« München - Part IIMünchen - Part I? »



  11:35:01 am, by Nimble   , 836 words  
Categories: Journal


Our next destination after Veneza was Salzburg, city founded on a fortune made from mining salt (there is no corresponding Pfefferburg for any pepper mines that I can tell), a destination recommended by Dena´s parents for its "Salzerlebnis" (salt experience) at the salt mines, and a good interim spot on our slow circle into Zürich, Switzerland.

It was quite a bit more interesting than we had accounted for.

We stayed at the SpiglBräu Best Western close to the train station (we´ve been finding that works great), and inquired into a tour, and a tour we got, with a great friendly crusty old-yet-young looking very Aryan-looking ex-mechanical engineer by the name of (just to top it off) Günther.

Ever good-natured, he gave us a heart attack by saying, "we´re approaching Germany - your passports"... he paused while we filled our lungs with gasp material... "are not required". Between EU countries, no passports at the borders. It´s been nice like that ever since we finally left for Italy.

We were in the van with an Australian and two New Zealanders (you can tell which is more used to the incredible rain that was going on at the time by their comments, "Better let him in there, the Ozzie might melt") who were going on the Eagle´s Nest tour.

Now I hadn´t known this - fairly close by, and just barely in Germany was where Hitler stayed a lot, and met his final end not minutes before the Russians arrived. We got all this information from Günther´s non-stop information stream. Since he was a few minutes late, he decided to oblige us by showing where the officers stayed, noted that Hitler was claustrophobic, couldn´t take elevators well, suffered from vertigo and was a vegetarian, growing vegetables in a field nearby. The Eagle´s Nest had no beds, and Hitler only went there once or twice (the failing in the details is mine - Günther rattled it off perfectly) - he preferred to stay at the Obersalzburg. We saw the entrance to the bunkers, and the rainbows painted by the American soliders who came to occupy and free the place.

Hitler had a dog named Blondi that met its end by poison pill, ordered his remains to be burned with 600 gallons of petrol, etc.

The salt mine experience was less morbid, of course. The mine comes from way back when, and all the great buildings (and there are many) in Salzburg come from the sale of salt. There were some very, very rich religious figures in that era.

When you get into the start of the mine area, you get protective clothing to put over yours (the lady behind the counter seems to have years of experience doing this; she just looks at you and grabs an appropriate size). You also get a belt of sorts. That is to cover the top part of your butt. It´s important to place it correctly.

You get some history, you get an alarmingly long railcar ride into the mountain, you get to slide down some polished wood slides to lower levels (you´ll be glad you did the belt right; it heats up!). If you know more German than I do, you´ll enjoy the jokes of the tour guide. If you don´t, you´ll be sitting by a sad little prerecorded translation speaker like I did :)

You get a boat ride across an underground salt lake, some exhibitions of salt crystals and mining equipment, and then you are whisked (whisked!) on the rail car back. Your ears will itch from the vibrations :)

A good time had by all.

A quick note of subtlety in the language. The city is Salzburg. A Burg is a fortress. The mine was at Salzberg. A Berg is a mountain. Sneaky sneaky - didn´t even notice at first.

There had been a lot of rain while we were there, and we were treated to some spectacular flooding and almost-flooding. It didn´t come up over the banks in the city, but many fields were turned into swamps. It´s a FAST-moving river, too. So, um, don´t wade across it, promise? The water is supposed to be green from dissolved limestone, but it was a churning tea-with-milk.

I took a wander later, into the old city. Salzburg is the birthplace of Mozart, and there´s a museum at Mozart´s birthplace, in addition to a very nice but narrow pedestrian mall running through the buildings there. You know you´re in a German-speaking place when you see an entire Henckels store :)

While you´re there, try the Wiener Schnitzel (for those who don´t know, Wiener means "from Wien", which is what we know as Vienna) von Schwein (pork instead of veal). It´s a good, hot treat, and it was also nice to encounter potatoes again :)

Next stop, a mere hour and a half train ride away, München, or Munich, as we call it.

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