Tag Archive: Castle

Day 98: Budapest

One weekend we decided it was time to make a final trip together before the end of the semester. Budapest was our destination, only about three hours away by train. Therefore, we made day plans to leave Vienna early in the morning and return the same day. Although one day in Budapest was not enough to get to know the city very well it was a great break from all the work and stress that had been building up.

Like many of the cities we’ve been to, the train station was nowhere near the main attractions of the city, so once we oriented ourselves we set out towards the Buda Castle, which was on the other side of the Danube.

Heading away from the station, towards the Danube.

It might have just been the time that we visited, but the city was quiet. I know Budapest is a really popular city to travel to, but most of the city seemed empty and even the main tourist attractions weren’t very crowded.

 There are a lot of bridges crossing the Danube, the one below is the only white bridge and it looks somewhat out of place and too modern in such an old city.

Making our way across the bridge.

The Hungarian Flag

Directly across from the bridge was a cliff face that had stairs and paths built into it. At the top was a large statue and a nice view of the city.

Up on the hill is the castle and just on the right side of the river is another domed building which is the Parliament building. Budapest used to be the second most important city behind the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The empire was split into two parts with different governing bodies, but Franz Joseph was still technically King of Hungary as well as Emperor of Austria. In terms of defense and international affairs Franz Joseph’s law ruled supreme.


We made our way slowly to the castle, which was just open to the public. I’m not really sure what the castle is used for, but it was a nice place to wander around.

A small side entrance to the castle that we took.

Buda Castle

Just a bird friend that we made. They were everywhere and not at all afraid of people.


We headed out the back side of the castle and came to a small street with carts selling trinkets. This area had some more tourist activities, including archery. I had never tried archery before so of course I had to do it! I completely failed to launch the arrow on my first try. I let go of the string and the arrow just fell to the ground, but then Ari gave me a few pointers and I hit the target twice! It was fun and I definitely want to try it again.

After that we headed down a cute road full of restaurants and shops. This street reminded me a lot of the Golden Lane in Prague, although the houses were a lot larger. Eventually we came to Matthias Church, which had one of the more colorful roofs I’ve seen on a church. This church is up on the hill and looks out along the river.

Matthias Church

Just behind the church is Fisherman’s Bastion. It stands right on the top of the hill overlooking the river and was probably the only place that we went in Budapest that was a little crowded. I really like this place, because it was similar to a maze. Each tower has multiple twirling staircase and underneath each section are small hallways that people can walk through and look out towards Parliament.

Fisherman's Bastion2

Parlament from Fisherman's Bastion

Fisherman's Bastion

After taking a copious amount of photos, we got hungry and went to one of the restaurants along the road. It was really cheap and like a buffet style. Since we had been on the train for a good while and then exploring the city, it was around three when we actually had lunch and by that time it was already getting a little dark out. Therefore, we decided to head towards the riverfront to make sure that we could get pictures of Parliament at night.

Fisherman’s Bastion from below with the church rising behind it.

Fisherman's Bastion 3

The view of Parliament from Fisherman’s Bastion.

Parlament Day

The church with the sun setting.


The lights decorating Parliament didn’t turn on for some time, so while the sun set we sat next to the water and watched the cars rush by. Finally, the lights slowly came on. It is a really beautiful building at night.


It was getting late and we still needed to catch our train, so we headed back to the first bridge we could find.

The sidewalk, heading back to the train station.

The Dark Walk Back

Chain Bridge. This is the one that’s famous and has the lion statues on either end.

Chain Bridge at Night

We had a little extra time and wanted to see St. Stephan’s Basilica at night. It was very impressive to walk up to. It was the only building that was lit up and the square in front of it was mostly empty.

St. Stephans Basilika Budapest

I think that Budapest is one of the more beautiful cities I’ve seen at night. The way they light up the bridges it just amazing. I’m glad we got to see it in contrast to Vienna. Both were influenced by the Habsburg monarchy, but in very different ways.


Day 92: Burghausen

The next day Manuela decided to take us out of Braunau and over to Burghausen, which is a small town in Germany that is also host to the longest castle in Europe. The ride was only about 20 minutes. We were all excited to be in a car for the first time in three months and the winding country roads reminded us all of home.

