Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Push into Deutschland

Monday was our second day in Salzburg. After a bit of a sleep in and checking out of our hotel, we again left our bags and started with a recon trip to find a laundromat at the train station, which was entirely successful. We had a few hours before we had to do our washing and hop back on the train, so we went for a wander in the old part of Salzburg for more Sound of Music fun and to see what it was like.

It was really pretty! We started at the gardens of the Mirabell Palace, where a lot of the Do-Re-Mi sequence was filmed. That was quite fun to see, and if it hadn’t been so darn hot (again!) I might have been tempted to run around and jump up and down steps and sing that blasted song that ended up being in my head all day. As it was, we just walked like normal people through the gardens which lead into the old part of Salzburg. We saw Mozart’s birthplace; the Sacher Hotel, famous for inventing the Sacher Torte chocolate cake; and the courtyard and fountain where Maria walked through after leaving the Abbey to go to the Von Trapp’s place. I really liked the old Salzburg. The buildings are all really pretty, and painted in lovely pastel colours. The river is the same blue-green that all the rivers in Austria seem to be, and then of course there is the huge castle towering over everything. However due to the fact that we were hot, and now hungry, we didn’t really enjoy it as much as we should have, I think.

Do Re Mi steps in the Mirabell Gardens

The fountain

I'm in love with climbing roses at the moment. I have been so inspired by this trip to get into gardening...

Picture Maria and the children riding their bicycles through here...

Dancing through the statues...

Posing in front of the fountain!

Mads does not like the heat. Plus she was still a bit homesick. I was a bit too, but less than the other couple of Austrian days.

Looking across the river to the castle and old part of Salzburg

What will this day be liiiike? I wonder.... Julie Andrews sang through this square too!

I think this picture is pretty self-explanatory.

Mozart bridge, I think. Another location for Maria and the children to run around singing. They must have been buggered by the end of that day!

Teeny tiny matches. They work, as we discovered in the hotel bathroom. Before remembering about the smoke detectors and trying desperately to make sure the smoke didn't get to the sprinkler system. But I love this slogan: no kangaroos in Austria. Ba ha ha ha!

We went to Maccas for lunch, before collecting our stuff from the hotel and getting a taxi, which was driven by a fabulously stereotypical Germanic woman – big, blonde and strong enough to throw our bags into the back of the taxi: the only taxi driver we’ve had who didn’t even make a noise about how heavy they are! Off to the laundry to do our washing, which was a lot quicker than we’d anticipated, so we had a couple of hours to chill in the station before our train was due to leave. A nice long chat to our brother in Australia (sorry, mum) helped make the time fly, and we enjoyed a nice leisurely train ride to Munich. So that was it for Austria. First impressions: beautiful scenery, but I have never seen so many sandals worn with socks in my whole life. It feels a bit like the somewhat dorky cousin of the European family, particularly compared to France and Italy. But it’s still charming in its own way and I’m sure I’ll be back in the future.

Washing day!

We arrived in Munich and found a taxi, who informed us that our hotel was about 100m away and we didn’t need a taxi. Hooray! So off we trotted, Ryan Ignatius behaving himself for once, and we just chilled out in the hotel. I popped downstairs to get some pizza slices for dinner and that was the end of our day!

I really liked Munich. I hadn’t necessarily expected that I would – all I really knew about Munich was the Olympic fiasco back in the 70s. I don’t know what I was expecting it to be like, but it was a lot different than I had imagined, in a good way! It’s very charming and lively and I just loved it! We actually got up for breakfast before the old check-out-stash-bags routine, then we decided to do a walking tour of Munich as suggested by my Lonely Planet guide. It wasn’t quite as hot as it was in Austria, which was a nice start. We wandered down to Marianplatz first to see the gothic town hall and its famous Glockenspiel carillon, and on the way found a huge store full of dirndl, the traditional German dresses. Naturally we went in to have a look-see, they had them in every imaginable colour! I love them, I so want one and I so wish Australia had some kind of fun traditional dress other than wife-beaters and cork hats. We managed to resist temptation and leave without, and got to Marianplatz a bit early for the bells. But we waited and we saw them chiming 12 – it was pretty fun to watch the figures parading before the king and queen (i’m guessing), the Austrian knight getting lanced in the joust, and the life-sized fellows dancing around. Mind you it did go on a bit...


How do you think I would look in a dirndl? If I lived in Austria or Germany I'd wear them everyday...

The Neues Rathaus (town hall)

The Glockenspiel

A man actually smoking a pipe!!!

