A Sunset Walk Goodbye- Salzburg, Austria

There’s very few times where i’ll recommend visiting a cemetery, but St. Peter’s Monastery and it’s accompanying cemetery is easy to recommend given it’s history, location and general beauty. One of the highlights of the cemetery (which btw, is the oldest cemetery in the city) are the accompanying catacombs which are carved out of the Mönchsberg itself. They’re open year round and if you’re interested in going up into them, the entrance is located at the graves of Mozart’s sister Nannerl and Michael Haydn. Julia and I of course decided to go up and take a look.



After coming back down from the catacombs we walked to some other churches in the area and then sat on the stairs of the Kollegienkirche for a while, just people watching and wondering where everyone had gotten the delicious looking ice cream cones they were walking around with. Eventually we found ourselves heading to the river to cross back to the other side as the sun climbed lower in the sky.

And whats that in the background? Another church of course. In front of it is the hotel i’d really love to stay at the next time I visit( because yes of course i’m already thinking of when I can visit again). 

Walking back through the gardens of Mirabell Palace, we ended up right back to the first view where we started that day and looked out across the landscape and up to where we’d been just a couple of hours ago.

We eventually made it back to where we had parked the car and the plan had been to head back to Geretsried since its about a 2 hour ride back but, Julia had a suggestion for another place to visit that was hard to resist. So with a roadmap out between us and some fruit snacks ready to be chewed on, we headed on to the last part of that days adventure.

~m

Under the Heavenly Domed Ceilings- Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg is a city full to bursting with charm, history, impressively well preserved Baroque architecture and a listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There’s plenty of ways to view and tour the city- from a Mozart inspired adventure to a more architecture oriented exploration, I’d be hard pressed to say there isn’t something for everyone.

For me and Julia though, we were just happy to explore wherever the streets took us that Saturday we were there and they just so happened to wind us through countless churches and cathedrals (I say countless because we really did pass through a bunch and I didn’t take photographs at each so i’m honestly still not sure which all we saw…I want to say we saw and/or passed by at least 5 though). If you’ve ever looked at a city view photograph of Salzburg you should be able to immediately pick out the many cathedral domes and church towers- especially if its a view of the Altstadt ( the Old City on the left bank of the river)- so its definetly, as the city guide website puts it, a City of Churches. 

After coming back down from our walk up to Hohensalzburg Castle we immediately veered of from the path we had taken before through a iron gate into what turned out to be The Petersfriedhof (St. Peter’s cemetery). Fans of The Sound of Music movie might know this as the cemetery where the von Trapp family found a secure hiding place before ultimately escaping to Switzerland- which, if your keen on it, I saw plenty of tour buses for Sound of The Music inspired tours in the area as well. This is also where we visited the Catacombs, but that along with the cemetery will be it’s own separate post. Stiftskirche Sankt Peter (St Peter’s Abbey) was where we went into after coming back down from the catacombs, and it was an unexpected rococo splendor.

With a history spanning back to 696 when it was founded by Saint Rupert, the abby is full of history and definetly worth at least a cursory visit. The romanesque abby church that is open to all visitors was erected around 1130- though it wasn’t dedicated to Saint Peter until 1147- and the interior that makes it such a beautiful place of worship was refurbished in the Rococo style between 1760 and 1782.

After leaving and walking for probably less than 15 minutes, we came across the Franziskanerkirche (Franciscan Church)- this would be the one with the slender steeple that’s almost instantly recognizable on the city skyline. This church is one of the oldest churches in Salzburg and it’s gothic style makes it a genuinely fascinating church to visit, from outside to the interior (though apparently I didn’t take any photos of the interior….or if I did my phone and/or camera ate them…?)

Finally the last church we came across and couldn’t help but visit was the gorgeous Baroque style Kollegienkirche (Collegiate Church). This ended up being my favorite of all the churches we visited that day, at least in Salzburg. From the moment you walk in, it’s an otherworldly experience. As soon as you shut the heavy doors behind you, the bustling of the busy square outside shuts off like water from a tap being turned off, and a calm hushed silence completely inundates you. The tall domed ceilings allow light spill into and over the beautifully renovated walls, and while there are plenty of statues, frescos and touches of rococo splendor to be found, its an overall restrained beauty you’ll find here. It’s hard to stand inside and not feel utterly small but, somehow, the expansive halls never once lose their intimacy.

I don’t consider myself a religious person, but I was raised in a fairly spiritual household and the iconography of Christianity was always in my life in one way or another. Rebellious and eager to strike out on my own, I went through a short lived but rather hardcore atheist period that really just drew a kind of “uh, ok then” reaction from my family and eventually petered out into a general agnostic view of things. Now, older and with a deep seated love for learning about history (especially with regards to the Byzantine empire), I find myself much more comfortable exploring these areas of western religion – whether it’s at a museum or in a centuries old cathedral – than I ever did before, mostly as a oddly knowledgeable and respectful outsider but every so often, if the mood is right, as a hands clasped reluctant believer.

Whichever one you find yourself as when visiting Salzburg though, I highly recommend taking a quiet walk through at least one of the churches here- not only for the architectural beauty on display but also as an integral step into understanding the city’s long and fascinating history.

~ m

Final post on Salzburg coming up next, after which will be a post about the Parish Church of St. Sebastian (also known sometimes as the Ramsau church) and then diving into some fairytale castles built by Ludwig II that Julia and I visited. 

