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Europe Day 3: Salt mines and water garden

Salt mines

We drove up to the salt mines today. The landscape here is gorgeous. I got this picture as we were driving by in the bus!

Here’s another one, showing how beautiful the views are around here.

Then we arrived. Chris gave our group directions. He’s a really good tour guide – very knowledgeable, patient, on top of things, and doesn’t show any stress so we don’t get stressed out. I don’t think I could do his job.

We were way high up. It’s kind of a bummer of the views far away look hazy. To the naked eye, they actually look much clearer. Nevertheless, I could totally just sit here all day and admire the scenery!

There is a Celtic village on top.

Unfortunately I didn’t look carefully at all the signs so I can’t remember what these buildings all were for. But they were very interesting.

This one was a workshop of some kind. It really looked to me like a scene from the game Myst.

This one was really dark inside. It’s amazing my camera could pick up anything without flash! I think that round thing in the middle was a kind of fire pit of some sort.

Then it came time for our group to go into the salt mines. They had all of us dress up in white mining suits.

The kids were quite amusing. They pretended to be monks.

Megan and Josephine did too.

Then they said, “Do a prom pose!” Except, instead of wearing fancy clothes, everyone looked like they were straitjacket suits!

Then they pretended to be ninjas.

They had us line up by the tunnel and wait for the mining car. It was like a train-type of vehicle but you had to straddle it like a seesaw.

To descend into the mine, we had to go two at a time down a wooden slide. There was a gate that said “stop” that prevented us from accidentally sliding down. It would open and then we would slide down. The first time I was in front and Cathy was in back. It was really scary. I didn’t like it very much. (I don’t like roller coasters either.) This slide was around 23 meters long.

We did a lot of walking through rock tunnels, stopping occasionally to watch a film about the history of the salt mines. All quite fascinating. We came to an underground lake. Here’s how it looks with flash.

It really doesn’t looks like that though. It looks more like this… dark and black. As we rode the raft across, they had different lights and dramatic music. It felt like a Disneyland ride.

Here’s everyone getting off the raft.

Once again, that picture above had a flash so it really didn’t look like that. It was more like this, with some lights glowing.

Then another big slide. This one was over 40 meters long! This time Cathy went in front and it wasn’t scary at all! And Cathy liked it too because she likes roller coasters. This view is looking down the steep slide. At the bottom where it looks like it goes up is actually the level ground, so that gives an idea of the angle of the slide. It sure felt like it was 45 degrees!

A back view of people going down the slide…

After that, we each got a small vial of salt as we exited up an escalator. Waited in a very long line for lunch. They only had 2 people in the cafe serving 75 people — taking orders AND cooking! I was the very last person in line and by the time I got my order, I had to run out the door. I ordered curry sausage and they ran out of curry, so I just had sausage. The poor lady was so stressed out and seemed to feel so bad and was appalled I wouldn’t even take ketchup.

After that to Hellbrun Palace. (I heard “hellbrun” means light brown.) This was the summer palace the archbishop built (I think. Don’t quote me on the details). It was actually more of a yellow color than light brown.

There is a huge garden there called the water gardens. There are lots of water features. The other reason it is called that was because of things like this… here is where the archbishop would sit with all his guests after they had lots of wine to drink.

The archbishop (sitting at the head of the table) would give a sign and then this would happen… (as our hapless volunteers discovered).

Meanwhile, the archbishop would stay dry. Some of the kids got sopping wet!

Then onto the next sight. A big pond with big fish swimming in it…

Lots of statues by water…

An indoor grotto. This one was called the “Hall of Mirrors.” When exiting, everyone got sprayed with more water. People started getting paranoid when seeing water on the ground. Sure enough, it was a sign that we were soon going to get sprayed unexpectedly.

But it had cool things like this huge water-run mechanical scene. It is entirely powered by water and all the figures move.

Or cool things like this where a crown would move up and down, carried by the water.

We then returned back to the castle, some slightly wet and others totally dripping.

There were different rooms to look at.

Interesting sights but a long day, so back to the hotel to rest a little. Josephine came over and taught Megan how to draw anime. I’ll have to post that after I get back to California.

When it was time for dinner, we went back to the central square. There was a couple there playing lovely accordion and harp music.

We had dinner at a nice restaurant.

Cathy is the president of SYS. I tried to get a picture of her with the cool window background but it got washed out.

Here’s what we had for dinner. Fried eggplant and pasta with a little cream sauce. So far almost every meal has been deep fried. The food here is quite heavy. But the eggplant was yummy.

The dessert was what looked like fruit cocktail with tofu on top. It was actually some kind of firm custard. Quite yummy.

After dinner, back to the square as the sun was starting to go down.

But plenty of light for a group photo!

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  • Reply Glen Nielsen

    Every picture looks like a postcard! How do you DO THAT??? So fascinating … great job on the narrative! Love the way you capture the setting as well as the group’s interaction with the environment … keep it up, and thanks!

    June 26, 2010 at 12:19 am
  • Reply Glen Nielsen

    Btw … the food pics are outstanding … they look like they are right out of the Food Network!

    June 26, 2010 at 12:21 am
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