After a really incredible train ride through the mountains between Slovenia and Austria I arrived in Salzburg. I spent the first afternoon walking through the old town, with the Festung Hohensalzburg (Salzburg Fortress) towering over the city from atop the hill. It’s no wonder that it has never been taken by force, it would make an extremely formidable sight for anyone attacking the city.

My first morning here I walked up to the Fortress and spent a couple of hours going through it. There is a funicular which your can catch up, but I decided to get some exercise and walk up (which didn’t seem like a great idea halfway up). It’s a huge place, divided up into many different buildings and walls, and it boasts some really great views over Salzburg and the surrounding areas. In the central buildings of the castle there are several small museums which details the construction of the Fortress, the Rainer Regiment along with the general history Salzburg. They were all quite interesting and have some good context for the places I was walking around and looking at.

After getting lost trying to find my way down the hill from the Fortress I walked out to the Hellbrun Palace, about an hour or so from central Salzburg. It was built by an old Archbishop as a place which he and his friends could escape from the stress of the city. Surrounding the palace are big gardens and forests as well as a famous set of trick water fountains. I had heard of these before but never really looked into what sort of tricks they are. I did the guided tour through the fountains and it was a blast, most of the tricks created by the Archbishop relied on hidden nozzles which shoot water at his guests (or tour groups in our case). To accompany these funny fountains there are also several animatronic scenes and other water powered attractions.

I took a trip one day out to the Berchtesgaden National Park to do a bit of hiking and seeing the alps while I was in the area. This has to be up there as one of my favorite days of the trip. After catching a bus out to the town of Berchtesgaden then another up to Lake Konigssee, I took the 30 minute long cable car all the way up the mountain. Sitting in this tiny little box (only just big enough for two people) and watching the landscape change as you get higher and higher is cool.

Once I got to the top cable car station I walked the 15 minute trail the rest of the way up to the highest point of the mountain. From up here was one of the best and most breathtaking sights I’ve ever seen. 360 degree views of the mountains, the lake and the green valley filled with houses. After sitting up there admiring the view for a while I hiked back down the mountain to the middle cable car station, took about an hour or so and it was a really nice peaceful time. All in all a really good day, although my legs were definitely feeling the long downhill stretches the day after.

Another day trip I did from Salzburg was out to Werfen so I could visit the Ice Caves. They were formed by the snow on top of the mountain melting during the summer and flowing through the cracks in the limestone into the caves. Then during the winter the winds cool the cave down to freezing temperatures which freezes the water inside the cave. The limestone holds the cold temperature during the summer so over many years the ice builds up into massive walls and caverns.

Unfortunately you aren’t able to take photos inside the caves, so I’ve chucked a small gallery up made of pictures from the official website, just to give you an idea of what it’s like inside. Really awesome place to walk through, massive big caverns of ice and natural ice sculptures made by dripping water each year.

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