Salzburg in the second lockdown

Salzburg in the second lockdown

Salzburg during the second lockdown

A city trying to live during the pandemic

The following Text is a very personal statement from Gerlinde Maria Praher-Schneck, it is not a political or science post

If you now go through the streets of Salzburg, it feels uncomfortable. It is nearly empty, the shops are mainly closed in the main shopping Area of Salzburg Oldtown.

Since Tuesday we have a second lockdown due to COVID-19 Pandemic. But it is not the same like it was in March 2020. Very less people here are actual following the rules. They now know the tricks to go out even there is restriction of moving outside the own apartments or houses. It is allowed to go for a walk or doing sports. So the main people who were following the rules in spring are now going out like they ever did, washing their cars at the carwash, going to the supermarket to shop or just being out in nature or on the mountains.

What I personally miss is the “together we make it!” sense, which was here at the beginning of the year. In my personal opinion it gets more and more egoistic – as long as I am not infected, what should I longer smaller down my personal life.

We have three little kids, which grow up now in a world of face masks. My 3year one will not touch me, while wearing a mask – and of course she does not understand. She is not able to go to a childhood garden, as these are open – but it is just possible to bring her to the door and everyday you cannot be sure, that it is open longer. She miss playing with others or just the visit of her godmother and their son. I do not want to grow up my kids in this times. But they are here no – and the pandemic is.

It would be great to find a solution to life with – only vaccine will be for sure not the solution. It is very difficult for all the politics to find solutions and then being shouted by the other parties to do it wrong. In my opinion there is no right or wrong. It just should be a way to become comfortable and find a way to life all together with COVID-19.

We miss the tourists here in Salzburg, they always were a part of the city background of Salzburg. And we personally miss also travelling. The world changed. We will have to find a new way to handle with.

Perhaps we all share similar thoughts, perhaps completely different ones. It is all okay, the only thing I would bet – don’t forget – it is one World and we are all living in the same world.

Winter view to the town of Salzburg

winter in Salzburg!

Together we will make the tourism great again and are looking forward a nice new year, welcoming lots of guests again!

world’s biggest cuckoo clock

world’s biggest cuckoo clock

Cuckoo Clocks from Germany – a unique and traditional clock from the black forest

Traditionally the most famous cuckoo clocks come from the back forest area in Germany. Traditionally they are still made with all the experience and hand craft of the south western part of Germany.

The cuckoo clocks have many years of traditions and the noise has been so much perfected to come as close as possible to the real ones in nature.

The cuckoo clocks are not only a tool to see the clock but also should reflect the traditions, stories and experiences of the region.

typical German cuckoo clock

a long-time tradition and development

The cuckoo’s clock tradition is for Germany some tradition that shows tradition at it’s best and stands for german preciseness and unvieled German coziness.

The cuckoo clock has been originated in the area of Schonach, where people live since the middle of the 18th. Century only from the cuckoo clock’s production. When it was developed the cuckoo clock had two advantages: 1. the clock worked for much more time than other traditional clocks and instead of ringing a bell, a cuckoo comes out to wake you up and telling you that another hour has passed. the inside of a cuckoo clock worked in the most traditional way and still does: The whole wheels and mechanism is made out of wood. The cuckoo clock’s nice producer is still made in the same way: a sound chamber out of wood and bellows with a paper air bulk to make the noise. The basic idea was to make a rooster to wake up the people and the servants in the morning to make sure that they start working on time on the fields. Since the kicker sound was not possible to make, the clock makers decided to just use two pipes and producing the typically sound of the cuckoo.

A typical cuckoo clock is made out of wood and shows the best preciseness that Germany has to offer.

purists swear that the cuckoo clock has to stay the same way as already over 250years ago. One of that producer has decided to make the mechanic open for everybody and just simply decided to make a cuckoo clock in an XXL version. It became the world’s biggest cuckoo clock, as big as a normal single family home.

The clock is as interesting and dark as the german history, decorated with latin numbers, oak wood, antlers, etc. Inside the mechanic is all made in wood and shows how a traditional black forest cuckoo clock has to be.

At each hour an 80 kilo cuckoo bird comes out and makes the typical sound.

