November 16, 2009

Salzburg, Austria: Schloss Hellbrunn

Many places in Europe are known for their Christmas markets in early December. Not to mention the music performances that are available all over town. Schloss Hellbrunn was one location for a market. It was built to be the summer day palace for the Archbishop of Salzburg, and since he always returned to Salzburg for the evenings, there isn't even a bedroom on the premises.

Another big draw are the grounds. There are trick fountains that get you very wet, but they are only open in the warmer months. Usually there are also tours of the palace itself, but since we were there during Christmastime we instead were able to walk through the rooms and see craftsmen and women making a variety of things by hand. It was very interesting.

This is the courtyard. The green stand in the center is selling warm drinks and food. Mostly mulled wine I imagine. Had we not had our rather fuzzy experience the first evening, we may have indulged; it was certainly cold enough for it.

I am not sure if it is clear in the above photo, but it had begun to rain by this point. I have one photo that is all umbrellas. What amazed Rocket Man and I most about this was that every individual had their own umbrella. No one shared. This made for some very interesting navigation, especially in the small winding streets in old town Salzburg. To say that we were poked a few times is definitely an understatement. On the plus side, neither of us had umbrellas, so not only could we move faster, but we were covered quite a bit by everyone else's umbrella.

The inside of the palace was decorated for Christmas, including a few trees like the one above. We always use artificial trees, but the real ones are beautiful. I didn't feel comfortable taking many other photos inside since there were so many people making and selling original work.

We walked around the grounds a little bit before the rain got very heavy. I am sure some of you recognize this gazebo from a rather popular film. There is a tour for The Sound of Music that many people encouraged us to take. The above photo is of the gazebo now located at Schloss Hellbrunn that was recreated in Hollywood (larger) for filming.

We chose not to do the tour for a few reasons. For starters, Rocket Man isn't exactly into that sort of thing. Another is that much of the movie is a fabrication; the family did not do what the movie claims, and the people of Salzburg don't understand how people believe it to be true as it was not. The von Trapps did sing as a family, but the entire storyline about his being forced to join Hitler's army and all that results is made up. Hollywood chose picturesque Salzburg as their location, but some sets were created (like the cemetery scene) while many other portions were filmed outside of the city.

More than anything, we wanted to see Salzburg for what it has to offer. We wanted to know its history and see it for what it is, not for what someone imagined. We had a really good time. There was a lot of rain our final day, not to mention a ton of people, but as we had seen most of what interested us the first two days, we did not mind. We spent our afternoon purchasing gifts for family members and finding warm, dry places for lunch and dinner. In all, it was a very good trip and I would suggest going to a European Christmas Market town in early December to anyone.

Tomorrow? I have no idea what I'll write about...but something, so stay tuned!

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