Posts Tagged ‘Salzburg’

Water Tricks and Zoology

I’m warning you now.  If you don’t feel like looking at a bunch of animal pictures, you can opt out of this post.  But the zoo at the Hellbrunn Palace was so totally worth it, not just because of the animals, but because of its proximity to the Alps and the fact that it’s actually built into the side of a mountain.  Before we spent our afternoon and early evening animal-viewing, we spent some time at the Palace itself where we were introduced to the Prince archbishop’s trickery and deception–water-style.

The Palace itself is named for the clear spring that feeds the palace and surrounding fountains.  Rumor has it that on warm summer days, the prince-archbishop would gather his friends in the gardens, lure them toward his various fountains and grottos, and soak them thoroughly.

Hellbrunn Palace

The start of the fountain grounds

We don’t have very many pictures of the gardens.  As soon as Russ found out that random guests would at times receive a very soggy welcome, his camera went into hiding.  Regardless, it was fun watching all the kids and “brave Americans” on the tour get targeted by our tour guide and squeal with laughter when water undoubtedly shot from some unidentifiable area.

One great area was the bishop’s table, a stone table set up in the garden where the head of the house often dined with his guests.  At some point during their visit, water would shoot out from the middle of the table and from the back of the guests’ chairs, soaking everyone, except for the dry princebishop, of course.

Hellbrunn Trick Table-picture borrowed from

At other times we were led into grottos or told to stand on staggered steps to view a puppet show propelled by water.  It’s an uneasy feeling, knowing that there will be water coming from somewhere but not knowing where or when it could get you.  In some cases, the water shot out from behind you, from the floor, or from the sides of the walls.  No one was safe. It was fun!  Russ and I almost made it through the entire display.  Right at the end, however, I got sprayed right in the thigh.  It was after one of those relief-filled moments when I thought I was in the clear.  Then….wet.  It felt like one of those slow-motion sequences in movies when someone gets shot.  Almost made it!

Russ's camera makes a reappearance...far away from the trick fountains

After enjoying the tour, we headed over the Salzburg Zoo, a quick 5 minute walk from the Hellbrunn Palace.  First of all, let me just say that I love zoos.  No one has to convince me to go to one, but the incentive to visit becomes even higher when the zoo is surrounded by scenery like this:

View from Salzburg Zoo

Love the parrots in the foreground of the mountains


We had a fantastic time walking around and enjoying both the scenery and the animals.  I’ll share some of our favorites below. By the way, the safety fences and guard rails at the zoo are definitely a bit more lax than US standards!

Brown Bear


House mouse and House Rat exhibit

There's very little perspective for how small this guy actually is, but think "ping-pong ball"


"Do you understand 'wolf-speak'?" We liked this one because it clearly identifies our shy pups

Flip up the poster and read about what the position of the animal means:

"I don't have anything to say," submission, anxiety. And beside that, "I want to play!"

I can't get over it.

Don't pet the monkeys!

This little dude was sitting right over us as we went through the monkey house

Nice view, monkey.

Big Kitty


Giant cat with giant bone...glad there's a fence

Red Panda...Russ's Favorite

We had a really fantastic visit to Salzburg and feel really lucky that we made it there before our travels end.  By the way, as of today, I only have one month left to live European-style.  A sense of bittersweetness is starting to invade all of our travels.  For now, though, we’ll enjoy every second we have left…especially our upcoming travels to the Greek island of Santorini!




The moon rises over Salzburg


To check out all of Russ’s photos from our Salzburg weekend:


And a final note: If any of you painters out there (ahem, Aunt Maryanne) feel compelled to paint any of these beautiful images that we’re showing you, we won’t claim copyright. 🙂



The Hills are Alive in Salzburg


This past holiday weekend (Whit Monday), we headed to the famous hills of Salzburg for a long weekend.  Yes, we did sit down and watch The Sound of Music before embarking on our journey.  2 hrs in, Russ was begging for mercy.  It did help him, however, understand what all those other crazy American tourists were talking about. 🙂  Needless to say, we did not take the Sound of Music Tour that ushers you to well-known destinations from the movie…between what I can imagine is loud, joyous, (and thoroughly American) sing-a-longs of “Do-Re-Mi,” “My Favorite Things,” and “16 Going on 17.”

