Things I love, Salzburg

During the long Easter weekend this year, Mr.A and I took off to Austria’s most popular destinations, Vienna & Salzburg. Remember I told you about those innumerable Easter eggs in Vienna? It was on the same trip, that we also dropped by Salzburg. I instantly fell in love with this city, spending our time walking around its diminutive Old Town, relaxed and care-free. Some things of course, stood out a little more than others…

# Love locks across the Salzach

Among the very first things one notices as they cross the river Salzach into the Old Town, is the Makartsteg bridge, almost every inch of which is covered in love locks. Perhaps it was intentional, but somehow the majority of the locks turned out to be red, giving it an utterly synchronous look. It’s impossible not to click a hundred pics, it’s so damn cute!

# Street signs on Getreidegasse

It’s hard to miss the ornate guild signs that announce the stores along Getreidegasse, the main street in the Old Town. Everything is available here, from food to fashion to trinkets to souvenirs, each shop bearing proof of its trade in the form of wrought iron signs. The beginning of this tradition was in the middle ages, but today even the McDonalds outlets and Zara boutiques on this street have their own medieval emblems. Incidentally, this street also boasts of Mozart’s childhood home where the artist first revealed his prodigy. How fascinating!

# Mozart’s church a.k.a. Salzburg Cathedral

Going by the number of spires and domes, one can easily guess that the city, especially the Old Town has an abundance of churches. I was obviously impressed by them, but I was particularly taken by the Salzburg Cathedral which is intricately painted ceiling in earthy tones against a white backdrop. Here Mozart played at Sunday service for two years. There are four strategically placed organs that transform the church into a concert hall. Sunday service is open to everyone to enjoy some brilliant music. From the outside, too, the cathedral is quite imposing and beautiful. The main facade opens into the spacious Cathedral Square, the centrepiece of which is a serene statue of Virgin Mary. Though damaged by a bomb during WWII, the reconstruction stands grander than ever.

# St. Peter’s cemetery

St. Peter’s cemetery and monastery opens up to visitors through a modest passageway, but as soon as I entered, it felt as though I were in a Secret Garden world. The cemetery is a cluster of tombs surrounded by pretty flower patches. It is overlooked by the cliffs of the Mönchsberg upon which looms the Hohensalzburg Fortress. Burial space in Austria is rented out, not sold, hence several headstones have ended up on the walls when the rented ceased to be paid.  A walk around this serene resting place for bygone souls can be a moving experience.

# Views from the Hohensalzburg Fortress

A short funicular ride up the Mönchsberg will bring you to the Hohensalzburg Fortress. The ticket includes the funicular ride and entry to a couple of museums housed within the fortress and allows you to walk around the fortress at your own pace. The best part for me though, were the wide views offered at the top of the watch tower. We could enjoy a 360 degree look at the rolling landscape around us. It was a rainy day, every green thing appeared extra lush and vibrant! A couple of other vantage points along the fortress wall also dole out grand sights far & wide, over the spires and rooftops through the city, all the way across the river and as far as the mountains in the distance. So, so very beautiful…

Have you been to Salzburg? What did you love best?

The (Easter) egg came first / Vienna’s Easter Markets

I haven’t seen as many eggs within the span of two days as I did at the Easter markets in Vienna last weekend. Mr.A and I were in the beautiful Austrian capital, walking around town, hopping on and off the trams, and strolling in and out of its many cozy markets showcasing local crafts and delicacies, among plump fluffy rabbits, cocky roosters and an immense collection of gorgeously decorated eggs. By the end of it we’d seen eggs made of wood, wax and glass, eggs small enough to hold in ones palm to those towering high above my height, eggs dipped in mild vegetable dyes to those bedecked in gilded pearls, dainty crochet jackets or mini oil paintings, and honestly, every other kind of Easter egg in between!

