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Report 866: Castles, Caves and Cablecars

By wendy lynn from California, U.S.A., Spring 2005

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Page 2 of 16: Innsbruck to Salzburg

photo by Joe

Wendy and Julia at Krimml Waterfall in Austria

We woke up bright eyed in the dark and had to wait for breakfast for what seemed like hours. Joe and the kids decided to explore the neighborhood. Alex was impressed by the streetsweepers making their rounds--it was like Richard Scarry Busy Town out there. Julia was impressed by the store selling glass trinkets. Our first Euro-breakfast was great: multiple breads, sweet cakes, meat and cheese, fruits, good coffee and even hard boiled eggs, each in its own shiny little bag.

We intended to explore the city, but the both the Statdtturm and Goldener Dachl were closed (it was Tuesday for goodness sake!). We did find a kids’ store where Julia got some pretend Euros to take back to her classmates, and Alex picked up a plastic tool set complete with toolbelt. A nice woman stopped us to comment on the cute kids and was surprised to find that we didn’t speak German. We were able to communicate well enough and enjoyed the opportunity to try out our Deutsch.

We decided to cut out for Salzburg, but first made a short pitstop at a nearby Toys R Us to replace the stroller we left at the airport. (The front desk at Hotel Weisses Kreuz had been very helpful locating a store…even checking in with a local second hand shop.) Alex squealed with delight when he could finally sit down. Mom wasn’t as happy to spend 24 Euros for a cheaply made umbrella stroller, but it still felt lucky to have found what we needed so easily.

We took Wendy’s scenic route to Salzburg. The weather was so beautiful and the countryside so green and lovely that it felt like heaven to be driving along. We almost immediately ran into signs for Kristallwelten (Crystal World), which our guide book said was the second biggest tourist attraction in Austria (just behind Schoenbrunn). The huge Chia Pet-like head imbedded on a green hill fully equipped with waterfall mouth seemed intriguing. Wendy and Joe were skeptical, but Julia begged to go. Inside were several darkened rooms with thousands of Swarovski crystals in various art installations. The space age music reminded Joe of the 1970s movie “Logan’s Run.” It was pretty cheesy, but the kids got a big kick out of it.

Our next stop was Krimml where we hiked to see the Krimml Falls. Joe and Julia climbed the rocks and were wetted by freezing spray in the face of millions of falling gallons of water. They found Alex and Mom up the trail alongside all the Nordic walkers who seemed to be everywhere with their poles. Alex and Dad had fun running down the trail…then we were off again.

Along the way we stopped at a supermarket and bought some supplies. The surprisingly stinky cheese got thrown out almost immediately because Joe couldn’t take the smell. A big bottle of Red Bull did not keep Joe as alert as hoped—he now tells us that he almost crashed because of the jetlag.

We arrived at the Simmerl Inn (or "Simmerlwirt" as the signs said), a gasthaus and restaurant supposedly favored by the locals. The Simmerl is located near the base of the Untersberg cable car about seven kilometers from Salzburg just off the A10 autobahn in a town called Groedig. We had been directed to the Simmerl by “Klaus” from the “Friendly Sallerhof,” a nearby gasthaus with rave internet reviews that was closed at the time we would be there.

At 90 Euros a night, the room was clean, spacious and decent enough with a bunkbed for the kids and banquette seating next to a small table. We had a direct view of the famous Untersberg peak from our two balconies. The kids had lots of fun on the outside plastic play structure. Julia went down the slide 44 times. I think Brother was only at 43 when we stopped.

Oh yeah, on the road from Innsbruck to Salzburg, Brother composed his first song: “Booba, Booba, Booba,” which he also claims is a “great song” and his “favorite song.” Then he claimed to have also written the ABC song (allegedly when he “was little”). Based on this claim, we think he also might have plagiarized “Booba, Booba.”

We are still waiting for the kids to fall apart, but it is yet to happen.

Our first dinner at Simmerlwirt was great! The restaurant was fully stocked with Austrians eating, drinking and smoking. Alex couldn’t be stopped. He ate more food than three lumberjacks. Some guy in the restaurant called him “hunger Junger,” a name which stuck for the rest of the trip. Joe had wild boar in gravy with mini knudeln and red cabbage strudel, which Joe later claimed was the best thing he ate on the entire trip. Wendy opted for schnitzel which hit the spot, and Julia enjoyed her noodle soup. For dessert, lady finger cake or “finger biskwit” as the waiter called them. How much to tip? Hmmm. On a 29 Euro bill, Joe didn’t think we needed to leave anything, but nonetheless left a bit less than an American tip, which we hoped was adequate.

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