We woke up to the beautiful nearby church bells...ok, we woke up to our alarm, but we enjoyed opening our window and enjoying church bells that morning too. Speaking of which here were the views out our window. The fortress was directly above us - it's one of the oldest and best preserved medieval castles in Europe.
When looking out our window to the left we could see Stift Nonnberg (Nonnberg Abby) peeking over the buildings. A woman who was a postulant at this abby (she later became Maria von Trapp) inspired the movie and musical The Sound of Music. Of course it was here that the nuns in the movie sang the song "Maria".
If we come back to Salzburg I would likely stay at this same hotel again, and I would probably request the same room number just for the views. I really loved just laying on our bed and being able to see that majestic fortress.
And while we're looking at views from the hotel...here are a couple shots of the hotel itself. You can spot me in the window to get an idea of where our room was located.
Then we headed down to the breakfast area to enjoy our delicious breakfast!
Mark and I felt like kids in a candy shop with all the tasty cheeses and breads! I love that I have a husband who shares my enthusiasm for those things! We also enjoyed the veggies and even hot breakfast meat and eggs. Everything tasted so delicious and it was the perfect way to start our day.
If it hadn't been such cold weather we could have even enjoyed our breakfast outside on their lovely patio...
Nonetheless, the freeway heading east (toward Vienna) was open - so we made the 20-30 minute walk to the Hertz car rental location. Here is Mark as we crossed the Salzach River on our walk to pick up our car. Locals said they don't ever remember the river being so high or fast...
The river in both directions...
I didn't get a better picture than this, but I loved the cool trees lining the river.
Once we arrived at Hertz we were pleased to find out that with the increase in demand on car rentals (with trains not being accessible) our pre-paid rental got bumped up to a free upgrade. Woot woot! Finally we catch a break and it ends up being a big one for us.
Not only was the Mercedes much nicer than the economy car that we had paid to rent, but it included a built in GPS that interfaced with local traffic updates. Due to the weather and increased traffic there were multiple car accidents, some including fatalities, that had traffic at standstills of up to 3 hours each. Each time we neared one the radio would automatically click on with the traffic update for us to hear and "she" (the GPS) would automatically take us on a detour route through small (and scenic I may add) side-roads. We would have really struggled to have come up with those routes ourselves, let alone to have been able to have executed them on our own. It was a huge time (and stress) saver to have that option, and I will seriously consider paying for the upgrade upfront next time to have that convenience on hand.
However! I digress! Before we hit the road, we did take the car back to the center of town, park it in our hotel's parking (across the street and included as I previously mentioned) and we saw a little bit of Salzburg on foot before we had to check out and start our travels.
Luckily (with our limited time) walking out of our hotel we were already right in the middle of Altstadt Salzburg. We could meander the quaint brick and cobblestone streets that Mozart did as a boy (this being his birthplace), walk through St. Peter's cemetery and admire the grandure of Festung Hohensalzburg (literally translated as high Salzburg fortress).
Mark in the Residenzplatz with the Salzburg Cathedral behind him.
Mozart statue in the Residenzplatz.
This old Austrian woman saw me getting ready to take a picture of a row of parked bikes as she approached (one was hers), so I asked if I could photograph her and she was thrilled. We went on the chat for about 5 minutes or so and she was such an interesting character. I don't remember exactly what we talked about except that part of it was about the green party - interesting to jump right into talking politics with a stranger, but I guess I did the same thing except with religion when I was on my mission. It felt good to use my German too.
We didn't have time to eat there (grabbed a sandwich for the road at a supermarket), but we did enjoy a brief break in the rain while we quickly explored old town Salzburg - and there were hardly any other tourists out it seemed. I hope we get to come back and enjoy Salzburg a little longer someday. You know a town is quaint when even their pharmacy is cute.
I wish I knew anything about this fountain, except that I thought it was beautiful with the weeping trees and view of the fortress behind it...
This is the Salzburger Dom (Salzburg Cathedral). It was built in 774, rebuilt in 1181 because of a fire, and then rebuilt in boroque style in the 17th century. As a side note - it still contains the font where Mozart was baptized.
