Monday, July 29, 2013

Salzburg Cathedral

We only spent about a half hour inside the Salzburg Cathedral with our Go Ahead tour guide but I was mesmerized every single second. I have to admit that I actually heard very little that the personal guide was saying and was really happy my companion on this trip was paying attention. I was just too enthralled by the millions of details inside this amazing Church. What the Duomo of Milan is outside, the Salzburg Cathedral is inside: Filled with awe inspiring details. (click on each photo to get a closer look!)
 The Cathedral itself is set out in a normal "cross" pattern. Its details are pure Baroque. Originally dedicated in 774, it was rebuilt in 1181 after a fire and then once again rebuilt in the seventeenth century in the Baroque style. It still contains the baptismal font where Mozart was baptized!
 One of the detail decisions that makes this Church so visually appealing is its paintings. Set against the black and white of the "bones" of the Church, these color images of the Saints looked perfectly framed. Little focal points in a huge area.
 Long hallways flank the nave. In each of the little alcoves there are more examples of the fine art that grace this beautiful Church.
 As you can see, color wasn't the only way they decided to paint the murals in this Church. Sepia portraits as well as full black and white dot the ceilings. While looking straight ahead the Cathedral is very beautiful but the real vision is when you stare straight up at the ceiling!
 Each section of the ceiling is highly decorated. The black and white Baroque trim is punctuated with the different tones of the murals that are also trimmed! Detail upon detail. I swear I could have spent hours just trying to take them all in.
 Each transcept also had it's own unique details. From the intricate wrought iron railings to the ornate organs on each side, there was even more to take in and enjoy.
 The domes allowed a wash of light to illuminate the entire Cathedral. There were electric lights as well but this bright splash of light inside the domes was a reminder that this was built when natural light was very important due to the only other light source being candlelight.
 At each corner at the head of the Nave were these organs. Beautifully trimmed in marble and surrounded by fine art they were a colorful focal point at each corner.
 The full sized organ was over the main doorway. Even more ornate than it's corner counterparts this organ was even topped with statues of the Saints.
 These wrought iron candelabras were everywhere in the Cathedral. With electric lights now that resemble the candles that once were the light source here, they retain the romance of that era. One of the reasons I love this photograph is that it helps show how many details are packed into one small alcove. From the artwork to the figures to the trim to the candelabra itself, the whole package is Baroque perfection.
 This is a straight on view from about half way up the Nave of the Cathedral to the altar.  The scope of this Cathedral is amazing!
 The panels on the sides of the walls displayed the different types of portraits that were featured throughout the entire Cathedral. Here you can see both the sepia and black and white portraits against the black and white of the trim.
 This corner held my attention for several minutes. It is easy to just see the beautiful paintings of this place and not pay much attention to the trim. The trim itself is filled to the brim with details. Of course, the real brilliance here is the use of white space to set off the intricate designs. It allows your eyes to work up from each design to the next. Beautiful!
The inside of the main dome is a work of art all by itself. Perfect geometry is set off with the different levels of paintings, different color styles of the paintings and the intricate trim work. You may end up with a crook in your neck but, believe me, it's worth it.

We will head to Mirabell Gardens next! See you later in the week! And you can now get a daily visual treat if you "follow" Shutterbug Traveler on Instagram!


