To the history buffs out there, we are just past the Eagles’ Nest having done a 20 minute drive from Salzburg (arriving back in Germany 4 minutes later) and camped out at the most amazing campsite – but I’m getting ahead of myself…
Firstly, in the interests of fairness and not aiming to offend any particular nationality I’ve tried to be even-handed. So it is with no particular malice that I note that Austria is the place to which Germans without a sense of humour are exiled. Of course that excludes the Schwartz’s!! It’s been a long time since the person behind the till greets you and your order with ‘Ja?` Nevertheless, a great morning spent at Austria’s premier tourist venue, the Festung Hohensalzburg. And quite spectacular it was too, in good tourist-type condition, audio-tour provided with the entrance ticket, and lots of non-smiling guides preventing you from wandering off their beaten track.
The morning started with Niki, having set her Google Maps setting to ‘Athletic’, completely missed the great funicular trip from the Dom (Cathedral) to the top of the fortress. Instead we huffed and puffed up a winding path. All that was missing were the kids doing an ‘are we there yet’ kind of whine. Layers were removed until the daypack was filled to overflowing and finally we arrived to a gorgeous view over the old town. Quick point: the last section of the path must be a 30% incline.
We remember that salt really was white gold, and life, in high densities, was simply not possible without it. The fortress suitably encapsulates the sense of wealth, power and, yes, the oppression it brings with it. My heart always goes out to the doomed Peasant Rebellions!
We followed that with a walk through the Cathedral – well worth the visit (and, Norway, filled with interesting things and FREE). The original church was built in 774, rebuilt in 1181, and then again in its Baroque glory in the 17th C. The baptismal font used For Mozart’s baptism is still there. Walking through the crypt was equally interesting as you can see parts of previous churches – and recognise how the current edifice has overgrown its past. The original church is now smaller than the nave, for example
A walk through the small, but well-preserved old town led us to a bar and lunch, before heading back to the van. Some shops just proved to be really interesting: This shop sold dirndl and lederhosen. I was reminded on Niki’s dad telling me a story from his school days in Port Elizabeth, when he was caned, but wearing his lederhosen, was the envy of all boys undergoing similar punishment (seriously, let’s name it for what it was, abusive torture).
Around the corner, a bespoke knife maker. Now I don’t really like jewellery, but watches and knives are what I find beautiful – and this was simply stunning. I was quite speechless, and had a little quiver when picking up one of the mid-range knives (€6000). Top of the range knives were €18000 each. You can, of course, get a complete kitchen set …
And where would we be without the cuckoo clock!!! And tin cars!!
We had planned on a camperstop for around €8 overnight. A slow ascent up a 14% incline, and narrow turns that just took the van, got us to a …CLOSED sign. Ah well, the joys of winter camping in Europe – no crowds, but also no facilities. Or..
On the road again and 5 minutes later we turn into a 5 star campsite overlooking stunning valleys and snow covered peaks. In fact, the campsite itself is pretty snow covered. For €12 we now have: Electricity, fresh water, heated outside pool looking off into the Alps, a stone throw (literally) away, TWO saunas, wellness rooms, fantastic restaurant, unbelievably good ablutions (the shower is about half the size of our van – that is, each individual cubicle!). The underfloor heating is on, all our electrical goodies are charging, rain is pattering down (soon to turn to snow?) and it’s only snacks for dinner, having filled up at lunch. Not a bad day, all in all!