Perched high atop a hill, the Hohensalzburg fortress has — for well over 1,000 years — watched over the city of Salzburg below it, both visually and militarily. The Hohensalzburg is one of the highlights of the town, and at least ½ a day is required to do it justice. After our morning stroll through Salzburg, today Thierry and I embarked on the trek up the mountain, and went to see this grand edifice both inside and out.
This morning I hopped on the U-bahn (i.e. metro) from the Westbahnhof (central station) to Stephansplatz (city central square), and embarked on a walking tour of Vienna. It was rather freezing here — so chilly that the ground was covered in frost and ice in many places — but that did nothing to mar the Imperial glory of this, one of Europe's most charming cities. Vienna is a city of soaring churches, imposing palaces, and grand town squares — and of all those I saw plenty.
Did you know that the word "Aussie" has 4 different meanings, here in Germany? First, it refers to Austrians — Germans have been calling their southern brethren "Aussies" for yonks. Second, it refers to Australians — naturally, who the hell doesn't know our affectionate national nickname? Third, it refers to East Germans, whom their Western brethren sometimes like to joke about. And finally, it refers to Ozzie! At least, that's according to Ozzie himself (yep, that's his name): the (allegedly) quarter-native Bavarian, 100% black, 110% crazy tourguide who took half of Wombat's on a tour of Munich this morning.
For my first day here in Berlin, my mate John and I embarked upon an epic exploratory tour of the city. We began in the city's east, and gradually worked our way west, towards the old wall. Berlin is a fascinating city to walk around in — especially if you're aware of the troubled history behind its sparkling new façades.
From my little milk stop in Cassibile, this morning I continued straight up the SS115 highway (the main highway of Sicily's east coast), and by 11am I was in beautiful, famous Syracuse. It was a quick and easy ride: as with yesterday, I continued to be blessed with beautiful weather (something that I don't take for granted these days), and with flat and smooth roads. Although it's one of Sicily's major cities, I actually thought that Syracuse would be much bigger: I was surprised at how quickly I managed to whiz through the moderate sprawl of outer suburbs, and to reach the island of Ortyiga, the historic centre of the city. This gave me plenty of time to cruise around on my bike, and to give myself a leisurely tour of Ortygia.
This morning, I just managed to fit in two things that I really wanted to do, before leaving London. I visited the British Museum — one of the largest museums in the world, holding some of history's most famous artifacts — and I caught up properly with Jack (as last night, the music and the beer were so good that we didn't have a chance). I'm very glad that I've done both those things: although really, one morning in the British Museum is a bit of a joke — you could wander around it for a week, and still only see a quarter of it.
For lack of much else to do, this morning Christina and I went on a walking tour of Bath, which is held for free every morning by the Bath historical society. We survived about half of the 2-hour tour; after that, it was so cold and so boring that we couldn't take any more. We saw the Roman baths (the outside, at least), some of Bath's old houses, and other important architectural landmarks. We also heard a bit about Bath's history as a holiday spot for London's high society, and as a favourite town for high-roller gambling and other aristocratic pastimes. No idea what the tour contained after that, because we bailed out on it.
For my first sojourn into out-of-London England, today I went on a day trip to Oxford: lovely medieval town, and home of the world's most famous and most prestigious university. I was fortunate enough to be guided around the uni (and the town — they're virtually one-and-the-same) by my mate Garth, who showed me several areas that are generally off-limits to the public, and that are well worth seeing if you have the opportunity.
We had a relaxed but really enjoyable day today. Although it was Saturday, most of the Goldsteins were (sadly) busy: Adam and David were off at a golf tourmanent; and Becca was (for a change) working like crazy all day. So it was just my dad, Janine, and myself. Janine drove us over to the town of Lexington, which is about ½ an hour west of Newton (it's almost part of Boston, but not quite), and which is one of the great historic Massachusetts towns from the 18th century War of Independence. Charming place, and filled with monuments from centuries past.
Sounds like the kind of name that America's worst president would make up, don't you think? Actually — amazingly — the name "the freedom trail" was not made up by Dubbya, and it even predates the Bush administration. "The freedom trail" is a red line that winds through the streets of old Boston town, and that guides the curious tourist to a number of the more prominent historical landmarks, here in one of the oldest and most history-rich cities in the USA. Today, Ivor, Manuela, dad and myself embarked upon the trail, and discovered a whole lot of things about Boston and American Heritage.