Saturday, 16 March 2013

Playing Chess with the Locals at Salzburg

*Sings* Welcome to Salzburg

The train ride from Zurich to Salzburg was beautiful but uneventful. Switzerland was too efficient to give me any surprise adventure. I had my hopes in Austria however.

Salzburg was home to the popular film movie “The Sound of Music” as I found out once I check into the hostel. There were tours that cater to the movie fans or just bored backpackers trying something cheesy.

One of the broachers guarantees the end of the day would be completed with crazy tourist running across the field shouting something like this ….


I politely declined the hostel reception girl of the tour offer (It cost a bit of money) but the information was already stuck in my head. I spend the next few days humming to myself the soundtrack of “The Sound of Music” … while walking around town

Doe a dear ….

If Italy was the country of art then Austria would be the country of music.

Hohensalzburg Fortress & Salburg
Salzburg Castle or Hohensalzburg Fortress was a beautiful castle on top a hill looking over the city itself. One could skip the steep hill climb and take a funicular for a small fee but the hike is much more pleasurable. I enjoyed my day self absorbed in the medieval castle seeing its walls and small museums but most of all admired the tiny concert hall where they have orchestra perform from time to time. The room was small and not very well lighted and the wooded plank flooring creaked with every step. I imagine any mistake by the concerto would be amplified in this halls hence you need to be very skilled to play here.

Chess Time

Walking around Salzburg, to my delight I saw a huge chessboard with human size chess pieces being played by the locals. I lurked around waiting my turn and got a game with a guy who could not understand English or whatever I said. Chess was the language and we gauge each others personality and character base on how we play.

I choose black favoring observing the opponent style and countering but boy how rusty I was not playing for nearly a decade. Playing a modified version of Gambit was not a good choice when you forgotten so much of the tricks which could backfire as easily as gain you the advantages to the opponent.

The old chap smiled when he saw my wrong move in the style and took ground advantage from that point. As much as I struggle keeping the game alive with a few clever tricks the old chap never fall on any of the traps hence I could not overturn and redeem myself from that first mistake. Game Set and we shake to a good game J

There were many sights to see in Salzburg and it slightly struck me like a shopping town too. Mozart house and birthplace was another landmark if you are interested in classical music and it was always a pleasure to enjoy the moment. I spent most of my time strolling around the river which was calming and during night beautifully lighted up. Gardens with gnomes and lush landscape were also widely accessible for lazing about.

Three days I spend in Salzburg just walking around town visiting the church, town hall, and the usual bench picnic observing passerby. I had not managed to make new acquaintance in the hostel hence it did not draw to me to stay much longer.

Detour for I Have No Money

Salzburg was also a crucial junction of my journey for I had to choose where to go from here. There was either Bavaria in Germany or Vienna or Prague.

Train tickets system was also different in Austria. I had so far survived by walking up to ticket booth at train station and enquire for the cheapest ticket to the next destination. Italy and Greece was great as they don’t show these tickets on their website so it was like a hidden gem. Switzerland made no difference but Austria however was the opposite whereby buying a train ticket online three days in advance could give you up to 50% discount.

So I was stuck to choose again. Choice were either stay a few more nights in Salzburg and get the discounted tickets or just pay the price and move on. I have also realized crossing countries in Europe were expensive so I plotted a detour for Vienna. I remembered Scruffy’s recommending a cemetery there so I thought I might as well check it out.

My other hope was for the train ticket from Vienna -> Prague would be cheaper that the Salzburg -> Prague ticket. Hence I choose the cheapest ticket sealing my detour to Vienna.

To note … although I could have stayed a few days and get the discounted fare to Prague from Salzburg it would still have cost more than the regular fare to Vienna. This was due to the crossing of the imaginary line (Country Boarders) which drives up ticket prices.

No comments:

Post a Comment