Saturday, September 26, 2015

Day 44: The Fortress

Today's post will be split into two to accommodate the many photos.

This morning began with mosquitoes. Poor Chris had been bitten throughout the night. The price to pay for sleeping with our windows open. Dang it. (I try not to gloat, but I guess the little buggers don't like me so much, not a single bite.)

We were late to the dining room today. Breakfast ends at 10am and we made it in with about 30 minutes to go. By the time we finished eating, we were the last ones left. I wanted to hurry. I hate being "that" customer that makes the staff stay longer just because we "can".

This morning's goal is the Fortress Hohensalzburg. To keep energy levels up, we decided to take the funicular up to the top of the mountain. If you remember, the funicular was being repaired in Prague and we took a crazy-all-over-town trip to get there. It felt like cheating. I know we're all capable of walking up. But I know it's the right thing to do since we have so much we want to do today. So, up the mountain-bahn we will go.

The fountain across the street from the back of our hotel.
Someone threw a bicycle into the fountain (middle)?
The kids decide to throw coins, instead of another bicycle, into the fountain (right).

In case you didn't know, The Sound of Music is celebrating it's 50th year at the theatre here. There are many spots around Salzburg available for touring for the avid fans. One spot is the theatre (where the 50th anniversary show is now playing), where the family sang their farewell song and I'm assuming also the song Edelweiss (which of course brings a tear to my eye because I'm a sap). Anyway, I'm not interested in taking one of the "Sound of Music" bus tours, but I am a bit geeky in feeling excited to be in some of the same spots. The theatre is shown in the next photo below.

Various pictures of the theatre, really more of the horses and kids in front of the theatre.

Next, we stumbled across a "Gherkins" display. A what? A "Gherkins" display! Erwin Wurm, the artist, has a trademark sense of humour and irony.

"The forms are as different as gherkins and people tend to be: tall and short, thick and thin, rough and smooth, slender and stocky.... The artist leaves his work open to interpretation, hovering as it does between critical irony and playful teasing: for ultimately, don't we all feel in a bit of a pickle sometimes?"

Awesome. Just awesome.

Well, what can top a pickle? The faire? I forgot to mention, last night, instead of dessert at the mountain restaurant, we decided to look for ice cream down below. In hunting for ice cream, we found the Salzburg fair. At the time, it looked super rinky-dinky. 3-4 rides. 1-2 dessert carts. 1 beer tent. Coming from Oktoberfest where there were about 5 copies of each ride (5 bumper cars, 5 spinny rides, 1 swing rides, several large roller coasters, and more than you can count food/dessert carts), this festival seemed puny.

As we walked through the faire, again, this morning, we realised we only saw one "square" worth of the faire. Since this faire is in the middle of town, it took up several different "squares". Mind you, it was still super small compared to Oktoberfest, but now we're at least impressed with the size. And they have a Round-Up ride (the kids mark this as a "must-do" later, as they remember doing a similar type of ride at Santa Cruz a few years ago).

But, we must press on to the Fortress, so walk right through the faire people!

A view of the funicular (left), Xander riding it (middle), and an overview of the train (right).

The funicular to the top can hold up to 40 people or so. We made it on, just in time and rode to the top... in about 60 seconds. At this point, I still feel like it's cheating. So I don't make eye contact with anyone walking (panting) up the steep paths.

I'm trying to figure out why, but I like this Fortress better than the Prague Castle. Perhaps because it is smaller and I can walk around imaging life here more easily? Maybe because it's less crowded and mostly quiet people milling about. Maybe it's because most of it is super-duper ancient, over 1,000 years old (began in 150 BCE). Maybe it's the Mediterranean feel. Maybe it's the bright-matching white buildings. I don't know. It's simple and it's beautiful.

The pully system to bring supplies up the mountain (left), Building (middle-left)
The kids waving near the supply train (middle-right), Venice jumping for joy (right)

We walked all around the grounds.

A wooden-unicorn ring-toss. Fun!

We saw amazing views from all sides of the fortress, which, by the way, has never been defeated.

Perhaps the Cat's Gate (top-left)?
Walking up the stairs to the main area (bottom-right)

We decided to not do a tour and to not rent the audio tour. So, we really don't know much about the grounds, other than what we are able to read or see (one exhibit had a video). We even skipped the museum that was inside one of the buildings. There was an "art show" in one of the buildings. I'm using quotations because it was definitely questionable art. This is a time when I wish I spoke fluent German so I could ask or read and understand what the heck it is we saw (and now can't un-see). There is a sample of the "art" below. It was of just one man in many poses, I have only posted one of many tables showing this "art". From now on, if we don't understand something, I'm just explaining it as "art".

"Art" (top), Xander drumming a cannon (bottom-left)
Chapel (bottom-middle), Xander and a pigeon (bottom-right)

We decided to lunch at the terrace restaurant. I am surprised that we don't have any trouble getting a table right at the edge with a beautiful view. The food was so good. Or was it that the view made it taste better? Hmm.... It was a lovely lunch.

Sibling huddle (left), Concert, or dinner? Is that really a question? (middle).
Panoramic terrace for lunch (right)

Something difficult for my brain to wrap around were the cannons. It's so hard to imagine firing the cannons on such a beautiful city. I wonder how far could they fire the cannons? Did they harm their own citizens in the process?

Venice's tough side (left), Poised cannon (right)

Instead of taking the funicular down, we decided we could walk that (it's all downhill, after all). On the way down, we tried to see if we could find the "Cat's Gate" or bridge, or something or other... supposedly on the last night of the faire (tomorrow night), fireworks will be set off from here... but we only seem to find limited information on this. We'll keep trying.

The end of our time at the Fortress.
The walk up would have been steep and tough, see the wooden-platform-steps (middle-right)?
I'm glad we took the funicular up!

As we wander, we take in the beautiful grounds. So quiet. So lush. So pretty. We ended up walking to a spot right above our hotel before switchbacking back to the faire. That was cool, to be "on top" of our hotel. This part of town is so small, you can't get lost, and you can always keep the Fortress in sight to know which way is which.

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