Tuesday, December 28, 2010

18 Dec 2010 @ Sat Salzburg -5 to -7 C

Outside Untersbergbahn or cable car station
Untersberg, the nearest mountain in the vicinity of Salzberg, is our target of the day. We took bus 25, from bus terminus all the way to the terminal station, Untersbergbahn, all under one hour. From there, we hopped up the cable car that will ferry us all the way up all of its 1800 m, together with skiers and intrepid tourists. All are covered  by the Salzburg card.
Untersberg before us on a clear day
Thermometer outside the tavern reads -14C but it felt like -20C in the wind

Beyond the cable car station to the first look out point took forever.
The weather report for Untersberg was -12 C yesterday, so all of us took extra care to dress right for the mountain visit ( chemical heaters, thermals, 2 sweaters, down parkas with hood, beanies, leather gloves, 2 pairs of socks, leather boots ). Therefore, when the cold biting wind hit us the moment we got out of the cable car station, I was glad for the chemical warmers and thermals, which initially was thought excessive.

Salzburg at our feet.
100 m is a very long way to go if frost forms on your hair. I never did venture beyond 100 m from the cable car station.

Pat and H attacked the mountain with gusto but I knew something was not quite right. The pesky problem of altitude sickness was bothering me again, although this time it was not as severe as in Taiwan.
The blinding white makes seeing difficult

The scene unfolded before me on Untersberg  like  a scene from a documentary by National Geographic. The sky was azure blue, devoid of cloud, and relentless winds whipped up frost from the ground, lashing our faces and stinging our eyes. Many times,  snow blindness made seeing unbearable ( we have forgotten our sunglasses ) and each windy gusts pushed me to the walled side of the pathway.  I made every step of ascent painfully, from the cold and altitude issue.
Soft rime

Even so, it was a novel experience and we spent quite a bit of time laughing at the icicles that formed on our hair, frost on our glasses and crusted runny noses. Everyone from the cable car has already overtaken us and reached the first peak, demarcated by a huge ice frosted cross. We did not make it there, mainly because of me. Yet, in the short stretch, we managed to take lots of photos of wind swept ice, perpendicular to the ground, growing from poles and rocks. I began to pity the guys who had to stay at the Arctic an entire year filming the penguins movie.
Our refuge and lunch place near the cable car station
Relieve for the cold and tired travelers.

We had a little information exchange with 2 Korean girls, dressed lesser than us. After discussion, they concluded that they were in no form to continue beyond the first 25 m from the cable car station, in their woolen overcoat. While they gave up and took the next cable car down, we settled for a break at a snow covered tavern.

Lunch at the tavern was this very salty dumpling

Inside the tavern on Untersberg
Scrambled potato which is just as salty

It was the coziest place ever visited, a god-send in the numbing -14C weather, wind chill not considered. Skiers were having their beer and watching a live skiing competition on TV while we almost enjoyed a full blown meal: We had the saltiest soup ever in Salzburg and Pat had meatloaf which looked suspiciously like luncheon meat.  It was a happy one hour seeing the ice and snow billowing past the windows and playing with the tavern's resident dog, Jackie .
Salzburg card entitles only a single round trip at Untersberg so little H snapped away for all it is worth !
Around Untersbergbahn. I am still trying to figure what this sign means
The bus at Untersbergbahn that took us back to town
1pm. We took the cable car down ( latest departure 4 pm ), which runs on the half hour, and transferred to bus 25 back to town. A heavy fog came in as we depart from the frost and cold.  Back in town, we continued our trip to Europark on bus 1. It is a very big shopping area with all of Salzburg's youth hanging around there. After Untersberg, this is really a non-event. Pat got himself a nice Faber Castell pen for 45 euros from  a sweet English speaking salesgirl. This does little , however , to relive the adrenaline rush of Untersberg, and perhaps for a long time to come.
Gelato place at Level 2 in Europark, a cavernous mall 

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