We made a quick stop along the road to look at the view. This is where the rivers Inn and Salzach meet.

Before actually crossing the border to Germany we stopped at a lookout point. From this vantage point we could see the entire town of Burghausen and the medieval castle, Burg zu Burghausen. It is situated on the banks of the Salzach, which also separates Austria from Germany.

The entire castle is 1,043 m or about 3,422 feet. The actual castle sits atop a hill overlooking the rest of the town nestled below. The entire castle starts from the very right hand side of the picture below and goes until the cluster of buildings on the left side.

Inside the castle we parked the car and got out to walk. Much of the castle is actually used for housing. The entire thing seemed more like a little town in itself rather than a castle. It was very long, but not at all very wide. There was only one row of buildings on each side. Some of them were homes, but others were restaurants, museums and shops.

Manuela told us that every year there is a celebration and people dress as knights and ride horses around on the castle grounds.

The path to the castle.

An example of the cute homes in the castle.

My favorite part of the castle was the red roofs. Each building was topped by a cone and bright red tiles.

The walls surrounding the castle had a number of holes in them for shooting arrows at approaching enemies.

The garden path, which runs along the outside of the courtyard.

There were still a few last roses clinging to the side of the castle walls. They reminded me of all the stories of beautiful princesses and daring princes I read as a kid.

To get to the castle we walked trough the center of the town, but on the way back we walked along the outside of the walls and then stopped at one of the restaurants to warm ourselves up. This particular restaurant played some of the best music I’ve heard in a long time, from “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” by Wham! to “You’re the Voice” by John Farnham. The restaurant was definitely stuck in the 80’s.

On a nice friday we traveled outside of Vienna to Klosterneuburg and then to castle Kreuzenstein with our professor.

Klosterneuburg is both the site of a palace and a church. The church was built by St. Leopold III of the Babenburg dynasty. He married a woman named Agnes. There is a legend that says on their marriage day, Agnes’ veil was swept away and Leopold promised to build a church wherever it had landed. Eventually, he found the veil and built a church (with his wife’s money) and it became known as Klosterneuburg.

At the time it was built this church was the largest in the country. Klosterneuburg was also the capital of Austria until it was changed to Vienna by Henry II.

To the right of the church is the Baroque palace, which was the residence of Habsburg Charles VI, the last male Habsburg. Charles wanted to style his palace after one that he had seen in Spain and he had a plan to make it three times larger than it is now. Sadly, he died after only a third of it was finished and his daughter, Maria Theresa, wanted nothing to do with the palace, so construction stopped. Maria Theresa prefered Schönbrunn over Klosterneuburg.

The right tower was rebuilt in Gothic because it was damaged, while the left tower was rebuilt in Gothic, but during Baroque times. This is why the stones are different.

The inside of the church was redone in Baroque. Below is just an example of the glass windows lining the corridors outside the church. It is over 600 years old.

An organ made of pewter, which means it’s not used on a regular basis and there is another organ in the church used for everyday occasions.

Also in the church is the Verdun Altar, which was originally placed in front of the pulpit, but after a fire it was moved into the monastery. It now sits below St. Leopold III’s remains. His wife is also buried there with seven of their children, overall they had 17.

After our tour of the church, we made our way back into the Palace, which was quite impressive.

The dining room. The room is surrounded in 300 year old tapestries.

Each room had a giant stove or oven in the corner, which served as a heater and could keep a room warm for weeks with just one use.

One of the many sitting rooms.

The throne room.

Inside the palace is also the treasury. The most important treasure being the crown of Austria.

One of the more interesting treasures was a tusk, which had been carved into 170 figures.

After our tour of Klosterneuburg we traveled about an hour to Kreuzenstein, a medieval castle. It was probably one of the coolest castles I’ve seen and the kind of castle everyone pictures when they think of knights, the Middle Ages, and princesses.

This castle is owned by the Wilczak family. The original owner Count Johann Nepomuk Wilczek was a very rich man and decided that he wanted to rebuild the old medieval castle, which had been almost completely destroyed during the 30 Years War. Although the castle was originally medieval, Wilczek added some personal touches, which would not have originally been in the castle. He added in a library and also a small chapel.

We were lucky enough to get a tour inside the castle, but our professor says it’s become harder to do, because a book was stolen from the library. This also meant that we were not allowed to take photos inside the various rooms. Only the things outside were allowed to be photographed.

