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Christmas and New Years in Austria - Trip Report


Jan 28th, 2008, 01:38 PM
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Christmas and New Years in Austria - Trip Report

Thanks to several of you who helped with planning advice for our wonderful 2007 trip to Austria for Christmas and New Years. Also thanks so much to Lady/Cathy, who planned our GTG in Salzburg for Christmas Day!

Iíve had a longtime dream to see the Christmas markets in Germany and after reading Thelroseís trip report on Munich and Austria http://www.bensbauernhof.com/thelros...rkets2006.html we decided to finally follow through on our wish. Also helpful was our son's wedding plans for early December, so all of our family would be together before Christmas!

I booked roundtrip tickets to Munich in March or April 2007 for $678 each and planned to spend most of our time in Salzburg and Vienna for Christmas and New Years.

Departing from Dayton, Ohio, and connecting at Washington Dulles (with itís excellent wine bar in the international area) on December 21 on a 777, for what turned out to be quite a bumpy flight, we were on our way! Landing in Munich was a bit of a surprise, since we couldnít see the runway until we were on it! Hoar frost was covering everything in sight! We had never seen anything like it. Hereís the definition off Wiki : ďrefers to the white ice crystals, loosely deposited on the ground or exposed objects, that form on cold clear nights when radiation losses into the open skies cause objects to become colder than the surrounding airĒ. What a beautiful site! It reminded me of the fake flocking the Christmas trees had in California where I grew up.

The train station at Munichís airport is accessed by walking outdoors and across the plaza with Christmas market stalls. They werenít open yet since it was only 8 a.m. but we found a ticket machine on the platform and bought a Bavarian Ticket for €27 which is valid for up to 5 people. This ticket covers all Munich metro, bus and tram lines for 1 day and also the local (RE or RB) train to Salzburg. What a deal! Print your name on the ticket where it says ďblockshriftĒ.

I wanted to spend some time at the Munich Christmas market stalls, before traveling onto Salzburg, so we took the S-8 Bahn to Ost-bahnhof, or the Eastern Station. I was advised that the luggage lockers were much easier to access here than at the Western station. We easily found the lockers and put our luggage into 1 large locker, which took Euro coins. I think it was €4 for 1 large locker.

Marienplatz is the location of many of the market stalls, so we took the metro from Ost-bahnhof a couple of stops to the Marienplatz stop. It was so cold, but bright and sunny, we were quite bundled up. The markets were just opening at 9 a.m. and Gluhwein was already being offered, so we bought a stocking mug decorated with the city of Munich for our first try of this hot, spiced wine. A booth selling Tellerpfand for €2 looked good, (sausage) so we had an early lunch! The market booths here were quite good, but I didnít buy much since I wasnít sure what the markets in Austria would offer. My suggestion would be to buy here, if you find gifts you like. These are great booths although the atmosphere in Salzburg is better! It was wonderful to be here early, as it wasnít crowded. We walked through the plaza again later, and it was quite crowed, and much more difficult to see the booths. We walked on to the Rindermarkt for the crib market, full of nativity sets and individual pieces. This market wasnít as nice as I thought it might be, but if you have a nativity set youíd like to add to, there are a lot of pieces to consider. Another market in Munich is the Schwabinger Weihnachtsmarkt, a handmade art market. We didnít have time to see it, but to find it take the U3 or U6 north to the Munchner Frelheit stop.

Munichís open air market the Viktualien Markt was bustling, so we enjoyed a wander through itís stalls, treating ourselves to some good cheese and bread. I was amazed at the fish shop which had live fish which you could select, then they would kill it with a thump on the wooden counter, and clean it right in front of the customers. Well, it was quite fresh!

Stalls were also selling Christmas trees. They were small, and looked like just the top of the trees we buy here in the U.S., costing €18 up to over €50.

We spent a few days in Munich a few years ago, so didnít want to go to any museums. It was time to travel onto Salzburg where we were spending the next 5 nights. We returned to Ost bahnhof, collected our luggage and easily found the 12:50 regional train to Salzburg. Hora frost was still covering all the trees and bushes along the way. It was quite a beautiful ride.