An Introduction to German Culture Via Austria- Salzburg, Austria

Technically this post is about the day trip I took to Salzburg from Munich with my friend Julia. But I can’t really start this post before first explaining how I ended up in Germany in the first place, and who Julia is. Julia is a friend I met about a year or so ago through the same website I met Rob (guy I met up with in Edinburgh) and Dennis (guy I met up with in Amsterdam) though she has the distinction of being the only person I know who also has bunny rabbits as pets and that cemented the bond of friendship between us.  

After leaving Amsterdam at the literal crack of dawn and dealing with a truely craptastic journey that included having to buy a whole new train ticket because the one I had wasn’t pulling up for some reason (though I did get refunded for this later thankfully) and wondering why I had thought trying to visit so many countries in one go was a good idea, I finally made it to Munich HBF where Julia was waiting for me. By the time we made it to her car we were talking like we’d been friends for ages and the journey from Munich to Geretsried (where she lives ) was filled with breathless laughter and her trying to explain why someone on the train had said “shoes” to me- they actually said “tschuss” which means bye.

She took me on some picturesque country backroads and by the time we made it to her apartment I was feeling 100% better about my decision to leave Amsterdam for Germany. We settled in for the evening and then ran back out to pick up some groceries and drinks for the next days adventure, which we had decided would be a day trip to Salzburg. 

 Why Salzburg? Because I bought a guide book for the Bavaria region of Germany and there was a whole section as to why Salzburg makes a great day trip. It does indeed make a great day trip- which is probably why we got stuck in traffic almost as soon as we got on the road. The fact that it was a stunningly beautiful Saturday also had something you to do with it I think. The drive took twice as long as it should have but it was enjoyable as Julia taught me some more about the German way of life (like why so many trucks were out on the highway that day, why the exit for Innsbruck was so popular, etc). Eventually we made it to Salzburg and found parking just a short distance from Mirabell Palace and after grabbing a quick lunch across the street at a places called “Pommes Boutique”, we started our tour of the city there. 


The crowds were definetly out in full force here so we didn’t stay long, eventually moving on from the lovely gardens surrounding the palace to head deeper into the city and cross the river to the other side where my guide book assured me there were a hundred and one things to see. 

(That’s Julia in middle picture btw- can I just say how awesome it was traveling and exploring with someone who also loves photography? There’s such joy and freedom in being able to stop to get a good shot and not feeling like you’re annoying your fellow traveler because they’ve also stopped to snap a pic too.) 


Taking a bit of a circuitous walk we made it across the  river, our goal to head to Getreidegasse, a busy shopping street in the historic Altstadt section of the Old City ( as it’s called, I’m not calling it old just to start a fight with anyone).  Even as we crossed the bridge to the other side, I knew I was going to have to come back again because you could just feel and see so much ahead and behind and all around you, every direction holding something interesting. 

 We wandered a bit aimlessly for a while, just enjoying the weather and city- it’s genuinly one of the most beautiful and explorer friendly places I’ve ever visited, so many side streets and inviting storefronts, you feel you could wander happily all day. We stopped in at a Christmas decoration store because Julia was like “oh my, we have to go in there.” And she was right, I have never in my life seen more Christmas ornaments in one place, all delicate, handmade and selling like hot cakes even out of season. 

After that spellbinding (seriously it was magical) interlude we stopped in at some  gift shops so I could pick up some souvenirs for friends and if you didn’t know it before let me tell you now- Salzburg is the birthplace of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. As such you’ll easily be able to find his face on any kind of souvenir you wish:  beer steins, postcards, chocolates. It’s pretty sweet (pun totally intended).

Finished up with the requisite souvenir shopping, we made our way vaguely up.

 Hohensalzburg Castle is in view from near almost any point in the city and while we decided not to spring for the entrance tickets, we still climbed up a mini mountain of stairs to enjoy the magnificent views of the city. As we caught our breath from the climb and enjoyed the views, the bells of the cathedral below us started to toll and if the journey up hadn’t been worth it before, that moment more than made up for it. 

~ m

Here we go…- EuroTrip2017

It’s been a while huh?

I guess I should probably start this blog post with an apology for anyone that I follow who follows me as well, you’ve probably experienced straight silence from me on all fronts for over a month now with nary a reason why. That being said, you can be sure i’m about to make up for both- be prepared for a multitude of likes/ comments on your posts if I follow you and also be on the look out for my own posts.

And what will I be posting about? Well, lets take a look shall we….

To give a (very) brief overview of the ambitious two week trip I took, let me give the destination breakdown: Dallas–> Edinburgh (by way of 3 flights via CDG, gods save me) –> Amsterdam (via Dublin)–>  Bavaria –> Salzburg (day trip) –>  Bavaria –>  Paris –> Dallas.

The trip included visits to Loch Lomond in Scotland, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, almost every castle built by Ludwig II in Germany, what feels like all the cathedrals in Salzburg, the gorgeous gardens of the Palace of Versailles and a nighttime stroll through some of the most enchanting parts of Paris. I met up with a friend in every country I visited and i’m gonna take this moment to both thank and apologize to each one profusely for putting up with my over-caffinated adventurous personality- Rob in Scotland, Dennis (and Elsa, if you’re reading this, you as well!) in Amsterdam, Julia in Germany and Rachid in France.

When I say that this was the most amazing trip i’ve ever taken while simultaneously being the most challenging, I hope you know thats a severe understatement. I have so many stories and photographs to share that i’m honestly not sure how long it’ll take me to get through it all but well, lets get started.

~m

p.s Yes these were all iPhone photos, i’ve yet to get the time to edit a single shot I took with my actual camera. Soon though!