Because Wilczak was so rich, he funded his own expedition to the North Pole and has an island in the North Pole named after him. He didn’t hesitate in adding his own personal touches to the castle, by purchasing different things from all over the world that he found appealing.

Another fun fact about the castle is that part of the film The Three Musketeers (the 1993 version) was filmed here.

The outside of the castle was impressive, especially since it had a drawbridge and a moat. The moat was once filled with water, but now it’s been grown over.

A different view of the moat and drawbridge, which even had the metal gate with spikes. The smaller door to the right was used as an entrance after the larger bridge was drawn up. It also made it easier to dispatch anyone attacking the castle.

A catapult which was used to lay siege to the castle in Salzburg.

To the left is a replica of a torture device, luckily it has never been used.

Looking towards the entrance to the castle. This little corridor was my favorite and I could just imagine people walking up and down, going about their daily lives. I especially liked the little platform to the left and the creepy vines growing up the tower on the right.

Before entering the castle we visited the armory, which had a vast array of swords, armor, spears, lances, maces… anything you could possibly think of was there! The collection also included crossbows, which essentially brought an end to the time of the knights, because they could no longer fight their opponents with swords. There were also weapons of the farmers. Pitchforks, scythes, and our professor’s favorite weapon the Morningstar. Which was named as such, because it came from the east, where the sun rises. This weapon was essentially a metal ball, with four-inch long spikes protruding from all sides.

We were able to try on the chain mail that a knight would have worn. I only tried on the headpiece, but it was really heavy! Addison tried on both the head piece and the shirt. He looked quite official with the vast array of weapons behind him. Just the chain mail could way 50-60 kilograms or 110-130 pounds! Think about carrying around that weight all the time and then add on the weight of the rest of the armor. I don’t know how they moved!

Inside the castle we visited the chapel, which was very small, but with enough room for a crypt, where the family is buried. One of the reasons Wilczek built it was because he needed a place to bury his family.

We also got a tour of a bedroom, which had a chair-like bed in it. The mattress was sitting halfway up, because people believed that if you slept lying down you were dead and it was a sort of superstitious idea. They also had a board hanging on the side of the bed, so that they could write down any prophetic dreams they had during the night.

One of the rooms we saw was basically the hunting room. It had a giant stuffed boar, which I was not really a fan of, but it also had a fake horse head, with the horn of a narwhal attached. It was supposed to be a unicorn that Wilczek had hunted.

In the next room were a number of tables and one corner was called Wilhelm’s Corner, because it was where Emperor Wilhelm sat when he visited the castle for its grand opening.

Lastly, we were taken to the medieval kitchen, where many of the cookware is original. The table in the kitchen is so large that the entire room had to be built around it, rather than bringing it in after construction.

On our way out of the kitchen we ran across the owner of the castle, also a Wilczek. He was showing his family or friends around the place too.

One of the many cute doors leading into the castle. We only got to visit a few of them.

Like I said before, much of the castle was reconstructed, but it was also adjusted so that it fit Wilczek’s taste. He added in pieces of architecture he liked from all over the world. Windows from Hungary, wood from Germany, stone from Italy.

The section of the wall with the arches below comes from Italy.

Below is part of a church, taken from Slovakia. It is also one of the reasons the archway into the courtyard is so large. Normally, in a medieval castle, it would be much smaller so that it would not be easy for enemies to enter the courtyard and therefore take the castle.

Day 44: On Top of the World

Our second day in Prague was another day of touring around. Our plan was to ride up to the Prague Castle and then slowly meander our way back down.

Riding to the castle, we were able to catch one of the old street cars. They are probably one of the cooler ways to get around the city, Vienna has some of these too, but the ones in Prague were very different. It seemed to me that these particular trams were made so that no one would have to interact with anyone else. There was only one seat next to each window while the entire middle of the tram was completely open. Everyone in our group found it very amusing and to me it seemed a little unpractical, but the rattling trams really brought life to the city.

Once we reached the top, the view was amazing! Even though it was a little cloudy, we could still see most of Prague and to the left we could see St. Vitus and the Prague Castle.

Before arriving at the Prague Castle, standing to the right of Castle Square, is the Schwarzenberg Palace. The entire building is black and white and the patterns on the wall are all carved. It was really impressive, but also confused my eyes, which wanted to make the triangles and blocks three dimensional when in reality they were flat.

A closer look at the amazing detail.

As we walked up to the castle, honestly I was a little disappointed. It seemed small in comparison to some of the other palaces or castles that I’d seen, but the Prague Castle actually hides it’s size. It might look small from the front, but once we walked through the gates, I realized that inside there is a huge courtyard surrounded by three other sides.

Outside the gates were two guards dressed in blue, they didn’t move an inch while we were there and the poor guards had to endure about a million people taking photos of them. They were there for the protection of the President who uses the castle, or at least a section of it.

This castle like many of the buildings in Europe has gone through a number of restorations. One of the most important or interesting facts about it is that this is the castle where the 30 Year War started, with the Defenestration of Prague or Prager Fensterstruz in German. Defenestration literally means the act of throwing someone out a window. In this case, emissaries of the Habsburgs were thrown out of the windows by Protestants, who did not like the counter-reformation that the Habsburgs were backing. No one who was thrown out the window was killed, but it was one of the sparks that set off the 30 Year War.

Inside the castle there is also a very beautiful hall called Vladislav Hall. It was often used for tournaments with knights and they would actually bring their horses inside the building to compete. This is why the stairs leading into the room are not actually stairs, but more like a ramp.

Unfortunately, there were many places inside we were not allowed to take photos, so if you would like to see more click… here.

Just behind the Prague Castle is St. Vitus Cathedral. It is a Neo-Gothic cathedral and one of the more amazing cathedrals I have seen. As soon as we excited the courtyard it was right there, dominating the entire sky. I love Gothic (or in this case Neo-Gothic) churches, because of the attention to detail and intricate handwork. There’s no comparison to the dedication it must have taken to finish such a building and it amazes me even more that this was built 600 years ago!

The side of St. Vitus. This church completely Gothic, the green cap is Baroque.

Inside the cathedral it was packed with tourists, but that didn’t take away from the overall feeling of the church. The ceiling was incredibly high and seemed to go on forever, while the light that filled the church from the windows made the entire place glow.

There are many important Bohemian kings buried inside the church. Below in the royal crypt rests Charles IV and Rudolf II.

One of my favorite parts of the church, and probably one of the things that really sets it apart from other churches I’ve seen, were the stained glass windows. The colors and stories were just breathtaking and they really made the church come to life.

There were a number of different windows all done in different styles, my favorite is the one below. It was created by the Jugendstil artist, Alfons Mucha. In the very center is a depiction of St. Wenceslas and his grandmother St. Ludmila.

Once we reached the very back of the castle, we walked behind the church and found Golden Lane. This is one single, very small, alley. It has cute one-roomed houses along the left side.

Originally, it is thought that this lane was called Goldmaker’s Lane, because it was housing for goldsmiths. However, there is a legend that Emperor Rudolf II housed alchemists here, hence the name, Golden Lane. This legend could possibly be true, because it is said that Rudolf II was more interested in the arts and sciences than anything else.

Just an example of how small the houses were. Even I had to duck to get inside and I’m only five-foot-three!

This is a wreath outside one of the cutest stores on Golden Lane. It was all handmade ceramics with very detailed and original designs. Just a fun fact, Franz Kafka lived on Golden Lane.

After exploring the castle we headed back into town, this time by foot. Although it looks life a very long walk, it actually didn’t take too much time before we arrived at Charles Bridge.

The road leading down into town.

We had the rest of the day off so we decided to go up the Old Town Hall Tower, which has the Astronomical Clock below. From above we could see the entire city.

It was funny seeing how many tourists were looking at the clock. Just the other day we were apart of that crowd, waiting for the clock to ring.

Somewhat of the same shot, but with the rest of the city stretched out on the horizon.

Looking towards St. Vitus and the Prague Castle.

Church of Our Lady before Týn

Old Town Square with a monument to Jan Hus in the middle. He was the leader of the Hussite movement.

Prague by Night (Day 43 & 44)

We stayed a total of three days and two nights in Prague. Both nights we went adventuring around the city and although it was near impossible to get any good photos without a tripod, I was able to get a few night shots.