A 7 day Salzburg netzkarte ticket, €12.50, was available from the ticket machines in the area where the buses arrive, just outside of the train station. It was less money to buy the 7 day card than it would be to buy daily bus passes. The bus transportation is frequent and on time. Itís an excellent system. We were staying at B&B Haus Reichl #52 Reiterweg off Moosstrasse, www.privatzimmer.at/haus-reichl, which is about 15 minutes by bus from the Old town. From the train station you need to take Bus 1 to the old town, then transfer to bus 21 which goes down Moosstrasse, bus stop Gsengerweg . The B&B was €52 a night for 2 people, with a large bedroom and bathroom with 2 sinks. A full breakfast each morning was excellent. I highly recommend a stay here if you want a homey atmosphere, not a hotel.

The Salzburg Christmas markets couldnít wait, it was December 22 and I was anxious to see what the atmosphere here would be. Oh, how magical it is in Salzburg for Advent! Groups of friends gathered around the gluhwein stands, children met friends, families were everywhere enjoying the day. The streets were decorated, and the ice-skating rink was bustling. Small fires were lit for warmth with many gathered around. It was all I had hoped, perfect! After walking through much of the old town, and shopping some in the market areas, we took bus 21 to Augustiner Braustubl, the brewery just outside of the old town. This is self service, for both the beer and food. You can even bring your own food with you if you wish. The food booths line the area outside the beer hall, you can walk along them, deciding what to order. Pay for your selection, then carry it into the beer hall. No music here, and not lots of atmosphere. Itís probably more fun with a big group of friends.

Tomorrow we go to St.Gilgen and St. Wolfgang!

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Jan 28th, 2008, 02:51 PM
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Nice report so far. Looking forward to the other installments.
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Jan 28th, 2008, 02:55 PM
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This type of trip is a dream for me too
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Jan 28th, 2008, 03:13 PM
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Jan 28th, 2008, 03:27 PM
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I'm enjoying your report. I've been to Germany/Austria three times in Dec/Jan. I agree that the Munich Christmas markets are nice. We've always reached Salzburg after Christmas, though.

Looking forward to the rest!
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Jan 28th, 2008, 03:39 PM
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I'm enjoying your report very much. When we lived in Vienna in 1984-85, I loved going to the Christkindlmarkt in front of the Rathaus. I still have many of the beautiful and unusual ornaments that I bought there. And the gluhwein and jagertee really does help keep you warm!
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Jan 28th, 2008, 03:44 PM
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Looking forward to reading the rest of you report. This is something we'd defintely like to do in the future.

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Jan 28th, 2008, 03:45 PM
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>A booth selling Tellerpfand for €2 looked good
Wonder how "plate deposit" tastes ;-), a lot better than "bottle deposit", I suppose.

Anyway, keep it coming.
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Jan 28th, 2008, 03:59 PM
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Great report. I takes me back to my memories of doing almost the same trail. I am looking forward to reading more.
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Jan 28th, 2008, 06:58 PM
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Ha, ha! Now you know I can't read a word of German. They sure fooled me with that sign on the glass case

Sunday, December 23 Another bright blue morning filled with Hoar Frost

Several things are closed or have limited hours for several days around Christmas. You can work around this with good planning though. The one problem we had was working with the ďSundayĒ bus schedule which was the schedule on Sunday, Christmas Eve (Monday) Christmas Day, (Tuesday), and St. Stephens Day (Dec. 26 Wednesday). Bus 21, (our bus from the B&B into the old town) ran about 1 hour apart until 9 a.m. then every 30 minutes until the evening when the schedule would vary again. Mainly this meant we had to get up earlier than we wanted to in the morning so we could arrive in town in time to make a connecting bus. During the rest of the year this wouldnít be a problem since the bus runs every 15 minutes.

We wanted to see Mozartís residence the Wohnhaus, and today was our only chance since the sound and film collection was to close from Dec. 24 Ė January 1. We arrived at 9 a.m. and bought the combo ticket which includes Mozartís birthplace. You can use this ticket for 3 days, but can only go to each location once. This is a simple museum with a 30 minute film I enjoyed, and while we thought Mozartís birthplace was much better, this is still a worthwhile visit. The map showing the trips Mozart and his sister Nannerl took is also interesting.

