A Walk in the Park

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After a surprisingly cold night (we are back to temperatures lower than when we started in April!), we woke up ready to head into our beloved Alps, this time from the German side.

Before we climbed into the mountains, though, we had a city to explore.  Salzburg, home of Mozart and “The Sound of Music”, is not a big city.  It has a lot of character, though.  Its architecture, much like Vienna, feels largely baroque (which I am not a huge fan of, but it is what it is), though given that it is built in the hills, a lot of the domes and steeples of churches, cathedrals, and the castle that tops them all can be seen from the river that the old town is built along.

We have been to a lot of cities of historical importance, but none which revel in dressing up in historical clothing quite as much as Salzburg.  Riding down the street, we saw all sorts of people in 18th century attire for seemingly no good reason, and there were many shops selling only clothes from that era.  We used to think it somewhat obnoxious in places such as Rome or Verona where people would dress up in battle armor with plastic swords to collect money for photos taken, but here it is just funny – probably since it isn’t about getting a buck for a photo.

We stopped by Mozart’s House, but of course didn’t feel it worthwhile to pay to go inside and see an apartment building decked out in replica furniture and decor.  Instead, we decided to give ourselves a self-guided and highly abbreviated Sound of Music Tour.  This consisted of pretty much two stops- the Mirabell Gardens and the Hobrunn Place.

The Mirabell Gardens were my first visit to a European garden and I was absolutely fascinated by how meticulously clean the lines and colors are.  We wandered through the small gardens and past the fountain where Maria and the children sang “Do-Re-Mi” (Don’t worry, I didn’t recognize it.  Bree did, though).  They even had some tall shrubs arranged in a semi-labyrinth fashion.  Having always been a fan of mazes, I have been wanting to go to one of these since we got to Europe.  This one should be good enough.

After the gardens, we wove through the surprisingly clean and energetic old town.  Along the way, my accordion radar went off and we found this band playing:

Now I will say that the Italians had a lot more showmanship and their music had a bit more energy, but hey – an accordion is an accordion!

Heading out of town, the GPS kept routing us toward the mountain on which castle is perched.  A little unsure of our direction but willing to give it a shot, we reached the base of the cliff where a pedestrian-only tunnel was dug out.  After slowly rolling our bikes in, we found that the tunnel was dotted with shops carved into the mountain – it was a cave mall!  After wandering through the  tunnels, we finally poked out the other side of the mountain, free to go on our way without climbing over anything.

We routed ourselves south out of Salzburg past the Hobrunn Palace.  We had heard the palace thrown around in reviews, and knew that the gazebo from Sound of Music was there.  We got to the palace, and of course proceeded without a plan.  We figured that we would follow the mobs of people to the main attractions while finding some interesting nooks and crannies on our own.

After being disenchanted about paying to go on a guided tour of the trick fountains (and what are trick fountains anyway?), we decided to entertain ourselves by wandering around the garden – this one much less colorful and much, much larger.  On the far end of the garden was a “fitness park”.  Many people were power walking with their trekking poles as is popular here, and they had several stations with platforms and bars with instructions in German on how to use them for various exercises.  Unable to read the signs and bored by the exercises in the pictures, we entertained ourselves on the equipment with our own exercises.  I did learn, however, that bicycle cleats make it difficult to keep from slipping when jumping.

Since finding the gazebo on our own seemed to be a lost cause, we headed back to the entrance to take a look at the map one last time.  On the way, Bree spotted some signs that finally got us pointed in the right direction.  After walking down a long walled walkway, and nearly getting mowed down by a tour group on bikes (which we dubbed “the 40 wheel bus”), we saw the famed structure – seemingly stuffed into a corner of the park.  The gazebo had no other visitors.  Near as we can tell, it may only have an appeal to American tourists.  We realized that we didn’t care much either, so after double checking that it was indeed locked and dancing inside was out of the question, we snapped a picture like good tourists and went on our way.

The ride into Germany and up to Konigsee was surprisingly easy given that it is a fjord-like lake situated in a canyon with massive cliffs surrounding it.  The river running out of it is super clear and has a turquoise hue to it, similar to many others we’ve seen in the mountains here.  The weather, still gloomy and a tiny bit rainy, persuaded us to make camp about 1.5 km from the water’s edge after a brief visit to the bustling lakefront.  Tomorrow’s weather should be better, so we should get a chance to get out and explore the lake by rowboat!

 

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