Archive | June, 2012

Salzburg

27 Jun

Today we’ve set the nav man in the car to take us to Salzburg, it’s approximately 150 km east of Munich and 300 km west of Vienna. It’s the fourth largest city in Austria. We’ve done our homework a little better this time with the park and ride, also the chap at the parking station was very helpful with details and directions.

Salzburg’s “Old Town” has internationally renowned baroque architecture and one of the best-preserved city centres north of the Alps. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The city is noted for its Alpine views which are awesome, once again snow filled mountains. The name Salzburg means “Salt Castle”. It derives its name from the barges’ carrying salt on the Salzach River, which were subject to a toll in the 8th century, as was customary for many communities and cities on European rivers.

Many famous people come from Salzburg some of them being the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart who was born and raised in Salzburg and worked for the archbishops from 1769 to 1781. His house of birth and residence are tourist attractions. His family is buried in a small church graveyard in the old town, Christian Doppler, an expert on acoustic theory, was born in Salzburg. He is most known for his discovery of the Doppler effect. One everyone would know In the 1960s, the movie The Sound of Music was filmed in Salzburg and the state of Salzburg. The movie was based on the true story of Maria von Trapp, a Salzburg-based nun who took up with an aristocratic family and fled the German Anschluss. Although the film is not particularly popular among Austrians, the town draws many visitors who wish to visit the filming locations. ( not me ).

Up on the hill is a fortress called Hohensalzburg Castle (German: Festung Hohensalzburg, literally “High Salzburg Fortress”) atop the Festungsberg mountain. Erected at the behest of the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg, today with a length of 250 m (820 ft) and a width of 150 m (490 ft), is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. Hohensalzburg was refurbished from the late 19th century onwards and became a major tourist attraction, with the Festungsbahn cable car, opened in 1892, leading up from the town to the Hasengrabenbastei. It stands today as one of the best preserved castles in Europe. During the early 20th century it was used as a prison, holding Italian prisoners of war during World War I and Nazi activists (before the Anschluss with Germany) in the 1930s. The view from the top looked pretty good for the few seconds I had my eyes opened, another dumb idea up high. I did manage to take some rather spectacular photos later though.

The old town has many different high end shops varying from shoe shops, clothes and old souvenirs, a nice modern one is the Nescafé shop, lovely espresso had, we even considered buying the machine over there as they were pretty well priced, something else to cart round so it didn’t happen. Salzburg is definitely a place to go back and visit.

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Innsbruck

10 Jun

A short drive of about an hour and a half from Munich is a place called Innsbruck, its the capital city of the federal state of Tyrol in western Austria. It is an internationally renowned winter sports centre, and hosted the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics as well as the 1984 and 1988 Winter Paralympics. Innsbruck hosted the first Winter Youth Olympics in 2012. The word bruck comes from the German word Brücke meaning “bridge” which leads to “the bridge over the Inn”. Due to its location between high mountains, Innsbruck serves as an ideal place for skiing in winter, and mountaineering in summer. There are several ski resorts around Innsbruck, with the Nordkette served by a cable car and additional chair lifts further up. Other ski resorts nearby include Axamer Lizum, Patscherkofel, Igls, Seefeld, Tulfes and Stubai Valley. The glaciated terrain in the latter makes skiing possible even in summer months.
Next to the old town area is a massive garden area. The Hofgarten in Innsbruck is a protected park in Innsbruck. The park lies on the edge of the Old Town or Altstadt, covering an area of 10 hectares (25 acres), and borders on the Hofburg, the Kongresshaus and the Tyrolean State Theatre. During its 600 year existence this icon of garden styles that was originally a river meadow has been turned into a Renaissance garden, a French formal garden and, for the last 150 years or so, an English landscape garden. Its last conversion was conceived by Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell, but carried out four decades later by an unknown landscape designer who deviated significantly from Sckell’s original proposal.
It is notable that there are still plants in the park that were planted personally by the Austrian Empress, Maria Theresa. In the middle of the park is a pavilion dating to 1733, in which numerous events – mainly concerts – take place, whilst chess tournaments are fought on the outsize chess board there. It made for a great place to have a superb lunch which consisted of olives, cheese, sundried tomatoes & crackers. There is a lawn for sunbathing in the Hofgarten with a children’s playpark. Otherwise walking on the ornate lawns is not permitted because they are susceptible to excessive use. The tulips growing here as well as the other varieties of flowers are breathtaking, the smells are just as good.
The walk through the old town is stunning, the streets are very narrow littered with shops ranging from souvenirs to cafes, we sampled the famous apple strudel, well worth trying. The crystal shop everyone knows as Swarovski is situated in the middle of town, three levels with many displays of craftsmanship that has to be seen to be believed. My favorite would be the massive fly. The crystal is much cheaper here than at home, still no purchases were made, once you start there would be no stopping.

