Salzburg And Munich

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.

From Wikipedia:

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.

Arrival, Munich

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.

Snowball

Glühwein (mulled wine) - Munich

Lowenbrau

Stars

From Munich To Salzburg

Man Woman Sony

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.

Watching Europe Roll By

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.

Krampus

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.

Locks Of Love

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.

Glühwein

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.

Glass Lights

Sparkles

Snow Globes

Nut Crackers

Salzburg – Day 2

Salzburg

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.

Fortress In Winter

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.

Stupid Tourist Photo

Marrionettes

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.

Travelling Companions

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.

Graveyard

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.

AHHHHHH! KRAMPUS!

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.

Krampus

Krampus Time

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.

Krampus Time

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.

AHHHHHH! KRAMPUS!

I found them to be quite amusing and had the time of my life photographing them.

Krampus Time

Krampus Time

Krampus Time

Krampus Time

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.

Krampus Time

Krampus Time

Krampus Time

Krampus Time

IF you are interested in seeing the rest of my Krampus photos you can find them by clicking here.

Salzburg – Day 3

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.

Krampus

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.

Hohensalzburg Castle

And the second one was just a shot down the river bend

Salzach River

All in all, a good day. Tomorrow we plan to sleep in a bit. Then look for some music events to attend.

Salzburg – Day 4

Hohensalzburg Castle

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.

Salzach River

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!

Krampus

Salzburg – Day 5

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.

DSC01142_3_4_tonemapped

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

DSC01218_19_20_tonemapped

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.

Drugs Liquor

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.

Krampusnacht

Krampus

Tonight was Krampusnacht. The word Krampus means “claw” so this literally translates to Night Of The Claw.

Cynthia and St. Nick on Krampusnacht

The Feast of St. Nicholas is celebrated in parts of Europe on December 6. In Alpine countries like Austria, Saint Nicholas has a devilish companion named Krampus. On the preceding evening, Krampus Night or Krampusnacht, the hairy devil appears on the streets. Sometimes accompanying St. Nicholas and sometimes on his own, Krampus visits homes and businesses. The Saint usually appears in the vestments of a bishop such as the mitre, and he carries a ceremonial staff. Unlike North American versions of Santa Claus, in these celebrations Saint Nicholas concerns himself only with the good children, while Krampus is responsible for the bad. Nicholas dispenses gifts, while Krampus supplies coal and the ruten bundles.

In Salzburg, it is a big deal. I counted at least 50-75 Krampus in the city center for tonight’s celebration. They all gathered at the front of the Salzburg Cathedral for what appeared to be some kind of Krampus award ceremony. Possibly for the best Krampus costume or something. I really couldn’t tell. I would hear some german words being spoken over the PA system and a fantastic Krampus from the Krampus horde would jump up and get on stage and do his Krampus thing.

Krampusnacht

I had to really work to get up to the area where all this was happening. It was very crowded, but it was a site to see!

Krampusnacht

Krampusnacht

Krampus Time

Krampusnacht

Krampusnacht

Krampusnacht

Krampusnacht

You can see the rest of my photos by clicking here.

After watching all the Krampus mayhem we decided to get some dinner and get back to the hotel for some rest. But, as fate would have it, Krampus was not done with us.

St. Nick and a handful of angels and Krampuses invaded the restaurant.

Krampusnacht

A Krampus even took my seat and tormented Cynthia

Krampusnacht

It was a perfect ending to a pretty perfect day.

Last Day In Salzburg

This was our last day in Salzburg. Tomorrow we catch the train back to Munich. I think I have seen enough Krampus to last me a lifetime.

Today we woke up to snow. And it was snowing hard.

Jay In The Snow

Cynthia In The Snow

We headed out to Linzergasse which is north of the river from us. We had walked past an archway that looked interesting and thought we would explore it.

On the way across the bridge I wanted to take a photo that captured the conditions we were walking in. Note that this is a color photo. The snow blotted out all the color and left me with what appears to be a black and white image.

Snow Blind

I continued to shoot some pictures of the area to try to capture this snow even the best I could. This is the result of shooting the same scene at three different exposures and merging them together.

Snow In Salzburg

As you can see I was able to coax a little color out by using this technique.

We reached Linzergasse and found the archway and entered. As it turnes out, there was a road and some steps leading up the side of the mountain.

It didn’t seem overly treacherous and the snow was not falling so hard so we climbed.

This photo was actually converted to black and white, though it didn’t have much color to begin with.

Ascent

Like the day before, the climb took us up above the city for some spectacular views. But this time there was snow on the ground and snow on the city which made it look very pretty.

