Sunday, 14 December 2014

CGN to SZG (or A cheap flight to Mozart's home town on day VI)

If the title of this post makes no sense at all:  

CGN is the airport code of Cologne/Bonn Airport while SZG stands for Salzburg Airport.

And CLICK on THIS LINK for some background music that should be a perfect accompaniment for this post and city.  

WHERE the heck IS Salzburg?  
Yup. I had to look it up too ;-)

Salzburg is in that strange part of the world where Germany is ALMOST right next to Italy and where Switzerland ALMOST borders Slovenia.  I say ALMOST, because Salzburg is in between. Oh right: Salzburg is in Austria. 
Oh right, the music: Mozart was born here!

And what the heck am I doing here?

No, No, it's not a  Neil Young concert. (wouldn't hat be nice? ;-)

BUT HANG ON: I'm jumping ahead already (an activity needed to fill those long hours between waking up and breakfast).

6:30 and breakfast time finally arrives. After 5 days in this country my tightening belt is already trying to tell me that I eat too much of the wrong food.  Hearty breakfasts and huge portions in restaurants are taking their toll on my midsection. If I drank beer instead of wine, the damage would be even worse. Not good!  Must climb some mountain today to combat peaking cholesterol !

During breakfast I realize that tales of my travels will no longer be spread by my spare mom.  During the funeral, people I had never met but whose names I knew from spare mom's stories knew surprisingly much of the adventures of 'My 'Grosses Kind', as Regine always called me.  Gross in this context can be translated as tall(er), large(r), great(er), old(er).  When I met Regine's son for the first time last Friday, I had to realize that he was almost a foot 'taller than me.  Since I don't consider myself 'large' and don't particularly feel 'great' these days, I'll just accept that she was referring to my age.  But I will always be grateful and a little proud that she considered me 'her child' ;-)
 Walking to the train station I have to pass through a Christmasmarket again.
 Even without tipsy visitors, it is already too gaudy for me.

I catch the S-Bahn from Central station before 9 am and it delivers me within 12 minutes to a fancy train station at Cologne/Bonn Airport.  

I do like this small airport (I flew to Brest from here last year) despite the slightly anal security people.  At first I am asked to place my jacket 'nicely'/'properly' into the tray, to which I reply "Ah! Deutsche Ordnungsliebe". Then my backpack is X-rayed twice and I am informed that the freezer bag that I use to carry my toothpaste etc. is too big and that next time I should use a bag with a 1 litre volume.  Sure. Whatever you say, storm-trooper lady |-).                                                                                        Normally I'm not one to buy books at airports (unless it's Neil Young ;-)  but I can't resist this one. A murder mystery set in Brittany, where anyone behaving as the Germans in the above paragraph probably would have fresh fish thrown at the them.

All those places that I haven't been yet !
And then I see it. A smoking lounge!  And this one deserves the name.  Sitting in one of its club chairs with a side table next to me I feel sorry for the non-smokers on the regular airport benches outside!

The flight only takes one single hour. But because someone in my row has leg issues, the stewardess asks me to relocate to an empty 3-seater in Row 2 of the plane.  This is some kind of elevated class compared to my original row as indicated by dividers behind Row 3 and the number of fur coats on the bloated middle-aged women in the first 3 rows.  I try to hide my Karakul hat, because the lady right in front of me has a whole friggin Karakul COAT. (When I get to Salzburg I will to my utter astonishment discover that fur coats and Karakul or Persianer coats in particular, which in Germany went out of fashion with my Grandma's generation, are still en vogue in Austria.  I will see strong women who only this morning may have milked cows in a flowery type of dress that I haven't seen in 40 years dressed in fur coats for their visit to the city)

... ueber den Wolken ...

... muss die Freiheit wohl grenzenlos sein ...

I arrive at Salzburg Airport at noon. From the plane I had already noticed the mountainous character of the region.

The map above doesn't really prepare one for the topography of Salzburg.  There are high 'islands' rising steeply from the plane that the river Salzach whittled down to an even level.

Public ORDER in Austria will be disturbed by MANY things.  This is worse than Germany !!

I take the public transit bus to the main train station (cost: a civilized Euro 1.70), and then walk the short distance to my hotel.   I am supposed to meet Seamus & Jemma (Yes, they are the reason I came to Salzburg) at M32 restaurant at 1:30 pm but I realize that I will never get there on time if I walk there.  So I decide to splurge and take a taxi.  After a few km I am glad I did; we are driving up hills that are much steeper than they looked on the map. I arrive at M32, a restaurant associated with Museum der Moderne at exactly 1:30 pm. Seamus, of course, is nowhere to be seen. The Irish are famous for many things, but not for their punctuality. Ah well, that gives me time to take some pictures ;-)

Seamus and Jemma show up before I give up on them and start ordering.
After a yummy lunch (A Wienerschnitzel; When in Rome ....) and learning that one orders a double espresso here by requesting a Grosser Brauner (a Large Brown One !!!!), we walk along the ridge of the Moenchsberg (Monk Mountain)

The very kafkaesque Castle sits on an even higher outcrop.

From our vantage point just below the castle, we can look down onto the Dom.

This of course is where the Buerger of Salzburg hide their Christkindlmarket

I've managed to travel through Frankfurt and Cologne without having to submit to drinking Gluewein in one of these, but I am a guest here and Jemma is a romantic who adores this side of Salzburg.  So here is the proof:  I drink Gluehwein. (Actually, the photographer is a little slow at this point and my wine is all gone (surprise), so this particular Gluehwein shot is STAGED !

This is Austria: Don't expect anything to be real !

The need for sleep and authorship soon hits me hard and I leave Seamus and Jemma with friends the local ice rink and set out on my own on the ~half hour walk to my hotel through an unknown city.

A Bubble-Blower

Pressure in my bladder is building so I don't pay too much attention to where I'm going while my eyes frantically scan for a tree in the dark.  I finally find a public wash-room INSIDE the tunnel through the mountain behind Neutor (New Gate).  Afterwards I have to admit to myself that I am lost. An inquiry sends me back on my proper way.
Neutor; Almost something out of Lord of the Rings

Salzburg is very easy to navigate once you have found the river Salzach.  But unlike in many other cities, the river is not that easy to find.

After finding my hotel with no further inquiries I go out again to the restaurant in Salzburger Hof, where I eat a semi-decadent dinner of medium-rare lamb-ribs arranged into a crown.  I usually don't like fancy-pansy food, but this one TASTES AMAZING.

I stumble back to the hotel and crash at around 9 pm

A good adventure. A good day!

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