Travel checklist : 2016

2016 was a year of adventures, big and small. Early last year, Mr.A and I prepared a 2016 Travel Wishlist. And we went though quite a bit of it, of course, missing some here & there, but adding a few more in the end. By the end of it, I had ticked off 9 totally new countries! Whoa, I’m so lucky!! So, continuing on the tradition set down by my Travel checklist: 2015, here’s the lineup from 2016…

#1 Germany : Around my birthday in February, we visited Berlin, a city rife with such poignant history, yet so contemporary at the same time. It was an eye-opener, trying to imagine what the city might have gone through during those war-torn years.

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#2 Czech Republic : In spring, it was time for beautiful Prague, together with our friends N&G. The city of a hundred spires was as intriguing as we had expected. Like Berlin, here too, we experienced some heartrending snippets of history.

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#3 Croatia : May brought in a terrific week of road-trips, when we travelled through the length of Croatia, from Dubrovnik to Zagreb. We visited several cities and witnessed amazing geography, enjoyed traditional food and met some really nice people along the way.

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#4 Estonia : Around midsummer, we took an overnight cruise to Tallinn, to see its charming old town and relax at a spa hotel. Mr.A’s little sis joined us on this fun trip.

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#5 Latvia : A mere 4-hour bus ride from Tallinn brought us to Riga, another really winsome town with its many spires, squares, parks and cafes.

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#6 Iceland : In fall came our epic road-trip around Iceland with our friends S&S, one of our most awe-inspiring trips ever. To say that the landscape is stunning, is a gross understatement. Every step of the way was a revelation in beauty and wonder.

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#7 Switzerland :  In September, Mr.A and I took my parents on a trip to Switzerland, the enchanting land of endless green fields, glorious mountains and postcard villages.

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#8 United Kingdom : And then there was a bonus office trip to London. Though it was short & snappy, I got a chance to see a couple of prime spots and became even more excited about returning to this groovy city.

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#9 Hungary :  In November, keeping up with an unsaid tradition of ours, we celebrated Mr.A’s birthday in Budapest. We were charmed by this city of bridges, and felt knowledgable while comparing it to its almost-twin, Prague.

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#10 India : And finally in December we spent time in India to connect with our beloved friends and family. I know this is cheating, ’cause I am from India, so this is not a new visit, but I just couldn’t resist the fun of getting down to a square ten-pointer 😉

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How was your year in travel? Keep going!!

Weekly Photo Challenge : Repurpose

 

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Kerið, crater repurposed to lake

Iceland, being located where it is, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, is fairly high in geological & seismic activity. As such, there are several craters left over by numerous volcanic eruptions all over the island. Nature has decided to repurpose some of these into water basins called crater lakes, that is a lake formed when water collects in a volcanic crater or caldera.

On our road-trip around Iceland last autumn, we got to see several such crater lakes, one of them being Kerið (pronounced Kerid or Kerith). The small and serene lake calmly sits between slopes that now run partly green in the warmer months. One can stroll around the rim to take a look at it from every angle, and also walk down to the edge of the water. The caldera itself is relatively young, only about 3000 years old. Researchers have discovered that there was possibly no eruption in this case – the cone volcano ran down its magma and the crater collapsed inwards. The water is from the water table, as opposed to precipitation like rain or melting ice. A trip to Iceland is definitely a revision course in geography & geology, something I enjoyed thoroughly back in school. So don’t be surprised if I start breaking into a ramble here 😉 What can I see, it’s as much a treat for the mind as it is for the eyes!

How to get there : Drive yourself or get together with a tour group. Kerið falls along the Golden Circle, a popular tourist route that starts at Reykjavik.

How far is it : From Reykjavik, it is about 62km, which should take you 40mins to an hour.

How much does it cost: With an entrance fee of 400ISK (as of November 2016), which comes to about €3, this is one of the cheaper attractions in Iceland.

If you are planning a trip to Iceland and have any questions regarding planning, just give me a shout-out & I’ll be more than happy to share my tips and stories 🙂

Click away for more stories from the Weekly Photo Challenge!