This post is a continuation of my series documenting our time in a small part of Central Europe. We can spent our first few hours in Salzburg in its historic old town. (Salzburg, Part 1 – In, around and above the Old town.)
We had returned to our hotel to rest our feet for some time before we headed out again. I had booked tickets for a Mozart concert to be held in the famous Marble hall of the Mirabell palace. The concert was at 8.30 pm which was an awkward time as most restaurants would close after the concert was over. We had bought some hummus, cold cuts & strawberries in a supermarket in Kaprun & carried a few packets of vacuum sealed Theplas from home as an emergency food stock. We decided to dip into this stock for the first time on this trip and had our early dinner in our hotel room before heading out.
The Mirabell palace also has a pretty garden surrounding it so we left early so that we may be able to see the gardens before the concert. Being May the sun set pretty late making it ideal for walking the beautiful gardens. It was pretty overcast but it wasn’t raining making it a pleasant atmosphere for a evening stroll. We walked from our hotel to the Mirabell Palace & collected our tickets before entering the gardens.
The well manicured gardens with flowering hedges, green trimmed lawns with fountains & marble statues interspersed were typical of any palace garden in Europe. What made this one different was the Fortress in the background bang in the centre of the axis of garden, superb planning!
The gardens had sections separated by tall hedges creating smaller gardens within the garden. Each section had a small fountain with surrounding hedges with orchids in bloom, benches with locals sitting and reading newspapers, playing with their tiny dogs. It’s what I envy most about Europeans, their ability to enjoy the small things in life & enjoying their beautiful public spaces!
I don’t know if there are these many flowers year round, but the colours and variety of flowers in bloom was beautiful in the European spring. Everywhere we had gone in this trip the lawns and hedges had been in full bloom. We have never visited Europe in the summer, it has either been spring or autumn. But the colours that we have witnessed in autumn and spring with none of the crowds of summer make it certain that we will always prefer these seasons to visit Europe.
We enjoyed out post dinner stroll till it was time for us to go and take our seats at the marble hall for the 4 piece string quartet concert. When I had booked the tickets I had splurged a bit more for seats in the front section. What I didn’t expect was getting seats in the front row, bang in front of the playing quartet!
Photos were not allowed during the concert itself. And anyway I’m certain photos and videos can’t match the sheer magic of hearing talented musicians playing timeless classical music live in a beautiful historic hall. For the next two hours we were mesmerised by the baroque music played in a baroque hall. The violinists were in perfect sync with each other, but the Cello player who looked the senior most of the four was the star of the show. He effortlessly went from being a supporting player to being the lead to providing percussion with the cello, a string instrument! Just superb, no other way to describe it. Sitting in the front row for such a concert made me feel like royalty till it lasted. When it finally ended the crowd gave them a long standing ovation which was thoroughly deserved.
We then walked back to our hotel with me humming Mozart’s 4th symphony on the streets of Mozart’s hometown! Just these two hours had made the stop at Salzburg fully worth it and I would highly recommend this to anyone traveling to Salzburg.
It was drizzling by the time we reached the hotel and we promptly dropped off to sleep. The next morning I woke up early with just 1 thing on my mind – getting photos of the Mandarin duck I had seen on the banks of the Salzach. I peeped out of the window with fingers crossed and thankfully my prayers were answered, the rains had gone away!
As readers of my previous post will know, I had seen the beautiful Mandarin duck the previous evening but I had not been carrying my trusty 300mm lens. I hoped that the duck would still be somewhere close to where we had seen it the previous evening. It was a beautiful morning and the Monchsberg ridge and the church at the end where we had descended looked beautiful in the soft morning light.
As I walked on the river bank path I scanned the banks for the unmistakable colours of the bird I was searching for that morning. There were tits and sparrows flitting around in the trees, mallards swimming lazily in the river but I was fixated on the Mandarin duck. Thankfully a new jinx was not created and the Mandarin duck was still there on the near bank a few 100 metres from where I had seen it the day before! I walked as close as possible and clicked away to glory.
Once I was satisfied with my photos, I moved on leaving the bird in peace. Then I turned my attention to the tits who must have been feeling neglected till then. Not that they made it easy still flitting from post to post as I tried to get a decent photo.
Happy at getting what i had set out for I started slowly walking towards the old town as far as time would permit. On the way I was taking photos of what appeared to be a nuthatch hunting insects for breakfast, I saw something scoot past the path and into the grassy bank.
At first I thought it was a mouse but then something started peeking at me from the grassy bank. It was my added bonus for getting out that morning, a stoat. For those who are not into wildlife as i am, the stoat is a small member of the weasel family. It is a sighting I didn’t expect to see in the middle of the city, but I was not complaining one bit!
The next ten to fifteen minutes were spent with the stoat playing a game of peekaboo with me and the 300mm. Finally it got comfortable enough to expose itself fully on a rock and give me a the photo I was looking. It sat there for a minute or two watching my every move before scuttering on trying to catch its breakfast.
The excellent concert and now the unexpected game of peekaboo with a stoat had made this stop at Salzburg memorable beyond expectations. I got close enough to old town to get the photo of the dome of the cathedral and the now empty bridge lined with padlocks leading into old town.
With time running out and having achieved more than what i had set out for I turned back to return to the hotel where a heavy breakfast waited. But I couldn’t resist a few more photos of the beautiful Mandarin duck, who knows when I will see another one again!
We had our breakfast at our hotel before checking out and walking to pick up point outside the station where a shared shuttle would be taking us across the border to the Czech Republic & the fairy tale town of Cesky Krumlov. We would be spending the remaining 5 days of our vacation in the Czech Republic.
But that is topic for another post, another time.