A Travellerspoint blog

Salzburg and Innsbruck

overcast 8 °C
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Well it was good to get out of Munich. Was good to see things that we could get to out of the town but neither of us really thought much of the place itself...

Got the train early on Tuesday and arrived in Salzburg mid morning, the weather was a little damp but nothing that our trusty 2€ umbrellas could't cope with, well for most of the day anyway, umbrella 1 of 4 fell to the cause a little later in the day :(

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We decided against paying 0.7€ for a town map at the train station, betting that if we could get to the main tourist office in town we would then hopefully be able to grab one for nothing, great success! we found our way to the office just as we'd hoped without a map and picked the same map we had just been quoted 0.7€ for, for free. Wasn't much in the way of information at the information centre, and as we didn't want to book a ticket to a sound of music rip off later on that night we wandered out into the Altstadt and into a labrynth of alleyways and small streets. Battling against the continual waves of tour groups following flags, sunflowers, pink umbrellas and anything else that made the tour leader stand out, we found our way to the first nice cup of coffee since leaving New Zealand :) not exactly cheap at 2€ but not too bad...

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We then headed back toward St Peters Kirche (Church) and headed inside, this place is awesome, its a Baroque basilica built in 806AD, thats quite old :) Beside it was one of the oldest restaurants in this part of the world, its connected to the church in a big sort of monastry building. (We knew these dates as we were pointed in the right direction by a helpful American man that saw us looking at the map in the rain and came up and had a chat. It seems that the Kiwi accent makes a bit of a difference as well, they always want to know where we are from and about New Zealand. All New Zealanders overseas seem to be unofficial tourism ambassadors, as we have been quized no less than 4 times in the last few days about where to go, what to do, how long to spend and when to do it...) Anyway back to what the church looked like, inside was all gilded in gold, try saying that 10 times fast. There were huge frescos everywhere and the most intricate carvings in every other space. Pretty cool.

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Outside was a little graveyard fitted in between the church and the cliff, in the cliff was a small catacomb that was chipped out by monks apparently. Had a look in there and took some pretty cool pictures :)

Headed out and towards the funincular railway that takes people up to the Festung Hohensalzburg, this is a huge castle complex that was built over a long period of time by successions of Arch Bishops of the Salzburg Bishoporific (sic). Being on a tight budget we decided to forgo the train and started the walk up, luckily it wasn't too far and we had arrived before too long. Looked around the museums that they had set up (cost 7€ to enter the castle, this covered everything we did). Was pretty strange looking at a museum with old Axis fighting uniforms and weapons, saw panzerfausts and other heavy artillery as well. We also had a look around the Court Chambers which were really lavishly decorated with blue velvet with gold studs, this continued all over the roof which represented the stars in the sky... There were crests of other allies of the Salzburg arch diocesse.

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Just before leaving went on an audio tour of a section of the castle, this was the only way to head up the tower, and also found about the history of the castle. We also went through the prison cell that they had set up, not the most inviting of places, heaps of shackles on the walls and a big wheel that they used to drop on prisoners limbs to smash the bones, then they would strap the prisoner to the wheel and leave them there to die...

Caught the train to Innsbruck at 4:30 and arrived at 6:30, spread out on the beds and then another New Zealander with her boyfriend from the UK arrived. Was pretty funny cause a little later on she said as they were coming up the stairs they heard american voices (next dorm room) and were hoping that they wern't in that room (see munich entry), when she said hi to Jo and recognised the accent she was very relieved :)

Went down the street to a little cafe and had spag bol for dinner with Chris and Jo, yip that was her name too :). Had quite a few beers and headed back to the hostel latter than intended :)

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Next day in Innsbruck was a little slow, the weather meant that we couldn't see the mountains and didn't really want to pay to stand in the clouds. Went and saw a bell factory that had a museum attached, was alright but not worth the 4€ they charged... Oh well. We got the laundry done on the way back, just so happened that the local ethnic (maybe slovenian or hungarian) gang seemed to be doing their washing that day. We hung out for the 30mins we had to all the while getting rather odd stares, grabbed the washing as soon as it was reasonably dry and boosted back towards busier streets :) Went and had dinner down the road from the hostel at another little cafe type place then called it a night.

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Posted by timnz 12:56 Archived in Austria Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Munich

rain 8 °C
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Arrived in Munich really early on Sunday morning (6:20am...) every other sensible person was still asleep so after staggering past some homeless people packing up their newspapers and groups of punks cracking their first beer of the day we sat down in the only seats available, the waiting room. The night train from Dresden was pretty average, didn't really get any useful sleep and climbed off the train with cramps in pretty much every muscle. Next time we will pay for a couchette and at least get to lay down on something that is flat :) After sitting in the barren waiting room we shifted to Starbucks for a forgettable cup of coffee (at this stage places that make a real cup of coffee seem to be few and far between in all the countries we have been to... most of the 'cafes' make their 'espressos' and 'cappuccinos' with instant coffee from one of those coffee vending machines that we have in places like petrol stations :x )

We went to the Euraid office and managed to make reservations for all of our train rides throughout Europe. Now we have a big wad of train tickets that mean we won't be kicked out of a seat. We then whipped over to the train that was headed for Garmiche Patenkirchen which is the picture postcard alpine village that is at the foot of the Zugspitze (Germany's highest mountain) and is where the Winter Olympics were held in 1930.