Snow

Hohensalzburg Castle

We continued along the trail, enjoying the views and the snow. We even stopped to make a snow-krampus

As we walked the trail was getting a little tougher. Steps leading up and down, covered with ice. We thought we would come to a point where we could go down and off the mountain. Then we can across this sign

Achtung!

I don’t read German and neither does Cynthia. But we took it as a sign (no pun intended) that we might want to check our map. As it turns out, we had found our way on to a hiking trail that looked to go all the way around the mountain. We decided to head back the way we came and get off the mountain. No sense breaking a leg on the side of frozen mountain in Austria with spotty cell service.

We found our way back and had some lunch and rested up a bit before doing some more wandering that included attending some kind of Krampus for Kids event in front of the cathedral. The event included several dozen school children all dressed in home made Krampus outfits.

Children Dressed As Krampus

Kris Kringle came out with a particularly large Krampus with a basket on his back and the children posed for pics with St. Nick while sitting in the Krampus basket. I wish I was a kid and could get my photo taken in a Krampus basket!

We knocked around for a bit more and found some dinner. Snow came and went. Mostly it was nice, but there were some icy patches and I tried to wipe out one time. But I was able to recover before falling on my butt. It was a close call.

Tomorrow we catch the train back to Munich.

From Salzburg To Munich

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

We caught the train from Salzburg to Munich today. For anyone who might be doing this in the winter, be aware that the Salzburg train station is pretty much an open air building with no heat and nowhere to sit. If you get there early you have to go to the coffee shop to get warm and you will pay through the nose for a coffee. Lesson learned.

Rails

The train took us through what I have always imagined the European countryside to look like in winter. Vast expanses of snow and forests full of snow covered evergreen trees and houses with snow on the roof and smoke rising from their chimneys.

We arrived in Munich and caught a cab to the hotel and checked in. I was able to purchase a SIM card for my iPhone 5 so I have data and a local # if I need it. Way cheaper than paying roaming charges, that’s for sure.

We walked around this evening just to get our bearings. We also found a grocery store to lay on some some supplies like water, cookies and that sort of thing. Items we like to have in the hotel room for easy snacking.

Cynthia quickly found a mobile chocolate shop

Chocolate Truck

I hope to get some great night photos while we are here. This is just a sample of what it looks like in the Marienplatz

Marienplatz

Munich – Day 2

Today we went to the Deutsches Museum. This took up much of our day as the place is really quite large. It is on par with the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

Lots and lots to see. Including an Enigma Machine

Also, the geek in my was happy to see a very well preserved UNIVAC 1, the first commercial computer produced in the United States

After spending the day in the museum we had a late lunch/early dinner at a little Italian restaurant near the hotel.

From there we walked over to have a look at the Hofbräuhaus. I had been to the one in Las Vegas so thought I should see the original.

Sadly, today’s activities were not filled with many photographic opportunities. I don’t do well shooting in museums. But I did come away with one shot I really like. This is the spiral staircase inside the Deutsches Museum.

Spiral Staircase

Time to rest up for tomorrow. Did I mention it is VERY cold here?

Munich – Day 3

Nymphenburg Palace

Today was an adventure. We tackled the metro and used a combination of the subway and the tram system to get ourselves out to the Nymphenburg Palace. We managed to sort it out and only headed off in the wrong direction one time. And it only took us a stop to realize it. After that it was smooth sailing.

In Front Of Nymphenburg Palace

The temperature when we got out there was around 19° F. It had snowed the night before so everything was dusted in white. Plus, the sun was out and the skies were blue with a few clouds. We have not seen much sun lately, so this was very exciting.

The palace looked fantastic as we walked from the tram stop. As we got closer we saw the pond was icing over, but that there were some thawed sections filled with swans, ducks, geese and seagulls.

Swans Geese and Ducks

We didn’t have any food for them, but we enjoyed watching them even though we were freezing. I only almost slipped on the ice and fell in once.

Inside The Nymphenburg Palace

Inside the palace it was warm and we took ourselves on a self-guided tour. As palaces go, it was interesting to see, but not too terribly interesting to photograph.

Nymphenburg Palace Ceiling

Once we were done with the palace we caught the tram back to town and found some lunch. Being Sunday, many things like the better restaurants were closed. We eventually found something.

After going back to the room and warming our weary bones we decided to go out and try some night photography.

Freezing In Style

Upon exiting the hotel we realized that it was snowing very hard. I thought I would still give it a try, but didn’t have much luck. I need to do this shot again when it is not snowing.

Night Shot Fail

We walked around a bit and took on the snowy scene. It is very Christmasy when the snow is falling and the lights from the market stalls are glowing in the darkness.

The best photo of the night came from Cynthia while using my iPhone.

Another attempt will be made tomorrow.

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