Tuesday, August 16, 2016


It had to happen. Yep, another rainy day. 

Our driver picked us up on Cesky Krumlov. What a difference!  Our last driver, Lukas, was fairly slight and of medium height. The new driver, Jan, isa towering young guy.  He must have 1 foot or more on Lukas. And Lukas was so quiet. He was helpful and answered questions but NEVER asked anything. Jan was curious about us. He asked about where we had lived and he was proud to proclaim that he is a Boston Celtics fan. 

We had lined up a range of activities for the day…all assumed lovely sunny weather. We decided we would not enjoy taking the tram up Dachstein for the impressive views of gorgeous mountains, vallies and lakes given all were hiding in clouds or at best displaying varying shades of grey. We also decided we didn’t want to hike through the rainy woods to see the Gollinger Waterfall.  But we decided that while Hallstatt would be nicer on a lovely day, it would be worth seeing even in the rain. And indeed is was.  The lake, Hallstatter See, is surrounded by impressive mountains makes a great backdrop to the holiday village. Cute shops. Swans. Two lovely churches (one catholic, one protestant.) And restaurants. It wasn’t ideal but it made a rainy day a lot more enjoyable.We decided to go with a light lunch suspecting we’d prefer enjoying a bigger than normal evening meal in Salzburg over wandering around in more rain.  We went with the Char (a trout-like fish) with roasted potatoes and mixed salad and a couple glasses of white wine, two being from the Wachau Valley which we visited a couple weeks ago.

We arrived in Salzburg around 4pm and settled in. We discovered a nice little bistro-like place, Alter Fuchs, that was only a couple block away.  The specials were a series of chanterelle mushroom based dishes.  Pat went with the chantralles and cream sauce with a dumpling and Bill with the pork  schnitzel stuffed with mushrooms, bacon, and cheese. Both went very well with the Blaufrankisch. Pat loved the chanterelles but wasn’t crazy about the dumpling, a huge ball of cooked, unseasoned dough. We arrived at the restaurant around 6:45. By 7:30 there was quite a line. …. We returned to our hotel in the drizzle. We would have preferred a longer walk but …maybe another day.

Wednesday we woke to another day of rain. We lingered in the room working on the blog and then headed out to explore and shop. We crossed the river into the old town and headed for the Salzburg Museum, in the Neue Resident (the New Residence which was home of the Archbishops of Salzburg for more than 7 centuries). It’s a fine museum but honestly, don’t bother with it if it’s not raining. There are so many other promising options for fine weather.
Pat loved the floral detail on this tapestry
After viewing four floors focused on the history of Salzburg, we decided lunch was in order. We opted to go to the nearby Zum Zirkelwirt which is noted for traditional Austrian foods. Schnitzel for Bill and Spinach dumplings with salad for Pat. These dumplings were great. No more plain ones in our future!

After lunch we returned to the Residenz to see the Salzburg Panorama by John Michael Sattler.  This is a spectacular circular panorama, nearly 1350 sq ft of painting displaying Salzburg as viewed from the fortress in the mid 1800’s. Very detailed.  Here are a few shot of it.

Sattler also did some impressive “Cosmoramas”, works showing tourist destinations in paintings designed as “Infotainment” for folks eager to learn about destinations such as: Constantinople, Monaco, Malaga, Genoa, Venice, Taormina, Gibraltar, …  Many of these were of far earlier times but certainly brought memories for us.  While the Panorama is also at the Salzburg Museum, it is a separate ticket. It’s definitely worth an hour or so to visit!

Theatre of Taromina with Mt Etna  (Sicily)
The Bosphorous with Constantinople (Istanbul)

Riva degli Schiavoni, Venice
A sunny day!! We have now learned that Salzburg is known for its rain. We headed to the Old Town and Hohensalzburg Feastung (High Salzburg Fortress) which sits on the Hohensalzburg Hill, foregoing the funicular for a walk to the top (1660 ft). With the rain the past few days, we needed to get more exercise. Also the walk offers more photo ops. 
Looking up at the fortress over a "Horse bath", truly a bath for horses.