Lake Wolfgangsee is not far from Salzburg, with St.Gilgen, Strobl, and St. Wolfgang lining the lake. Boat trips connect the towns. The towns also had great Advent booths. The bus doesnít run very often to St.Gilgen on Sunday. Fortunately the Austrian oebb train web site http://www.oebb.at/en/ lists the bus, ferry and train connections. It was a great help to me in planning this trip. We took the 10:19 bus 150, from a bus stop close to Maribell Gardens in Salzburg, to St. Gilgen. This bus stop is a bit hard to find. We asked a kiosk selling day tours, along the side of the gardens where the bus stop was. I think the bus tickets were around €7 but Iím not sure. We met the Gills, another Fodor couple on the bus. It was great talking to them about the time they were spending living in Europe for several months while making our trip to St. Gilgen. We got off the bus here, while they traveled onto Strobl.

I loved St.Gilgen! There were several advent booths, food booths, and cute shops. Horse and buggy rides were offered starting at just €10. This was the last day of Advent here and the last day of the Christmas markets. They didnít discount merchandise though, although some booths did the next day in Salzburg! We bought our first Mozart Brezen here, which is a chocolate pretzel filled with jam. I love these pretzels, and bought several on this trip! I also loved the gingerbread heart cookies they sell, decorated with German phrases. I had one booth read many of them for me, so I could pick out an appropriate one for our granddaughter! (Since itís obvious I canít read any German!).

Another interesting stop here is the cemetery, with many of the gravesites decorated with Christmas greenery, lanterns, etc. Itís backdrop are the most beautiful snow covered mountains, across the lake.

We took the ferry across the lake to St.Wolfgang. The ferry is €5.40 per person, one way. The schedule was more frequent on this holiday weekend. It is also listed on the internet. The towns have a simple web site with a link to the schedule and events, www.wolfgangseer-advent.at.

St. Wolfgang is a larger town, with even more Christmas booths, and while nice, we preferred St. Gilgen. Still, it was worthwhile to go here, and the boat trip is enjoyable. Also one booth has the best potato soup in a bread bowl weíve ever had! We also walked a bit along the trail which links St.Wolfgang to Strobl, turned around and returned to St. Wolfgang. This trail is just past the ferry dock where you depart St.Wolfgang. The arrival dock is in a different location at this time, but only a 5 minute walk to town. I think the walk between Strobl and St.Wolfgang is a bit more than 1 hour. The ferry schedule linking St. Gilgen to Strobl, to St. Wolfgang really didnít give you enough time in each town, so we didnít go to Strobl. There is also a bus linking the towns, but itís still difficult to do all 3 towns in one day. We took the ferry back across lake Wolfgangsee to St.Gilgen where I wanted to see the birth house of Mozartís mother, Anna Maria. Itís close to the ferry dock. We found that it is closed now, as they are working to restore it.

Stopping instead at Café Nannerl, we enjoyed hot chocolate and cake. We came to love our time in the caféís of Austria! The selection of cakes is large and a slice is usually around €3. There is a selection of newspapers available to read, while youíre relaxing! Thankfully one in French, since we can read French! Almost everyone we met spoke English well.

Back in Salzburg we shopped more in the market booths, first by Maribell gardens. These booths aren't to great. Back in the Old Town I bought straw ornaments and candle holders, all on sale tonight. Also a wonderful tin Santa and reindeer which balance on a stand. There is a large selection of items here. Itís a delight! There are singing programs in the evening also.

We had dinner at Zum Mohren on Judengasse, just up from the Getreidegasse. Wonderful food and good service. This was the best normal meal we had in Salzburg, although our Christmas Eve dinner at Herzl was outstanding, far better.

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Jan 28th, 2008, 07:22 PM
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We stayed in St. Gilgen the end of September for 3 nights and also did the boat trip to St. Wolfgang. While we enjoyed St. Wolfgang and the gorgous views, we were glad we were staying in St. Gilgen. I'd love to go back during the Christmas season.
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Jan 28th, 2008, 07:31 PM
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We also had dinner at the Zum Mohren in Salzburg after a day in Hallstatt. Very nice place. Look forward to the rest.

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Jan 28th, 2008, 10:16 PM
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Jan 29th, 2008, 06:47 AM
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Thanks everyone. This trip was one I'll never forget! I'm so thrilled we could go for the holidays, and we want to go back some summer for all the hiking opportunities also!