A view of the fortress from the cemetery.
After grabbing our bags we had to get going on our drive eastward. I should mention that beautifully preserved Altstadt (old town) Salzburg is a restricted driving zone and you can only get in and out with a pass code that is good for a short period of time. We got one from the hotel when bringing our car in, and the hotel had to give us a different one when leaving so that the large metal barricades would drop down into the ground and let us pass. Very different than anything I've seen here in the states, but practical.
Our drive was rainy, but scenic. We enjoyed putting in my CD of Elisabeth (the musical) and explaining to Mark what was happening in each act to prep him for the performance the next evening! That was a lot of fun. We did also pull over at one unintended pit-stop to take a couple quick pictures.
concentration camp there that we planned on stopping at during our drive between Salzburg and Vienna. I was disappointed to not be able to stop there, and I was particularly frustrated for Mark to not be able to go since I think everyone should visit one at some point in their life (I have visited on in Germany). So that was yet another diversion from our itinerary.
Our next stop was the beautiful town and abby of Melk. We exited the freeway and headed toward the town. As we rounded the bend in the road before the city center we saw lots of police cars with lights and barricades. We were anticipating seeing a car accident, not what we saw instead...horrible flooding. (Scroll down on the previous link to see pictures of Melk - I believe they are the 9th and 10th photos taken on the day we were there). We turned around and as we headed back I snapped a couple of pictures very quickly. In the second one you can see the Melk abby in the background.
I took this one out the car window while we were driving across the bridge, but you can kind of see how extensive the flooding was (how high up it comes to the town's buildings). There were helicopters flying overhead, I'm assuming news stations taking footage and photos of the horrific damaging floods. Terrible anytime, and double tragic when it's an old historic place like this that can't be replaced by just building something new.
The abby itself was built way up on a hill and was unaffected so we drove up to it to take a peek from outside. All of these diversions and now seeing this flooding made us feel anxious about getting back on the road to make it to Vienna in time to turn in our car (we had no arrangements for anywhere to park the car that night and needed to return it before their rental office closed). So! Amidst everything I didn't even get a nice picture of the beautiful abby - just this one.
The only thing to write about from the rest of our evening was checking into our hotel in Vienna and dinner! We stayed at Hotel Pension Suzanne right next to the famous Vienna Opera house. Hotels right in the center of town there are very expensive and I feel like we hit the jackpot with this place. If you are looking for something with impressive curb appeal or a lobby with prestige, this isn't it, but it was just what we were looking for.
We stayed in room #11.
I liked how big the windows were and we were surprised how large and quiet the room was (and we appreciated the room being void of any smell of smoke). Here is the view out our window to the left (toward the Opera), and then to the right...
The bathroom was good sized also and included a hair dryer which I appreciated. The only complaint I had was that the bathtub/shower was raised up quite high so it could be precarious getting out of it, especially with wet feet on tile. I stumbled once and caught myself, but it really could be a problem for an older person.
It was at this point, Monday evening (so Monday morning in Utah), that we were finally able to connect with someone at the credit union who mentioned that ATM's abroad withdraw money from savings (not checking, to where we had transferred all of our money) - unless they specify otherwise. Wahoo! That was an easy fix to transfer money back to savings and run across the street to an ATM. Problem solved, and after a couple days of sweating having no cash, we were good to go. I should mention that in our 2 weeks using ATMs in Europe, every single one withdrew from savings - something I wish I had known sooner!!
Now that we had cash in hand we walked to somewhere close suggested by our hotelier. I wanted to eat at a Gasthaus for a traditional no-fuss meal. He steered us right and sent us to Gasthaus Reinthaler. It was the authentic experience that I was looking for - we were the only English speakers in the place, the menu was only in German, and the waiter spoke hardly any English too (mind you, this is what I wanted so it was a good thing). Of course it does help that I speak German too.
I ordered schnitzel and a plate of mixed salads.
Mark had wurst, kraut, and potatoes.