Sunday, July 26, 2009

Star Crossed Lovers in Salzburg

If ever, the last few days really demonstrated how artificial borders are - no more than lines on a map. The scenery could be Swiss, Bavarian or alpine French, there are so many pizzerias we could be in Italy, which is only a stone's throw away too! But none of this is really surprising. This central part of Europe is so compact. And how small a world is it really? Well, parked in the lot downstairs is a bus from Lorch in Germany - only 5 minutes from where Steph and Felix live!

And so this morning we waken up in Salzburg. The African celebrations finished about 1:30 am but then the rowdy young things staying here who had been in to the pubs and clubs came back around 3 am and sat in the courtyard below our window, partying on! So I could have done with some more sleep, but, what the heck, how often do you find yourself in a place that is described as one of the loveliest places in Europe!

I had wanted to do the Sound of Music Tour (well, I am not a Maria for nothing!), but I'm not up to a 15 minute dash to get ready and downstairs, so I crawl into the shower to wake up before we head down for breakfast. Michael doesn't even make the shower before breakfast this morning. Brekky had the addition of scrambled eggs today - a nice change. The tour can wait until tomorrow. But no matter what we do today, I will make sure that we are back here in time for me to catch the nightly playing of the movie at 8 pm.

Famous last words those! Ended up chilling out this morning, chatting to family and friends including making a new one near home in Scrabble (hi SMF!). Also sorted out some accommodation for when Hels and I are in PARIS!!! We are staying within a spit of, and the view of the EIFFEL TOWER!!!! AND I booked my train ticket from the Western Front town of Bethune into Paris.

Michael walked into the Old City for a stroll - within a kilometre of here. He was blown away by the architecture and the compactness of it all - and still I say, wait til he gets to Prague! High above the town the Fortress dominates the city - and it is visible in almost every vista. There are stunning buildings, fountains that would rival many in the major Roman cities, public art in the centre of it all that while huge and loud, cannot dominate the space in which it sits. There are churches and administrative buildings and museums and a funicular railway up to the fortress and even a waterwheel that generates electricity. And the locals, in an effort to ignore the tourists that stream into their space at this time of the year, play chess near the main square!

And as the day passes, the changing light provides more and more opportunities for great photos. As the sun finally nods out for the day, the view of the rising moon over the background of mountains about 8 pm from our bedroom window is stunning - even with the gantry of the crane cutting into the view! The air is so crisp and clean - no pollution to mar the evening sky.
And, still not yet fully dark, we head into the City for dinner.

We had not booked anything - in fact, being a Sunday, we were just hoping that there would still be somewhere open to get a meal. It is now pushing 9 pm! But we need not have worried! Last night, the Siemens Festspielnaechte began. It continues through to August 16. We parked the car in one of the few paid carparks with spaces available near to the city centre and wander the streets until we reach Kapitelplatz. As we get near, our senses are accosted - sights, sounds, smells. There is a huge screen set up in the centre of the square, operatic music is playing and someone is cooking - good food! Ahh - turns out this is the place to be!!

Tonight there is a production of Romeo and Juliet being broadcast on a huge screen. Facing it are chairs on a podium - there must have been at least 1,000 and you can count the empty ones on one hand. But that is only one part of the event.

A temporary restaurant has been set up with seating for 300 people. Most of the tables have their seating only facing the screen. And we are just in time - the performance begins at 9:15 pm, just as the twilight is beginning to deepen. The setting is amazing - the fortress towers over us, lit from the church in the plaza with powerful lights casting their glow hundreds of metres through the open night. To watch the colours change as the night deepens is almost mesmerizing!

The restaurant is being operated by the Imlauer Catering Service (part of the Mecure Hotel chain). This is no mickey mouse little affair, but rather, an a la cart full white linen and jacketed waiters job! So just as the opening titles are rolling we are ordering dinner. Grand choices that are hard to chose between, but time is short so the choices are made quickly from the English version menu:
'Caesar' Salad with parmesan, bread crumbs (their description) and roasted breast of chicken (Michael)
Potato Cream Soup with chantrelles (Maria)
Salmon Trout Fillet (Michael)
Pork fillets on a skewer 'Jederman' (Maria)
Both were served with salad, herb butter, baked potato with sour cream sauce, corn cob and grilled tomato
Pancake with Ice Cream with roasted almond slivers and chocolate sauce (Michael)
Variation of Chocolate mousse served with Berries ragout (Maria)
The food was fabulous, the service stupendous and the setting sublime! It seemed a bit surreal to be listening to the dialogue to the Opera in Italian and seeing the sub-titles in German! But the story is universal and doesn't change. The production was very well done and the crowd very appreciative, clapping in time with the recorded clapping of the audience during the filming! The toilets were on the other side of the platz, the ladies wash basins swamped with fresh roses, but the price at €1 a visit was a little steep (that is $A2!). After a second trip, we decided to call it a night about half an hour before the end and headed back to the hostel for bed at the end of the day.

But there was to be little sleep - a school group has come in today. They all went out this evening and arrive back around 11 pm. And if I ever catch the b***** boys (chasing the) or squealing girls (until 3am), I'll leave their bottoms black and blue AND I DON'T CARE HOW OLD THEY MIGHT BE!

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