The nightlife in Prague was really great, there were a lot of people out and about. My favorite part was a group of young musicians that played on the street. They were having fun and just playing some of the new hit songs, while there was a huge crowd of people laughing and singing along.

The Old Town Hall Tower and Astronomical Clock

A close up of the Astronomical Clock

One of the many possible views from Charles Bridge

The statue of John of Nepomuk. He was confessor to Wenceslaus’ (the King of the Romans) wife and when asked what the queen had told him, John of Nepomuk refused to divulge any confessions to the king. So, John of Nepomuk was thrown off of Charles Bridge and died in the Vltava river. Underneath his statue is a picture of John of Nepomuk being thrown off the bridge and it is said that if you rub it, you will get good luck. It was easy to see the millions of hands that had rubbed the picture, because the metal around John of Nepomuk was completely golden, while the rest of the metal was gray and brown.

Another view from the Charles Bridge of the Prague Castle off in the distance.

EDIT 09/30/12 : Whoops! Almost forgot a photo.

This is one of the squares we had to walk by to reach the main part of the city. To the right there was a more official stage with a band and then there were some booths for wine tasting.

37: Bratislava

The friday before I left for Bratislava the other students and I had a Mexican food night. For weeks we’ve all be craving Mexican food and so we finally decided to just go out and find the ingredients for burritos, no matter how long it took. In reality, it wasn’t all the hard. Many of the ingredients we were looking for were labeled “MEXICAN” on the side in giant letters. Apparently, we haven’t been the first nor will we be the last to crave Mexican food in Austria.

That night we made a wonderful meal and we got to talk with Clifford, a student from Berlin. Currently he is staying with Addison, whose host mother has a German student, Japanese student, and an American student all under one roof! It was really great talking with Clifford. Throughout the night we shared our different experiences, with things from movies to politics to requirements to get your driver’s license, which by the way sounds A LOT harder in Germany, although they do get to drive faster here than in America.

After a very long, but very fulfilling dinner, I headed back to the apartment to get ready for our next big trip. This time to Bratislava.


Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and only an hour away from Vienna by train. As soon as I stepped off the train, I knew we were going to have a hard time getting around. There were barely any English signs and when we tried to ask the woman at the ticket booth how to get a bus from the station to the city center, she just shook her head, making it obvious that she couldn’t speak English.

The Railway Station

Looking at the map we had acquired in Vienna, we could see that the city center wasn’t too far from the train station, so we decided to walk down the main street. Along the way we managed to get lost because two of the street names were spelled almost exactly the same, one was Štefánikova and the other was Štefanovičova.

An example of the language, Slovak.

We also became worried, when there was no one else out on the street and we thought perhaps there really wasn’t anything to see in Bratislava. However, the giant castle that sits above the city was our North Star and eventually it guided us to the old town. Once in the old part of the city, we were greeted by huge groups of tourists. By the end of the day, the streets were filled with people. Apparently everyone in Bratislava likes to sleep in.

Anyone heading into the old district from the train station must pass under Michael’s Gate. It is the only gate in the city that has been preserved from the middle ages and it used to be apart of the city’s fortifications. In the past, if anyone wanted to enter the city they would have to enter through one of the four gates that stood around the town.

After entering the gate we decided to make our way to the castle, which basically meant wandering until we found a road that lead to it. While we walked up the hill we came upon the Church and Convent of the Order St. Clare. From the front, we got a great view of the church’s tower and also the castle in the background. While we were there a huge group of German tourists walked up to us with a guide and we stayed off to the side and listened to him speak for a bit.

Although the  majority of Bratislava is not like made of up buildings like the ones in my photos, for reasons I’ll discuss later, the roads in the old town reminded me a lot of Venice. The roads were small with only enough room for ten people or less to walk side by side.

A few of the streets had some of the worst cobblestones I’ve ever seen. They were basically just nicely shaped rocks lying in the street, which wobbled when you stepped on them. Eventually we gave up counting the number of times someone tripped and almost fell while walking.

To get to the castle we had to cross under a huge roadway, which had a lot of really cool graffiti underneath.

