After a nice breakfast in our hotel (although we were still a little full from the dinner the night before), we decided to head towards the city center and buy tourist passes called Salzburg Cards. These cards entitle you to free entry to many attractions around the Salzburg area and free public transportation; after viewing many of the potentially free attractions, we decided to buy the one day passes and then planned out where we wanted to visit.
First, we decided to visit the fortress on the top of the hill that is visible from all around the city. Early construction of this castle, called Hohensalzburg, began in the 11th century, and later Salzburg Archbishops continued to expand the castle to protect their interests. It was successfully used in many wars, but eventually became a tourist attraction in the late 19th century. Now, there is a rail car that quickly brings you up the hill to the fortress, which we took to the top. In the castle, we enjoyed an audio guide tour through some of the rooms and a 360 degree view of Salzburg from the castle's position on the hill.
Next, we took the rail car back down and then stopped by the cemetery we had visited the day before. This cemetery also has catacombs that are built into the hillside, which were closed the previous night, but were now open and included in our tourist card. It was interesting to see catacombs so different from those we visited in Rome, but there was no tour nor signs to read, so we moved on to our next location quickly.
After the central Salzburg attractions, we took a bus to the nearby town Grodig, which is at the foot of the mountain Untersberg. In this town, there's a cable car that goes up to one of the peaks about 4,000 feet above. When we arrived, the cable car (which runs every half hour) had (frustratingly) just left, so we ate some sausages in the small shop at the base while waiting for the next trip. When we went up, it ascended into the clouds and became very difficult to see anything in any direction, but you could still catch glimpses of the jagged snow-covered cliffs. At the top, there was a lot of snow on the ground and it was very foggy (i.e., you couldn't see down the mountain at all), but it was still fun. We walked around for a little bit before descending. The cable car tickets were normally almost the same cost as the Salzburg Card, so we were glad to have gotten our money's worth!
Next, we took the bus a few stops back towards Salzburg, stopping at Schloss Hellbrunn. It's was the villa palace of a 17th century Archbishop of Salzburg, built as a day residence for relaxing in the summer.
The palace is famous for it's so-called "trick fountains;" these fountains, which were built before electricity and therefore driven completely by water pressure, were hidden and used to spray the Archbishop's unsuspecting guests with surprise jets of water (while the Archibishop remained dry, presumably laughing). The water-works also included animated diorama-like displays and an organ, all powered solely by water. We took a guided tour of the fountain area, where our guide displayed the fountains and slyly sprayed people as they walked by. Matt tried to avoid getting his camera wet.
We took the bus back to the city center. As we didn't have much time left in the day (before many attractions closed), we had to decide between a river boat cruise and a brewery tour. Since we were near the river, we checked out the cruise, but decided against it when we saw how crowded the boat would be. Instead, we ran across town toward the Stiegl brewery, which had its last tour departing in 10 minutes. The busses were all going to take too long, so we quickly rushed over to the area indicated on the map, only to find that the brewery actually wasn't where it was located on the map. Eventually, we found the brewery but were about 20 minutes late for the tour. Fortunately, we were still able to get into the brewery museum, which discussed the brewing process, the culture of beer in Austria, and the history of that specific brewery, which was founded in 1492. Included in the museum tour is a beer tasting, so after a stop by the brewery's shop for our free gifts of small beer glasses, we headed to the attached restaurant, which was our first experience with a big beer hall.
The restaurant was full of people, but we managed to find a small table near the corner. The restaurant was loud and rambunctious, with an accordionist playing songs (which many people sang along with) and several tables of loud people yelling out beer-drinking chants. With our museum ticket (also free with the Salzburg Card), we got a ticket for three free 200 ml beer samples, so we chose a few to try. We also ordered some food, including Janelle's hamburger that reminded us more of meatloaf than hamburger meat. Later, the group of men that were singing the most loudly (and that we later learned had actually brought the accordion player with them) were preparing to leave when one of them came over to talk to us. He said that they were a beer-drinking club that was celebrating 30 years of being friends (and also let us know that the restaurant would be getting quieter after they left). We finished our meals (and a few more glasses of beer), took a bus straight back to our hotel, and went to sleep.