December 1, 2007:
Wow, December already - now the countdown to christmas really begins. We've been in Germany a little over three weeks now and our trip to Churchill seems like an eternity ago. Just about as soon as we arrived in Freising, we had an office set up for working, and we've had our noses to the screens ever since.
Today we decided to 'get out', it was a crispy cool morning but a nice day for a drive. I think our destination should be Salzburg! Actually it was prearranged and we had the company of Rolf's parents for the day. Enroute to Salzburg, we called in briefly at the Chiemsee (Lake Chiem) the largest lake in Bavaria which is also sometimes referred to as the Bavarian Sea. This name comes about from the fact that it has tides but also because it was once a primeval sea which covered almost half of Europe. The Chiemsee is situated in Bavaria between Rosenheim and Salzburg and is a very popular and famous recreation area.
We headed back out onto the autobahn and crossed over into Austria. The great thing about travelling through European Union countries is there are no borders, which means no passport checking or hold ups with immigration/customs etc, it's all very stress-free. Basically after your first inital entry into an EU country where there are the usual checks - there are no further borders until you exist the EU again.
We drove directly towards the historic centre of Salzburg and parked in a parking building nearby where we'd be spending most of our time. The historic centre of Salzburg was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997. The old town features many historic buildings of baroque architecture - some of the best preserved in German-speaking Europe. Salzburg was also the birthplace of famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - a claim to fame which is proudly displayed throughout the city.
We started our walk along the famous Getreidegasse, a busy shopping lane (pedestrian zone) lined by boutique shops of all sorts. With Christmas just around the corner, the christmas markets were just getting underway with the odd stall of roasted maroni (chestnuts in english) .... the smells were enticing! Collecting a bag of hot roasted nuts we continued along the lane - peeling the nuts from their shells as we went. The atmosphere and action of the place was overwhelming with people darting in every direction. We eventually came out at the Dom Plaza where an ice skating rink was set up and children were enjoying different forms of skating.
We made our way to the front of the famous Cathedral of Salzburg where the Christkindlmarket was in full swing - stalls full of christmas gifts and decorations, then there's the food and drink. Speaking of drink, it was time for a Gluehwein (hot red wine with spices and sugar) mmmmmm! There's nothing quite like standing around at the christkindlmarkt (christmas market), outside in the cold - with hands wrapped around a cup of hot Gluehwein. The gluehwein is served in cups (usually decorative cups). When you buy the gluehwein you also pay a fee for the cup which is refunded when it's returned. You also have the option of not returning the cup and keeping it as a memento - we have quite a vast collection of these cups now.
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