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Sunday, 24 June 2012

The Salzburg Experience

Hey everyone!

So we've had another busy and tiring day in the lovely city that is Salzburg. We've managed to do quite a bit again, but today has been more about experiences I think. Some really good shit has happened which I didn't expect...more on this later.

I've just watched the first half of Spain v France here in the hostel. I've barely watched any of Euro 2012 because of how busy we've been and because I like to try and get the blog done at a reasonable time (it NEVER works). I would have watched like all of the games if I were at home but never mind, I think this experience will do a little bit more for me than watching football will.

I've been keeping up with everything on the BBC Sport website anyway, but it was nice to watch a whole half of football for the first time in ages. I'm kinda hoping the second half isn't too exciting because I've stopped watching it so I can write this!

Me and Sam are eating SO much better now. We practically starved ourselves in Switzerland, but thanks to our very good hostel and Austria's cheap prices, we can actually afford to eat a normal amount of food now. That said, I'm still planning to STUFF MY FACE when we get back home.

Right, so if I start the write-up of today's events now, I should finish by...4am?! Your guess is as good as mine because I can never judge how long it will take to write and how much of a little bitch Blogger will be. Let's see how this goes.


Because I went to bed so late last night, I set my alarm for 10am again so that I'd have just enough time to catch the breakfast and would be able to have a less-catastrophic amount of sleep.

Strangely, I woke up at about 9 - I didn't even need an alarm. I felt more awake than normal too.

I didn't get out of bed until 9.30am though because the other people in our room were packing all their stuff ready to leave, so I didn't want to get in the way. And the bed was very comfortable.

The first thing that happened when I did get up was a bit ridiculous.

I was sleeping on my netbook (as you do) because they only provide one pillow and also my netbook is comfortable when it's in its case. So this was under the pillow on the top bunk of the bunk bed.

When I climbed down, I moved the pillow to get my netbook, but I must have pulled it too hard because my netbook managed to slip through a gap in the bunk bed and fall out.

It landed on something. Something fragile. Something I mentioned at the end of the last post, and possibly the worst thing it could have landed on.



There was one egg in the corner of the carton and two others on the other side. The corner of my netbook collided with the corner of the carton with the egg in...and all hell broke loose.

It was one of those plastic cartons, and it was COMPLETELY OBLITERATED.

Raw egg went in all directions.

In a pool on the floor, on my netbook...a bit on the wall too.

My instinctive reaction - LAUGH LIKE MAD. It was so so funny. And so typical too that it landed on the eggs.

Only I could manage to do that.

After the fits of laughter I realised that it probably wasn't a good idea to leave raw splattered egg everywhere. I tried to get some tissue from the toilet opposite our room, but someone was using it. The only other thing I had available was a packet of baby wipes which for some reason me and Sam have been keeping in the locked part of his bag. Why they deserve to be there I do not know.

Also, I had to hunt in my bag for my set of keys to the padlock because Sam was down in the lobby with the other set.

Eventually I got the wipes and cleaned up the mess. It was a pretty mental start to the day though...spending 20 minutes cleaning up raw egg isn't what you ideally want to be doing after just getting out of bed.

Unfortunately, the room still smells of egg. But it could have been worse; at least I only smashed one egg.

So I had my breakfast a bit later than anticipated, and then got in the shower. Afterwards, me and Sam decided on what we going to do today and in what order. And then we left.

The first place we were visiting today was a place called Hangar-7. It is located near Salzburg airport (so quite far from the town centre) and is a collection of historical aircraft and Formula 1 cars, owned by the guy who owns Red Bull.

To get there, we had to get a number 2 bus from a nearby street to the hostel. Sam found out all of this from the very helpful staff at our hostel.

The buses are very regular, so we weren't waiting for a long time. When we got on, we asked for two return tickets to the Hangar-7 bus stop, and the driver told us that it would be easier and cheaper to get two 24-hour tickets for 5 euros each. This sounded good to us, so we bought them and sat down.

The journey took about 20-25 minutes, and was quite a nice trip through the outskirts of the city. It also made a nice change to not have to walk for once.

Luckily, the bus driver on this bus was an absolute legend and called out to us when we were approaching our stop. The name of the stop really didn't give any indication that the Hangar-7 was near - it was one of those really long fucked up German words. Actually I'll look it up for you...

It was "Karolingerstraße". What the shit.

So we got off here, and we could just see the top of the building from the main road where the bus stop was. We had to walk for about 5 minutes but we got there ok. And (bearing in mind that it was Sam's idea to come here) it ACTUALLY EXISTED. Result.

