Day 19: Salzburg
Time to head to Austria! From Berchtesgaden to Salzburg is only about a 20 minute bus ride, so I had most of the day to explore the town. I caught lunch at a restaurant/brewery called Die Weisse, where I sampled a local beer called a märzen. It was light and refreshing with a lot of carbonation, but I won’t count it among my best from the trip.
9. Die Weisse Märzen
Walking around the Salzburg Old Town was beautiful.
The cliff dividing the city (Mönchsberg) gives the city a dramatic backdrop.
An unfortunate trend in Salzburg is Mozart-themed merchandise, which I saw all over the old town. There are some nice buildings, some of which looked awfully familiar… from the Sound of Music.
In the afternoon I went for a “mountain” run up the Kapuzinerberg, the highest hill in the city. It probably involved 150m or so of elevation gain, so it was quick but steep! It’s a bad sign when your run starts like this: stairs or ramp?
Then I passed some particularly gruesome sculptures depicting the stations of the cross before breaking out into the woods. More stairs?
At the top is an old monastery. Great location for a bombardment/fortress!
And for views of the city:
A bit lower down you can see the old town really well:
After getting my knees pounded by the stairs and rocks on the descent, I crossed town to run up and along the Mönchsberg. The castle costs money so I didn’t go in, but I found a great lookout nearby with views to the Alps
Running toward the art museum along the top of the escarpment, I came upon a big piece of the old city wall.
The route back to the hostel took me past the Augustiner brewery. If only I had an extra day to take the tour! By this time, it was getting dark and I amused myself by watching the Sound of Music at my hostel and noticing all the local places featured.
Salzburg is super pretty but I’m not sure there’s a lot here to keep me busy for several days. Onward to Prague!
Day 20: Prague
Today was interesting. I left Salzburg by train to Linz, then a bus to Prague. But in Çeska Budejovice, we got rear ended by a car and waited about an hour for that to get cleared up. No injuries, so we proceeded on to Prague.
The weather was bad, but I did a walking tour of the old town square and surroundings. The main square has the old city hall with an awesome astronomical clock – on the hour it does a little glockenspiel routine and a skeleton rings a bell. Bones seem to be a motif here in the Czech Republic (the famous “bone church” is in a nearby town).
I was pleasantly surprised by how pretty Prague is. All the buildings are super old, and there is a somewhat consistent aesthetic between them.
I got dinner at a local brewery and was blown away by the quality of the lagers.
10. Il tri ruzi Dark Lager
This beer had the chocolate/coffee flavors of a stout, but in a lagered beer. It’s hard to explain, but it’s just not as “chewy” or heavy as a stout. Great beer! I ordered another kind!
11. Il try ruzi Vienna Red
In the states, red ales are super bitter tasting to me. This red lager, on the other hand, was not very hoppy and had a nice caramel taste.
I finished the day with a walk to St. Wenceslaus Square. He was a king of Czech lands long ago and became the eternal protector and patron saint of the Czech people as his legend developed.
The main attraction today was Prague Castle, and it did not disappoint. Prague Castle has a rowdy history. The castle was the site of not one, but two Great Defenestrations, when Catholic councilors were thrown out of the castle by the Hussites.
There are a few buildings to visit, the most notable being the Old Royal Palace and St. Vitus’s Cathedral. The old palace is very fortified and has some great stone work:
St. Vitus is an above-average cathedral. My highlight was the spectacular stained glass window; I believe it depicts the Ascension on top and definitely Pentecost on the bottom, but look at that color!
St. Wenceslaus is also buried here in a stately tomb.
While in the area I checked out a nearby monastery. They also brew beer here, but I was underwhelmed by the flavor.
12. Pivovar Natuska Dark Lager
On my way back home I bought some game-changing street food, a trdelnik, which is dough wrapped around a wooden stick, roasted over wood coals, and coated with cinnamon sugar. I have to figure out how to make them at home. Less fatty and sweet than a funnel cake or elephant ear but tastier.
And then it was off to Vienna in the morning! I would like to spend a couple more days in Czech at some point; I missed some key side trips and I feel like Prague has more to offer.