We’ll be leaving in a few weeks for our upcoming Christmas time adventure to Salzburg, Austria and Munich, Germany. In the past we’ve taken our winter trips on Christmas day, but this time we are wanting to have visit coincide with the Advent celebrations which occur in early December. The reason for this is that we want to see Krampus.
Krampus is a mythical creature recognized in Alpine countries. According to legend, Krampus accompanies Saint Nicholas during the Christmas season, warning and punishing bad children, in contrast to St. Nicholas, who gives gifts to good children. When the Krampus finds a particularly naughty child, it stuffs the child in its sack and carries the frightened child away to its lair, presumably to devour for its Christmas dinner.
Apparently there are those whole will dress in some elaborate Krampus costumes and stalk the street of Salzburg during the nights leading up to Advent. It should be an interesting photo opportunity.
As always, I will be updating here with pictures and anecdotes from the trip.
We’re off to colder climes for the Christmas season!
We have landed safe and sound in Munich. The weather is cold as we expected, but it’s not as uncomfortable as we feared. Warm clothing is serving us well.
We touched down around 7:30am Munich time. We cleared customs and found our way to the hotel pretty quickly, but we were unable to check in as our room was not yet ready. We ended up having to cool our heels until around noon.
I used the time to find a T-Mobile store and buy a data SIM for my unlocked Android phone. Now I have unlimited data on my phone for 10 Euro. Beats roaming charges!
After finally getting our room we unpacked a little and took a 3 hour nap. After that we went for a walk to get our bearings and find some food.
The sun goes down around 5:00 pm here it was dark before we knew it. And the temps are dropping down to about 10°F tonight so we are going to catch up on some rest this evening and strike out for Salzburg tomorrow morning.
We flew in to Munich, but our plan was to move on as quickly as possible to Salzburg, Austria to be there for the Advent celebrations. It easier to fly in to Munich than it is to fly in to Salzburg, so that was the plan. We stayed the night in Munich and caught the train this morning to Salzburg.
The train station in Munich was pretty easy to figure out and 1st class tickets ended up costing us 50 euro per person which seems pretty good. The people sitting next to us had paid that around 75 euro online.
Cynthia has really taken to the iPad as a camera. She used it to get some very good photos on the train and has taken to carrying it with her as we walk about the city. She still has her full DSLR, but it is seeing less frequent use.
Our first day in Salzburg and Krampus and his companions have already been spotted. We tailed a small group in to a local restaurant where they proceeded to terrorize the clientele. We hope to see more tomorrow.
The markets are festive, but very crowded. It’s Saturday so there are piles of tourists in from all over for the weekend.
We had a great lunch today. Cynthia tried the Wiener Schnitzel which was very tasty with cranberry sauce and I had some traditional boiled beef.
More walking around in the evening to get our bearings. Some snow, but nothing significant. And yes, it is VERY cold. High today was about 32 degrees. We snapped a few more photos and headed back to the hotel room.
The sun goes down around 5:00 pm so between that and the overcast skies it is very dark and somber. It looks like the night photography will be yielding the best results. I plan to take the tripod out tomorrow for some extended exposures.
We’re pretty much over the jet lag, but the cold is taking a harder toll on the energy levels than we anticipated. Also having to remember to drink lots of water. You don’t realize you’re dehydrated until you have the first sip. Then you just chug a whole bottle of water to quench the thirst.
Oh yes, Glühwein is the thing. And it’s everywhere. I will leave you with a few market shots. If you need christmas ornaments, scented candles or stuffed animals, this is the place to be.
Technically, our first full day in Salzburg. We slept soundly last night. We had to open our hotel room window to vent some of the heat. This worked very well. The hotel provides nice down comforters and soft pillows.
We woke up rather early. Around 7:30 am. We had breakfast and found our way up to the Hohensalzburg Castle.
We wandered around a bit and checked out the view from up there. Quite spectacular. I have to say, the overcast skies are making photography a challenge. Everything is grey and foggy. It’s definitely not the same as shooting pictures in sunny Italy.
Besides just wanting to see the castle, we wanted to make sure we knew how to get up to the castle as later we would be returning to see the Krampus. We had read that there was to be a 3:00 pm event and we wanted to know the lay of the land.
While we were up there we checked out the marionette museum. Cynthia loves the puppets. Also, the view is spectacular. Even if there is no sun. All in all, a very cool place to see.
We headed back to town to find some lunch and warm our cold bones. As we were doing this, it began to snow. I must admit, I was hoping for snow. It was very pretty, but very cold.
At the base of the mountain is a very interesting cemetery. We took some time to wander around and plan to return for some more photos.
After having some lunch we made our way back up to Hohensalzburg Castle because we heard there would be some Krampus activity around 3:00 pm. We were not disappointed.
I will have some awesome Krampus photos to share later. But for now I need to sign off because we came back down and then had a very traditional Vienna style meal of beef and venison accompanied by a bottle of Austrian Cabernet Sauvignon with a Salzburger Nockerl for desert.
All of this combined to kick our collective butts and send us back to the room to get some much needed shuteye.
There will be some amazing photos of Krampus tomorrow along with a bonus Krampus sighting this evening as we were on our way to dinner.
One of the main reasons we wanted to come to Austria this time of year was to see some of the Krampus celebrations. Krampus is celebrated in the week leading up to Advent and there are numerous groups that put on performances all around Salzburg. To learn more about the origins of the Krampus folklore click this link.
We made our way up to the Hohensalzburg Castle as we got wind that there would be some Krampus activity at 3:00 in the market. As we found our way up there it was snowing in earnest. The mood was set when we got to the top of the mountain via the funicular and were greeted by a trio of alpine horn players.
