Monday, December 19, 2011

The Sound of (Christmas) Music: Salzburg, Austria 2011

     If you've been reading this with any regularity then you know that we love to go to Christmas Markets this time of year.  We try to make a trip out to at least one major city each year to find something different and this year we decided to head down to the beautiful city of Salzburg, Austria.  This town is most famous for "The Sound of Music", which was both filmed there and inspired by the von Trapp family that lived there.  It's pretty popular to take a minibus and do a Sound of Music Tour with one of several companies that trek you around to famous sites from the movie, all the while playing your favorite hits that Americans love to sing-a-long to.  This is all heresay because we did not give in to the tour.  We had other things in mind..........

The old part of the city as seen from atop the Hohensalzburg Fortress

Although we didn't go on the tour, we did walk through a special exhibit dedicated to the lives of the real Trapp family.  Basically it sounds like the Maria von Trapp gal was a hippy chic that loved to sing and play guitar and she happened across this older widowed military fellow with a bunch of kids, married him, had more kids, then got all of them singing and took them to the U.S. to go on tour.  I still haven't seen the film, but I think I get the picture.

St. Peter's Cemetery - this place was very cool with simple iron crosses for tombstones, but very ornate floral decor for each grave.  Apparently you rent your grave in Austria, so if you don't have family that is able to make your payments then you could be exhumed and your spot sold to someone else!  Not sure if this actually happens but quite shocking anyways.

St. Peter's Cemetery

St. Peter's Cemetery

View of Hohensalzburg Fortress from the old city.  This bad boy was never attacked and thus, never taken until Napoleon came through - when he asked they just gave it up.  That's why it's still in remarkable condition.  In the foreground, a piece of public art commissioned in 2008.  Each year since 2002 the city selects one artist to make a piece for the city.

We ventured into a smaller Christmas Market atop the Hohensalzburg Fortress for some hot orange punch, gluhwein, and some tailgating games.  I would say "reindeer games", but this appears to be a unicorn.  For the record, Marisa and I played to 5 and I won - we don't keep records of wrongs, but I tend to keep records of rights!

Hohensalzburg Christmas Market

Next, we headed out to a summer palace called Hellbrunn Castle which was built in the 1600s to visit another small Christmas Market. 

This one had lots of great handcrafts and a children's area with a petting zoo.

Of course the donkeys were the least these kids thought so.

"Weihnachts Postamt" - where kids go to write their letters to somebody......St. Niklaus? Weihnachtsman? Christkind?  Christmas angel?  We're not sure.

While the lamb was certainly cute, I couldn't help but see the inspiration for Jar-Jar Binks in Star Wars I.

Hellbrunn Castle

Hellbrunn Castle

Hellbrunn is famous for its collection of trick fountains that apparently are notorious for getting visitors wet during the warmer months.  This one was interesting because he kind of looked like he was throwing up.

As close as we get to a fisheye lens.

Hellbrunn market in all of its glory.  It's really nice when these castles host Christmas markets because otherwise they wouldn't be used that much.

If you didn't know, I'm a dog lover!

Marisa prefers unicorns.

Steingasse - a nice little street across the Salzach river from the old city; I just like the font on these signs.

Also on Steingasse is a sign that claims that the words for silent night were penned at this very address.

Before heading out we had a quick brew at the Augustiner brewery restaurant.  It's similar to the bavarian brewers of Munich, but apparently it's distinct from the Augustiner in Munich.

It was an excellent weekend trip with plenty more that we wish we could've seen.


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