A Travellerspoint blog

Castles and Quaint towns

Hey Lincoln; look at the Castle

sunny 27 °C

As we headed toward Vienna, it is funny to see all the castles appearing. Hey
Lincoln look at that castle and that one. All massive structures, located on tops of
mountains or into rocks. Who built these structures? How did they ever get
materials to these site? Was there a budget? How do I hire these people? We had issues building Lincoln's patio-hauling sand, pavers up a set of stairs transferring to a wheel barrow and manuevering over tree roots. No way building a fortress of such detail and magnitude would be easy.

I read about cute river towns. We headed off the highway and up along a scenic
route-Melk towards Spitz, Durnstein and Krems. These are charming river towns.
Towns on either side of the river. Have to make sure of the location of the
towns you want to ride through-no bridges. We were lucky.

The towns have heurigen. These are wine taverns. The vineyards are their
backyards and pine branches over the doorways indicate open. We wandered into
one. It is hard to enjoy these local taverns without speaking the language. All
german with no communication either way. We had a spritzer- wine with water.
Wines are white and since we were driving-and language barrier mostly- kept us
sober. Couldn't order so easily. Some patrons tried to talk with us-no idea.

We strolled around-nice bed and breakfast guest houses-would have been great to
experience- after a few minutes-very frustrating.

These side trips reinforce why renting a car is best option. On a train you are
scheduled and miss the non city adventures.

Off to Vienna at last...

Posted by Jcarrara 01:28 Archived in Austria Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Mauthausen Concentration Camp

Surprise, no this way to death camp signage

sunny 32 °C

Once the Sound of Music tour ended, we headed towards Vienna.

On the way to Salzburg, we drove throught the Austrian river town Mauthausen. This is the home of a level 3(hard labor and death camp) concentration camp. The small town is on the Danube
and we thought it would be easy to locate. We were wrong.

I do not fault the town for not advertising that 2 death camps are our claim to
fame- one would figure there would be some directional signs. We gave up and I
asked Amanda to map quest directions for me for the next day.

Amanda had some trouble getting the directions also. I googled and yahooed with
my blackberry the entire trip back to the town. It is outside Linz and Gusen is
the sister camp near by.

I found reviews and information-not the website itself. I finally found the
memorial museum and the women advised Mauthausen-we had about an hour till
visiting hours were over. We then started the hunt for the camp again. It is
high into the hills. It was a granite quarry and huge fortress- tucked away and for the size-it is well hidden.

The labor was mining granite and stone in a deep sunken quarry. Working under brutal heat conditions was another type of torture. Walking to the quarry, Nazi soldiers would push people off the cliff-Parachute alley.

In the main camp, a few buildings were left. Buy the phamplet describing the layout of the entire
functioning camp. You were able to enter some bunks. Immediately, the stifling heat was unbearable and we were 2 people. Picture overcrowded conditions jammed into these quarters- can not imagine how different lives were before this event.

Part of the tour was the gas chambers- so creepy walking into this basement with
crematoriums visible. They thought they were entering showers. There were
pictures, memorials and candles in the ovens. After reading about the camp and
the different ways they were tortured and executed- this was the kindest of all
options. Some were just shot, ice water poured on Russian solders in the
freezing weather, pushed off the quarry walls ect.

There was a great museum with actual pictures from SS photographers-documents,
transport papers ect. Names of the main camps and sister camps.

It is amazing how people just accepted their fate and why it took so long to
liberate the people. The last year alone they estimate 150000 deaths.

The monuments to all the different countries was touching. So sad-and if you get
the opportunity to visit a camp- it is a must and spend 2-3 hours.

The drive out of town-unreal with quaint colorful cottages and tourist traps-
barge cruises start and stop in this area. Unknowing to the horrors occuring around them.

Posted by Jcarrara 01:02 Archived in Austria Tagged educational Comments (0)

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