Sunday, 2 March 2008

Salzburg Day 3 - The weather forbids

I’ve learnt that the bad weather I experienced in Salzburg these couple of days is also affecting the other European city, particularly Germany (in Munich and Frankfurt). And I was told that a tour bus carrying Japanese tourists over turned on its way to the airport in Munich.

I was full of anticipation this morning as I thought I was finally going up Fortress Hohensalzburg. This was where I wanted to go before I even arrived in Salzburg. But as I reached the funicular station (for a ride up to the Fortress), I saw a notice saying that the funicular service was suspended due to the weather conditions. Even the footpath to walk up to the fortress was blocked.

This is really one of those things that can dampen my spirits in a trip. Over dressed and under fed, I was walking silly around Residenz Platz, wondering how I should kill my time for the rest of the day.

But museum hopping can be fun too. Salzburg Museum, Modern Art Museum, Wax Museum and the Festival Hall were some of those places I went today.

(1) Salzburg Museum

Has a collection of paintings of Salzburg city and important people in history. Good stuff, really fascinating. It has also a section with old photographs of Salzburg, which has inspired me on the theme of my next photo album.

Nice painting

(2) Festspielhaus (Festival Hall Complex)

The Festpielhaus will come alive during the Salzburg festival in summer (July). It has 3 theatres, with the oldest one dated back to the 17th century.

The newest addition, the House for Mozart, opened only in 2006, in conjunction with the 250 years anniversary of Mr Mozart. The acoustic in there is great. The walls are made of special plaster-marble mix that will not allow a decibel of sound to escape. So are the wood used for the benches. Specially built for best enjoyment of Mozart’s operas.

The Great Festival Hall opens in 1960. Look how it was built, leaning against the mountain rock (the "wall" right at the end is actually on the rock of Monchsberg mountain).

The Felsenreitschule is an open air theatre (with a retractable roof) built in the 17th century. It is completely deserted now and the stage is covered with white plastic to protect it from the rain (tour guide says it rains more than London here in Salzburg)

For this year’s opening of the Salzburg Festival, Romeo and Julia will be playing in this theatre. Wow!

(3) Café Tomaselli

When the Turks invaded Austria in the 18th century, they introduced coffee beans to this country. It was the best thing that came out of the invasion, as I was told.

Café Tomaselli opens in 1705 and is run by the Tomaselli family ever since. As I was enjoying my coffee and cake, an elderly man with German accent asked if he could share the table with me. Of course, I said, though I was wondering when the table sharing culture in hawker centre has been introduced to Europe.

It was awkward in the beginning as my eyes met the stranger’s uncomfortably. I started out clumsily with a casual conversation, asking if this is a popular café in Salzburg (of course it is, I read it from the guidebook haha!) Indeed, operating for over 300 years, the Tomaselli family must have been doing something very right.

It turned out that this old gentleman from Germany was a wonderful company for the afternoon. Strangely, we have a few things in common. He works in a Swiss bank doing finance (so am I though not in a bank), love travelling on trains (needless to say, trains are my favourites… Trans Siberia, Lhasa Express are some of my track records) and been to Singapore once but just at the airport (I have been to Germany once, but just at Frankfurt airport). Is this coincidence or fate?

We hit it off really well and I got carried away talking about my Trans Siberia trip. The old gentleman mentioned that this was “in his radar”. I certainly hope he can fulfill his wish soon…. how about this summer?

He ended up buying me the coffee. Oh how can I refuse? And thanks to him, I was introduced to Mrs Tomaselli and shake hands with her!

Mélange (coffee with whipped cream) and Mozart Torte (this is Salzburg as I was told by the waitress).

(4) Mozart Platz

It was 6pm again. I sat on a bench in Mozart Platz, over looking the statue of the great composer and listening to the symphony of church bells.

Today is my final day in Salzburg. Although it has only been a short 3 day stay, I felt like I have travelled in a time machine and was taken to 300 years ago and then back. Salzburg city is full of old town charm. It is so easy to spot something that is more than a century old. Just look up at any building, it can easily be one built in, say 1553. Not surprising since the old town existed since A.D.700 and the “new town” since A.D.1200.

Mozart left a legacy to the world, probably far greater than he could ever imagined. What would he have done differently if he knew he was composing for eternity?

Tomorrow, I will move on to another city, just like the journey of my life will continue as I search for its true meaning.

Next stop, Vienna!

* * Mishap #4 – Fortress Hohensalzburg closed

Can it be worse? So near yet so far.

Maybe this is a way to give myself an excuse to come back here some day. Attending an opera during the Salzburg Festival is a dream of mine for the longest time but, I have not been able to do it this time. Yet I am mindful about making promises to return because it usually does not happen. And when all these are over, the wonderful Salzburg experiences will become pages of memories, be read and re-read then tucked away into a corner of a bookshelf. So what is there left to regret?

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