Since Mark was in pain from skiing wanted me to experience a little more Austrian culture, he insisted we take the sixth day off from our Olympic training and head to Salzburg by train.  He had visited Europe when he was a teenager and he remembered liking Salzburg, though he couldn’t recall exactly why.  For those of you who may not know about Salzburg, its two claims to fame (among others) are that Mozart was born and raised there and there are salt mines—hence the name Salzburg.

We paid for a night of internet to do a little investigating (also when I stole some minutes to post) and figured out the train schedules and made a list of things we wanted to see.  Since the tour of the salt mines takes at least half a day, we ruled that out.  It would just give us an excuse some time to go back.

We woke up bright and early, 6:45, dressed and headed for the train.  It’s been many years since I rode a train in Europe…since my honeymoon, in fact, which was eight years ago.  Clearly I don’t categorize the Bulgarian train system as European.  It most assuredly is not, and here are a few reasons why:
1. In Europe, it is clearly marked where you buy your tickets.  In Bulgaria, some sketchy looking man with a photocopied ID card and few teeth offers to walk you to the ticket booth which so happens to be downstairs, around the corner, and virtually sign-less.
2. In Europe, you can simply buy your tickets from a machine.  It is nearly as easy as getting cash from the ATM.  Just pick your destination, swipe the card and voila! A ticket spits out.  In Bulgaria, you try to explain what you need, it usually takes about 3 tries, and then you remember you need to get a first class ticket (because oh sweet Jesus, you DO NOT want to ride in the other compartments, you have NEVER smelled such a smell before!) and then the lady gets mad at you because she has to press an extra button to get the first class ticket.
3. In Europe, the signs are clear and you know exactly which platform you are on.  There is also a sign that tells which train is coming on that track so you can make sure you get on the right one.  In Bulgaria, well…you might find the right platform, but the only way to know for sure if you are on the right train is to ask every single person around and hopefully more than one reassures you, or at least understands you.
4. In Europe, people ride trains regularly and the process is calm.  People board and de-board with few problems.  In Bulgaria—it’s EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF.

But onwards with the Salzburg story.

We rode the train and saw beautiful scenery all the way over to Salzburg (2 hours).  It looks just like you probably imagine Austria to look, with large meadows of grass at the foot of the mountains.  Well-kept houses and wooden barns, piles of wood and neat farms.  You know, just like the Sound of Music.
When we arrived, we visited the tourist information booth, got ourselves a map and a little city book to read about some of the sights, and set off on foot.  Of course, we stopped at a little café to eat pastries and have a coffee to fortify ourselves for the day:


Here is a picture of the old part of the city, this is Judenstrasse:


We headed to the cathedral in Dom Platz first, which was amazing inside:


I sat for a while and contemplated the meaning of life while Mark insisted on getting photos, despite the fact that I told him you aren’t supposed to take photos in a church. Tsk, tsk.  After this we headed up to the fortress, which you can read about here.  The short story is that this is the old, OLD city.  They have the city walls and everything.  The fortress is so high up that you take this tram, which looked surprisingly like the Olympiabahn tram at the ski slopes.  Here is a picture of the tracks (see them behind the buildings??)


Once inside we did the walking audio tour.  There were amazing sites of the city there:

But, of course, our favorite room was the Torture Chamber (are we sick or what?)  It really was just like a medieval castle.  After the fortress, we decided we should walk out to the castle/house where the Von Trapps lived in Sound of Music.  We followed the map and walked quite a ways, only to learn that the place is in use and you can’t go inside.  Furthermore, you have to walk halfway around the pond to get a good photo.  Well, we didn’t come ALL the way to Austria to NOT get a picture of us and the Sound of Music house.  So, yes.  We walked around the pond and had a photo session, some of which were in a previous post:


At this point, we were getting a bit hungry.  We found an Irish pub (odd, I know, but Irish pubs are everywhere!) and had a hamburger and beverage.  Revitalized, we set out to retrace the steps of Mozart.  We started at the house where he was born:


I didn’t realize we weren’t allowed to take photos in there (no signs, nothing!), so I got a few good ones before I was reprimanded.  Here is a (slightly blurry) photo of one of his original scores:

Here is a picture of his piano:


The museum/house had a lot of original Mozart stuff, including original tickets to his concerts, awards he received as a child, and letters his parents wrote to each other about their son.  I definitely recommend a visit to this place should you get the opportunity.

By now, it was getting close to the time we should catch the train back to Innsbruck.  We did some shopping and got a pretzel because duh! You have to eat a pretzel in Austria.  Sheesh, everyone knows that!


It was dark on the train ride home, so the only scenery I got to see was the guy across the aisle from us picking his nose.  Seriously.  He was really digging for gold up there for nearly the entire two hour ride. Blech.  Why couldn’t I just look away????

And so this concludes our tour of Salzburg…. more photos in the gallery (the picture of the yellow church on the right hand side of this blog with the microscopic letters that say “Click here for pictures of Bulgaria”.  It lies.  There are pictures of other things, too.  But click there!)