Thursday, May 31, 2012

Salzburg - Castles and Palaces

On our last full day in Salzburg we set out to see two of the most famous places in Salzburg- Schloss Hellbrünn and Hohensalzburg (Fortress Salzburg). Breakfast was the standard for the hostel- German bread with cheese and cold meats, jam and juice. I decided on the first day I wasn't a fan of the German bread, but we had a few of the chocolate croissants leftover from Florence so I had those with cheese, ham and juice.

Salzburg's bus system is similar to Italy's in that you can buy tickets from tobacconists, newsstands etc. However unlike in Italy, you can still buy tickets on the bus, it's just more expensive. Unfortunately we generally got stuck buying tickets on the bus because there was nowhere near our hostel that sold them. So after the 332 steps down the cliff (we only paid for the elevator on the days we were carrying our packs), we jumped on a bus out to Schloss Hellbrünn (Hellbrünn Palace). The palace itself is not terribly impressive (it's pretty, but not in great condition and not very big), but the real attraction at Hellbrünn are the trick fountains. The palace and fountains were built around 500 years ago by the prince archbishop of Salzburg as a day residence, so there are no bedrooms there. The extensive grounds include a network of fountains, including secret hidden fountains perfectly placed for the archbishop to play pranks on his friends. Our guide clearly loves his job, demonstrating the trick fountains both when we were expecting it and when we weren't! Michelle and I figured out straight away though to look for the dry patches on the ground where the fountains obviously don't reach, and stand there!

We had lunch back in the old town where we went on a hunt for 'Salzburgers' that we saw advertised on our first day. It didn't take too long to find the same food stand, and it was worth the search- one of the best burgers I've ever had! After lunch we took the funicular up the hill to Hohensalzburg, the castle you can see from nearly anywhere in Salzburg. It was interesting not just in itself, but also because it gave a really good history of the city too, which was first mentioned as a settlement in the 900s, and the fortress was built not long after that!

We ended up not being able to spend quite as much time up there as we would have liked because it closed. We had to do laundry anyway, so went back to the hostel to get our washing and went on a hunt for a laundromat. We had a map and knew specifically where we were going, but the problem came after we put the washing on and wanted to find dinner. We were well out of the tourist area and it was past 9pm, so many places were closed. We walked up and down the street, avoiding the pizza place because we overdosed on pizza in Italy, only to be told several times that kitchens had already closed. So back to the pizza place it was. It actually turned out to be pretty good pizza, and the Indian owner was friendly and chatted to us while the pizza cooked.

We returned, with our pizza, to the laundromat fifteen minutes before closing only to discover our clothes had not been dried in the dual washer-drier which was also supposed to dry them. Then André realised he had only put it on a wash cycle, not wash and dry. This was possibly fortunate as we realized there were some things in the wash that shouldn't be put in a drier. So we had to pull all the washing out, throw it into a drier, and put the drier on the hottest and fastest cycle possible. For future reference: 90 degrees for ten minutes dries everything. Even jeans. It was finished by 10, at which point the machines automatically turn off, so we were able to relax and eat our dinner. Then when we finally got back to the hostel near 11 we realised Michelle still had to pack for her 8:30 flight the next morning. Oh well.

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