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Walking Tour of Salzburg

Salzburg quickly became on of my favorite cities as we walked with our Go Ahead tour guide all over the Old Town. I had been looking forward to this part of the trip since, as a family tradition, we watch The Sound of Music each Easter. I have no idea why this became a tradition but it did and I'd come to love it like a favorite Aunt. The views of Salzburg seemed memorized due to the film but I just had a feeling it would be even more amazing in person. How right I was! (as always, just click on the little picture to see the larger photo!)
 Open to pedestrian and bike traffic  made walking around the Old Town very nice. Being there on a weekday in May we didn't encounter too many crowds except on the main shopping lane.
 While I didn't ever see him give anyone a ride it was fun to watch him care for his horses while we waited in the shade. You could tell that he really cared for them very much since every touch was gentle and loving. I could imagine his family doing the same thing for generations.
 At once beautiful and wicked, this fence line had us all lining up trying to capture it's beauty. Unlike the other cities we visited, Salzburg incorporated color into their ironwork creating these beautiful works of art. 
 And views of the Castle were everywhere we looked. Settled high up on the hill, you could see the Castle from almost every arch or walkway that faced East.
 The inside of the Salzburg Cathedral is amazing. I will cover that in another entry because it deserves one of it's very own. But the outside was beautiful too. One of the spires that you first notice from the other side of the river I was thrilled to go inside. 
 As soon as our tour was over we were starving so we started looking for somewhere to catch a light lunch. The windows of this seafood cafeteria had us sold in under a second! 
 While the lobster was a better price than we could find here at home, it was still over our budget. Still, it looked amazing in the window! We went with the shrimp instead and it was simply perfection!
 My absolute favorite lion. I have a weakness for them anyway but dress one up in armor and give him a shield with the family crest and I'm just a puddle! I just loved the attitude. I was thrilled to see him featured in the opening titles of The Sound of Music a few weeks later when it was brought back to the Big Screen. 
 Shopping in Salzburg is big business. We did a little bit of it ourselves, visiting a particular Christmas shop where I had to go home with a few ornaments including one of a 5 inch chandelier that hangs from our mantel still.
 The medieval style doors were everywhere. Heavy metal and wood doors that looked like they could be on any castle were enchanting. I loved the dancers leaping over this doorway!
 I first noticed the metal sculpture over this door first but it took me a moment to realize that it was a carving of the Castle and still an extra few minutes to notice the gargoyle like creatures at top and bottom of it. I love it when art gives you hidden treasures to find.
 Everyone had been telling us about this little cafe near Mozart's house and how we had to try the Apple Strudel. We ordered iced coffee and were treated by this enormous glass filled with coffee, ice cream and even a cookie! And, yes, the Strudel was amazing!
 We didn't actually go on the tour of Mozart's birth place but did enjoy this bright yellow home from our comfortable cafe chairs as we rested our tired feet after walking around a good part of the morning and most of the afternoon. We headed back to our hotel after this and got dressed up for dinner.
 We crossed back over the river on our way to our group dinner and stopped for a few moments to just soak up the river views. Beautiful.
 Notice the bicycle parking area! With our tour we get a few "included" dinners where we get to sit with our entire group and talk about our day as well as enjoy a 4-5 star meal. The inside was all dark heavy wood, the complete opposite of it's simple facade. However the roasted turkey dinner we had here at Sternbrau was amazing! One of the very best we had on this trip.
But the food was completely overshadowed by the sunset over the river after dinner. We were walking back from the restaurant, most of us stuffed from the wonderful food, all of us exhausted after a long day of walking, when I took a moment to turn around and look back at the city. I was transfixed. The view literally took my breath away. This is one of my top favorite photos from this trip simply because I am taken back to the beauty of this moment and that feeling of awe immediately.

Next week, as promised, I will share with you all the amazing Salzburg Cathedral. See you then! Instagram


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Salzburg, Austria

Go Ahead placed us in a sweet little hotel right at Mirabell Gardens in the "new" section of Salzburg. It was just a few blocks walk to one of the bridges that cross over the Salzach river and into Old Town Salzburg. We crossed over right next to the Hotel Sacher. Yes, that in in chocolate heaven. At this point in the tour we had a guide so I just made mental notes of all the places I wanted to return to and the shops I wanted to go in. There are so many right as you cross the river that will beckon you inside! (as always, just click on the photo to see the larger version)
This funny little guy reminded me so sharply of Harry Potter that I couldn't resist taking a photo of him. I was to quickly learn that he was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the metal signs in Old Town Salzburg!
 He, also, wasn't the only "critter" I was to find on our walk. This gargoyle had many of us guessing exactly what type of critter it  is actually supposed to be. Demon? Dragon? Dog? What is your guess?
 The signs were many and they were extremely ornate here. What I loved most was the use of color in the signs. Many of them had not only the black iron but also the gold leaf and orange, yellow, blue and red painted iron! Beautiful.
I don't think you could say this is a "critter" but we stopped and admired the artwork. I, originally, took the photo as a way to dress up a skeleton for Halloween but, once I got it home and started really looking at it, I realized that he is amazing to look at because of the details. He was in the same cemetery they used to film The Sound of Music. This will hardly be my only reference to that movie while writing about Salzburg. So many of it's details and scenery were used in the filming of this movie to not notice them as we walked through the city.
 The funniest sign was this one for a tailor. The little short pants hanging from the amazingly ornate sign post had us all giggling like 12 year old girls.  
 Speaking of clothing. These do look like they are out of The Sound of Music but this shop caters to the local people. We were told that the older generation, over 40, still wears this type of clothing daily and we did see several people wearing them. My theory is that only the older generation can afford them! The ladies ensemble would cost around a thousand US dollars!
 Hands down this was my favorite sign. "Busy" doesn't begin to describe it! I can't think of anything that was left out. There is the golden eagle, the crown, the lions, the flowers, the filigree, a holy cross and even a crest all fit into one sign! We were fairly amazed by it and I became completely enamored.

