The hills are alive... Or full of ice anyways!

Pictures here: Salzburg & Werfen

Salzburg, Austria. It's freakin' hot! The days have been 30 degrees plus since we left Paris... and humid as a southern Ontario summer. So much for a vacation from the weather!
We arrived in Salzburg yesterday morning after catching a train on the spur of the moment - we were scheduled to go later in the day but arrived at the train station a bit early, so we ended up down here in Austria a few hours early. Crashed at the hostel for a bit, then we went out and painted the town red.

If you believe that you don't know Tim and I very well. We wandered through the altstadt (old town) and took in some gardens that were a playground built for the child of a former Royal in town. Very pretty - also stumbled upon the Pegasus fountain, though we weren't really sure if it was the one from that movie they filmed here years ago, or not... turns out it was. Neato.
Then we walked through some especially touristy areas, a giant cathedral that I don't remember the name of... Dom? Dome? Dam? Something like that. Very pretty, not as big as anything in France that we saw, though. A good chunk of the aldstadt is being taken up by the "fan zone" for Euro 2008... which makes an already touristy place nearly unbearable. Thank providence that there were no games here at the same time we are.
Next we took a funicular up the mountain to the Salzburger fortress - the largest fortress in Europe apparently, it was run by the catholic bishops over the years to protect the arch diocese of Salzburg (Salzburg was a country, you see) - never lost a battle, except to good ol' Napoleon. That was a cool tour... I think we saw just about every inch of the place including the view from the towers - beautiful view out over the city - you can see everything all the way to the airport.
Then we crashed for the night!
Today we revisited the gardens and sat by the river for the bit. On the way we stopped in at a church that was playing organ music inside (a nice change from the silence we've had in every other church). Turns out it was a Presbyterian church (or at least I think so - St. Andrew's doesn't sound very Catholic anyways and the interior didn't have any Marys around that I saw)... I must admit that it made me feel a little more at home. No offense to Catholics, but I'm still a little thrown when I enter a cathedral. Outside the church there was a booth for a tour company that offered trips all around the Salzburg area - there was a tour to ice caves near Werfen. Tim wasn't keen to spend the money, so I decided to go on my own and he hung around town for the afternoon.
My trip took me about an hour south of Salzburg, into the Alps... those are big pieces of rock. I don't think my pictures will do them justice. This is also the area where the Eagle's Nest is - Hitler's super-secret hangout... I can see why he liked the view.
Anywho... ice caves. There's a huge cave that's full of ice that's seeped through the top of the mountain. The science isn't complicated, but i don't want to bore you. It's awesome anyways. The air inside is around freezing and it's awesome. After the heat we've had here, it was a welcome change... the formations inside the cave were amazing, and well worth the 700 steps up, and 700 steps down. I took a few pictures, not sure how well they'll turn out as it was dark because every second person carried a lantern and the guide burned what I think was magnesium strips to increase the brightness at certain points. AWESOME!
I met a few folks on the tour - the guide was Canadian (from Montreal) and we had a great chat, also met some folks from Britain , and some dudes from the US.
The guide inside the cave was native Austrian, I think, but he learned from someone from Britain because he sounded just like when one of the Monty Python characters did a German accent... A few of us were cracking up after he said his first sentence in English. Hilarious.
And now we're back at the hostel and we're leaving for Prague tomorrow afternoon. Not sure if I'll find internet there or not. Hope so. Stay well everyone!

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