Sam wanted to come to the building because it was one of the best (and very few) examples of modern architecture in Salzburg. He also thought it'd be quite cool to look at the planes and stuff. I have to say, I'm not really a big fan of pretty much anything with, planes, motorbikes, anything like that. I mean I like watching a bit of Formula 1 occasionally and racing games and stuff are pretty fun, but I've never really been into stuff like that. I know like nothing about cars. I'm such a stereotypical man...

This place did look fucking amazing though.

When we walked inside, we were welcomed by a member of staff who asked us if we'd like to look around, to which we said yes (what else were we going to do?). She then said that it was free of charge and she gave us our 'boarding passes'. They were basically tickets, but we didn't need to show them to anyone or scan them or anything. They were probably just a souvenir thing.

So you walk through the door, and then you see THIS:

What an incredible space. Everything - the building design, the number of planes and cars that are there, the way the room is just so well presented. It looks awesome.

Although the building was big, all of the stuff on show was on the floor, so it was just a case of making your own way round.

So here are some photos we took on our way around:

The inner workings of a plane engine. Mind-blowing.

A Formula 1 trophy! That was pretty cool.

An F1 car, designed with millions of tiny pictures arranged in a collage over the surface.

A helicopter.

I'd never seen an F1 car this close up before. It was quite interesting because you could see all of the tiny adjustments that are made to ensure that the car works to its full potential.

RED BULL GIVES YOU WINGSSSSSSSSSS (but personally I don't like it).

A microjet!

I guess there is some truth in the Red Bull slogan then...

The raised walkway which had some art displayed along it. I liked how they used art in this place too; not just that raw mechanical aspect of the things on display.

There was also a really posh restaurant in this place, which had a beautiful grand piano. But it was the kind of place where if I so much as laid a finger on a key, security would be on me within microseconds, so I restrained myself for now.

We'd pretty much finished looking around, and I actually really enjoyed it in the end. I had serious doubts as to whether I would before I did it – I thought it was gonna be one of those things where you need that pre-dispositional knowledge of planes/cars/engines etc. that every man is assumed to have. But it wasn’t like that at all, and I could really appreciate the craft of some of these things and just how fucking ASTOUNDING they looked. And the whole setting – how the building felt – really made you feel comfortable. So I’m definitely glad we visited this place in the end.
We'd had a good look at everything (even the toilets, which were the nicest toilets you will ever see in your a million individual marble basins, each with an individual towel and the best soap in the world), so we left and headed back up to the main road to get a bus back into town. A bus came soon after we got to the bus stop, so before we knew it we were back in town at about 2pm or something and had plenty of time to do more stuff.

The next place we wanted to visit is one of Salzburg's largest attractions which we didn't have time to do yesterday. This is the fortress that is situated on a hill in the old part of town, which we'd heard gave beautiful views over the city and was also an interesting place to look around.

To get there, we walked the same way as we did yesterday to the old part of town - past the church of San Sebastian and over the bridge.

Something pretty damn sensational happened on the way though.

I'd be surprised if you believe it, because I barely can.

This requires a little bit of background first though. Basically, yesterday me and Sam were walking down the street (with the church of S. Sebastian) when we looked in the window of a four-star hotel we passed.

In there, we saw a white upright piano in the lobby area.

I wanted to play it.

But a combination of Sam and my better judgement decided not to. One: we were not guests at the hotel. Two: it was a four-star hotel...we are not worthy. Three: even if we were allowed to play the piano, we would probably have to buy a drink from the bar opposite it first. Four: the piano might be out of tune or out of bounds to everyone.

So it was yet another case of 'want it can't have it' between me and a fucking piano.

But when we passed the same hotel today, I looked in at the lobby and the piano and got the same urge again. The piano was in a nice, quiet place. There was a stool by the piano, indicating that it can be played. There was NOBODY around in the lobby, so maybe I could get away with just walking in there and playing it. Maybe...

We walked into the hotel entrance. The door to reception was closed and there was a sign saying that the bar does not open until 4pm.

Sam was telling me that we should try and find someone - we couldn't just walk into a place we have no right to be in and play their piano. We should try again later, or wait until some staff turn up.

Ultimately, the decision was down to me though, and there as NO FUCKING WAY I was going to be denied from playing the piano AGAIN.

Strangely though, just as I walked into the lobby where the piano was, a member of staff turned up. I asked him if I was allowed to play the piano if I bought a drink.

He said YES.



I got a Fanta; Sam didn't order anything to save on money.