Christmas Eve, the most holy day of Advent for Austria

Today is for Austrians what Christmas Day is to Americans. Tonight they will gather together with their closest family members, put the tree up, decorate it, have dinner, celebrate, and go to mass. Tomorrow they will scatter to family members that live further away and again celebrate, but tonight is the most important for them. There is no Christmas tree up yet in our B&B. The nativity set has been displayed, but without baby Jesus. He arrives tonight!

After giving our wonderful hostess her gift, and enjoying a special Christmas Eve breakfast, we took the bus into Old Salzburg, where we transferred to bus 25 for our trip to Hellbrunn. This is the most direct way to go unless you have a car! The trip wasnít long, 15 minutes from the old town. It was interesting seeing the grocery store parking lot so crowded. Although tonight is very quiet, the day is quite busy with everyone making last minute preparations. The bus dropped us off just outside of Hellbrunn, where we walked into the grounds. Many more advent booths were set up and just opening. We walked into the gardens, which were snow covered and gorgeous. Finding the gazebo from the Sound of Music was easy, and we took some photos before a tour group arrived. We walked the gardens more, watched the poor reindeer, behind a fence with their antlers removed, then were able to go inside of the Palace which was decorated for Christmas and where art booths were set up, selling handmade items. What a beautiful way to start our day.

The Nonnberg Priory, where Julie Andrews stayed as a nun in the Sound of Music, is close to this bus route, so we got off nearby before arriving in the old town, climbing many steps to the top. We couldnít go inside, but enjoyed walking around the exterior. We were doing our own Sound of Music tour! From here itís an easy walk to St. Peterís cemetery which is wonderful, with many of the graves decorated for Christmas. St. Peterís church is beautiful as well. Notice the cave houses up on Monchbergís rock wall. The Festival Hall was closed for the season, but we were able to climb some of the steps for a small view. Cannons were fired off the grounds of Hohensalzburg Fortress at 12 noon, and all the church bells were ringing! The celebrations had begun!

Stiftskeller St.Peter is also in this area, where we have Christmas night dinner reservations for the Mozart Concert here. Itís decorated beautifully inside. The outdoor food market is also set up in this area, so we ate a quick take away lunch there, then walked to Bobs Tours office for our Silent Night tour.

We booked this tour months ago, but others booked just a couple of weeks before at www.Bobstours.com . They offer a €5 discount if you pay in cash and show a guide book mentioning their tours. We met Lady from Fodors, and the Gills here, plus another couple weíd met at Hellbrunn. They had such a large group going on this tour this afternoon that we took a large bus, instead of a mini- bus which they usually drive. This trip is wonderful, a must trip for Christmas Eve. We first drove to Arnsdorf, where Franz Gruber lived. He wrote the music to Silent Night. We went into the church here, then into the schoolhouse where he lived and taught school. He had 12 children! A gluhwein stand was across from the schoolhouse so many of us bought some and thought it was the best of the trip!

We drove to Oberndorf, we didnít walk from Maria Buhl meadow, as I had read. Maybe this was a change in the tour. We arrived early, so were able to go inside the chapel, take several pictures of it, before dark, shop in the square, and buy refreshments, before the ceremony began. I bought 2 Silent night Christmas ornaments in a shop which backed to the river. The river is the border between Austria and Germany, and the church and homes on the other side are easily seen. Trumpeters were on the hillsides. It was so festive, and also very crowded. We were able to stand up front, next to the soldiers lined up in their red uniforms. We heard all of the ceremony of singing and a message, but couldnít see it all. It began at 5 p.m. and was in German and English. When everyone was back on the bus, Bobís tours handed out bags of cookies for everyone to enjoy later. We arrived back in Salzburg around 6:45. The next evening we met a man who took the train to Oberndorf, for just a couple of Euros and arrived on his own. He also thought there was a special free train that evening. Oberndorf is not far from Salzburg. If we return to this area at Christmas I think weíll go to Arnsdorf on our own and attend the ceremony there, then walk in the torchlit procession where everyone lights their lanterns and walk the 3 km to Oberndorf.

