We arrived in Salzburg around 2pm and found our apartment easily. After unpacking we walked to a supermarket, more correctly a mini-market with next to no meat selection. I do miss the fantastic range of meats in New Zealand supermarkets. After dinner we walked down to the old city, only about 20 minutes away except in our case my directions were a little off so it took us longer. It was nice to see the city lit up at night. It was full of activity because October 6this Austria’s night of the museum.

The next day, Sunday, we slept in and had a relaxing day at home except later in the afternoon when the rain stopped we walked to another supermarket for a slightly more successful shop. Although Monday was a lovely sunny day we needed to spend some time at home doing school and catching up our blogs. Tuesday it rained solidly so we also stayed home but on Wednesday we began an intense sightseeing period as we purchased a 48-hour Salzburg Card. Prior to the official start of our 48-hours we visited the Catacombs, motivated by the story in 39 Clues where Dan and Amy (the characters in the book) find themselves hunting through a Catacomb in Paris, we were eager to see what these looked like. Well, this is Salzburg not Paris and the Catacombs are little more than two rooms in a cave with one empty coffin-like stone structure. What did you really expect for just 5 euros?

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When we came out of the Catacombs it was still raining. We walked back to Mozart’s birthplace and early-life home and attempted to buy our Salzburg Cards but were told we had to go to the shop down the road to buy them, which we did, but then their credit card facility was down so we had to go to the bank down the road from them. Eventually we were back at Mozart’s birthplace ready to be educated on Mozart and what it was like for him to grow up so talented. I recall vague bits of musical history in relation to Mozart that my mother taught me when I learnt music as a kid so it was a buzz to be in Mozart’s house and to see instruments he had used and music sheets he had written. However, as far as a museum goes it was rather sterile and stiff with paintings or cabinet displays and written text to explain what you were looking at. If you were mad on Mozart then you would enjoy it; otherwise you would wonder what the fuss was about. The museum lacked a floor plan detailing at the start what there was to see so you never quite knew if there was anything more around the corner. As it happened I think we missed one section of the museum which probably contained the stuff I had hoped to see.

Nonetheless, Mozart was a very important character and influential composer of the Classical era. He lived between 1756 and 1791 which is about the time of the first part of the industrial revolution. Incidentally it was also around this time, 1769, when Captain James Cook reached New Zealand. As a child of just five he was already performing, playing the keyboard and violin. Although he only lived 35 years he wrote 600 works of music including 68 symphonies, 27 piano concertos, violin concertos, string quartets, operas and other works. I think the best part of the museum was being able to select musical scores on a computer and have it played while you watched a pointer show you where you were in the music. I enjoyed listening and reading the music as it went along.

After visiting the museum at Mozart’s birthplace we rushed on to where Mozart lived from 1773 to 1780. This museum had an audio-guide which made it a little more interesting than the museum at his birthplace. It had a large hall-like room containing several pianos that belonged to Mozart. I think there were only about five rooms to walk through so it was a pretty small museum. Time was moving on so we had to get going back to the other side of the river to the landing where we were to go on a boat tour.

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I was getting a bit tired of the rain by this stage so it was relaxing to sit on the boat as it drove up the river. The tour which was marketed as “Seeing Salzburg from a different view” however the view was lacking as you mainly see the river banks not the city. Makes you appreciate the tour we did down the River Thames in London which has so much to look at you got dizzy turning your head around!

To end our underwhelming sightseeing day we walked, still in the rain, to the Monchsberglift to catch the lift up the cliff to see the panorama views of Salzburg. The views would be magnificent in the sun but today the clouds were not doing us a favour. Still the view was worth the effort:

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It was the plan also to race around the Modern Art Museum but alas it was closed until 20 October while they changed things around. O well, back down the lift and out in the rain again. Once over the bridge we ran a little to catch a bus that I knew would stop outside our apartment but then it got stuck in traffic so long that it would have been quicker to walk! The next day was going to be better than this!

On Thursday we headed to the Museum of Natural History and Technology. We stayed together for the first few hours and looked through an excellent Robotics display and then the Sound exhibition which mainly consisted of hands-on learning. The sound exhibition I think is the best we have seen on the topic in our trip so far and would have been perfect to have as part of the Bell Museum we had gone to the week before in Innsbruck.