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After a wander around town looking for anywhere that had some sort of information that told us where to go for the ride to the top of the mountain (2962m) we managed to find the tourist office with the girl behind the counter dressed in traditional Bavarian costume (as were random people around town), she pointed us in the direction of the station for the funincular train up the mountain and let us know it was leaving in a few minutes. After paying the hefty ticket price of 47€ each (typical tourist towns :( ) we hopped aboard for the ride to the top.

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The area was really beautiful with all the half timbered houses and barns for the cattle scattered all around the valley floor. The train heads through a tunnel for about 15mins and then drops you off at a transition point to climb aboard a cable car to the summit. It was at this point that we realised that everybody else was wearing hiking boots, trousers, jackets and hats etc... oh well its summer isn't it and whats wrong with wandering over snow and rocks in shorts, t shirt and jandels at 3000m? Did get a few strange looks and laughs though :)

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Ordered something for lunch, we knew what the beer was, but the other part was a lucky :) turned out well though and enjoyed a soup with some still unknown dumpling kind of thing bobbing around in it, could well have been liver... and it tasted delicious :)

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Hopped aboard another cable car that seemed to go down vertically for the ride back down, this cable car went right down to the valley floor so was a longer ride than the one onto the summit. Arrived back in Garmich Patenkirchen just in time to grab the train back to Munich.

Today (Monday) we got up and hopped aboard another train, this time heading to Dachau... yip heading for the concentration camp. Arrived in the town and caught a bus that we were 50% certain was the right one, it was, and we arrived at the camp itself. Wandered around the camp, looked at the barracks that the prisoners were supposed to live in. Saw the crematoria, this building is disturbing in how calculated the design was, imagine a long building with four 'ovens' in the middle section. Now on one end there is the 'waiting room' were prisoners were placed to wait for their 'shower'. A door opens across to the 'shower' room, there are fake shower heads so that prisoners didn't panic and refuse to enter. There are flaps so poison gas pellets could be added from outside, also there is a big ventilator duct that blows warm air in, it makes the gas get produced faster... Now another door opens to another bare room, this is where bodies from the 'shower' room were to be shifted to before the next group were ushered into the showers, and also where the bodies would wait until the backlog could be cleared in the central room the crematoria itself. On the other side of the crematoria was another room which was used to hold the backlog of bodies from the firing range, and other killings around the camp. How any human being could inflict such calculated, cold blooded killing on others is impossible to comprehend. Dachau was the 'model' camp which all others were based upon. SS members who had trained at Dachau were placed in positions of authority at as many other camps as possible to spread the 'Dachau Spirit', a hatred of the prisoners with no mercy or remorse. Almost unbelievable. The weather was suitably fitting for being in such a chilling place, the temperature has swung from being in the high 20's to about 8 degrees and drizzling rain with it.

Heading for Salzburg tomorrow, can't wait to get back into the mountains just there for the day before moving on to Innsbruck for a couple of nights. Hopefully there will be less Americans that have just graduated from 'college' and tell each other about how they are having the 'oh my gosh, the time of my life' at 3 in the morning while climbing into bed in a room with 38 other people trying to sleep. Some of the hostels we have been at are full of these people that spend 4 nights in a city, when we ask them what they have been up to we find out that we have already seen all that they have, and we've only been there for the afternoon. At least we find out where the most tourist packed beer halls are and we know which to avoid :) .

Munich was a bit of a let down on what we've read about it, pretty much its full of tourists from everywhere who are here to drink beer, the thing is thats all thats here, true there are some old buildings and a big park, but the old buildings aren't as nice as those we've seen in Dresden and the Tiergarten in Berlin was a beautiful park...

Tschuss from Munich :)

Posted by timnz 10:33 Archived in Germany Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Dresden

semi-overcast 28 °C
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Left Berlin on Friday morning, the weather here is super hot. The train down to Dresden was completely full (only worked out after wards that was the Friday of a long weekend...) Managed to get seats on the train, there were others that spent the whole trip walking up and down the train trying to find a seat :)

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Arrived at Dresden Neustadt Bahnhof and wandered outside to blazing sun. After a few technical difficulties, ie Einbahnstrasse means one-way street and isn't the street name... we managed to find our way to the hostel. Dropped our bags and headed back towards town with a map this time. Dropped past the station for a beer to accompany our map reading and decided to head for the altstadt (old town). Wandered down through a street market and crossed Augustusbrucke (a bridge) and entered the altstadt.