Dinner at Herzl, Karajanplatz, 7, after the trip to Oberndorf was outstanding. Herzl is a small restaurant, owned by the Goldener Hirsch, Salzburgís most exclusive hotel. Noppinger, Florian [[email protected]] was my contact for reservations with dinner costing €53 per person. This included sparkling wine aperitif, marinated salmon with dill-mustard sauce and salad, saddle of venison with mushroom, red cabbage, bohemian dumpling and cranberries, followed with a parfait of ginger bread with berries. Each course was outstanding, the atmosphere casual, but chic, with excellent service.

We were exhausted after dinner and decided to return to our B&B instead of staying until 11:00 for Christmas Eve mass. We spoke to others who stayed for mass and it was glorious. This was one of the most special Christmas Eve's we've enjoyed.

The bus service had ended for the evening, but taxis were available for about €8 to our B&B.

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Jan 29th, 2008, 08:22 AM
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Christmas Day in Salzburg

The snow was still on the ground, hoar frost in the trees. It was Christmas morning and the tree was up in the dining area with a very large Baby Jesus under it! Baby Jesus was also in the nativity scene now. The tree was decorated completely with straw ornaments made by the Reichl family, candles and straw garlands. It was simple, beautiful, and had just a few gifts under it. I donít think gift giving here is very important, as it is in the U.S. where we go overboard.

After a delicious breakfast we went to the Mozart Geburtshaus which was excellent. The church bells were ringing throughout town, and inside Mozart music was playing. What atmosphere! This and several other sites were open today.

At 10:30 we went to Mass at the Dom cathedral, which had begun at 10 a.m. It was lovely and people came and went during the service.

Hohensalzburg Fortress was open so we took the funicular up to the top. The view below was so picture some from the decorated courtyard. We took the escorted tour of the fortress with the audio guide. All the museums were free today so we visited them. I enjoyed the marionette museum. It was time to meet a few others who post on Fodors, so we headed back down on the funicular.

Candy/Lady planned a GTG, a lunch time meet and greet at Café Tomaselli. Many were invited but we werenít sure who would actually come. Weíd already met Dale and Candy and the Gills the night before. It was wonderful meeting pgnewby, Kristen and her husband and children also. I think I want to move in with them, as theyíre living in France now!! Café Tomaselli is wonderful, bustling and fun. Women bring platters of slices of cakes to your table, and you make your choice from them and pay the women for the cakes. The waiters are men and you order your drinks or menu items from them, paying when you leave. There are many newspapers to choose from, so itís acceptable to sit for an hour, just reading the paper and relaxing! We did this the next day when we returned to this café. We had a lovely time visiting with everyone.

On the opposite side of Salzach river is the newer town. We wanted to walk through Mirabell Gardens and see the Sound of music sites here. They were easy to pick out. I called our grandchildren from here to wish everyone a very merry Christmas, and told them about the location. We watched Sound of Music together just before we left on this trip, so they could see where we would be!

San Sebastian Cemetery is on this side of the river also, where Mozartís father and wife are buried. We were able to go inside, just 15 minutes before closing and find the graves. They are very punctual with the closing time here. This was also a good time to hike up Kapuzinerberg and to the Capuchin monastery. The views are tremendous from this hill. Steingasse street, just a block in from the river, below this hill, is a very old street from the Middle Ages. We walked this street seeing the house Joseph Mohr, who wrote the words to Silent Night was born. Stairs near here lead up to the Monastery.

A couple of market stalls were still open, although 95% of them were closed. I found one selling more straw ornaments and straw garland rings. He was selling me the 5 foot long garlands for .50 cents each!

Tonight we attended the Mozart dinner concert at Stiftskeller St.Peter. We arrived early and found a wonderfully decorated indoor courtyard, with 1,000ís of tiny white lights. You could buy drinks here. We were told to arrive at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. concert and dinner. The room was beautifully decorated for Christmas also, with a huge Christmas tree. We were randomly seated at a front table set for 10 people. One couple was from Wisconsin, another from Vienna, some women from England, and one man from the U.S. traveling alone. It was a long wait until the program began. Water and Wine were very expensive. Ĺ bottle of wine was €25, water €6 a bottle. The dinner/concert was around €48 each and they charged it to our Credit Card when we made the reservation, long ago.

