Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Hills are Alive: I know, I fought one.

Salzburg is the birthplace of Mozart. Remember that.

Because if you are there, and taking a tour, and the tour guide asks if you know why Salzburg is world famous, blurting out “Sound of Music!!!” may solicit a bit of a sideways eye from any passing Salzburgers.


The city was a pleasant surprise. At this point in a European vacation, everyone tends to become susceptible to omg-theres-another-old-building-who-cares-syndrome. Salzburg successfully staved off any such affliction and we had a great time exploring the little city.

We had class in the morning at a university that was once a palace. Yes, a palace. Before the university took it over, part of it was also used a police station. It just goes to show that with all of the sentiment that we attach to buildings when they are extremely old, we also don’t care much for buildings when they are just kind of old. In the U.S. I laugh a little bit on the inside when people fall allover themselves for some art deco buildings from the middle of the 20th century. Now I realize that they are just trying to protect those structures so they have the chance to someday be really old.

After class we got a tour of the university. We went to a top floor where the tour guide excitedly pointed out the timbers used to construct the roof. Those old pieces of wood had been there for over 400 years. That’s 370 years before the Orkin man was born. Being able to touch a 400 year old wooden roof beam connected me to the history of the place much more than sliding my fingers over any stone wall. Everyone expects rocks to be around.

He also took us to the “map room,” which had ancient maps of the most up to date layout of the known world at the time. The room was rediscovered in the 90’s when the place was being renovated. The beautiful murals were painted over in white and renovators took years to reveal what was hidden underneath.

This happens a lot in Europe. When a city gets to be thousands of years old, life goes on for the citizenry. A “historic site” is a new concept. Once a building, bridge, moat, or city wall became obsolete, it was built over to make way for something more useful. Nowadays worker crews spend half their time looking out for and digging up the very things their predecessors buried.

Later in the day we visited a cathedral, walked through some city squares, ate some ice cream and generally took the city in. In the afternoon we headed up to the castle on the hill. Now, I’m used to travelling on a budget, so taking the cheap way out is nothing new to me. So when we saw the cable car ticket to the top of the mountain cost 10€, we immediately declared it a rip off and started the mere stroll up the hill to the castle.

The only problem was, it was no stroll. I’m no mathematician, but I figure we were walking up a 91 degree angle to get to this forsaken fortress. Invading armies really did have their work cut out for them. And just like an invading army, when we finally reached the castle walls, we were met with our own version of hot tar... admission into the castle was 7€.... the tram ticket would have covered the ride up the hill and admission.

In any case, getting to the castle was worth it. The views were breathtaking (or maybe I was still huffing from the climb?). We took a tour that put us on the highest point of the keep and kept lookout of the city below.

I ended my day in Salzburg the best way I knew how, sipping coffee at a riverside café and watching the water and Salzburgers stream by. I like to imagine that Mozart would be proud.

(pictures from salburg will come soon!) 

1 comment:

  1. Nice day you had ehhh? Everything was believable except the end with the coffee part? I am sure u were gulping beer....LOL I would after that hike... good to hear from yuh...