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Posts Tagged ‘train’

Salzburg

Here, finally, are the highlights of our couple days in Salzburg.

We saw both Mozart’s Wohnhaus (the house he lived in) and his Geburtshaus (the house he was born in).  Both had museums and both were good, but I think I liked the museum in the Wohnhaus better. It was smaller, but was better organized and more interesting in my opinion, but it might just be because we saw it first. Both museums have interesting letters and other correspondences from Mozart and his family, but the Wohnhaus had a little more about Mozart’s family by individual, which I thought was interesting.

One thing I thought was really interesting was that Mozart’s sister, Maria Anna (they called her Nannerl) was actually also quite talented musically and Mozart’s father took both children touring when they were young to show them off in courts and for various political leaders. Unfortunately Nannerl was fairly completely overshadowed by Mozart’s career and few people know about her or her talents. A little sad to me.

We also had some of the famous Mozartkugeln chocolate balls. They’re layers of chocolate with a pistachio center. They’re good, but I think they might be a little overrated. Still, they’re a fun experience.

On Sunday morning we went to church and went to the Hohensalzburg fortress in the afternoon before rushing to catch our train. The fortress was pretty neat. There are some nice views. Apparently there’s a “Prince’s room” upstairs that we didn’t see. We were a little hurried. It was pretty neat, though and worth seeing. We also got to ride a funicular for the first time. We bought a Salzburg card that gave us free public transportation for a day and free entrance to a lot of the museums and it included the funicular ride up to the hohensalzburg. It was kind of a cool experience and I kind of want to try Budapest’s funicular up to castle hill, now, but since it’s not free, we might have to wait for a special occasion or something.

Salzburg is kind of a cute town and I liked the river running through it. It’s much smaller than Budapest’s Danube which is kind of nice. The bridges give a nice view of the buildings along the sides of the river and it’s just kind of a nice city. Here’s a picture of the city from the fortress.

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Medveotthon

On Saturday we went with some friends to feed some bears. There’s a park about an hour out of Budapest that has several older bears. Apparently they’re bears that worked in circuses or similar things so they’re quite tame and they all live in a fenced in part of this park.Apparently they’re sick of the honey you can buy at the park, because they wouldn’t touch ours. We had a little more success with apples. We saw other people feeding them their own honey from home with more luck, and someone even had something that looked like marinara sauce that one bear was sucking down, but mostly they had rather poor appetites. It was a little disappointing.I think the bees may have eaten more honey that the bears. There were bees everywhere.This bear woke up just for us. After trying to feed him honey and banana, we discovered on accident (read, our friends’ toddler had a spill) that he really liked peanut flavored bio balls (they’re like cheese puffs, only not as bad for you). So we started throwing those in for him to eat and he came right up to us. We could have touched him through the fence had we dared.

Avery had a good time on the model train they had set up too.

It was a nice day, even if the bears weren’t hungry. It was cloudy, but the weather was nice and we ate lunch together and bought some candy. We played trivial pursuit on the train. Ivan won… grrr. We had fun.

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We went to Eger this week. Ivan has been before and posted about it last Fall, but I had never been, so he was nice and went back with me. It was something of an adventure.

Somehow we got the wrong train schedule. I think we must have gotten a weekend schedule or something because we thought there were trains every half hour. Turns out they were every hour, which meant we had to wait for a full hour when we missed the 8:00 train. grrr. But that was okay. We made it, Avery was only a little cranky, and Evelyn was just happy to be in her wrap and somewhere new.
Ivan and Avery on the train
Unfortunately the later train meant we just missed the organ concert at the cathedral. We were a little bummed, but came back and took a peak inside the church a little later. It was pretty.

Then it was on to the Lyceum. Apparently the bishop of Eger at one point wanted to build a University in Eger, but the people in charge in Vienna wouldn’t let him. So instead he built a big Lyceum where he trained teachers and stocked it with a nice big library and the best astronomical equipment he could find (so there, Hapsburgs…) We only went to the library, as the astronomical museum was on the fifth floor and we had a stroller and a baby. The library was pretty neat. It’s a big room with two levels. A balcony allows access to the upper level. The tops of the book shelves are arched and they’ve arranged the books so carefully that the books under the arch are done each a little bigger than the last and then a little smaller than the last so they fit the arched contour of the shelf. It was kind of funny. There were some pretty massive books there too. Apparently most of their books are in latin, but they had books in some 30 something languages total and they had an atlas, an anatomy book and some others out for display.