Find below the pictures of the world’s biggest cuckoo clock, with an inside picture of the size and mechanic.

world biggest cuckoo clock

Therefore it has the risk of all the traditions: The best times are over but how do you make a classic still work and innovate in order to be still considered traditional. A classic will also work but can it be transformed also into the newest times?

There are nowadays several versions: 1st: the original one without any fancy new additions; 2nd: the ones made with moving figures and extra sound; 3rd the ones made out of quartz and just need a battery, also there you can have them with moving figures or not.

The world is changing and people changed their houses and also the cuckoo clock. There are now versions that are totally transparent, versions in light neon colors, or silver deer, etc.

Not everybody agreed with it but the main fact has to stay the same: The cuckoo noise and also the mechanic has to still work with the same principals, just more precise, etc than it was hundreds of years ago. The 150 single pieces still work in the same manner with a chain and weights at the end. The mechanic does not need any electronic or batteries. A normal movement has to work between 5-8 days and can last even longer without having to rewind it by pulling the weights the opposite way (one on top, the other one below). The gravity does the rest and is therefore very much eco friendly, as plastic and also lots of chemical is not used.

Nowadays the innovations show also that the tradition is still alive. It should not only show like a typical Grimm fairytale with wolfs and dark and dangerous forests but reflects the positivity of Germany: friendly and achieving sport success, as well as economical success. Around the cuckoo clock there has been lately another hype again but only the outside of the clock changes but the inside is still as traditionally as a german tradition can be and who knows what the future brings.

inside the world biggest cuckoo clock

Drive with us up to the black forest and see why fairytales and cuckoo clock comes from here. See a factory and see the tradition and the new innovations. We are looking forward to meet you here in Salzburg. Best regards and a good travel Be Special Tours!

Hohenwerfen fortress

Hohenwerfen fortress

The fortress of Hohenwerfen

Hohenwerfen fortress is a medieval rock castle. It is located on a 623 metres (2,044 ft) precipice overlooking the Austrian market town of Werfen in the Salzach river valley. It is about 40 kilometres (25 mi) south of Salzburg. Hohenwerfen is a small “sister” of  the fortress of Hohensalzburg, both built by the Archbishops of Salzburg in the 11th century. The name of the major builder’s archbishop was Gebhard of Salzburg.

fortress of Werfen

a strategical defense fortress in the Austrian Alps

The fortress Hohenwerfen was built between 1075 and 1078 during the Imperial Investiture Controversy. It was a strategic bulwark at the top of a 155-metre (509 ft) high rock. Gebhard, an ally of Pope Gregory VII and the anti-king Rudolf of Rheinfelden, held three major castles extended to secure the route across the Eastern Alps along the Salzach river against the forces of King Henry IV of Germany: these were Hohenwerfen, Hohensalzburg and Petersburg Castle at Friesach (Carinthia). Gebhard was expelled from King Henry in 1077 and were not allowed to return to Salzburg until 1086.

Hohenwerfen was for the rulers of Salzburg not only a military base but also a residence and hunting retreat area. It was extended in the 12th century and also in the 16th century. During the German Peasants’ War in 1525-1526 farmers and miners from the south of Salzburg destroyed the castle – on their move towards the city the were laying fire and did a lot of damage.

From time to time it was also used as a state prison. It was not the best place to stay there – there were definitely inhumane conditions. Sometimes also noble guests were sitting behind its prison walls like the archbishop Adalbert III in 1198, Count Albert of Friesach in 1253, and Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau – perhaps you remember him from the Saltmines in Bad Dürrnberg or Mirabell Palace.
the mountains from the fortress of Werfen

The use today of the fortress of Hohenwerfen

During the centuries it was going through many different owners – the most famous ones perhaps was the Habsburg family of Austria. Then of course it was also in the hands of the Austrian government and after World War II it was used as a training camp by the Austrian Gendarmerie (rural police) until 1987.

Nowadays the fortress functions as a museum. The museum has different main topics and it is more than fascination to walk through different centuries and climb up the biggest tower of the fortress to have a great overview over the valley of the Salzach river. Also guided tours are done which are showing its extensive weapons collection, the historical Salzburg Falconry (in summertime two times a day) with the falconry museum as well as a fortress tavern. The historic Falconry center is a special attraction, offering daily flight demonstrations using various birds of prey, including eagles, falcons, hawks, and vultures

logo where eagle's dare.

Hollywood & fortress Hohenwerfen

You will be surprised, but also Hollywood loves this area and the medieval fortress of Hohenwerfen was used as background and movie locations for several films. Perhaps you know some of them:

In the 1968 cinema film Where Eagles Dare the castle featured as the fictional Schloss Adler, command headquarters of the 3rd Rich, raided by an Anglo-American paratroop team during World War 2.

Also Just Married with Ashton Kutscher was done there in 2003, where it was used as French Hotel.

Season three of Angel used the castle as a monastery located in Sri Lanka, where Buffy summers died.

Perhaps you remember The 10th Kingdom? Also there the castle appears in the movie.

And of course it was used during the “do-re-mi-picnic scene” in The Sound of Music. Behind Julie Andrews when the kids learned to sing with here you see the valley of Werfen and the hillside with the castle.

There were also a few other movies, I do not want to count them all.

chapel within the fortress of Werfen

Drive with us to the Fortress of Hohenwerfen and enjoy a spectacular walk through the centuries. Learn more about this area and the Salzach valley and see the eagles flying. We are looking forward to meet you here in Salzburg. Best regards and a good travel Bespecialtours!

Stiegl – lifestyle and beer

Stiegl – lifestyle and beer

Stiegl – beer and Innovation such as ami beer, etc.

The Stiegl Brewery was founded and firstly mentioned on documents dated to the 16th June 1492. It was called “The House by the Steps” which is still the brand’s name and used in the logo (which can be found almost everywhere in Salzburg) of five up going steps.

At the time of foundation the brewery, Salzburg was a typical middle aged town and the development of the beer (going back to the Romans before christ time) was typically in the area due to the fact that beer had less germs than the water. Also the opinion of Copernicus became more and more popular and the world was not any longer flat. Of course – for our US community – America had been discovered on the 12th. October. 1492 by Columbus.

In the town of Salzburg there used to be a typically tavern near by a small river under the houses of the town in the area of the nowadays “Gstättengasse” which was first mentioned as “Bräuhaus an der Gstätten”. Actually the brewery is a bit outside of the city center and the original tavern does not exist any longer – it was directly in the old town, where the house of nature (museum) is nowadays located.

The name “Stiegl” came just a little later. It refers to a small set of steps situated next to the brew house. At the “Haus Bey der Stiegen”, brewing water was taken from the Almkanal (the small river under the town), which supplies the city with fresh water.

The old business operations of the brewery and of course the guesthouse had a very simple sequence of events. The brewer brews his beer, slaughters his own animals and accommodates strangers who enjoy the food and drink his products on their way through Europe. The citizens also dropped by in the evening for a drink or to take their beer home in pitchers and tankards. And so the oldest brewery in the city of Salzburg was founded and run as a private family business. This is something very unique until today – the Stiegl is still in private property. The name of the founder family was Huemer – this changed only one time – but it is run by the third generation of the family Kiener. On their website you can see also a picture of the actual business owner and his philosophy.

In the 17th century Stiegl was the biggest brewery in the area of Salzburg – but there were over 100 other small breweries which made their own recipe of beer. Another very important factor at this time took place in the taverns and encouraged the people to stay longer outside, drink their beer, eat well and of course chat. The tobacco was brought to Salzburg and people enjoyed to smoke, drink and chat.

In the 1780ies the most famous person of Salzburg started to drink Stiegl beer – Mozart. We know that, because it was mentioned in an entry of his sister Nannerl’s diary. The owner of Stiegl followed the custom among beer-brewing families to keep their children’s marriages exclusively within their professional’s circle. In 1765, Johann Ambros Elixhauser marries into the Kiener family. His family has also been part of Salzburg’s brewing circles. Elixhauser is a wealthy, successful businessman and the Stiegl Brewery flourished more than ever.

In the 1820ies the Stieglkeller – a still existing restaurant in Salzburg – was founded. This was also the time when Salzburg became part of Austria and was going through the time from a self-standing prince archbishop’s rule to a more provincial town. But the beer still flew 🙂

A time of ups and downs followed until the farmer and grain trader Franz Huemer had enough of this mismanagement. He took over at the Stiegl Brewery and put his nephew Heinrich Kiener in charge as director. Up to the present day a member of the Kiener family manages the private brewery.

In the year 1912 the Stiegl “Goldbräu” Märzen was registered as brand name and started his way over the world. It guarantees quality at the highest level and follows the old bavarian tradition of the “Reinheitsgebot” (more about it in the following text).

Of course the time of two world wars left their mark also in the company of Stiegl Brewery. During the times of the allied troops in Salzburg the lack of raw materials lead to a loss of quality. Of course this was not in the mind of the soldiers stationed in Salzburg. Therefore the Stiegl brewery got support from the US and high quality raw materials to brew a special american beer. So the citizens of Salzburg got their usual (at this time not so tasty Stiegl) and the soldiers their beer taste. Of course, when they were going back to the US they missed something – the Stiegl Ami Beer. Because of that event, until now one of the most important export markets of Stiegl is the US (behind Germany and Italy). So when back at home in the US, going to the restaurant or bar and finding the five red steps logo behind your bars, you know where it came from.

In 1954, Kiener brought Coca-Cola to Salzburg by founding the “Salzburger Getränkeindustrie” (Salzburg Beverages Industry). In its first year, the company produced and sold 100,000 crates of this caffeinated soft drink. In 2005 the most modern brewery was established in Salzburg. Nowadays the Stiegl brewery has over 600 employees and is a very well running company and it may be that the following patriarch of the Stiegl brewery is the first time in history a Lady, because in the following generation of family Kiener there a two girls and only one is interested in learning the business.

What really is the innovation at Stiegl? Since 2015 all their ingredients (except water) have been produced by themselves. We will come back to the raw materials in the next step connected with the “Reinheitsgebot”.

musuem stiegl

Reinheitsgebot – purity requirements

Since the year 1516 the Bavarian regulations of breweries have the purity requirements. Since the year 1918 also in the bavarian constitutional laws. This means that in a good beer there is only clear water, barley (wheat) and hops. In fact they forgot one very important thing – the yeast. There is still in the old fairy tales from the brother Grimm’s “Rumpelstiltskin” – the secret of why sometimes it is beer as result and sometimes it does not work. There is the sentence with the dwarf dancing around the fire: “today I bake, tomorrow I brew and the day after I am picking up the queen’s child” And that’s it! You need YEAST which was unknown at the time by the point of science but an absolutely necessary ingredient for funding the purity requirements to make out of the ingredients an alcoholic drink.

This purity requirements are still valid (the own choice of Stiegl) also in this brewery in Salzburg/Austria. The Stiegl beer includes the clear water from the Untersberg mountain which is filtered through the stone and brings a very important impact to the taste of the beer. So the most important ingredient is the WATER.

The Stiegl brewery has in Wildshut an own farm where wheat grows which becomes barley in a small malthouse and is then freshly delivered to Salzburg by train day by day. So the BARLEY is ready for production. In Wildshut they also plant special sorts of wheat which are only growing in this special region – but of course have an own taste and so give the beer a unique way of taste.

Still plants its own HOPS and since 2015 they can also use this for their production. So as far as I personally know this is very significant and unique here in Europe that a brewery farms and produces its own ingredients. For me personally an additional reason to stay regional and to enjoy the taste of a Stiegl and their lifestyle! So join us with bespecialtours – it fit’s to our philosophy :-)!

Stiegl Museum

If you are interested to visit the Brewery and of course taste the Stiegl beer, there is a great opportunity: Enjoy a guided tours through the brewery and during week time you can also have a look to the hand production process of their special beers through a glass wall (on the weekends you see the tolls but not making of it).

You start with a 360degree image movie, then you learn more about the raw materials and can also smell them or have a taste and then you get more information about the production process of making beer (I am not going into detail here – but if you are really interested in just let us know by mail). Then you will see how it really works into a production by hand and you get an overview of different special beers of Stiegl (they make every year a special beer – for example they use old wine barrels which have the taste of wine inside and so the beer gets a special flavor). In the museum on the upper floor you will see how many different beers are available in Austria and you get an overview over the historical development of the Stiegl brewery.