The concert was excellent. We enjoyed every minute of it. It was performed by candle light with 2 opera singers and 5 musicians. Itís a 3 part program from operas, The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni, and The Marriage of Figaro. The dinner was very poor. The English women complained about each course and sent most of the food back. That was very uncomfortable for the rest of us. Here is the 3 course dinner menu:

A cream soup flavored with lemon, wine and a hint of cinnamon
Roasted Capon (kind of chicken) breast on a bed of polenta with a truffle sage cream sauce, potatoes and vegetables from Father Priorís garden
A semi fredo honey parfait with fruit and sauces

The contact information to book is web: www.skg.co.at
[email protected] [email protected]

Buses again stopped running early this evening, so we took a taxi back to our B&B.

Tomorrow we go to Berchtesgaden and Lake Koniggsee!

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Jan 29th, 2008, 05:04 PM
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Wednesday, December 26 St. Stephenís Day

Another beautiful morning in Austria. Itís to cold to snow, as the saying goes. Thereís been an inch or 2 of snow on the ground, just enough to look beautiful, but no new snow. The fog had lifted and we noticed our B&B has mountains around 2 sides of it, not far off! They werenít visible earlier. We stayed warm wrapping up in several layers. The bright sunshine was wonderful.

This morning we took our bus 21 into the old town, then transferred to bus 840 which goes to Berchtesgaden, Germany. Itís only a 40 minute trip, 12 miles, we sat in the front seat of the bus enjoying the beautiful mountain views on the way.

The bus stops at the train station in Berchtesgaden. We wanted to travel onto Koniggsee lake so we waited a few minutes for bus 839 which went to Schönau. This is only about 10 minutes further down the road. There are a few shops and cafes here and an area where different buses stop. Itís just a short walk from this bus stop to the lake. This area is so gorgeous. We wished we had planned to spend the whole day here. Deciding not to take a boat trip out onto the lake, and to St.Bartholomä, (boat web site http://www.bayerische-seenschifffahrt.de/ ) instead we walked to the left of the lake and found a hiking trail. We didnít come prepared to hike on snow, but several others did. We followed the trail for awhile thinking this was the most beautiful place weíd seen on our trip. You could look down onto the lake and town from the trail. It would be excellent to return here in the summer for hiking. We found another trail closer to the town for more hiking. It was accessed directly across from the bus stop.

I wanted to go to the salt mine in Berchtesgaden so after a time, we returned by bus to the train station. No buses were making the trip back, by the salt mine, so we walked. It was a 25 minute brisk walk. Itís good to have a map of this area so youíre aware of where the salt mine is! There was no line for the tour, so we received our coveralls to put on over our clothes. Then you take a little train, into the mine where you slide down wooden chutes. This was quick and fun! We actually slid down these slides twice on the tour. In addition there is a very short boat ride across an underground lake. You see no salt in the salt mine though! The process of getting the salt will be explained on the tour. If you want to go to the Salt mine before arriving in Berchtesgaden, the stop is from bus 840 about 3 stops before the train station. www.salzwelt.de

Walking back to the train station it was time to climb up and up to the town of Berchtesgaden. Itís high above the train station. Iíd hate to live here and make this climb frequently. The town was very nice, but we didnít have a lot of time to spend in it. Iím sure we missed a lot.

Eagles Nest, Hitlerís retreat is closed in the winter. I had hope to go to the Documentation Center, but the bus schedule wasnít cooperating. The bus schedules can be found on the OEBB Austrian train site.

Back in town we window shopped and just enjoyed the atmosphere. We also spent another 1 Ĺ hrs. at Café Tomaselli. Unfortunately we didnít put any effort into selecting a restaurant for tonight and walked into Spaghetti & Co. The pizza was horrible. Donít make our mistake of eating here.

There is an internet spot by Demelís which is very convenient. We used it almost daily, but itís pricy. Most of the fountainís in the plazas are covered in the winter, so you canít enjoy their beauty. Be sure to ask the TI for a map of Salzburg before you arrive. They were happy to mail a packet of information to us. The map has all the bus routes clearly marked.

We loved Salzburg. Itís a cozy, attractive town. Iím sure weíll return someday, but tomorrow weíre taking the train to Vienna!

