Europe 2.0 – Day 29 25 June

Today my feelings matched the weather because IT WAS RAINING!!!! We set off at 930am to collect our car, which was a spanking MERCEDES A1!!! Very big moment for me even though most people here drive branded cars because they are manufactured in this region. 

We started off towards Berchestgaden but guess what, stupid me forgot my PASSPORT! OK not that I ‘forgot’ per see but I left my money belt (that contains my passport) in the hostel locker. I don’t remember how I suddenly got reminded but YS insisted for me to fetch it after reading forums about how it is REQUIRED BY LAW to carry one’s travel documents when travelling. They didn’t say if one needed travel documents to make this passage though. (Nonetheless we learnt the next day that it was unnecessary. -_- The road with the international border drawn across it simply had a sign to say welcome to Germany… Lol.) 

Before we even turned back, it started to RAIN! Ben commented during our journey about how even the mountain directly in front of us were obscures by grey clouds and a mist of the gentle showers. And by the time we arrived back at the hostel for me to take my passport, Ben wasn’t interested in going anymore. Photos/the view wouldn’t look nice with a cover of grey clouds, would it? YS and I completely didn’t expect this and since Ben was the driver, we hardly had any say. I suppose if we were travelling as a duo like the usual, we’d still go ahead because it is better to follow the plan and also make full use of the day. The forecast predicted that it would rain the whole day so it meant that our road trip was cancelled for today. 😦

Disappointed but determined, I searched for interesting things to do in Salzburg and even called Ruoxi to consult her as she has come here twice. After some consideration I decided that I’d head to the Mozart Birthplace as it is a famous attraction in Salzburg, and I had been interested to learn more about him. Since YS decided to come along for a walk, the Hohensalzburg fortress was on our list as well. 

I visited the Mozart Gerthaus alone. The price was pretty steep, even for students (9€) and the exhibition was so so (I was comparing it with Anne Frank House). I guess they could have given more information about the life and works of Mozart. The gallery was instead more for showing artefacts surrounding Mozart, such as things with his face on it that were made when he was alive. I guessed these were valuable because nobody really knew how Mozart looked like? Anyway they also displayed letters written from one Mozart family member to another but they weren’t super interesting. I suppose what they displayed was different from what I expected and wanted to learn about. Besides, I hadn’t have proper lunch before leaving the hostel so I felt kinda light headed and unwell. The part that I really enjoyed was the showcase of the sets in Mozart’s operas because I’ve never even heard of his operas! They all look pretty edgy, not something from 1700s.

After exiting I quickly went to the supermarket for food to refuel. The rain has stopped by then even though it was cloudy and foggy still. I met YS in front of the Dom and we headed to the Hohensalzburg via the funicular. We purchased the ‘standard ticket’ and I’m glad we did because it covered the main attraction aka the state rooms. One downside is that the prices weren’t too good (15€) and no student or youth prices. 😦 The entrances for the different A, B, C tours were also difficult to find because there were no obvious signs to direct tourists. However the map did eventually point us to the correct place. 🙂 

YS and I split up at first. I headed for the most important section first, the state rooms (part C of the ticket) . The magical theatre welcomed me and it is basically a… Hmmm how do I put it… Multimedia presentation of how the Archbishop Leonhart managed to rise to the title of the Prince and then lived in this castle. It is interesting how an important religious person was also allowed to helm the highest position in politics and governance. Many aspects of the interior design reflected this – both his code of arms (a white turnip) and the symbol of royalty were always side by side and many religious symbols (for example animals representing the saints or biblical scenes) were represented in the rooms. The ceiling was painted a special type of blue that is said to be very expensive reflected his wealth. Golden hemispheres dotted the ceiling and collectively they represented the stars and night sky. This showed how the Archbishop is someone close to heaven. 

Anyways, because the whole tour was very informative (they had many multimedia info stations in the rooms), I could understand a lot about the architecture and history of this fortress. There also weren’t too many people and I felt really relaxed looking around and occasionally outside the window for panoramic view of Salzburg. Stunning! 

The museums (part B of my ticket) were pretty good as well. Besides talking about the development of this fortress, they also showed artefacts relevant to the wars and other purposes involving Hohensalzburg fortress. All of the info panels came in different languages and I could easily comprehend what they wanted to deliver. 

Finally, the last part (A), which would come with an audio guide to accompany us in the rest of the sections of the fortress. The entry was timed for crowd control and it was a short guided tour with just 6 sections to listen to. We saw a gallery with the portraits of various archbishops who stayed in this fortress and they corresponded to models displaying the stages of development of the fortress. Later we also saw the torture chamber, which was designed to store the torture equipment more than for tormenting people inside. But the highlight had to be viewing tower where we had an obstructed 360 degrees view of Salzburg. Like at the pano spots which we visited yesterday, I took out my handy dandy map to find out where the main attractions were. 

Unlike Vienna, Salzburg is a smaller and humble city to understand. 

A river runs through it. On the side that our hostel was located, there was the mirabell Gardens. 2 prominent churches can be found – a yellow, Palace-looking one on the hill and another one shaped like the Notre Dame Cathedral is found along the main street and can also be seen from our hostel. On the other side of the river sits the old town and this fortress. 3 main cathedrals are found in the centre – Dom, St Francis cathedral and the collegiate Church. Surrounding these 3 were the Dom quarter and some museums. Later I also found out that the University of Salzburg is also located nearby. Alleys and streets within 15min walking radius surround the town centre and tada that’s that! Very easy to understand and find your way around. Uncomplicated things are sometimes the best things too. 

We left the fortress at around 7pm and decided to walk down by foot. A steep way down on my most hated kind of paths (sandy+slippery) but I managed heh. All in all, even though this is not a castle, I’d still say it is one of the better medieval/castle-y place which I visited because everything is well organised and very informative. I enjoyed the gothic interior design of the fortress, especially that unique blue paint and twisty marble pillars that withstood damage due to a civilian uprising against the archbishop. 

A public movie screening was taking place soon in the Dom square and there were food trucks standing by as well. YS and I parted ways because she was hungry but on the other hand I was still full from my supermarket lunch and wanted to walk around to make the best out of this day. 

The only pity was that I didn’t bring my dslr because the mozart birthplace didn’t allow photography (another minus point) and I hadn’t expect to be productive today. 

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