On Saturday it rained.  And rained.  And rained.  We hadn’t arrived til later in the afternoon (around 4), so we figured we’d walk around for the evening, maybe hit up a Mozart museum, have some dinner, and call it a night.  When we arrived at the first Mozart museum, The Mozart Family Residence, it was closing in an hour.  Not enough time.  That’s when we really looked at our list of activities–EVERYTHING closed at 5:30.  We hustled to the lesser-reputed Mozart Museum, the Birth-house, and found that the hour we had left was plenty of time to work our way through the exhibits there.

Mozart's Geburtshaus

Afterwards we toured the cathedral, the Salzburger Dom. The dome itself was replaced in 1959, years after a WWII bomb had dropped right through.  The church itself is massive and quite beautiful, though seemingly plain from the outside.  Inside, there are stucco and paintings everywhere, and the organs are massive.  Mozart himself played in this cathedral for a few years.

Salzburger Dom

Another view of the cathedral--obviously taken the next day

After seeing the cathedral, we sought out some dinner and a café for some coffee and a piece of cake.  The town seemed throughout closed.  When we finally found a café and happily got out of the rain, the proprietor told us that they were closing in 15 minutes!  It was 7:00 PM.  Eventually we did find a great cup of coffee and a slice of Sachertorte, after which we decided to call it a night and hope for better skies tomorrow.



The Austrian flag

Amazingly, with a little more sunshine and slightly drier pavement, Salzburg came alive.  Restaurants set up their outdoor seating and while all shops weren’t open (it was Sunday), it was obvious that Salzburg is actually a living, breathing town.  We headed to the historic old town and hit up some of the sights we missed on Saturday.

Streets of Salzburg

McDonald's Salzburg-style

Mozart's Residence

We went back to Mozart’s Residence and toured through there with an audio guide.  It was interesting, but there’s something about audio guides that Russ and I really dislike.  Is it the fact that anyone could have had this up to his/her ear before me?  No, pretty sure it’s how whenever someone uses an audio guide, they immediately can’t seem to watch where they’re going.  😉

Next,we headed toward Mirabell Palace to check out the gardens and get some of the fresh mountain air.

Mirabell Gardens


Mirabell Gardens

The Gardens with a view of the Palace

SOM trivia question 1: Name the scene where the Pegasus statue was featured.

Cool View up to the Fortress--Our Next Destination

After enjoying the flowers in the gardens, we wanted to take advantage of the clear skies and get to the highest vantage point in case the sunshine was only temporary.  The Fortress, seated 400 ft. above the river, watches over the town of Salzburg.  It’s always done a pretty good job, too; it prevented anyone from attacking the town for about a thousand years.

At the top there are several museums and some spectacular views of the city below.

Approaching the Fortress

Salzburg and the River Salzach

Good View of the Dom

From the Fortress Tower

"Oh, Mother. I just couldn't help myself. The gates were open and the hills were beckoning and everything was so green and fresh, and the Untersberg kept leading me higher and higher, as if it wanted me to go right through the clouds with it."


Looking toward the rest of the fortress

More of the Fortress

Russ in Salzburg


When we weren’t taking the views, we spent the rest of our time at the top of Salzburg going through several of the museums; we started with the Fortress museum, where we got access to the top of the towers, and then headed to the creepiest museum of all.  The Marionettes. Russ took no pictures of the Marionette exhibits, I suppose for fear that they’d come alive at night?

I tried my hand at the art



Instead of taking the funicular down the hill, we decided to walk and get some more great views of the town.


Heading down the mountain

Approaching the Dome

Our dining spot from Saturday night--and Russ's favorite beer. Don't tell Germany!

Aaaand we made it!

I exaggerate.  It really wasn’t a very long walk.  However, we were feeling pretty grateful when the people climbing up the hill were passing up, sweating and panting.  Our all-inclusive Salzburg card turned out to be quite the bargain. 🙂

There’s more to Salzburg and more to our Sunday, but I’m saving it for another post.  Next time look forward to Hellbrunn Castle and Prince-Archbishop Sittikus’s famous trick fountains. Oh, and a really really cool trip to the Salzburg Zoo. 🙂