We wandered around the bastions of the complex finding many more photo ops of Salzburg and the surrounding area. Note: The Fortress started in 1077 evolved from a simple wooden structure become one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. Rather than see any major military encounters however, it served as the home of the Archbishops of Salzburg. Only when Napoleon’s troops arrived in 1800 was there a serious threat, but rather than fight, the Archbishop fled and the castle was surrendered.

The self-guided audio tour of the inner rooms (gallery, "torture chamber", watchtower, battlements and the "Salzburg Bull" organ) was informative including models of the major upgrades to the fortress over time and an “aerophon" with more than 200 pipes, built in 1502 called the Salzburg Stier ("Salzburg Bull"). This mechanical organ was originally used to signal key times of day to the villagers. Later capability to play music was added. 

We also enjoyed the Marionette museum (featuring both puppets from Salzburg’s world famous “Marionetten theater”) and sets as well.

After a funicular ride down from the Castle we wandered through St Peters Cemetery, a beautiful flower-filled spot where the Von Trapps hid from Nazis in The Sound of Music, (note: the actual scene was filmed in Hollywood). The Cemetery dates back to 700 AD with underground catacombs that go back to 215 AD. Unlike most cemeteries around the World, you do not buy the plots but instead rent them. Relatives of the dead must take care of them and pay rental fees every 10 years …or the church tosses your body out. At the nearby Saint Peter’s Abbey is the Stiftskeller Restaurant which is widely considered Europe’s oldest restaurant. Charlemagne is said to have eaten there 803AD. We chose not to.

Next up Getreidegasse, the beautiful shopping street with store signs worked in wrought iron. 
Store signs in wrought iron. (Notice the big "M")

We stopped for lunch at Herzl. The  Pork Cordon Bleu with fries and the Sausages with warm sauerkraut and shredded horseradish were both very fine. ...accompanied by Reuman Equinox a very nice blend of Zweigelt, Blaufrankish & St Lauren grapes. Even more memorable was our conversation with the family at the neighboring table. They entered speaking German but then migrated to Spanish. We had to ask. They are from Colombia but live in Austria.  Since Bill & I studied German back in the late 70’s and are now surrounded by German speaking folks, we found ourselves blending the 3 languages in our conversation.  They must have enjoyed it as they too wanted a photo with us.

After lunch we explored the shops along Getreidegasse and then headed across the Salzach River to Mirabell Palace and Gardens. With the bright blue sky we got more photos of Salzburg Castle and the Palace grounds.
Popular tchotchkes include Mozart rubber duckies. For those who don't know
Salzburg is very proud to be the birthplace of Mozart.
There are also cute outfits for kids

Mirabell Palace & Gardens is where much of the song ‘Do Re Mi’ from The Sound of Music movie was performed. There is a fine view of the Hohensalzburg Fortress towering over Salzburg from the Gardens. The Pegasus Fountain was featured in “Do Re Mi” and the terrace steps leading to a rose garden were used by  Maria and the kids as a hopping musical scale. There is also a somewhat hidden Gnome Park. Each of the gnomes in the park were modeled after real life dwarfs from the early 1700’s.

All of the statues are fun, but the one with the eye glasses on was the one that all of the Von Trapp kids patted on the head during “Do Re Mi” in The Sound of Music.

Dinner was at Enoteca Settemila, a local wine bar run by an Austrian whose Tuscan wife is the chef. We we tried two more Gruner Veltlinger’s, Pat enjoyed two of the special 2007 while Bill sampled a Sant Laurent (Pinot Noir like) and a Marzemimo (an unusual grape from old vines on a small vineyard) from Italy. Both were very good. We had "Crostini Neri" (crostini with liver paté) with the wines and finished with Vin Santo and contucci (basically small biscotti). 

Notable was the high tech menu projected on the wall.  

We also enjoyed chatting with three locals about the enoteca, the wines and travel. It turns out that some years ago one of the young women travelled quite extensively in Mexico…but she missed San Miguel.

Friday it rains again!! We went to the Designer Outlet Mall and wandered through the shops, some (50% or less) familiar and some not at all. We had Gambas en Ajillo ( shrimp in garlic and oil) and Roasted padrón peppers at Bodega (a Tapas place) for lunch with beer, a San Miguel (from Barcelona) and Gösser (on tap). It gave us a glimpse of the future, i.e. our upcoming visit to Barcelona in September.

