Europe: Day 8

Salzburg, Austria

Today, we were off to Salzburg with a stop at Chiemsee, Bavaria’s largest lake. Salzburg is just under two hours away from Munich, with Chiemsee about half way in between. It was a nice drive along the country side. On a clear day, the Alps would be visible, but with the heat all you can just see the outline.

Before heading into the Chiemsee area, we stopped by a gas station to buy a pass for Austria. The pass is similar to a transponder. Once we cross the Germany-Austria border, cameras takes pictures of your car. If you do not have the pass, you get a fine in the mail. But I think the pass is just for using the highway. If we had taken a side road, the trip would be longer but we’d also save €8.

We arrived in Prien am Chiemsee and took a ferry over to Herreninsel. We had to buy tickets for the ferry so we purchased one that allowed us to go to Herreninsel and then Fraueninsel. It was about a 20min ferry ride over. The ferry was move fast enough that there was a slight breeze. The breeze was welcomed as the day was fairly hot.

On Herreninsel is Schloss Herrenchiemsee, a palace inspired by the styles of Versailles. The garden of the palace contains five fountains. The two fountains closest to the palace had statues of Fama and Fortuna. The center found is the Latona fountain, which tells the story of the childhood of Apollo, the sun god. The fountains were turned on every 30 minutes. They look rather plain without water shooting out of them.

The rear of the palace opens up to a long grassy field that leads to the lake. That’s all there was to it. We didn’t feel like taking a long stroll to the end so we just turned around.

Fraueninsel was a lot livelier. I guess with Herreninsel, it was just for sight-seeing whereas Fraueninsel was more of a relaxed environment where tourists would go into a restaurant to have something to eat or drink, or even take a swim in the lake. As you walk around, you come across houses where people actually live in. It seems like a lot of the inhabitants of Fraueninsel sell some form of art.

As we were walking, we could hear the sound of a helicopter. There must have been some sort of medical emergency on the island but maybe nothing urgent because the paramedics walked.

After having spent a couple of hours in Chiemsee, we took off to Salzburg. It wasn’t much further and felt like we got there in no time. It took a while to find parking as most of the streets in Salzburg seems to be one way. Eventually we found underground parking by old town Salzburg.

The parking lot was connected to a series of underground tunnels that leads from one part of Salzburg to another. Or so it seemed. We took the elevator up to, what we thought was the main floor but it was still contained tunnels. Eventually we found an exit that lead to St. Peter’s abbey. We didn’t go in, but rather took a left and walked around Domplatz and Mozartplatz and a bunch of other platz.

After walking around for a while, we decided to climb the hill to see Fortress Hohensalzburg. It was a tiring climb up. Story is, this fortress never taken by force except for one time when they decide to surrender to Napoleon Bonaparte without a fight. I’m not sure how that played out. It was as if Napoleon came by one day, knocked on their door and said, “Je suis Napoleon Bonaparte! Celui qui craint d’être conquis, est sûr de la défaite.” And the people in the fortress were like, “Okay, we give up!”

You can see the fortress in the picture above, behind St. Peter’s abbey.

The view of the city was spectacular. We took a tour of the castle so we were able to higher up and the view from there was even more spectacular. Salzburg looked very spaced out, with not crowded. The Salzach river divided old and new Salzburg, it seems.

We took the tram back down. The price was included in our admission fee, I guess. We probably wouldn’t have mind the walk down but we’ve done enough walk as it.

Once down the mountain, we went and found somewhere to get gelato. With the heat, it was so good! I forgot what favours I got. I think mango and vanilla.

As we crossed the bridge, again we see more love locks. Europe is filled with these things.

As the day came into an end, we just hung out by the river side on the grass and chatted. Salzburg seems like a nice quiet little town that you can spend the day in. The fortress was interesting to see, mainly because of the view it gave us towards the end of the tour. Before exiting the tour, I bought an Edelweiß. This plant came up from time to time. I’ve only heard about it from music class and then later on from “The Sound of Music.” Mel told me the story of why it’s so popular. The Edelweiß flower is a flower that grows high up in the Alps. It is symbolic with love and devotion because men have to risk their lives climbing the Alps to find and pick the flower for their significant other. As she was telling me the story, I asked, “Wouldn’t it be simpler to just get the seed and grow it at home?” At the time Mel wasn’t aware if you can buy seeds for the flower, but as we now know, yes you can. So I guess, if a guy wants to be sentimental about it, yes, he can climb the Swiss Alps in search of this delicate white flower. Otherwise, he can buy and grow one from Fortress Hohensalzburg’s gift shop.

And so we’re done with another city. What I’ve learned from Salzburg is that it’s the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The house that he was born in is still there. I’m not sure if anyone lives there right now but the building has been designated as “Mozarts Geburtshaus.” You can even buy chocolates called Mozart balls, which contains a center made out of something called “marzipan.” This marzipan is a confection made from sugar and almond meal. It’s probably only available in this part of the world as I do not know if they export.

It’s nice how the European countries are so close to each other. Back in Ontario, you can drive for just under 2 days and just make it to the border of Ontario and Manitoba. In Europe, with that amount of time, you can probably leave Germany for Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal.