VIENNA TO BUDAPEST FOR A DAY

SUNDAY, 25th June

In Vienna we are three again as Erika has come to join us for the last few days of our travels. Some months ago we had booked a full-day tour to Budapest and she was able to come with us as the bus had not been filled. We all arrived in Vienna yesterday. The shuttle pick-up was at 06:45 and the bus left the Opera House at 07:15 for the 250 km 3 hour drive.  The speed limit on the Motorway  is 130 kph for cars and 100 kph for buses.

HEROES’ SQUARE has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002. It is an iconic Statue complex including the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as well as a landmark for Budapest. The Millenium Monument in the middle of the square was erected in 1896 to commemorate 1,000 year history of Hungary.

Budapest, Hungary’s capital is bisected by the River Danube. Its 19th century CHAIN BRIDGE (COMMON NAME) connects the hilly Buda district with flat Pest. This is a 19th century suspension bridge which spans the Danube. It was the first permanent bridge across the Danube in Hungary and was opened in 1849. At the time of construction it was regarded as one of the world’s engineering wonders.

ST. STEPHEN’S BASILICA was named in honour of Stephen, the first King of Hungary. Construction on the basilica lasted for over 50 years and saw the deaths of two of its Architects. It was completed in 1905 in the neo-renaissance style. This stunning church holds an astonishing 8,000 worshippers and its interior is laid out in a Greek cross.The acoustics of this church allows concert goers to enjoy not only the beauty of the church but also the beauty of the music.

MATTHIAS CHURCH is a Roman Catholic Church located in front of the Fisherman’s Bastion at the heart of BUDA’S Castle District. It is over 700 years old and is at the top of Buda Castle Hill. It has been the scene of several coronations. Fisherman’s Bastion is a terrace situated on Castle hill around Matthias Church. The bus delivered us part way up the hill and we were led on a walking tour with a local Guide.

HUNGARIAN PAPRIKA.  Paprika is a symbol of Hungary’s Cuisine. It is added to countless dishes from soups to sauces and stews and even to some sweet delicacies. It is a major spice in the world famous Hungarian Ghoulash. The powder is produced by grinding the air-dried fruits (pods) of deep red Capsicum annuum.

For any followers who enjoy photographing unusual post boxes – this one is on Castle hill, Budapest.

 

Our day was a long one but very interesting and informative. We crossed the border back into Austria at 20:15 without any delays as can sometimes be the case when going through Passport control.

HOHENSALZBURG FORTRESS

FRIDAY, 23 June – p.m.

After a morning of fun (and History) at Hellbrunn we visited Salzburg Alstadt (Old Town), particularly at the famous landmark, the HOHENSALZBURG Fortress. Towering high above the roofs of the medieval city stands the castle and modern fortress with 900 years of construction history. Impressive and unforgettable views of the prince archbishop city and the mountain landscape. It is central Europe’s largest, completely preserved fortress dating from the 11th century. The Funicular was built in 1892 and is the oldest in Austria.

RESIDENZPLAZ

HISTORIC CENTRE OF THE CITY OF SALZBURG

 

SCHLOSSKONZERTEMIRABELL, SALZBURG

FRIDAY, 23rd June – 20:00 uhr

Months ago we had booked seats for this Concert in the Marble Hall of MIRABELL Palace. It was our night for a Mozart experience and what an amazing concert it was. Knowing that we were in Area No. 1, I was hoping that I had chosen well. When at the desk converting my print-out to a ticket, the lady’s face lit up when she said “front row, centre seats”. There were just ten seats in the front row and we were seats five and six.

Ensemble1756 was founded in Salzburg in the year 2006. Stunningly, the ‘Mozart City’ was missing an ensemble that would put its primary focus on the original interpretation of Mozart’s works on historical instruments. The original instruments, the intensive work with stylistics and rhetoric of the 18 Century and a balanced combination of instruments, oriented towards the historic rules – that’s how the ensemble makes the music sound authentic. As an auditor once noted All you’re missing is the original Mozart-air”. The “Orchestra 1756″ designed regular concert Series in Salzburg and Vienna, especially the ongoing rehearsals and concerts in the Viennese St. Charles church led to an exceptional consonance and harmony”.

