Austria Salzburg 2000.09.05 - 09.10

The Home of Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born and raised in Salzburg. Though he disliked nearly everything about this city, remnants of his presence are everywhere - a town square named Mozartplatz, his statue, his birthplace, and the Mozart Residence. There's also Mozart chocolate and Mozart concerts several times per week. Of course, the Old Town section of Salzburg has more than Mozart. There's a fortress, an abbey, a cathedral, museums, statues, fountains, and many, many painted cow-shaped works of art.

In addition, there are several worthwhile day trips from Salzburg. Two of these are below.

Left: The golden Residence Fountain is a calming piece sitting in front of the town cathedral.
Right: This gorgeous statue is the centerpiece of Domplatz square.
The ceiling of the town cathedral is surprisingly bright and colorful. Frescos are in joyful soothing colors, and the white interior walls reflect the incoming light to make this the brightest, happiest cathedral we're ever been to.

Day Trips from Salzburg

We took 2 excellent day trips from Salzburg; one to the salt mines at Hallein and the other to the ice caves and Hohenwerfen Fortress in Werfen. Detailed information about each are available at the Tourist Information counter on platform 2a at the Innsbruck train station.

The salt mines were fun and educational. The mandatory guided tour is partly in English. In addition to salt extraction methods, we learned that the Austrian government monopolized salt in Austria until a decade ago. The government regulated high salt price kept the mines extracting salt at a profit until 1989. When barriers against the import of salt were lifted, the mines ceased to be profitable and turned to tourism.

The mines are a constant 10°C. Warm clothing and comfortable walking shoes are much needed. Before entry, visitors are given white pants and coat to wear over their clothing for protection against dirt and abrasion. The tour is great fun! Don't bother taking your camera - long dark caverns don't photograph well.

The town of Werfen (50 minutes train ride from Innsbruck) has 2 interesting sites: ice caves and a the Hohenwerfen Fortress. Both can be seen in a single day if Werfen is reached by 10:00.

The ice caves take over an hour to reach from Werfen. The distance isn't the issue. The leisurely mini-bus driver, the 15-minute walk from the mini-bus stop to a cable car, the wait at the cable car stop, and the 15-minute walk from the top cable car station to the cave are.

The mandatory tour through the caves is in English or German. Ask the guides ahead of time to make sure you join the proper group. We found out about the English tour too late - we had already completed the tour in German. Within the cave, the expanse of ice is amazing. The ice itself wasn't. At the steepest section the ice flowed down a 45° grade. Those native to Rochester, New York will be able to relate - it was like Bristol Mountain ski resort.

The caves are cold - naturally, they're ice caves. Bring a winter jacket, gloves, and comfortable walking shoes.

Hohenwerfen Fortress is closer to Werfen and can be reached on foot. There's a lot to see and do. Twice a day there's a "birds of prey" show. As large birds circled overhead and returned to their trainers, we recalled the difficulty we had trying to train our dogs. At least dogs are smart and naturally return home. Imagine trying to train a bird-brain that wants to fly free!

Hohenwerfen Fortress sits above the town of Werfen. The walk to the fortress is a good 15-minute work-out.
The "birds of prey" show was worth seeing. Why don't these birds fly free?

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