I walked up to this fucking piano. I sat down. I opened the lid.

Ah it's so BEAUTIFUL!!!! Look at the keys!!!!!!!!!!!!

So then the big test - was it in tune? I don't know why they would let me play it otherwise.

I played a few notes. It was in tune.

Oh my god.

So this was it!! Finally! Me and the piano reunited in Salzburg!!!

It had to be the last place where we're staying though didn't it. I mean come on, what the fuck. It is actually ridiculous how close I got before without success.

So I played a song.

And I didn't make any big mistakes! This was so relieving considering I hadn't played the piano for over a month.

Not only that, but crazy shit was afoot.

The large windows connecting the lobby to the street were wide open.

People were stopping in the street and WATCHING ME PLAY. I had my own little audience. This was my ninja gig.

What the fuck is this shit?!?! This is like a dream!

According to Sam, two women even came inside the hotel and looked round the door to watch me play. No way!

One woman came up to me after I finished the song (she was Austrian) and asked if I knew any classical stuff. I apologised and said that i don't really play that style of music, and she said that it was ok, but congratulated me on what I did play and said she enjoyed it.

I've never had this kind of recognition before. I've never had piano lessons - I'm self-taught - so the only real measure of how good people think I am is when they come up to me and tell me. As some of you will know, I play the grand piano in the hall at school very often (or at least I used to before I left prior to the trip *sad face*), so occasionally I get like year 7s applauding and people I know coming up to me and stuff.

But it's completely different when your audience is a bunch of strangers. You know that their opinion of you is completely objective and based on what they hear in the short time that they pass you.

So it was a great feeling to be appreciated by random Austrian people!

I played a few more songs (admittedly, basically all of them had one big mistake in where I'd forgotten how to play them), but people were still stopping and watching which was nice. One mother stopped with her children who were dancing to the music. So that was cool.

The staff member that let me play said that I'd have to stop soon because his colleague needed to get on with some work, so I decided to play one more song.

Sam had recorded some of the previous songs I played on his iPhone, but as you know we're having problems at the moment with uploading stuff from that piece of shit.

So for my last song, Sam recorded it with my digital camera, and the quality is actually pretty good.

So here it is! This is me playing a song called 'Leeds United' by Amanda Palmer. Here's the actual song for reference:

I fucked it up a little bit in the second verse or something but apart from that there weren't really any mistakes. Also you might be able to hear a clicking sound where my nails are hitting the keys...I don't bite them and I haven't cut them in a month obviously!

My life is now complete!

So after spending about 45 minutes in there, we carried on towards the fortress.

Here are some things we saw along the way:

We crossed the river using Mozart's bridge.

To get up to the top of the hill where the fortress was, you could either walk or get the cable car. The water wheel in this picture powers the cable car, which is pretty clever.

We didn't want to spend money on the cable car, so we decided to walk up. The first place we had to walk through was a graveyard with interesting styles of graves.

We then climbed a hill which gave us some nice views of the old part of the city as we walked up..

Here's the cable car track thing:

Almost there!

When we got to the gate, we paid 7,80 euros each to enter, and we started to walk around.

The smith's tower.

The outside of a chapel.

There were quite a few different areas of the fortress to explore, so we'd just see a door and go through it.

The first place we entered was an old chapel. The fortress itself dates back to the 11th century, and this chapel is one of the oldest parts of the place. It has been renovated many times since the 11th century, but the original features still remain, including the wall you can see in this photo.

Walking through another door, we found a medieval furnace.

Original archways

As we were walking through we saw this interesting...thing...

And then we found our way to the weapon rooms. It was a bit unnerving to look upwards..

...But the armour and weapons looked good on these figurines.

There was more in the adjacent room, which also contained musical instruments.

And then it was on to the torture room.

Ouch, wouldn't want that tightened around you.

A 'thumb-screw'.

 A nice door.

We then walked through to these royal chamber things, which were almost completely made out of wood and were some of the most decorative rooms we've seen on this trip.

A small performance room. It had a piano too! Although somehow I don't think I would have been allowed to play it.


Just your average door...

I have no idea what this is or what it was for but I LIKE IT.

To be fair, this looks a lot nicer than some toilets you go in today.

The fortress was also home to lot of historical stuff about the Austrian military, from World War One and so on. I wasn't as interested in this as I was with the history of the actual fortress, but some of it was still pretty thought-provoking.

A board explaining some army tactics.

The Austrian army used skis!!

A communications switchboard used by the army. You can see the old-style batteries on the left.