The Bratislava Castle or Bratislavský Hrad in Slovakian, stands on a hill overlooking the Danube. When I hear the word castle, I think of something extravagant and over the top. The Bratislava Castle is indeed impressive, but to me it was more of a fortress than anything else. The walls around the castle are not to be messed with, and although the outside walls of the castle are white and bright, they are very plain and much more intimidating that inviting. In fact, the castle was used as a fortress in the past, as it was an important point for trade routes when the area was first settled.

The current castle looks as it does because of many different reconstructions, one specific reconstruction was made because of a fire that completely ruined the castle. Inside the castle there are now many different exhibits. One of the cooler exhibits has old objects destroyed in the fire, such as a knight’s armor and swords. Some of the other exhibits included paintings of important figures, prints of the castle, modern art and the altar painting, The Assumption of Virgin Mary.

The largest tower is called the Crown Tower and it is where the crown jewels were once housed. Today, people can walk up five sets of staircases to reach the top and get a great view of the city. Climbing to the top of the tower was somewhat scary considering how steep the stairs were and by the time we reached the top our legs were burning as if we had just run a mile!

The Crown Tower, which we climbed.

One of the more interesting aspects about Bratislava was the influence of communism. I’ve personally never been to a country or a city heavily affected by communism, but just walking through a small part of Bratislava is was easy to see some of the communistic aspects.

After World War II, Czechoslovakia (which is now two separate countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) supported the Soviet Union, because the Soviets had come to their aid during the first war. This caused an extreme transformation of the country and Slovakia became a very heavily industrialized area. When we climbed the tower of the castle, it was obvious which side of the city had been most influenced by communism.

On the right there were cute little houses with cobblestone streets and red roofs. It reminded me a lot of Salzburg in a way.

To the left the city is filled with row after row of stiff-looking apartments, factories and roads. This area is called Panelák and is a good example of what buildings built during the communist era look like. 

From the top of the tower Bratislava was basically two completely different cities.

The Slovakian flag, waving proudly from the castle.

After visiting the castle it was later in the day and there was a lot more activity in the center of the town. In the streets there were statues of men sitting, working, or in the case of the photo below, taking pictures of the tourists. It was a really cute touch and every once in a while there was a real person dressed as a statue, which really confused us when suddenly, the statue moved!

The oldest church in Bratislava, the Franciscan Church.

After walking around for a long while, we couldn’t resist getting something warm and sitting down for a break. We ordered hot chocolate with mint, which actually turned out to be almost pure melted chocolate, somewhere between a pudding and a hot chocolate drink. It was wonderful on a cold day! We also wandered around the main square of the town, looked at all the trinket shops and ate at a local restaurant, which served really good sandwiches.

Soon after, we made our way back to the train station, making sure to stop by Grassalkovich Palace, Grasalkovičov palác, which is the residence of the Slovakian president. Behind the palace is also a garden, where people were relaxing and enjoying the last of the nice weather.

Tomorrow, I’ll be headed to Prague, which is in the Czech Republic. Everyone has been telling me that I need to go there, so I’m super excited for the trip!

Day 9: Salzburg

It was time to leave.

We woke up early that morning so that we wouldn’t miss the one train stopping in Dorfgastein. It was sad putting everything back into our bags knowing that we probably wouldn’t be back for a very long time, if ever. However, there was also excitement in the air, because we would be traveling back to Wien and our host families would be there waiting for us.

The plan was to travel to Salzburg and spend the day there. After Salzburg we would then, finally, make our way to Wien.

Although the train was nothing exciting we did get to pass by Hohenwerfen Castle. A few scenes in The Sound of Music were shot at this castle.

Now, if you like The Sounds of Music, Salzburg is the place to go. As soon as we started walking away from the train station we were informed that the mountains in front of us were the ones that the real Von Trapp family crossed. They are also the mountains that separate Salzburg from Germany.

Our main destination in Salzburg was the old part of town, so we had to travel through some of the newer areas to cross the Salzach, the main river that runs through Salzburg. On our way there we glimpsed, for a brief second, one of the houses that Mozart spent some of his life in.

We crossed through Maribell Gardens, which were amazing and had a great view of the castle on the hill above Salzburg, called Hohensalzburg Castle. The garden around Maribel was very long with designs in the grass created from flowers and impressive statues of men and women in twisting poses. There were a lot of weddings taking place both in the gardens and inside the palace.