I'll be heading further into Old Town Salzburg and we'll visit the most breathtaking church I have ever seen!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Nymphenburg Palace Munich, Germany

One of the highlights of the Go Ahead Tour of Munich was going to see Nymphenburg Palace. I was very interested in seeing this Palace due to the connection between it and Neuschwanstein Castle. The connection is King Ludwig I, the grandfather of the King who built Neuschwanstein. More on that later. But, apparently this Palace was more for the Queen than the King and it has a varied history for it's construction and design. It began that construction 200 years before Ludwig II as a summer residence for elector Max Emmanuel. 
The bus trips on these tours are always filled with wonderful sites as you travel from point A to point B. We made our way through downtown Munich to get to the Palace and I was happily surprised to find that the government buildings had such elaborate details on every rooftop.
Of course I was thrilled to find "my" lion as well. I have no clue what that is behind the lion that, for all the world resembles a snail, but I'd love it if someone out there knows!
Our first view of the Palace is from the small bridge that crosses the small man made waterway in front of it. I was fairly surprised that it was so plain in it's outside appearance.
Up close it resembles little more than an office complex from the front. I was soon to find that it was the inside and back that hid the beautiful details. These lamps are just a hint of what we would find inside.
This swan had us all laughing. He wasn't walking around the fountain so much as he was posing for photos. Seriously, he would walk around, stare at us, preen for a second and then stop really still for a few seconds before starting his walk again.
More "fat babies" and the Royal Crest. As you can see, the buildings behind hardly look like a Palace.
And then we entered the first hallway and each of us caught our breath in unison. It was audible. Unfortunately the hall was being restored so I couldn't get a grand photo of the whole room and had to be happy with the little bits I could capture and still miss all the plastic, such as the plastic wrapping this chandelier, or the scaffolding. But what we could see was magnificent. 
Each wall was of a similar design. We were told that the French designer they brought in was responsible for this room. It was sheer opulence.
The gold embellishments are real gold, there is pink marble framed panels and then, of course, the wonderful frescos. Lots of fat baby cherubs in these paintings!
But it was this little room off of the grand one pictured above that just fascinated me. With it's blue ceiling, black and white frescos and grey and white embellishments it just "felt" more beautiful to me. It is really hard to put the feeling into words. 
But what I remember the most about Nymphenburg is the chandeliers. Each and every room we entered had a different chandelier design and each was elaborate and ornate and stunning.
While we were there we had the pleasure of seeing a fine art restorer at work. It was rather amusing how quietly a group of 40 people can tiptoe past someone when they put their minds to it!
This is one of the really ornate bedrooms in the Palace. Each one had an amazing fresco hanging over the bed, hand carved  inlaid wood furniture and fine fabrics on the walls.
The chandelier styles just took my breath away.
This was my favorite. Someday I will pattern a wedding cake after this chandelier. I love not just the drop crystals but the little crystal "shades" on the upper parts as well as the gold filigree panels in the lower section. So beautiful.
Fitted for electric light I can still imagine how amazingly beautiful this chandelier must have been by candlelight.
King Ludwig I was known for his bevy of beauties. He was quite the ladies man, much to the chagrin of the Queen. As with most arranged Royal marriages, it wasn't really expected that the King be a faithful husband. King Ludwig didn't even try to hide his affections for other women. So much so that he had 35 of them painted for Nymphenburg, the primary residence for his Queen. 
It was after we were moving on in our tour that we were told about "Lola". As in "Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets" fame? Lola Montez was a young beauty who captured Ludwig's heart, started a revolution that ended with Ludwig abdicating his throne in favor of being with his love. This led to his son, Maximillian II, becoming King for 16 years before his son, King Ludwig II  was to begin his reign. Her painting is the last one on the right of this photo.
 The back of the Palace is also embellished with gold. Unlike the front of the Palace, you get the feel of Royalty in the grand statues holding the family crest as well as the large golden lanterns on each landing.
The back gardens are made for strolling. With marble statues every few feet, the gardens invite you to stroll a bit, take in the artwork and then stroll a bit more. 

As you can see, the grounds were extensive. I really wish we could have stayed all afternoon to enjoy the promenade as well as all the outer buildings and pathways.

Wednesday we will head to Salzburg, one of my most favorite places from this tour.