Hi friends if you are following along here’s the second installment of our trip to Europe. The first is Our Two Days in Munich.
After two jam packed days in the wonderland that is Munich, we hopped a train and in under two hours were in Salzburg. With just 12 days in Europe we debated which cities to visit. We knew we wanted to see some of Austria and thought perhaps we’d do Vienna, but Salzburg was a little smaller and the fact they had a ‘Sound of Music’ bike tour made us choose it as our Austrian stop.
The trains in Europe are wonderful and there is usually no need to get tickets in advance or go first class. It’s easy to get seats together unless you’re traveling during a holiday time. After checking the schedule online, we bought the tickets in the Munich station and walked on the train ten minutes later. I so enjoyed seeing the small towns and villages and the countryside of course. We bought cappuccinos and read our books when we weren’t fascinated with the view.
When we arrived at the station, we grabbed a cab at the taxi line and took a short drive into the Altstadt or Old Town of Salzburg where our charming hotel was located. The city is divided by the Salzach River with the Medival and Baroque building of Old Town on the left and the 19th century Neustadt or New Town on the Right bank.
Our Hotel Goldgasse sits on a cobblestone street of the same name that once housed the goldsmiths of the town. The hotel was a former coppersmiths in the late 1500’s and was beautifully restored with parts of ancient columns and frescoes unearthed during it’s renovation. Like most of the Old Town, there are remnants of the past dug up everywhere and incorporated into the modern buildings. You can even see ancient columns in the Starbucks!
We enjoyed a cozy dinner here on rainy night with the best potato pancakes!
Up our spiral staircase was a lovely terrace overlooking Salzburg. There were lounges and a table and chairs. A larger communal terrace was also same floor as our apartment. Great places to relax after a day of exploring the city.
Our apartment had some interesting wall murals!
Our proprietress recommended a lunch around the corner at one of the older authentic Austrian restaurants. We had a cozy meal watched by portraits of Mozart’s family.
Again the cuisine is heavy on schnitzels with a side of pretzels.
I learned to order a Radler which is half lemon-lime soda and half beer. It’s light and refreshing. Brits call this a Shandy.
Afterward, we donned our rain slickers and set out to walk a bit of the city. The streets are charming and we stopped to get some Mozart Balls or Mozartkugel which are pistachio marzipan covered in nougat and chocolate.
Mozart rubber ducks !
There are two different kinds of Mozart Balls sold and I am firmly in the blue camp, which taste much better than the red ones.
If you’re a Marzipan fan it’s everywhere here !
On rainy days like this there are many cute shops to pop in and cozy cafes to have coffee.
Salzberg is the birthplace of Mozart so there are many tributes to him as well as the Mozarteum University of Salzburg, one of the most respected universities for musical studies in Europe. There are students all over the city toting cellos on bikes, and squeezing musical instruments on trains, and performing in many spots. You can feel the love of music here!
The Altstadt, or Old Town is a UNESCO world heritage site as it is one of the best preserved city centers north of the Alps and was spared much damage during World War II. The meandering cobbled streets and Baroque buildings will transport you back to another time and place.
We stopped in Salzburg Dom (Cathedral.) This is where Mozart was baptized and was chief organist.
On the walk up to the top of the city fortress you can stop at the oldest bakery in the world, Stiftsbaeckerei St Peter. We bought some kind of cookie that had rye and a bun of some sort. They didn’t speak English and we have only a smattering of German. By the way, Austrians seem to speak slightly less English than the Swiss and Germans and take less credit cards. You want to brush up on your basic German and have some Euros with you. Even in the train station, few places take credit.
A typical Austrian window on the walk up to the castle. Don’t you love the flowers and the heart?
We made it to Hohensalzburg Castle, right near the bakery, that afternoon and took the small funicular ride to the top to explore. Construction began in 1077 of this fortress which is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. There are some good spots to grab a snack or a meal on a sunny day when you can leisurely explore this castle with amazing views. As it was raining pretty hard, we darted about to the rooms and lookouts.
The view of Salzburg from one of the lookouts.
The original walls from Roman times have been uncovered in spots.
The next morning we woke to a bright and sunny day which was perfect as we had our bike tour on the schedule. My husband Max found this very fun bike tour just for me. I think he’d rather do a multi-day bike holiday, but this was more my speed.