Of course I want to mention a special try of the Stiegl brewery – following an old roman recipe they produced a so called “UR-Beer” in big roman ceramic amphoras digged into the earth for a year. The outcome is perhaps not the typical taste of a beer, but it is something really special. Enjoy it, if you have time!

At the end of the museum’s visit we would suggest to taste a bit the different kinds of beer and enjoy a wonderful lunch or dinner in the restaurant, where typically austrian dishes are served before heading back to the center and enjoy perhaps the night life of Salzburg!

Mozart’s birthplace

Mozart’s birthplace

Mozart’s Birthplace in Salzburg

Salzburg is all about Mozart, the most famous son of this town. You will find Mozart almost everywhere in the old town of Salzburg: From a giant mozart ball, to the mozart’s square, the mozart’s bridge, the Mozart’s balls and the mozart ducks. But there are also two very important buildings: The Mozart’s living house where the family of Mozart lived before moving to Vienna and the even more famous Mozart’s birthplace. Nowadays a museum to show the life of Mozart, his work and the life of Mozart in Salzburg.

The museum is on 3 floors in the building in which Mozart was born: On the first floor you will learn about the travels of the family Mozart and the lifestyle. In the 18th century it was something very unusual where traveling was very difficult and very long. The studies proofed that Mozart was traveling for about 11 years of his life and had definitely a traveling bug. But these travels also influenced his life, his creativity and also his operas. The life in the 18th century was not easy but Mozart made this life easier and took it with more humor.

The birthplace of Mozart also demonstrates that the family of Mozart was a very good middle class family and had a clean and nice apartment and lived quite well for that time. The ceiling was not very high but since it had in each room an oven the rooms were very warm and comfortable. The family is also a typically family at that time when families had lots of children but unfortunately the child’s death rate was extremely high. Mozart’s mother Anna Maria gave birth to 7 children and only 2 out of them became older than 2 years. It was nothing unusual at that time due to the fact that many children died very early.

Mozart's birthplace Salzburg

The Mozart’s birthplace shows very nice and in a good way some original arts of the Mozart family, see the violin which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was supposed to play because before he was able to play the piano he learned the violin. It shows also the life in Vienna in which Mozart lived his creativity and enjoyed his life more. On the second floor on which also a souvenir shop has been installed the operas and theaters of Mozart and how he imagined that his operas should be performed. Each room and exhibition item has an explanation in german and english besides. In addition it is possible to download an app for free and having all the explanations in other languages and to repeat then at home any time you want. So enjoy the Mozart’s birthplace and enjoy to get more into the life of the 18th century, the circumstances and the mastermind of Mozart!

The tickets and dates you get directly at Bespecialtours. Have fun in Salzburg with Be Special Tours!

Mozart to go – a new concert in town

Mozart to go – a new concert in town

Mozart trying to bring alive

Mozart – old and still new

In Salzburg you have the opportunity to visit a Mozart concert before dinner with a lot of interesting input. Because by “Mozart in Residence” in the new residence of Salzburg located, you get to know the history of Wolfgang Amadeus and also some impressions of his sisters Nannerls diary together with fantastic music in vocal and voices.

It was amazing to have a look at, and even when I am personally not a Mozart fan (I prefer Verdi), it brought me a wonderful overview over his time in Austria – his birth in the town Salzburg, his travels around Europe and also about his time in Vienna and WHY this happened – which impact our archbishops had here in Salzburg on the life of this world famous and impressive musician and his revolutionary ideas. Of course the concert was not only talking or singing about Mozart’s life but it was also a good impact of his most famous music pieces. The concert is not only a look through his most famous compositions but tells also his letters that he has wrote either during or before or after the composition and therefore reflects his mood into each music piece to the best.

You will get a short impact about the music played and how the location looks like – I am sure you are not often going in the residence of the former archbishops of Salzburg :-). Watch a video about it

Enjoy really good music, amusement and the local historical ceilings and paintings in the old room of the new residence for a very acceptable price and during tea time. So no need to hurry for dinner to get the concerts impressions, it is very informal and no need to dress up like for the big opera events – you enjoy Mozart to go! A good suggestion would be after the concert to go for a dinner in one of the nearby old town restaurant to enjoy the most liked foods of Mozart.

Tickets can be purchased directly through Bespecialtours. Enjoy Salzburg with Be Special Tours!

Mozart concert