The library had a really cool painted ceiling as well. You’d swear it was 10 or 20 feet high because it’s painted as if it was arched, but apparently it’s really only about a meter.

Then on Dobo Istvan Ter and the castle. Dobo Istvan Ter is named after Istvan Dobo (Hungarians post last names first like the Chinese and Japanese) who was a hero in the battle at Eger that repelled the Turks in spite of ridiculous odds of about 2 to 1. Apparently even the women helped out by pouring hot tar over the castle walls. On the right of Istvan Dobo is a woman with a kettle of tar.

Statue at Dobo Istvan Ter
The castle is just up the hill from Dobo Ter and was interesting. Of course there were cannons and rock walls. There were some ruins of an old church with some graves and high walls to look off of. The view was really pretty spectacular. Eger is a pretty place. I thought the holes in the walls of the castle that they shot cannons out of were cool because it showed you how thick the walls were, but the whole thing was pretty cool.
View from the wall of Eger Castle

Inside there was a wax museum. This is Evelyn and I standing next to Istvan Dobo:
Dobo Istvan in Wax

We also saw the grave of Geza Gardonyi, who wrote the famous book Eclipse of the Crescent Moon which tells the story of the battle in which Eger is saved from the Turks (unfortunately a little later the Turks came back and they were less successful).

Then we went and saw the Minaret that Ivan blogged about last Fall. It’s the most Northern in Europe. I wanted to climb it, but the line was really long and Evelyn was asleep in her wrap, so we decided to go to the Marzipan museum instead.

Can I just say that I hadn’t even heard of marzipan until I was 16 and that I had no idea it was an artistic medium until this year? I was apparently missing out. This museum was kind of mind blowing. It’s not really huge, but it’s ridiculous that everything in there is made out of marzipan (it’s a sugar and almond paste that you make candy out of if you didn’t know…).

There was an entire Baroque style room all made out of marzipan – even the floor panels.
Marzipan Baroque Room

Some Russian style nesting dolls. There were a whole row of them, but the one shows you better detail.

Marzipan Russian Dolls
There was a grandfather style clock that was taller than me, some pillows, recreations of Van Gogh’s sunflower painting and a Picasso painting, a series of comics, shoes, Easter eggs, a record player. The pieces that really got me were the ones with wood. Kosci (the artist) put a grain in the wood that was so realistic, Ivan didn’t believe the first wood piece was marzipan. He thought the museum hadn’t started yet.

After the marzipan museum we went to Palacsintavar, a pancake restaurant near Dobo Ter. It was fabulous. I have to explain here that Hungarians take pancakes very seriously. Their pancakes are more like crepes and they put all sorts of delicious things in them. We had a chicken curry pancake for dinner and a peach and vanilla cream pancake for desert. This is the peach and vanilla cream version:

Peach filled pancakes
Now for the traumatic part of our trip. Because we had the wrong train schedule and because of some general confusion with our ticket (we couldn’t figure out if we’d bought a round trip ticket or just a really expensive one way) we missed the last train out of Eger and found ourselves stranded at the train station with two babies. We were a little stressed. We finally found someone to talk to and she told us that we had indeed bought round trip tickets, and they would be good the next day, so that was a little bit of a relief, but we had to go find somewhere to stay. All the hotels were in Eger proper, a pretty good hike from the station. There was a motel in the same building as the train station. We were really afraid it would be super expensive because it was right there, but we decided to call anyway. It turned out it was actually really cheap – about $15 per person. So we spent about $35 to stay in this pretty nice room with a double and twin bed. The only drawback was that it had community toilets down the hall, but I didn’t really mind. We had a shower and a sink in our room, so we were fine. No towels, though. We had to drip dry.

We spent a nice night there and caught the 8:30 train the next morning. We got home about 11:30 kind of smelly and a little hungry, but we were fine. We even had enough diapers for the munchkins. So if you ever get stuck in Eger, we recommend the Lokomotiv tourist motel. It’s right next to the back entrance of the train station.

Avery at the hotel in the morning. Love the hair :)

Avery's hair in the morning.

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