Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The hills are alive... in Salzburg!

On my trip through to Vienna, I dropped into Salzburg for a couple of hours. I have visited Salzburg once before, in the middle of summer, so it was great to see it covered in snow. There is no subtlety to the seasons in this part of the world.

The view over Salzburg old town from the Hohensalzburg fortress

During my time in this pretty little city, I took the walk to the Hohensalzburg fortress, as can be seen on the top of the hill in the photo below, wandered the Christmas markets, visited the Salzburg Dom, and wandered through the frozen Mirabel gardens (of Sound of Music fame...)

The tourism bureau of Salzburg seems to push two angles prominantly - the home of the Sound of Music, and the home of Mozart. The Mozart angle is particularly amusing, as he spent much of his life in Vienna, and was not really made "at home" in Salzburg. Still the city seems to love him now, right down to the shop windows full of Mozart kugeln (Mozart balls - a chocolate made with marzipan) to Mozartplatz, with a statue of the man himself in the centre, and decked out with an ice-rink for the winter. Whatever the reason, Salzburg is a great city, a beautiful setting, and charming gardens and shops.

The Mirabell gardens, at the moment completely frozen over with a heavy layer of snow. Probably not the best time to run around singing "The hills are alive..."

The Salzburger Dom roof, and the view from the pathway up to the fortress

Here I am climbing the hill to the Hohensalzburg fortress, and two others doing the same

The view along the Salzach river

Christkindlmarkt - Christmas Markets in Bavaria and Austria

I spent the week before Christmas between the three towns München (Munich) in Germany; and Salzburg and Wien (Vienna) in Austria. In this part of the world each town sets up many Christmas markets, or the Christkindlmarkt. I visited many of these during the week as can be seen in the photos below. In short, at these markets, you can buy all sorts of things, including cute Christmas decorations, embroidered linen, toys, hot nuts, other assorted foodstuffs including potato pancakes, lebkuchen (a German gingerbread type biscuit), chocolate covered fruits, winter clothing (I bought a funky beanie in Vienna) and other assorted items.

Most importantly are the hot drinks. There are a variety of different kinds, but the standard is Glühwein, a mulled hot red wine with cloves, cinnamon and other spices. Variants include Engelstrunken (Angel's Drink) and Feuerzanganbowle (for the more adventurous... My sister has done some research into it... See her page for the details!)

A Christmas tree sparkling at the Odeonsplatz markt in München, glittering streetlights for Christmas on am Graben in Wien, and Marienplatz in München lit up with its Christmas tree

The Rathaus markt - Frohe Weihnachten from Wien!

Frohe Weihnachten from Wien! and a glühwein with my brother Greg at the Chinese Tower markt in München, Feuerzangenbowle being made at the Rindermakt in München, and a sample of the wares in Salzburger Christkindl

Flying over Europe

This was a difficult flight to pack for... I flew out of Sydney on a hot summers day, and landed in both Vienna and München, both barely above zero. The flight did not go smoothly (please excuse the pun here... As we left Sydney about 2 hours late, and did not make up enough time, we landed in Vienna after my connecting flight to München had left, so I had to change my connection once I got to Vienna... Unfortunately my bags did not have the same luxury. The good people at Lufthansa conveniently put my bag full of my warm clothes on the new flight, but must have realised the lack of urgency with all of my work clothes, and sent them on to München the next day for me after I'd waited an hour in the lost baggage office at München Flughafen... The silver lining of this process was that the lady from Lufthansa got to carry my 20kg bag up 4 flights of stairs, rather than Greg or myself...
The real beauty of the late arrival was that I got to see Europe once the sun had come up over the snowy fields. It was great to be able to see sights such as the Danube (Donau) River flowing through Vienna, snow covered mountains, reminding me that there was indeed a reason that I carted my fur coat all the way from Australia...

View over Vienna (left) and the foothills to the Alps (right)

Snowy fields on our descent into München Flughafen

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas Party

Just before I left for Europe, was our work Christmas party. It was a fun affair, held out at Bicentennial Park.

Here I am with Alison (left) and Ei (Right)

With Dan and Prad

And last but not least, Adrian.