What a night!!!!! The performers were totally absorbed in the music but also showed feeling in their facial expressions and body movements. Martin Osiak on the Barockvioline was exceptional in the demonstration not just of his amazing skill but his absolute love for music and his instrument. After a standing ovation and an encore we made our way back to the hotel by 22:15 – it was only just dark.

Apologies for photography but it was not a time or place to be obvious with a camera – managed a few from my lap for the memory bank.

HELLBRUNN PALACE

FRIDAY, 23rd June

Who would have thought that we two visitors from Australia would come to Salzburg Austria in June to experience 35 degrees C. We left our Hotel at 08:30 this morning to visit first, HELLBRUNN Palace. This meant a bus ride and then short walk to arrive by 09:15. We joined a large contingent of school children and a number of adults for a Trick Fountains Tour at 09:30. Today the Trick Fountains are just as much fun as they were in the Renaissance – beautifully preserved and absolutely unique.  The HELLBRUNN Palace with its Trick Fountains was not actually the residence of Archbishop Markus Sittikus (1612-1619), it was built for his pleasure. He used it as his summer retreat. Markus Sittikus built countless surprises, hidden fountains and enchanting caves into the trick fountain area. It was great for us that the schoolchildren were there today as the sound effects (many screams) created a reality that only kids can produce. The Tour Guide gave information first in German and then in English and often gave the nod to adults to move to another place, although some remained in wrong places and got quite wet. The children, of course, loved every minute of it.

HELLBRUNN PALACE PARK – Art historians see the park as a “cabinet of wonders” in garden architecture. “Younger experts can explore the most beautiful playground in the city and the health conscious can wade through the water wonder garden”. In a corner of the Park sits the Gazebo from Sound of Music – Tourist buses make it a photo stop for TOURISTS on a Sound of Music Tour.

SALZKAMMERGUT LAKES AND MOUNTAINS

THURSDAY, 22nd June

HOP ON HOP OFF BUS – We made our way to the Hauptbahnhof and purchased tickets for this tour. This enabled us to travel free for the day on all other Salzburg transport.  This suited us well as the starting point for the Bus was at the MIRABELL Gardens. We were on the 09:40 bus and decided that  ST. GILGEN would be our first stop. When leaving the bus we knew that there would be another to take us on our way in 90 minutes. A stroll through the elegant village on the shore of Lake Wolfgangsee revealed beautifully decorated houses with lovely window boxes and well cared for beds of flowers in the public areas. St. GILGEN International School is one of the truly outstanding centres of learning in Europe.

It was in this village that on 25th December 1720, Mozart’s mother was born. Anna Maria Pertl was born in St. GILGEN and died on 3rd July, 1778. She married Leopold Mozart in Salzburg in 1747. The two were regarded as the handsomest couple in Salzburg.

 MONDSEE  – The history of Mondseeland stretches back 6,000 years. Ruins of settlements were found underwater near the banks of the Lakes.  The water in Lakes MONDSEE and Irrsee are the warmest in the region with temperatures up to 27 degrees C (80 degrees F)

The Basilica of St. Michael is Mondsee’s defining landmark and has a fascinating and eventful history. It was built in 12th century and is one of the largest Gothic churches in Austria. The beautiful baroque interior was created in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The former Benedictine Abbey Church was the setting for the wedding scene in the Movie, Sound of Music, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. Visitors still come from far and wide to admire the impressive basilica.

SALZBURG

WEDNESDAY, 21st June

Today was another train day with further use of our Eurail Pass. It is a pleasure travelling First Class with a seat reservation as we know exactly which carriage number to look out for as the train pulls into the station and also know just which seats are ours. It is always a bit of a challenge getting our cases on board as there can be a few steps to negotiate – sometimes a kind gentleman comes to our aid and we are very thankful. We enjoyed our stay at Hotel Zach in Innsbruck, a family owned hotel with a most helpful staff.