The Fraulein Maria’s Bicycle Tour was a blast and I’m not the most skilled biker. I was nervous about biking through the city streets, yet there were small kids and grandmas along with us so that made me relax. They make it very easy and safe as you travel in a big train of bikes with a leader and follower.
The 1965 film Sound of Music was made in Salzburg and has a cult following especially of Americans. Believe it or not, most Austrians do not know this movie, yet people from all over the globe make the journey here to see where the story unfolded. This bike tour takes you to the houses and churches and other spots of interest from the film. You’ll also hear fun stories and secrets you may not know about the making of the film.
You begin at the Mirabell Palace which is a 17th century residence with gorgeous gardens that featured prominently in movie. Remember the steps and the round fountain where the von Trapp children sang ‘Do-a-deer’ etc? Well they are all in this garden and you are invited to run about a bit and recreate those moments if you want!
Then it’s up to the top of the city around the fortress…
Then a little stop to see the abbey where Maria was living before she was sent to help the von Trapps.
Remember this gate the nuns answered the children at and kept the S.S. out? This is it.
Next we began our ride through the countryside portion of the tour and past the back of this, the film home of Captain von Trapp.
Remember where the kids and Fraulein Maria overturned in the boat when saying welcome home to the captain? Love that scene. The littlest one, Gretl apparently didn’t swim and Julie Andrews was to catch her, but they accidentally went over opposite sides of the boat, so everyone was in the water trying to grab her! Guess she survived, but probably traumatic for the child.
Most of this was on a beautiful country path with mountain views and a few horse riders as well.
Schlosspark Hellbrunn, is a park connected to this beautiful yellow palace, which you can also tour. This time we just took a quick break from the bikes before we headed back to town.
This is also the home of the famous gazebo from the film which has been moved here. The gazebo was not in the original home, but built by the studio. Later it was removed to this park on the outskirts of town.
If it wasn’t locked I would have asked my husband to play Rolf and we could have done a ‘I am Sixteen’ rendition! (However I believe he envisions more the Captain. Lol. ) I’m sure they are aware of crazies like myself so they have it only open for special occasions. Sigh. 😀
We pedaled our way through all of this to the Sound of Music Soundtrack!
All of our group did some amount of singing.
Did I mention the beautiful neighborhoods too? As a house lover I was in residential heaven. Some gorgeous homes, but I wasn’t able to snap many pics as I was pedaling and had to keep up with the group, though it wasn’t hard.
Our guide Tom snapped a photo of us together.
Past the wall, you come to the front of the von Trapp home, which now houses musical students.
We chose a spot overlooking the river. Linzer Torte, is the cake of Austria and said to be the oldest cake in the world. (The recipe that is, hopefully not the cake!)
We then meandered along the very pretty and long riverfront.
Love locks on the Makartsteg Footbridge .
This path was made for strolling, especially in late afternoon and early evenings.
Shows I would like to have seen..
Later in the day I took some time to do a little shopping on the main street of the old town.
Love the hanging signs in the Altstadt!
Window shopping. More cool picnic baskets.
More traditional country clothes. They really are beautifully made.
Austrians, like most Europeans are very polished smartly dressed.
I noticed in Austria they wear a huge amount of bright and light colors. It’s like beige is their black,
Some new age dirndl skirts in a window.
Many shops selling beautiful woven totes and bright blankets.
There was a local market happening as well.
I got addicted to some kind of multi-grain roll with apricot bits that is sold all over Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Have no idea what they are called. Maybe someone reading will know. The bread products all over Europe are far superior to the U.S. Rare to see the kind of processed breads that are so common here.
We need more of this kind of entrepreneurship here in California.
This church surrounded a square and they had put out wicker chairs and couches for locals to enjoy. People were reading books, not playing Pokemon!
Boxwood is ubiquitous here and I love it!
The Augustiner is the most famous brewery Salzburg and a favorite with locals so go EARLY if you want to eat outside and bring cash as they take no credit. It’s jovial atmosphere with families and young people as well. You may share a table, but it’s all about the experience!!
Photo via Wikipedia, Mine did not come out.
Up next we make our way to Switzerland and the lovely city of Lucerne and go to the top of Mount Pilatus, 7,000 feet up!