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After that we went to the Energy and Lifting Science Centre which we had seen the day before from the street through the windows. This also was all hands-on learning and a lot of fun.

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Hopefully kids read the information that explains what they are doing rather than just playing and wondering what it was they were supposed to be doing!

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By this time Daniel was itching to get to the Natural History section so Karen went with him to explore the four or so floors of that part of the building. Amy wasn’t ready to move on yet and wanted another turn controlling the hydraulic lift. After that we took a closer look at the ball channelling apparatus which we loved.

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Next Amy and I went to the top floor where the Science Centre focuses on Mechanics, Aerodynamics, Mathematics, Body & Fitness. Listing it like this and you may wonder why anyone would want to look at this stuff but again it was all hands-on learning and we had a great time.

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To date we have not come across a Body & Fitness section in any science museum we had visited. It was an awesome idea, not that I am into fitness. First Amy learnt to ski and then practiced on a computer simulated course, next ski jumping, and then rowing. There was also a path you could walk along with blind-folds on and a blind-persons’ walking stick. Amy loved doing that one although I hated it and had to give up half way. You could also take a wheelchair through the same path and experience how difficult it is navigating over different ground material.

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Time was running out so we went back to the other side of the museum and met up with Karen and Daniel to have lunch. After lunch we all went through the Space Hall and I also forced the kids to look at the Doppler Exhibition. Daniel still had a load more to see so he went on with Karen while Amy and I headed back to play on the wheelchairs … Overall I have to say that the Natural History and Technology Museum in Salzburg was the best we have visited in this trip alongside those in London.

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Just after 2pm we left and began our walk to the other side of the old city to the cable car (funicular railway) that climbs up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress. On the way we found Getreidasse “street” which I remembered from our O.E. trip 18 years early due to the decorative signs along the street. Even McDonalds had an ornamental sign:

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McDonalds in Austria is as good as Spain because it has 1 euro cheeseburgers, milkshakes, ice cream Sundays and cappuccinos. So it’s understandable that we had to pop in to sample them.

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The funicular railway looks pretty steep and is steeper than the Wellington Cable Car but the track isn’t as long. Salzburg’s one rises 98 meters in height along a 198 metre track (1 in 2 I think you would say) whereas Wellington’s rises 124 meters (if my calculation is correct) in 628 meters in length (1 in 5). Interestingly the Wellington Cable Car opened only ten years later than Salzburgs’ in 1902. Initial the Salzburg funicular railway was powered by water and it wasn’t until 1960 that an electric drive was installed.

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Here is a better photo from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festungsbahn_(Salzburg)

At the top of the hill we took a tour around the fortress and enjoyed the views.

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Friday was our last day of sightseeing on our Salzburg Card and the day we would really get our money’s worth. I was relieved to see that the forecasted rain seemed to be held off as we planned to take the Untersberg Cable-Car up the mountain. The bottom station was about half-hours drive out of town. It starts at an altitude of 465 meters and the cable-car takes you up to the top station at 1776 meters. Although the furthest distance from the ground is only 286 meters at times it feels much higher than that. The largest span between posts is 1.548 km so you feel like you are hanging from mid-air. Here are some photos:

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The view up the top was fabulous and the weather was perfect for us. Although Karen and I could have stayed up there all day and had my foot been up to it we could have gone for a hike, the big event for the kids was to go to the zoo. We enjoyed the ride down to earth again and then drove a short way to the zoo. The kids enjoyed the zoo – surprisingly I did as well. Although Daniel was a little disappointed that he only counted 80 species of animals (!) out of the 140 that they state they have, I thought the size made it manageable and the animals they kept were excellent specimens (if you can call them that). Here were my favourite animals:

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Excluding Daniel we were all tired and ready to leave by 3pm. Daniel was a little concerned about our stamina as by his calculation we would need a good 24 hours to go around the Prague zoo which evidently has 650 species of animals – and he wants to count each of them!

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Salzburg was another Austrian city that we really enjoyed. Friday night we packed our bags again, I sorted out photos and blogs and we go ready to move on again.

(Week 34: Saturday, 6 October 2012 – Saturday, 13 October 2012)