The statue below was one of my favorite, because of it’s elegance and modern feel, but it also fit well into the scenery of the garden and looked out over both Maribell Gardens and Hohensalzburg Castle.

The gardens were very large and long. One section on the right had a fountain, some flowers and then it turned into a tunnel of trees that provided shade from the blistering sun. The garden on the left and hidden behind the palace was wide open with multiple statues decorating each side and a fountain in the middle that lined up perfectly between all the statues, the garden and the Hohensalzburg Castle.

A pegasus statue in the middle of the gardens, overlooking Hohensalzburg Castle.

For a few minutes we were able to go inside the large baroque style palace. Inside it had high arching ceilings and a stairway with banisters decorated with cherubs. Some of the weddings were being held in the upper floors of the buildings.

The ceiling at the entrance to the castle.

A closer look at the detail on the ceiling.

The bridge we used to cross the Salzach was covered in padlocks of all different shapes and sizes. They are meant to keep love alive and once a couple writes on the lock and then secures it to the bridge, they throw the key into the river so that their love can never be broken. In some sections of the bridge the entire fence was obscured by locks.

Once we crossed the bridge we were in the older part of the town and immediately came upon the most crowded street in all of Salzburg. Getreidegasse is known for its cute shops and impressive signs. Long ago the signs out front use to hold pictures that informed people of what exactly the shop sold. There are still a few signs like that now, but mostly they just say the name of the business or shop. Most of the shops were more for tourists and also very expensive, but we were able to find a place that sold a scoop of ice cream for one Euro. Although the street was crowded, I especially liked this part of the town, because there were secret alleyways that looked like shops, but were actually shortcuts to the other streets and the farmer’s market.

Now, if McDonalds looked this fancy in America, I might actually eat something there.

One of the more creative sings along the street.

Along this same shopping street is also the house where Mozart was born. He lived on the third floor. Now, its a fantastic museum with paintings, pianos, and actual documents from Mozart.

It’s hard to imagine what the street would have looked like when Mozart was around, definitely not so crowded, but in general it seemed like the city had preserved his house pretty well. Although Mozart often talked about leaving his boring life in Salzburg for something more, just going back through his past and seeing all of Salzburg made it easy to see where he got his inspiration from. Out his back door he had the towering churches, a giant castle, and the market place full of people.

The picture below was one of the only pictures I was allowed to take while inside. The apartment had rooms on the side where I’m standing and then it went down a long passageway that was open to a small courtyard below. It then continued into another two rooms that looked out over the farmer’s market.

After the museum we headed towards some of the churches. There were a lot of churches in the area and quite a few that I can’t remember the names of, but one of the more dramatic ones was Dom zu Salzburg. The outside was impressive with huge white and black statues of saints, inside was even more so.

Going inside churches like the Dom zu Salzburg always floors me. I can’t even fathom how someone could think up such tiny intricate details and make them three dimensional and as large as possible. I could have stayed and stared at a single spot on the ceiling for hours if we hadn’t been on a schedule. The wonder of it all is what makes me really love and appreciate architecture.

This particular part of the ceiling wasn’t even in the main room, it was off to the side.

Just off to the side of Dom zu Salzburg is Residenzplatz. It’s a huge open square with a large fountain in the center that was not only beautiful, but great for cooling off. Although there was nothing there the day we visited, Residenzplatz is the main place for events in Salzburg.

The fountain.

Just for kicks and because who doesn’t like to be a tourist sometimes, Annika, Ari and I took a ride on a carriage with the famous Haflinger horses from Austria. They took us to all the different attractions around the area and it made for a nice break from walking.

Before heading back to the train station we made our way over to the elevator to get a better view of the city. The elevator shaft runs straight up through the natural stone wall that protects part of Salzburg. It took us up to the top where there is a museum and also a restuarant, but most importantly a beautiful view of Salzburg and the Hohensalzburg Castle. The castle was placed up on the hill not only to protect the city, but also to act as a toll station.

After a full day of walking, we headed back to the station to catch the 6:00 train to Vienna. It was a smooth ride until we got closer to Vienna and were informed that the station’s communication system was not functioning. After that announcement it was a mad dash to the underground to get on the next tram and head over to the Westbahnhof ourselves.

Luckily, our families were still waiting for us and we all got in taxis and headed to our new homes.