A good nights' sleep was had by all! Energized and refreshed we headed down for the breakfast that is included with our room. WOW is all I can say!! Where to start??? Fresh juices with champagne if you desire, fresh baked breads, organic milk and eggs, a selection of deli meats, stuffed olives and peppers, oatmeal with raisins and apples and even desserts - YES, I was in heaven! Needless to say, we ate so much that we never had to take a break from sightseeing for lunch.
After breakfast we purchased our Salzburg cards and began our adventure. We started with a bus ride to Untersberg where we caught the cable car up the mountain for what we had heard was a spectacular view (http://www.salzburg.info/en/sights/excursions/cable_car_untersberg.htm) Half way up the mountain we disappeared into a cloud and never came back out! When we arrived at the top we were enveloped in fog and showered by mist. Much to Frank's dismay he was unable to take any photos but we did follow the trail to the top for a view of the big cross. An hour and a half hike further up the mountain takes you to the ice caves but with the weather socked in we decided to leave that adventure for another time. Despite the limited visibility we enjoyed meeting other visitors from as far away as Hong Kong and New Zealand which made our trip from the states seem like a hop, skip and a jump! The drive to Unterberg was magnificent. The countryside reminds us somewhat of North Carolina with the rolling hills and trees, dotted with Swiss chalets all with picturesque window boxes overflowing with flowers.
Next stop was to the Hellbrunn Castle to see the incomparable Trick Fountain show and palace (http://www.visit-salzburg.net/sights/hellbrunn.htm). Schloss Hellbrun, once a summer residence of Salzburg's Archbishop Marcus Sitticus is just south of Salzburg. It has an interesting state room with architectural paintings and a tall, octagonal music room. However, the most interesting feature is its garden with fountains and scenic grottoes, including a mechanical theatre, with trick fountains and moving figurines powered by water. The highlight of our visit was our guide thru the trick fountains; he controlled the flow of water for the visitors and was so amused as he got everyone wet. He got Frank a couple of times and was very happy with himself as were Kai and I!! We all had some good laughs and it was amazing to see the intricate details in both the gardens and the castle considering it was built back in the 1600's.
Back on the bus riding towards Old Town for what would be our last stop of the day; the Hohensalzburg Fortress. (http://www.salzburg.info/en/sights/fortress_palaces/hohensalzburg_fortress.htm) The fortress was built back in the 11th century and its' main purpose was to keep the city of Salzburg safe. The view of city Salzburg from the fortress is spectacular. The fortress itself reminded us of past visits to the Tower of London and Alcatraz. We meandered thru the winding passages and saw ornate state rooms, German army memorabilia, medieval paintings and spectacular views of the city from top of the fortress. In order to get to the fortress we had to take a short cable car ride up the mountain, of course Kai and Frank enjoyed the ride back down the mountain from their vantage point in the very front of the car.
As our sightseeing for the day came to an end as the rain began; lucky for ME I had an umbrella for the walk back to our hotel. Our first day was a success and I can't wait for tomorrow. We are renting the hotel's Jeep and driving about 20 km to the summer resort town of Wolfgangsee where we can view the Austrian Alps and the many lakes in the area. One of the hotel employees' was nice enough to make Frank a copy of the different road signs and their definitions and give him a quick cram course on driving in Austria before our morning departure. We will keep our fingers crossed that he understands everything!
It is hard to believe that we only left the US a day ago. We have already adapted to the European ways and customs. We are lucky that everyone has been friendly and for the most part speaks English well. The most difficult adjustment so far has been using the public restrooms, or water closets as they are called here. Most require you to pay with Euro coins in order to open the stall door.......very difficult when you have to go and are trying to figure out what coins to use and the proper amount in Euros!!
As I write this I'm listening to the steady beat of the rain outside our window. We just returned from a delicious Italian dinner. Our evening started with a bowl of goulash soup in the hotel bar while we decided where to go for dinner. The soup was wonderful and even Kai enjoyed it. Goulash soup is a paprika based soup, similar to the stew version that they serve in Hungary. It was filled with beef, pork, potatoes, vegetables and a light spice; very good, flavorful and a nice way to warm up from the dampness outside. We are lucky that despite the rain it is cool, according to the locals the unseasonably HOT weather of the past few days broke just as arrived! Can I tell you how nice it was to put on a coat as we left for dinner!!!
Although it is only 4:45 at home it is almost 11 pm here - off to bed, so that hopefully we can get an earlier start in the morning. It is hard to believe that we only have one more night in Salzburg before we go to Vienna.