Our arrival in Salzburg was delayed by seventeen minutes due to work being done on the tracks, but we had checked into our hotel by midday and were soon on our way towards the the city centre.

A LITTLE ABOUT SALZBURG – literally “Salt Fortress”.   It is the fourth largest city in Austria. Salzburg’s Old Town (Alstadt) is internationally renowned for its baroque architecture and is one of the best preserved city centres north of the Alps. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997. The city has three universities and a large population of students. Salzburg was the birthplace of 18th century composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It is on the border of Germany with views of the Eastern Alps. The city is divided by the Salzach River with medieval and baroque buildings of the pedestrian Old City on its left bank facing the 19th century Neustadt (New City) on its right.

More than 300,000 “Sound of Music Fans” come to this city every year so as to walk in the footsteps of the Von Trapp family. The Sound of Music was filmed in 1964. In the film Maria and the children dance around the Pegasus Fountain in front of the Palace singing Do Re Mi.

In 2007 I had the privilege of holidaying in Europe with my eldest granddaughter who was then SIXTEEN GOING ON SEVENTEEN and I have now relived that happy occasion.

BERGISEL SKI JUMP STADIUM and TYROLEAN EVENING (Innsbruck)

TUESDAY, 20th June

At 09:00 we were on our way to the Trolley Bus Stop where we would catch a No. 1 to BERGISAL, once again using our Innsbruck Card both for the transport and for entry to the Bergisel-Sprungstadion.  Once at the BERGISAL terminus for the trolley bus we had an up-hill walk to the entry to the stadium. It was good to be early as the tourist buses hadn’t arrived. Once again the weather was perfect. The 50m high ski jump tower with restaurant (an orange juice for us) and viewing platform has become one of the city’s new emblems.

The Architect, Zaha Hadid, is one of the leading Architects of our time, known for extreme avant-garde architecture with extra-ordinary visual effects.She was born in Baghdad, studied in London and has taught at Harvard, Yale and other Universities.

TYROLEAN FOLK SHOW (Tiroler Alpenbuhne Gundolf) Sandwirt Restaurant Innsbruck at 20:30 – pick up from Hotel Zach at 18.45 and back after the show at a cost of 5 Euros each.   WHAT AN AMAZING NIGHT!!!  – many months ago I had booked on-line. This booking could have been for 19:00 and included a set meal but I chose the ‘show only’ option as I thought we may have been out for the day. When we asked the girl at hotel reception to make a booking for ‘pick-up’ she encouraged us to take the 18:45 option which we did. The taxi was on time and collected others along the way to the Sandwirt Restaurant. On arrival we were seated at a table for the meal even though I had tried to explain that we were for ‘show only’. We decided to go with the flow and pay the extra when asked to do so. (I was feeling a little guilty). The meal was enjoyable – soup/salad/schnitzel/strudel. Everything here is done by the family, be it kitchen, serving, front of house or performing (or all) so old and young all have jobs to do. A young lass in traditional dress finally came to check my paperwork and asked us to report to her at the entry of the Concert Hall when we had finished our meal. On entry she introduced us to her mother who showed us to our seats (possibly the best in the house) – I felt like the Queen. This was in an auditorium holding approximately 500 people of all nationalities (many large Tour Groups).

The one and a half hours just flew by. It was a first class show that could only put a smile on one’s face as people from all around the world enjoyed the skillful performance of the family members brought in voice, dance, and music as they portrayed many aspects of their culture. The Gundolf family can rely on a long music tradition dating right back to the 19th century. TYROLEAN evenings have been organised since 1967.

When acknowledging countries present, Australia was called and we were two of only four to stand and be clapped and cheered as Waltzing Matilda was sung.