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This place is amazing, the buildings are so decorative, Germany must have so many stone people! Headed back towards the hostel after planning what to do the next day over a currywurste and another beer at one of the Imbiss at the market.

(Germany has heaps of these street stalls called Imbiss which serve various sorts of wurste (sausage) and always have beer available. It isn't unusual to see people having a beer mid morning :))

Saturday we had all day to spend in Dresden, we left our packs in a locker at the Neustadt Bahnhof and walked back to the altstadt. We bought a day pass to the museums and checked them out. Saw a whole bunch of paintings by the old masters and also Dresdens crown jewels. Also went into a museum that had heaps of swords, suits of armour and old guns made out of ivory and stuff. Amazing how decorative all these things are...

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About lunch time heard huge claps of thunder and it started pouring, cool thunder storm soaked absolutely everything except for us 'cause we'd put our newly aquired umbrellas in our daypack :) even so we did shelter for a while in the Dom (cathedral) This the cathedral that was almost entirely obliterated by the allies during the second world war and has now been completely rebuilt (as has a lot of the altstadt)

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Guten Abend

Posted by timnz 11:19 Archived in Germany Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Berlin

sunny 26 °C
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We arrived in Berlin last night, Andreas meet us at the airport and that meant we got back to our hostel without any problems :) Managed to get a hostel for tonight as well. (only discovered we'd booked our Berlin hostel for June instead of May yesterday morning...). Went and had a beer on the Oranienburger Strasse when we arrived which was really good, the beer tastes so good here :)

Bought our gear over to our new hostel this morning and then hired a couple of bikes to whip round town quickly. Theres cycle lanes everywhere and on the busy streets the cycle lane is a lane of different coloured cobbles on the footpath, feels really safe riding round.

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Went for a ride over to the Hauptbahnhof (Main train station) and validated our Eurail tickets and reserved tickets for all our night train connections. First station we went too the Frau behind the counter didn't speak a word of English and wasn't too interested in helping us, so we left :) At the main station they had a designated English counter which was a whole lot easier... and the guy actually wanted to help us :)

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Had lunch in the Tiergarten which was beautiful and so peaceful compared to the streets, then we came back to the hostel and had a snooze for a couple of hours, was much easier making the beds in the light as well (had quite a battle putting a duvet into a duvet cover in the pitch black last night, whilst trying not to wake up the others in the room)

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Just got back from visiting the Reichstag, and climbing up the glass dome. From there you can look down into the area where the German parliament sits, also get a really great view over the city up there. We were lucky 'cause the sun was just setting as we were arriving at the top.

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Off to Dresden tomorrow, the train leaves every two hours so we shouldn't have to spend too long wandering around with full packs and nowhere to leave them.

P.S. Did you know that Berlin has over 50 McDonalds outlets? No we didn't either until a massive sign let us in on the secret :)

Tschuss

Posted by timnz 22:35 Archived in Germany Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Nottingham

semi-overcast 18 °C
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We've been in the UK a few days now, the body clock seems to have swung around and not tired in they middle of the day now :) Just got back to Nottingham after having the day in London.
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We've been up to Sherwood Forest to visit Robin Hood, and into the Derbyshire countryside. We went up to the dams that provide all the water for the midlands, really beautiful rolling green hills with tiny villages scattered everywhere.
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Not sure what it is about the grass and trees here but everything seems to be such a vivid green, and everything is green :) London was really good, got bank account sorted and picked up my suit, fits really well. Anyway better go, being antisocial sitting here typing out the back ;) We'll put some photos up of London in the next day or two. See ya

Posted by timnz 14:27 Archived in England Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Leaving Hong Kong


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We're sitting in the departure lounge at Hong Kong airport at the moment, this place is absolutely massive. The eggs at burger king are a funny colour of yellow, they tasted pretty good though :)
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Went and saw the 'Symphony of Lights' at the Victoria Harbour waterfront last night, was amazing, so many buildings with crazy flashing, twirling, spinning lights in all different colours. There must be a power bill to match the size of some of those buildings.
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Wandered around after the light show trying to find the night market, finally hoped on the subway and asked which station to get off at. Jo got herself a pair of 'Gucci' sunnys, $10NZD hmmm. I got a pair of binoculars for the same price after bringing the price down from $20NZD. Went and had a beer at probably the most interesting establishment we could find, was an alley way with a sagging tarp for a roof, decrepit tables and a crazy bar man always yelling and laughing at his cook. Ended up getting given two 640ml Tiger bottles for $5NZD total. Sat there having a drink watching the antics of the barman with other customers and the rats running up and down the alley. Good times :)

Any way, off to wander round a bit 'cause not looking forward to sitting down for the next 13 hours :( Talk to you all from the UK

Posted by timnz 17:13 Comments (0)

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