/ Europe2017

Things to do on a wet day

The forecast for today and tomorrow are poor. Shame because a major outdoor festival starts here in Salzburg tomorrow.

It's raining when we leave the van this morning and hadn't really stopped all day when we returned tonight; at best it was drizzle, at worst it was pretty heavy. We've only had to resort to wearing our raincoats a couple of times all holiday - today the waterproof trousers came out for the first time.

Still, our Salzburg card means we can go pretty much to any tourist attraction we fancy so we ought do that. First stop the funicular railway and up to the fortress. 

Sorry, make that second stop; we took a wrong turning in the old town shopping area and found ourselves a 10 minute walk away from the funicular in the suddenly heavy rain. A sign opposite said Toy Museum, so that'll do for stop #1.

An interesting idea. A venerable 16th century building carved out of the rock face was original a retirement home for the city elders. Now it hosts a museum which is more children's play area than stuffy museum. Visitors either replace their shoes with (supplied) indoor Crocs or wear plastic bootee overshoes. I thought this was a little excessive, surely their floor coverings can't be that valuable. Soon I learned the real reason, there were toddlers playing with toys on the floor, even younger, one child was attempting the world under 1-year-old crawling land speed record. 

The museum had rooms with different toys, dolls, teddies, dolls houses, trains etc and there were formal cased displays and cupboards full of contemporary versions to be played with. It was good to see that parents would tidy back after their child had moved on. One room was a cinema with cushions and bean-bags scattered to allow watching of the 3 back-to-back short children's films. Another room was a small library with cushions and sofas and a wide range of reading material. In yet another a young child was given his father a good run on a large Scalectrix set.

We felt a bit voyeuristic not having children with us. The displays of old toys were interesting enough but the heart of this museum was a play centre for children. An idea we wholeheartedly approve of.

Talking of toys I should have mentioned that there is a Steiff shop here in Salzburg. Not just teddy bears but facsimile dog and cat breeds as well as wild animals, some quite large (both in size and price). A huge, larger than lifesize Emperor Penguin was tempting! The giraffe Liz fancied was smaller than life-size by a long way but the €2500 price tag means it won't be appearing in a play room near us too soon!

Now on to the funicular. It's raining steadily. Stalls are setting up in the square for tomorrow's festival. Takings may be down this year. 

Eventually we spot the funicular and it is different. Funiculars work by having two balanced cars, one ascending, one descending. This normally means two close parallel tracks, but this funicular is single track with a dual-track passing loop in the centre. I'm not sure if this arrangement was in place when the original water-balanced funicular was built back in 1892 or whether it was introduced during its many modernisations. The latest incarnation is 2011 vintage and electric powered and don't half go at a lick. 5.5m/s (12.3mph) is pretty nippy up a 62% incline. Certainly the fastest funicular we've been on. It's still raining at the top. The panoramic views would be highly photogenic if we could actually see much. Even trying to snap the funicular from the base was unspectacular in this rain.

They say photography is working with light. Not much of that about today. 

We should really tour the fortress but it's wet, a lot of the tour will involved being outside and, anyway, fortresses don't have a reputation for being warm and inviting. But beerhalls do! And our Salzburg Card covers a tour of Stiegl Brauwelt brewery just a 10 minute bus ride away. Brewery it is then. 

We arrive just after a large party who are being given a guided tour so we could tag on to them, but the brewery has a self-guided tour with a downloadable app providing the commentary. We elect for a peaceable tour at our own pace. It's actually very well done and an interesting hour. One tip: the audio commentary suggests tasting the various malts. Do not assume that this applies to the labelled piles of malt on display. I picked up a grain and munched away before realising that the display was glued in permanent position and is just eaten a grain that was more glue that barley! Not good!

The usual brewery stuff, although Stiegl do seem to be interested in producing "craft" beers in the true sense of the word as well as their normal high volume output. Part of the brewery is dedicated to low-volume special brews and they even have a farm elsewhere where they grow ancient and unusual strains of wheat and, unusually in this day and age, even have a small maltings there.

The tasting is good - 3 0.2l beers, an unfiltered version of their Goldbräu Märsen, an IPA and their current house beer which happens to be a 6.5% Belgian Saison style. It's the best Saison I've drank, spicy like Belgian Abbey doubles but with just a bit of sour Saison sharpness. The Goldbräu too is excellent, they pride themselves on a 12% Plato wort and long maturation to give a full-bodied 5.2% abv beer and certainly this was one of the bigger-bodied bottom-fermented beers we've experienced. The IPA was good enough but American hopped IPAs don't really do it for me. The Goldbräu was sufficiently good that we bought another full half-litre each and then realised that we had passed the witching hour of 5pm when the shop closes. Not only did I want buy some of the bottled beers but our tour entitled us to a small free gift. Now we'll never find out what it was!

It's raining lightly as we return to the campsite. Heavier as we go to wash up and put a load of washing in. Slashing it down whilst waiting for the tumble dryer. Liz changes into shorts to save getting wet trousers when she volunteers to fetch the washing back. 

It's gonna be a cold, wet night.