Saturday, June 26, 2010

Europe 2010 - Days 6-7

Day 6 - Thursday, June 25

The first thing we did following breakfast (at the hotel) Thursday in Luzern was visit the Post headquarters to inquire about the cost and ease of shipping some items back home. We had already bought some items, and there were some others we were considering purchasing if we knew we wouldn't have to add them to our baggage and cart them around for the remainder of the trip.

Feeling as though it would be both simple and affordable to make an "economy" (11-14 days) shipment home, we finished up shopping. I returned to a store that sold a lot of World Cup merchandise from numerous countries--the most common in stores here are Switzerland, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Portugal, Italy and USA--and I purchased a child-sized red Switzerland jersey for Crockett. He's going to love showing it off to folks back home, proudly touting his ancestry.

After we made all our final purchases, we proceeded back to the Post headquarters and shipped a box full of goods home.

It was about that time that we were ready for lunch, so we grabbed an outdoor table at Restaurant Fritschi (in that photo, you'll see the umbrella-covered tables where we sat) and each ordered a salad. Brooke got the Fritschi salad--the house special--and I felt brave and went for the sausage and cheese salad. It didn't disappoint, though it was different than most any other salad I've tried before.

Since we were close to the lakefront, we looked into the various Lake Luzern cruises that were offered that day. Our Swiss passes give us free access to all buses, boats and lifts in Switzerland (with about 4-5 exceptions), and we were just looking for something quick to take in the midday views from the middle of the lake. So we waited about 45 minutes next to the lake before boarding a boat named "Rutli" for a nice, one-hour cruise.

For dinner, we decided to wait for a table to open up at the, which sits near the famous "Chapel Bridge" on the riverfront in the old town. I ordered fried perch filets, and they were exceptional. It was yet another great setting for a waterfront sunset dinner. Check out my video of our view.

Knowing our time in Luzern was essentially over, we went to bed looking forward to Friday morning's train ride to Salzburg, Austria.

Day 7 - Friday, June 26

Since we had no more days remaining on our Swiss passes, I had purchased our point-to-point tickets from Luzern to Salzburg (with a train change in Zurich) prior to our departure from home.

The first "reserved" portion of the trip was an 8:45 train in Zurich, so we had to make sure to be in Zurich by that time--preferably at least 10 minutes early so we could find the right track.

That meant skipping breakfast at Jailhotel and catching an early (7:40) train to Zurich. That got us there in time to find our train to Salzburg with about five minutes to spare.

We had seats 95 and 97 reserved; and that is where we were sitting. But at one particular small-town stop, a group of about 6-8 (German?) teenage boys boarded the train and tried telling us we were in their seats. They were polite about it, but I showed them our reservation certificate showing our seat numbers.

"I think you are on the wrong coach," one of them said.

He pointed to a section on the ticket that had the number 252 on it. He then showed us how to tell which coach we were on... and it was 354. So I told them "I'm sorry" in German (I was proud they understood me) and we waited in an area in-between coaches until the next stop, at which point we exited the train, walked up about 15 cars and then re-entered. That was a lot easier than trying to walk through about 15 coaches with all our luggage, because all the coaches were quite full at that point.

We got to Salzburg--one of the greatest Baroque cities north of the Alps--at about 2:15 p.m., and luckily our rental-car pickup point was only about two blocks from the train station. We picked up our tiny, navy blue VW sedan and drove to a "car park" that is basically a parking garage cut into a mountain beneath the Salzburg fortress.

I didn't have a hotel booked for our lone night in Salzburg, so this was the first day of the trip I planned on winging it in terms of lodging. The first place we inquired at was booked up, as there was a music festival going on in the portion of town I had planned on staying in.

The second place we planned on trying was called "Institute St. Sebastian." It's actually a historic old church building that has been converted into a girls' dorm for students at various college in Salzburg. During the school year, it rents about 20 single rooms. But when the girls are gone, all the rooms are available, including some doubles.

We were in luck, as they had a double for only 71 Euros for the night (it had a private bathroom, and the price included breakfast).

With lodging secured, we embarked on a walk around the historic old town (south of the river) and new town (north of the river). We saw Mozart's birthplace, the residence in which he lived as a young man when he wasn't touring Europe's major cities and many sites (such as Mirabell Gardens) where they filmed outdoor scenes in "The Sound of Music."

But Brooke and I both thought the most impressive part of Salzburg was the Salzburg Cathedral. There were many, many bishops entombed both in the sanctuary as well as in the crypt below the altar (which was open to those willing to venture in; we did). The interior was more beautiful than my words, or even my pictures and videos, can do justice. It features five organs, and Mozart himself was the main organist there for two years. Speaking of Mozart, the font in which he was baptized is there in the cathedral. It dates to 1320.

I could go on and on about how impressive that place was, but like I said, I can't do the place the justice. It just has that "feel" to it, and it's the kind of man-made structure that has a way of humbling you. I couldn't leave without dipping my fingers in the Holy water and making the sign of the cross.

We also visited the Abbey Church of St. Peter, in which St. Rupert is entombed. I left a donation and lit a candle for my Aunt Boots.

For dinner, we ventured off the touristy streets and opted to eat at, which is a favorite spot for the locals to go for sausage. We both ordered the bratwurst with kraut. Hey, what else?

Finally it was back to our "dorm room" at Institute St. Sebastian, where we slept soundly in our third-floor room with the window open all night.

PS: Traveler Tip: If you ever visit Salzburg, don't plan on sleeping in. There are so many churches; the bells will have you up and at 'em quite early.

PPS: I've uploaded quite a few photos to Facebook and hope to get some others posted as well.

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