After lunch we then went to "Hanger 7” where Red Bull houses a collection of airplanes, helicopters and Formula One racing cars. We were interested to visit the "museum" since our friends Bill & Judy Zivko are responsible for the primary aircraft used in the Red Bull Air Races. With the Race in Ascot scheduled for this weekend, there were no Zivko Aircraft here! Actually the aircraft here tend to be true museum pieces, not ones in active use.
The building itself is a work of art. 

And the bathrooms seem to be out of the future, except for the beautiful flowers.
The on-site restaurant at Hanger 7, Ikarus, is a Michelin 1* but we weren’t up for that…considering we had already lunched AND, unfortunately Pat has a cold and is not ready to splurge on food she can’t really appreciate. 

We took the bus back to Old Town. On a short wander back to the hotel, we caught a family playing in literally "a street fountain".  A small stream of water circulates in the middle of this "street". Families bring their own set of plastic balls, the kids drop them at the top and watch/chase them down to the base.

We decided to go Italian again for dinner. We really need some comfort food now with all the rain and Pat’s cold.  We chose L’Osteria. Our wine, a Rosso de Montalcino, was a good pairing with Pat’s Spinach Ravioli with cream sauce  and Bill’s Sausage and Leeks with pasta.  It was cozy and warm inside and BUSY…a very popular place it seems on a Friday night.

Saturday and it is sunny!!  We are off to Berchtesgaden (in S. Germany) and Konigssee (King's Lake). We arrived in Koenigssee and foregoing the boat around the lake headed for the Jennerbahn cable car to the top of Jenner Mountain. At 6148 feet, it's a few 100 feet lower than our house in San Miguel, still the views over the lake and surrounding mountains and villages were spectacular. So was the "Schwarzwald Torte" (ie Black Forest Cake, chocolate cake with cherry sauce and whipped cream) and the "Apfelstrudel with vanilla cream" we had for "lunch".

Note the trail switch-backing up the mountain in the distance. 
Konig Lake

A mountain style building with the typical rocks on the rooftop
After returning to Salzburg we stopped at the Mirabell Palace for more photos of Pegasus and of Salzburg Castle, with even bluer sky behind it.

Later we decided to repeat our evening at Enoteca Settemila and were pleased to have a repeat performance on the wines by the glass along with the 2 plates of the wonderful Crostini Nero (liver pate on toasted bread), along with Panzanella (bread, tomato, and cucumber salad). Pat got the last glass of the 2007 Gruner Veltlinger and Bill had a biodynamic white blend. The labelling was interesting.

The front label was of an imaginary woman that the artist and winemaker think represents the wine. The back describes "her" personality. Half of each bottling has German labels on the back, half have English. We luckily got English. The description: "Cheerful, animating, pert and playful in the nose. She is youthful, fresh & crisp on the palette. But somewhat stubborn and rebellious, as she knows precisely what she is after. A pleasant aftertaste is offerred that is full of joie de vivre and ready for anything. Also true to her word, reliable and consistent."  OK. It doesn't say all that much about the taste, but fun reading. There was also a wine available with the image of a fellow who looked a bit too much like Donald Trump for me. Unfortunately the labels were all in German so we'll never know how that was described.

We followed with a red from the Dolomiti region of Italy and a red blend of Zweigelt and Cabernet Sauvignon from Austria and later finished with El Marciano (garnacha from Spain). Well not quite finished, we had two very interesting dessert wines, Moscadedu Pashto and a Moscato Rosa (a red moscato from Italy).

On our way back to the hotel we detoured to pick up some Euros and were rewarded with some very fine highlighting of buildings...just begging for photos.

Sunday was bright and sunny for our more or less "all-day" train trip to Brussels via Munich and Frankfurt Airport. It was about 8 hours on the train, numerous tunnels, lots of fields...a few with sunflowers, many with hops or solar panels along the way.

Arrival in Brussels!! After a short taxi ride to the apartment, we settled in and started a wash before heading out for supplies. Sunday is not the best time for shopping but we did discover several churches and many restaurants in our immediate neighborhood...and finally a 24 hour Carrefour Express with basic supplies (cheese, fresh veggies, juice, fruit, pastries, beer...). For dinner we selected reblochon cheese, seeded bread, tomatoes and a Triple (darkish Belgian beer). 

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