After a quick look at a couple of churches around the square, we wandered along Theatinerstrasse, made famous as Hitler and his followers marched down it in the Bavarian Beer Hall Putsch back in the early days of the Nazi party. Hard to imagine, it’s a pretty, chilled out street now. We wandered into the garden of the Residenz (I don’t know what this building was/is), which was nice, before heading toward Frauenkirche – or as Mads called it, the Onions on account of its onion dome-topped towers. It was a pretty big church – we were keen to climb the towers for a view of the alps, but they were unfortunately closed for renovations.

Another statue taken advantage of, just like poor Juliet. But at least this one got flowers first, a marked improvement I'm sure...

Looking down towards Theatinerstrasse


The gardens at Residenz

Inside Frauenkirche

I'm not sure who this monument is for but it is huge and quite spectacular.

Guarding the monument.

One of Frauenkirche's towers. You can just see the onion dome on top.

Mads was running on empty by this stage, so we went to a restaurant for some lunch (which may or may not have consisted solely of ice cream...), and we learned the secret to figuring out a German menu. Read it out loud and you’ll work it out! Trying for a while to figure out what a particular ingredient was, Mads finally read it out and I realised it sounded like ‘chocolate ice cream’ with a few extra syllables. And it was! Mind you, I don’t know how this stacks up with other German foods, though... I really am struggling with German. The words are all so long that they just will not stick in my head. Even looking for street names I have to compare the map to the sign about fifty times. And I just cannot pronounce anything either, which doesn’t help. So I’m attempting to communicate with people using only ‘Guten Tag’ ‘Danke’ and occasionally ‘auf wiedersehen,’ as well as a fair amount of vague smiling and pointing. Thankfully mostly people speak English...

We walked through a really nice area that seemed relatively tourist-free to see a medieval gate, Sendlinger Tor, before heading to Asamkirche. At this late stage of the trip, after seeing about fifty gazillion churches, I did not think I would be wowed by any more churches. I was so wrong! Asamkirche is very small on the church size scale, but inside it is absolutely covered in gold trim and statues and monuments and carvings and paintings and marble – there is not an inch of space left undecorated. It’s incredible! It is waaay over the top and so flamboyant and I loved it! It’s definitely up there on my favourite European churches list.

Sendlinger Tor

Sendlinger Strasse, a really nice area.

Asamkirche. Don't be fooled by its exterior.

The completely bedazzled interior of Asamkirche.

Asamkirche ceiling

Richard Strauss Fountain

I was very jealous of the kiddies who got to play in this fountain. 

Back to the hotel, before toddling over to the train station to catch a train to Regensburg. This was just an everyday regional train, but it was nice and clean and comfy – I know people have said it before but the Germans really do know how to do trains! The taxi ride to our hotel was really nice: Regensburg looks so nice and leafy and pretty! Next door to our hotel a circus has set up shop. I always think circuses seem so old fashioned, and it’s strange seeing them. This one has African elephants. I want to set them freeee! Poor elephants.

Today we had a very, very relaxed morning. Mads slept for most of it, I made it to breakfast which was delicious (as much as I love Italy, they really don’t know how to do breakfast. So far we’ve found that the Austrians and Germans are much, much better, thank goodness!), and then we slowly got ready to go and explore Regensburg. It’s a really charming city, that (happily) not many people, and not many tourists, have heard of. Hooray! It is a really chilled out, pretty old city situated on the Danube river. The people are really friendly, the buildings are lovely, there are quite a lot of old towers, and there is a really nice, big old Gothic cathedral. After an initial wander we found somewhere for lunch. Oddly just about every restaurant serves Italian food, but we managed to find one serving good old-fashioned hearty German food. Wiener Schnitzels for both of us, with the most delicious buttery potatoes and a beautiful salad: so much food but so tasty! Somewhat over-full we kept wandering, heading in to St Peter’s Cathedral which dates from the 13th Century and towers over Regensburg. After so many Gothic cathedrals, I am still awed by their size.


Dicken Mann, where we had lunch.

Seriously, the Germans know how to feed someone! Delicious!!

St Peter's Cathedral

Inside St Peter's

Scary looking organ in St Peter's Cathedral

If you look closely you can see Mads dwarfed by the massive columns supporting the vaulted ceiling.

One of many old towers in Regensburg

More wandering around before the heat started really annoying us, so we headed back to the hotel feeling a bit sweaty and gross. Honestly, what’s up with this weather? I thought I’d left that sort of thing behind in Aus! As I write it’s actually pouring outside, so maybe it won’t be too hot tomorrow. But I like Regensburg, it’s a beautiful place and I highly recommend coming to see it. And after a couple of days in Germany I’m really appreciating how nice the people here are! 

A barge in a canal, being lowered ready to exit.

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