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Around Austria By Car - Part 2: Salt, Rain And Ice

ksenia  ·  Nov 22, 2011  ·  No Comments

After having arrived to Salzburg in Austria and having found out hotel, we found out that the weather forecasts were right, and it was raining cats and dogs. However, we are optimistic, and immediately come up with a theory that the rain simply cannot be going on for long, and in an hour or maximum two it will end. We decide to go to Hellbrunn Palace in Salzburg.But first thing’s first – we have breakfast. And then go to search for the famous palace. We have no idea where it is located, apart from the information that it is somewhere between our hotel and the centre of Salzburg. Even after having found the signpost saying that Hellbrunn is somewhere in the area, we cannot find the palace itself! So we just keep driving to and fro along the road until we stop near some zoo and ask a passer-by where the palace is. And – it turns out that we have actually stopped right in front of it! Well, it did not exactly look like a palace, hence all the mess.

Anyway, we get inside the palace and discover that the most interesting things there are the trick fountains (die Wasserspiele in German) that are everywhere around the castle – hidden in the trees or coming out from the most unexpected places like benches, pavilions or even sculptures. These fountains were installed by Prince Archbishop Markus Sittikus von Hohenems who was the one to have this palace built by the famous Italian architect Santino Solari. The palace served as a summer residence for the Prince Archbishop. Apart from the trick fountains, we also really loved the magnificent park surrounding the palace full of trees, bushes and statues of historical and mythical characters. Of course we got sprinkled with water from the Wasserspiele many times – although the effect was not so great taking into account the pouring rain… if it were not for the rain, then most probably the effect from the fountains would be much more shocking.

After the palace we went to the  Dürrnberg Salt Mines that are located 14 kilometres from Salzburg. Although the rain was becoming more and more powerful, it did not matter as the mines are underground. We were given white garments that protected our clothes in the narrow tunnels of the mines, and then we were ridden on the small mine train on wooden mine slides inside the mines at quite a slow speed – probably not more than 10 km/h. These salt mines are some of the oldest and biggest show mines in the world! We got to know about the history of the salt mines from the films that we were shown on the way. Oh, and there also was an underground lake. Anyway, as soon as we left the mines, we discovered that it was still raining like hell, so we had to skip all museums and attractions located in the open air just outside the mines – including the real Celtic village.

So, another location we chose was also covered from rain – Eisriesenwelt, the biggest ice cave on Earth. It is still raining, and certainly inside the cave the temperature is below zero so we wear warm sweaters – luckily we took them with us! Anyway, to tell you the truth, we were a bit disappointed seeing the inside of the cave – it is a compete darkness, and even with the flashlights we are only able to see about a couple of metres in front of us. And surely there is ice. Ice is everywhere. In the darkness it does not look pretty at all, unlike the ice sparkling at the sun. But the guide tells us about the history of the cave, the names of the icicles, the stories about the travelers who explored these caves, etc. And this makes the journey easier. At the very top of the cave we see the ‘organ’ piece of ice – it really resembles an organ, and normally they would play organ music there – but now some mechanism is broken…

Having left the cave after 1.5 hours, we discover that +10 is actually quite a warm weather! Although it is still raining, we don’t feel cold at all… And we go straight to the hotel striving for a hot bath and tasty Austrian schnitzel. All other adventures are postponed till tomorrow. We warm up, eat and relax till the next morning…

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Categories: Adventures abroad · Austria · Destinations · So there we were...
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