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Jan 29th, 2008, 05:30 PM
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Thank you, thank you for your wonderful report! I hope one day to make such a Christmas trip. I love Salzburg and can only imagine how beautiful it must be during Christmas. So glad you enjoyed your trip.
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Jan 30th, 2008, 05:35 AM
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Thanks Lucy, I to hope you can make this trip sometime. We asked our family about us not being here for one Christmas. They agreed we could celebrate at home early! Still, when Christmas Eve arrived our 32 year old daughter missed us terribly.

It's such a beautiful, festive time to be in Austria. We were so fortunate with the weather. There was 1-2" of snow on the ground when we arrived, so the beauty was there, but no more snow fell until New Years Eve in Vienna! You would love it!
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Jan 30th, 2008, 06:08 AM
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Thursday, December 27

Franziska Reichl graciously drove us to the train station for our trip to Vienna. We bought a Einfach-Raus-Ticket from the machine. This was good for the 2 of us and cost just €28. We had to use regional trains though. The tickets prices for the fast train were very high, and we had the time, so decided to use this option. Hereís the schedule we followed, which would discourage many:

Depart Salzburg 9:38 on REX or R 3015
Arrive Linz 12:00 Depart Linz 12:21 for St. Valentin on REX 3615
Arrive St.Valentin 12:41 Depart at 13:21 for Amstetten (A) on R6073
Arrive Amstetten (A) at 13:56 and depart at 14:09 for Wein on REX 1633
Arrive Vienna at 15:55

The trip took 6 hours 17 minutes and used 4 trains. It was easy and we had time for lunch in St. Valentin at the station.

Once we arrived in Vienna we had a few options for the local transportation: (The Vienna Card didnít seem worthwhile at all)

Buy a Die 8 Tage Karte 24€ = The 8 day card is valid for any 8 days, doesnít need to be consecutive days. Itís a rover ticket, which means you can travel all around Vienna. You can use the ticket for several people traveling together Ė punch one strip for each person. 1 day = 2 punches, 1 for each of us. This = 3€ a day for each of us. www.wienplan.com

24-hour season ticket 5.70 Euro Good for 24 hrs. from when you punch it.
72-hour season ticket 13.60 Euro Single ride tickets 1.70 Euro

We stayed at Pension Suzanne for the next 6 nights which is only 1 block from the Opera house. www.pension-suzanne.at We paid €98 for a double room including a full breakfast. We had a safe in our room,CNN & BBC on the TV, which I appreciated since the breaking news was the death of Benazir Bhutto today.

Breakfast started at 7:30 a.m. There was a computer terminal in the office for guests to go online. Our room was very comfortable, great bathroom, but to much heat. We had to open the window at times to cool the room. This pension is located in an apartment building which looks gray and sad, but you just go upstairs to the office and upstairs again to your room, (there is an elevator) which is great! This is one of the most friendly places weíve stayed, and I highly recommend it for the price.

Many hotels were charging more for the days around New Years. Pension Suzanne didnít. We had tickets to the opera house 3 different nights so this location was fantastic!

The Ubahn station Opera, in front of the opera is a huge underground shopping mall. Itís miserable, filthy, smoky, many men just hanging out, a place to avoid. I have no idea why such a beautiful town as Vienna, would have such a horrible metro stop.

Stopping at the ticket office of the Opera, we picked up our tickets for all 3 nights, then went to Café Mozart close to the opera at Albertinaplatz, 2. Itís a beautiful café with crystal chandeliers and good food. www.cafe-wien.at/ We waited about 10 minutes for a table, then enjoyed some yummy apple strudel and a cake which looked wonderful, but tasted awful! Oh well, it was shaped like a round brown ball with spaghetti shaped topping all over the ball. Walking back to the opera I noticed a woman with a full length lavender fur coat. There are many fur coats in Vienna, but this is the first lavender one Iíd ever seen!

Opera tonight was Mozartís Die Zauberflote or the ďMagic FluteĒ. We had good center facing seats and enjoyed it very much. This is the first Opera we've ever attended. I rented a DVD of it to watch before we left, so I'd know the story! I used Vienna Classic to get these seats, which cost me a bit more, but I was very happy with the seats, and I couldnít time it right to get them on my own.

For the other opera and the ballet we saw, I bought tickets on line, 1 month or so before the event. At that time, only mediocre side box seats were available. http://www.staatsoper.at

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