We walked around the market for a bit and at 3:00 pm we heard the tell tale sounds of clanking bells and rattling chains. There looked to be about 20 or so Krampus coming up the side of the mountain.
All the masks are hand-made and carved from wood. They are quite spectacular to see. The actors who dress up as these creatures do tend to get a bit overheated, even if it is only 32 degrees outside. They also have a number of handlers who make sure everything is ok and that no one is getting hurt.
All in all, they spent 30 minutes or so whipping small children as well as the younger girls and even some of the men. Cynthia even found herself feeling the lash of the mighty Krampus. I tried to get her to pose for more pictures, but she was actually a bit afraid of them. They can be rather intimidating as they come clattering toward you growling loudly with their teeth bared.
I found them to be quite amusing and had the time of my life photographing them.
After running around with the Krampus clan at the Hohensalzburg Castle we headed back to the hotel to warm our weary bones. But we read there was another Krampus run coming right past our hotel around 5:30 pm so we went down to check it out.
IF you are interested in seeing the rest of my Krampus photos you can find them by clicking here.
Today was pretty casual. Got up, had some breakfast and walked down the river to Mirabell Palace and Gardens. Obviously, the gardens weren’t that terribly exciting in the winter, but it was nice to see none the less.
We also went in search of the Salzburg Marionette Theater. We were hoping to catch a show while we were here, but sadly, the theater is closed while the puppeteers tour France.
This made Cynthia very sad
We continued to walk around and then found some lunch. After lunch we headed back to the hotel room to recombobulate and then headed back out in to the cold to do some more exploring.
As night started to fall we prepared to go off in search of another Krampus run we read about. As we were walking around we encountered two pint-sized Krampuses which Cynthia was far less afraid of than the full size beasts.
After a short while we did encounter the full sized Krampus run. This one was the most intense of all so far.
We followed the procession for a while before cutting away to find our way back to the hotel so I could grab my tripod and get the two night shots I had been wanting to get while we are here. The first one being Hohensalzburg Castle as seen from the river.
And the second one was just a shot down the river bend
All in all, a good day. Tomorrow we plan to sleep in a bit. Then look for some music events to attend.
This morning we woke up and had our breakfast. The weather was a bit warmer so instead of snow we had some rain. It wasn’t raining hard, but it certainly wasn’t as nice as when it was snowing yesterday. Cynthia bought an umbrella from one of the tourist souvenir shops and that made things manageable.
We spent the morning touring the Salzburg Museum. The museum is worth a look and a good way to spend a rainy, cold morning.
After touring the museum we noticed a break in the clouds which afforded us an opportunity for a few photographs that were not completely dull and drab.
After walking around and enjoying the change in weather we headed back to the hotel to grab a Mr. Zippers feather for our traditional release. Mr. Zippers was Cynthia’s Quaker Parrot who passed away several years ago. Each time we travel we take one of his feathers and release it in the countries we visit. We have dopped Mr. Zippers feathers all over Europe.
We released this one and rather than gently falling in to the river it was caught by a breeze and wafted higher and higher in to the sky until it flew out of site. It was very special.
After releasing the feather we headed over to Hotel Sacher for lunch and a Sachertorte.
After lunch we took it easy and wandered around the markets before going back to the hotel once more to rest up and get some postcards ready to mail out.
Our plan for the afternoon/evening (the sun goes down around 5:00 pm) was to catch one of the many Krampus runs in town. We headed out, cameras in hand and found a place to watch and photograph the run. I was able to capture this video. The cries of “ouch ouch ouch” are mine as I am being lashed by a Krampus.
After watching the run we headed out to find some dinner. We ended up at Bar-Bistro-Restaurant Santorini Salzburg, a Greek restaurant where we had an interesting and lively conversation with our waiter who was from India. It was a global experience deluxe.
After dinner we wandered some more markets and I had a cup of Glühwein while Cynthia enjoyed a hot waffle.
It’s been a fun trip so far. We look forward to more Krampus experiences tomorrow as it is the eve before Advent and the arrival of Kris Kringle.
Now it is time to get some rest and regroup for tomorrows adventures.
Beware the Krampus!
We woke up this morning with no real agenda. We thought it might be nice to visit the Augustiner Bräu in the afternoon, but the morning was wide open.
Since the Augustiner Bräu was in an area of Salzburg we had not yet visited we decided to just head that way and see what we might see. That way we would have something new to look at and also know how to find our way to the venue when we were ready.
As we walked we found ourselves gradually going uphill. And as we climbed higher and higher the views became more and more interesting and beautiful.
We noticed that we were heading in the general direction of the Museum of Modern Art. We were not all that interested in the museum, but one of the signs said there was a James Turrell Skyspace installation and since I was familiar with his work I was compelled to keep going.
And the view just got better and better
When we did reach the top where the museum was located we were pretty hungry. We noticed that there was a restaurant there as part of the museum. The restaurant was called M32 and was named for the mountain address on which the restaurant sat which is Mönchsberg.
M32 is not a cheezy little tourist cafe, it is a very nice restaurant with white tablecloths and nicely dressed waitstaff.
The hostess lead us to our seat after taking our jackets and this is where we ended up.
A table by the window that looked out over the old town with Hohensalzburg Castle sitting on an adjacent peak. It was spectacular! We decided to splurge and ordered a very nice red Cuvée Austrian wine which was delicious as was the food.
We finished with a coffee and a desert and then found our way back down the mountain to our hotel room. By the time we were done it was mid-afternoon and we had a Krampus run to get to in a few hours.
What a spectacular day, and we hadn’t even gotten to the Krampusnacht celebration portion yet. I’ll tell you all about that in the next post.