Neuschwanstein castle

10 Jun

Neuschwanstein Castle, is a 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as a homage to Richard Wagner. Contrary to common belief, Ludwig paid for the palace out of his personal fortune and extensive borrowing, not with Bavarian public funds. The palace was intended as a personal refuge for the reclusive king, but it was opened to the paying public immediately after his death in 1886. Since then over 60 million people have visited Neuschwanstein Castle. More than 1.3 million people visit annually, with up to 6,000 per day in the summer. The palace has appeared prominently in several movies and was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle and later, similar structures.
Ludwig only resided in his castle for 172 days before being deemed mentally unfit to make decisions and was taken away under the care of doctors. On June 13 1886 Ludwig and his physician died under mysterious circumstances in the shallow shore water of Lake Starnberg near Castle Berg. Had it been completed, the palace would have had more than 200 interior rooms, including premises for guests and servants as well as for service and logistics. Ultimately, no more than about 15 rooms and halls were finished and can be viewed via guided tours in many different languages.
The suite of rooms within the Palas contains the Throne Room, Ludwig’s suite, the Singers’ Hall, and the Grotto. Throughout, the design pays homage to the German legends of Lohengrin, the Swan Knight. Hohenschwangau, where Ludwig spent much of his youth, had decorations of these sagas. These themes were taken up in the operas of Richard Wagner. Many rooms bear a border depicting the various operas written by Wagner, including a theater permanently featuring the set of one such play. Many of the interior rooms remain undecorated.Neuschwanstein houses numerous significant interior rooms of German historicism. The palace was fitted with several of the latest technical innovations of the late 19th century. Among other things it had a battery-powered bell system for the servants and telephone lines. The kitchen equipment included a Rumford oven which turned the skewer with its heat and so automatically adjusted the turning speed. The hot air was used for a calorifère central heating system. Further novelties for the era were running warm water and toilets with automatic flushing.
The kitchen in Neuschwanstein is situated three storeys below the dining room, it was impossible to install a wishing table (dining table disappearing by means of a mechanism) as at Linderhof Palace and Herrenchiemsee. Instead, the dining room was connected with the kitchen by means of a service lift. The bedroom adjacent to the dining room and the subsequent house chapel are the only rooms of the palace that remain in neo-Gothic style. The king’s bedroom is dominated by a huge bed adorned with carvings. Fourteen carvers worked more than four years on the bed canopy with its numerous pinnacles and on the oaken panelings. It was in this room that Ludwig was arrested in the night from 11 to 12 June 1886.
At the time of Ludwig’s death the palace was far from complete. The external structures of the Gatehouse and the Palas were mostly finished, but the Rectangular Tower was still scaffolded. Work on the Bower had not started, but was completed in simplified form by 1892, without the planned female saints figures. The Knights’ House was also simplified. In Ludwig’s plans the columns in the Knights’ House gallery were held as tree trunks and the capitals as the corresponding crowns. Only the foundations existed for the core piece of the palace complex: a keep of 90 metres height planned in the upper courtyard, resting on a three-nave chapel. This was not realized, and a connection wing between the Gatehouse and the Bower saw the same fate. Plans for a castle garden with terraces and a fountain west of the Palas were also abandoned after the king’s death. The king never intended to make the palace accessible to the public. But no more than six weeks after the king’s death the regent Luitpold ordered the palace opened to paying visitors. The administrators of Ludwig’s estate managed to balance the construction debts by 1899.
Neuschwanstein is a global symbol of the era of Romanticism. The palace served as a model for the Sleeping Beauty Castle of Disneyland and became a location for films such as Helmut Käutner’s Ludwig II (1955), Luchino Visconti’s Ludwig (1972) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968).

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Munich

3 Jun

The metro system in Germany leaves Sydney rail for dead. Even the bus system is great. We brought a metro ticket for the day at the cost of 10 euros, it includes bus and rail for 5 people. You hop on the bus just outside the hotel validate your ticket put it away and off you go, so simple & easy. Most of the bus terminals have a display with how long the next bus will be with accuracy of about a minute out. The whole time we travelled on the metro we weren’t asked for our ticket once. I’m not surprised people don’t even bother buying purchasing one.
Munich city is the plan for today, up bright and early, directions obtained from desk staff who were quite friendly. And so they should be. There was a note on the elevator informing everyone it’s out of service. For us it’s not a worry, only 2 flights of stairs but others I don’t think took it so well, hence the nice customer service. It was about 1/2 hour of bus and train together to get to the city, everything is so clean and green. Flip of a coin and we go down a street that goes through the shopping district to a nice big church (another one yes). Upon entering you get an idea straight away how special it is. It was partially destroyed during world war 2 by heavy bombing. There’s a great picture board of different sections when original construction occurred, the destruction and then re-construction. It was truly amazing once again to see so much money being poured into rebuilding after the war, apparently pride had a lot to do with it, there were even cities that were rebuilt with finances and help from the US after the war.
Walking further through the shopping district there’s a farmers market with lots of different food stalls ranging from fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, cheeses, wines even florists. In the middle there are tables so as you are able to eat and drink whatever you buy, we’ve marked this down for lunch later in the day.
Mapped checked correct street found and down towards the garden park area that’s posted as the Tivoli gardens. It offers many different options of recreation from tennis, bicycling, walking and even surfing. Surfing? There are no waves in Munich you say, well I beg to differ. As we walked through we discovered an area under a bridge where the water is flowing through quite fast resulting in an artificial wave that allows skilled surfers to ride the wave for as long as the could stand on their boards. They were all kitted out in wetsuits with their little wetsuit shoes and just about every board being ridden on was full of dings and dents. Talk about making the most of where you live, I dare say there were a fair few travelers from abroad to give this a go. Photos and video taken and further into the park we walk. Another form of recreation we noticed was standing in the middle of a field sun baking with absolutely not a stitch of clothing on, it was a bit revealing but apparently there are sections set aside for the absorption of vitamin D.
Back up to the farmers market to sample some of the delights of Germany. First a table must be found, it’s standing room only and being a week day it’s surprising how many people are here, and drinking beer by the stein full. Table obtained and we’ve decided to try a whopping big pork knuckle, not something for the light hearted. Full of meat and quite filling, the best thing to wash it down with is beer. After lunch we walked around and purchased some nice fruit, sundried tomatoes, stuffed bell peppers and olives to snack on back at the hotel, awesome tasting as well.
The next day is a public holiday so it’s decided we will head down to a place where Ludwig II of Bavaria built the famed Neuschwanstein castle.