After having a wander through all of the military stuff, we found a viewpoint at the fortress which gave you views over the whole city.

And here I am.

The side of the fortress

From here we walked to the last part of the fortress which we hadn't seen yet.

We saw that there was an observation tower (the highest point of the fortress) which would give more views over the city and the surrounding area, but we would have had to wait 30 minutes to go up there, plus we'd already seen some great views. So we thought we'd save time and skip this bit.

Looking up at different parts of the fortress.

So that was pretty much the extent of the fortress. It was an interesting place and one which told us quite a bit about the history of the city.

After this, we planned to go on a bit of a walk. There is a woods next to the fortress on the hill that it is based, which apparently was lovely to walk through and allowed you to see the city and surrounding area from some different angles. So we thought it would be a good idea to do this before going back to the hostel.

I think I'll do a photo tour for this part of the day...

One of the many picturesque houses in Salzburg. 

Looking back at the fortress.

Some water thing.

There were a lot of old-looking buildings on this hill. Here's one with a house.

A very handy little fountain in the middle of nowhere.

We got to this opening which had beautiful views over the nearby countryside and of the fortress in the distance.

We found this thing which showed the directions to all of the major cities in the world. We found London!

More interesting buildings.

According to a nearby sign, the part of the city in this photo is the oldest part of the city, which has been inhabited since 5000 BC. It looks great from up here.

Another opening gave us another incredible view over the city.

We found a local noticeboard! I thought this was pretty nice thing to find because it's so specific to the area and really unaffected by tourism or anything like that.

The perfect meadow.

Another big wall.

Carved wooden benches.

Massive log piles. You could smell the wood from really far away.

Well this was a view of the sky that we weren't expecting...

Here's the thing that produced it.

A closer view over the city.

A great view over the old can see the cathedral, the fortress and all the big churches.

What an amazing walk this was.

There was a bit of an issue when we didn't know how to get back to the town from the hill - we followed like three paths which all led to dead ends. But finally we found the way down near that metal cone was an elevator.

When we got to the bottom of the elevator though, there was a closed gate which you needed to scan a barcode thing to get through. Clearly, we didn't have anything to scan (it wasn't related to the fortress at all), so we were a bit stuck.

Luckily, two women came down the elevator shortly after we did, and one of them let us go through the barrier after she scanned her ticket thing. The funny thing was that there was actually a manned security thing next to the gate, but none of the people noticed us, so that was a good stroke of luck.

So we headed back towards the hostel. We needed to drop into the Spar we went in yesterday to get food for dinner though, so we walked there first.

But it was closed.

Fuck, it's a Saturday.

If Spar was closed, nowhere else would have been open, so we were pretty screwed if we wanted to buy food.

We remembered, though, that our hostel serves dinner from 7pm - 8.30pm, and we knew it was relatively cheap, so we decided to do this instead.

After sorting out our stuff in our room, we went down to the bar where the food was served. We looked on the menu, and saw that they had Schnitzel, which is a traditional Austrian dish. It consists of boneless meat (in this case it was turkey) coated in fine breadcrumbs and fried. It sounded pretty nice, so we ordered this with chips. With the meal we also got unlimited salad (yay for healthy food!), all for 6,90 euros.

So we ate that in the bar while Spain v France was on, which was nice. It also made me feel like we'd actually tried some of the local cuisine (sort of!) so that was cool.

And that more or less brings you up to date!


As you might have guessed, I'm writing this conclusion TODAY (the 24th) because that motherfucking video took so long to upload. I firstly tried to upload it straight to Blogger, but it didn't show how far along the upload was, and it was taking FOREVER, so in the end I just uploaded it to Youtube and made it an unlisted video. So that was a bit shit.

But yeah, yesterday was a really enjoyable day and we feel like we've seen the best of Salzburg since we've been here.

Ironically, I've just been watching the England game here in the hostel!

So now I've finished this post, I better get on with the next one! There's a bit of a surprise in store too, so that's something for you to look forward to.

I'd just like to say a quick thank you...I've now had over 3000 pageviews. Incredible! I really did not expect this so thank you for making the blog seem worthwhile! It's really great and I appreciate it.

So thanks again, and hope you enjoyed the post. Today's will be up soon!

Jack - 24/6/12 - 21:32 in Salzburg, 20:32 in the UK


  1. So glad you found a piano Jack, what an amazing experience! The video was definitely worth doing, well done!

  2. Hello,
    Good to see you got home safe. I met you in Salzburg, Austria. You kept me company while I had dinner. Thanks.
    All the best.