such bad shape that it seemed we must have lost our way. When we got to what looked like an industrial town that had been partly abandoned, with ruined buildings inhabited by Gypsies, we decided we must be on the wrong road. Everybody we asked told us to go back. So we did and took a much longer route. (On the way back, with our GPS working, we found ourselves on the same road, meandering through very pretty countryside of lakes and forests. Not many people but many little holiday homes which in September, no longer seemed to be occupied.)
We managed to cross the border into Austria without problem and although the weather had been overcast and very cold, it hadn’t rained much. I guess it was saving itself for Salzburg. We were a bit later than planned but still making good time so we had a stop in Freistadt, an old town just over the border, and had a very nice 3-course lunch on the
View of the Hohensalzburg Castle and old town
square, for the princely sum of eight euros. As we left it started raining and by the time we got to Salzburg, it was raining heavily and visibility was poor. We had rented an apartment for four nights and had seen it on google maps and thought we had a pretty good idea of where it was – about ten minutes from the center, next to the mountain. Right. Mountain? What mountain? Did I say visibility was poor? Not true. Visibility was terrible. Entering Salzburg, armed only with a map of Austria, we drove round and round, stuck in traffic, in the pouring rain and eventually arrived two hours late – which wasn’t so bad considering (that’s one way of looking at it).
We didn’t have a great experience in Salzburg. After getting hopelessly lost in the rain on arrival and arriving late to the apartment we had rented, invoking the displeasure of the owner for keeping him waiting for two hours, it managed to rain for most of our three day stay. It rained and it rained. The weather forecast hadn't been too encouraging but even so, it was worse than expected. We spent three days and four
nights in Salzburg and it rained solidly for the entire period except for one 12-hour period. We took the opportunity to head out to the Salzkammergut and by the time we got back in the evening, it had started raining again, so we never actually did see Salzburg, the city, without a covering of rain and cloud. Everything closes down in Salzburg after 8 p.m. And there we were staying in an apartment with no television and we had no means to connect to the internet.
Now I don’t watch much television but in Salzburg I longed for a TV. On our first evening, it finally stopped raining and we decided to go into the city. It was a Saturday night and although it was already about 9.30, we assumed that the city would be open for business. We were wrong. Everything was closed. Only a sausage stand doing fantastic business through lack of choice, serving deep-fried everything. There were about four or five clubs for young people near the river but nothing else was open. I wonder where those hungry clubbers go in the small hours of the morning to get something to eat? Probably to the sausage
stand. Then again, it being Salzburg, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are all tucked up in bed by midnight. We had a Chinese restaurant on the corner and we saw a tour bus disgorging Chinese tourists one day so we know it was open but whenever we passed, it was closed. We eventually found a good Greek restaurant that stayed open till 12.
With all the rain and Salzburg being a town that goes to bed early, I was starting to feel like a complete idiot for not taking my notebook. It doesn’t even weigh much and it’s not like we were backpacking. When we went to Crete, I disconnected for the week, so I thought it would be a good idea to repeat the experience. So off we went to Europe for two weeks without my notebook, dependant only on Micha’s Nexus. Bright and early on our first day in Salzburg we headed into the city to get a SIM card. We bought a card and had a really nice long conversation with the sales girl and then things went bad. She said that our provider had locked the SIM card and we wouldn’t be able to
use an Austrian card. What?
The thought of bumbling our way through the rest of the trip without a GPS was a bit daunting but hey, it wasn’t raining and Salzburg looked like a nice city, so we set off to see the sites. We walked through the Mirabel Gardens with lots of wedding parties having their photos taken, continued along the river and then through the shopping streets, passing a market, and many imposing churches and palaces. As we were walking along before taking the funicular up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress, we passed many extremely large and ornate Baroque buildings. I could imagine the aristocracy walking and driving in their carriages through the cobble-stoned streets. I stood in front of a particularly imposing church and couldn’t help thinking how megalomaniac rich people are and I began to raise my eyes up along the length of the façade. It seemed to go on and on, an enormous, towering, grey wall. With my face turned upward toward the sky, I felt the first big drop splash onto my face. The first shot had been fired, so to speak. It didn’t stop raining until seven the next morning.
didn’t really like Salzburg. It probably had a lot to do with the weather. It was cold and grey. I have seen photos and it is a beautiful city. I had also very unwisely not followed my program. There was only one item on my program: eat cake every day. If I had had my cake and eaten it too, I would probably, at this very moment, be writing about what a wonderful place Salzburg is. I didn’t eat any cake at all. I lost my appetite. Blame it on the rain.
At seven the next morning I went out on to the balcony and thought I could see the shape of a mountain lurking behind the clouds. The rain had stopped and before long I could see a range of mountains slowly revealing themselves through the mist. The sun hit the sides of the mountains and bathed them in a deep red and orange light. Micha still sleeping, missed a wonderful sunrise. It was clearing up! Oh joy! We are not going to miss the beautiful lakes and mountains of the Salzkammergut after all.
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