We spent 8 days in Salzburg, a trip record for number of days in one spot! With music, apple strudel, and mountains it was easy to settle in to this beautiful region of Austria.
09.05.2012 - 17.05.2012 21 °C
Tucked away in a quite corner of Austria,the stunning city of Salzburg is capturing the hearts of visitors from all over. Salzburg immediately grabs your attention with hill-top castles, grand baroque domed churches, and breathtaking mountain views. Whether you enjoy the sophisticated notes of Mozart, humming the catchy tunes from The Sound of Music, or dinning on crisp apple strudel, Salzburg is your Austrian dream come true.
The most notable part of Salzburg is the Altstadt district, the old city. The Altstadt is split by the Salzach River and is a spectacular representation of baroque architecture. Wandering the winding alley ways of the Altstadt you can find beautiful churches, fountains, museums, and eventually stumble into social courtyards where beer, bratwurst, and laughter are served up on a daily basis. If you let it, Salzburg will slowly work its magic and before you know it a week has passed by and you didn’t even know it!
The train from Budapest to Salzburg was about 5 hours, and McKenna serenaded us the entire way, “The hills are alive with the sound of music,…” Once we reached the central station it was raining and we were not oriented enough to know which direction to walk to get to our hotel. We stood in front of a bus map looking a little confused when a nice woman explained the bus lines to us. They were easy enough to understand after the help and we were soon off and on our way to our pension in the old city. It was well into the evening so we grabbed a light dinner and settled in for some rest.
The next morning the sun shined brightly in Salzburg, giving us a full view of the Alps and the brilliant white fortress that sits on top of the hill, Festung Hohensalzburg. We walked over the Salzach River to check out the amazing baroque architecture that Salzburg is famous for. We started with the Dom Cathedral that stands out amongst numerous beautiful buildings. Redesigned and reconstructed after the Thirty Year’s War by Italian Santino Solari, it boasts some gorgeous frescos that lead your eye to the centerpiece polychrome dome that is a true masterpiece. We toured the inside checking out the frescos and the gorgeous dome. Outside and surrounding the copper domed church are several fountains. These town square centerpieces are heroic size sculptures of angles, demons, and horses.
After the Dom we made are way to the famous Festung Hohensalzburg. This 900 year old Salzburg fortress has stood the tests of time, and is the iconic symbol of Salzburg. It sits on a cliff side over-looking the Altstadt and is the biggest and best preserved fortress in all of Europe. The Archbishopric’s of Salzburg called this fortress home and each time a new ruler took over they remodeled and made additions to the fortress. Leaving their mark in history. When we reached the top we made our way to a viewing deck of the southern side of the fortress to gaze out at the alps. The towering Untersberg Mountain dominates the horizon and the Alps slowly grow behind it.
We took the audio tour of the fortress, which took us through several rooms inside the Fortress. The first room was an old storage room that is now decorated with portraits of the Archbishopric’s that once ruled Salzburg and models of the fortress as it changed over the centuries. We continued the tour through the torture chamber, the watchtower for a view of the city, the bell tower, and the chapel. After the tour we wandered the courtyard checking out a section of the fortress that has been remodeled into apartments. The city of Salzburg pays young artists to live in the Fortress, which I would imagine would be an interesting place to call home.
There are several museums within the complex and one of the more entertaining ones was the marionette museum. Puppetry is best described as perfecting the art of illusion. To give life to these puppets, one must be a dancer, an actor, and a singer. It is no simple task. Puppets were used to act out operas and no one had better operas for marionettes than Mozart himself. In the museum some of the puppets were a little creepy looking, while others were amazingly detailed. You could even practice your skills with one of the marionettes hanging in the corner.
After some goofing around we headed down the hill for some lunch next to the modern art museum. After lunch we took in the Salzburg Museum, which displays a collection of modern art and two exhibits of Salzburg history and religion. After the museum we headed to the birth place of Salzburg’s most famous resident, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The famous composer was born and raised in the city and worked under one of the Archbishopric until moving to Vienna to master his craft. The tiny apartment housed a large amount of family information and a few child instruments supposedly belonging to Mozart himself.
After touring several museums and seeing the great fortress we decided to slow things up a bit and enjoy the cafe culture of Austria. This is where we embarked on our festival of strudel tasting now known as Strudelfest! We dedicated several days to enjoying this famous apple filled pastry and documented each sweet and delicious moment. Be sure and check out our food blog, Strudelfest! for more details! We enjoyed some strudel and coffee before settling in for the night to watch the classic movie The Sound of Music to prepare for the tour of sights in and around Salzburg that were a part of this hollywood masterpiece.
The next day we hopped on baord a bright red bus covered in murals depicting the Von Trapp family singing their hearts out, ready for an adventure we wouldn’t forget. For McKenna it was a dream come true, for Scott it was the beginning of a long day. As the tour began it quickly became one of the best things we did in Salzburg. The tour guide was hilarious, quick witted and full of delightful facts. The first stops along the tour were sights in the movie for the backyard scenes and the street scene from Julie Andrews Confidence song. Our last stop before heading out to the lake country was the Hellbrunn palace. This is a great palace to visit while in Salzburg. The Archbishopric who built this castle had a great sense of humor, and enjoyed pranking his guests. Included in the palace are several trick fountains designed to soak his party guests and are now used to soak tourists. We did not take a tour of the palace, but rather this is the new home of the famous gazebo from the movie. After viewing the gazebo and dancing around it we treated our selves to the bar on board the bus. Scott grabbed a few beers and McKenna sipped some champagne. This made the trip even more fun for McKenna and loosened Scott up for the hour long ride through the mountain lake country complete with a medley of songs from the movie.
Our final destination in the mountain lakes country was Mondsee. A small town that has a beautiful church that was used in the movie for the wedding scene. We toured the inside of the church before heading out to the café’s to continue our Strudelfest. The street is lined with cafés and restaurants all brightly colored and serving up lots of different food, coffee, and cakes. On the recommendation of our tour guide we took a seat at Café Braun and ordered up some apple strudel and coffee. After an hour in this quaint town we took the bus back on the famed autobahn highway to Salzburg. The tour was great, and a must do in Salzburg. It is a great way to get out to the beautiful mountain towns and lakes.
After the tour we stopped at a wine tasting tent before touring Maribellplatz garden. We snapped some fun photos around the Pegasus fountain and the dwarf statues featured in the movie’s Do Rey Mi song. After the park we continued our Strudelfest with a visit to a great Old City café, hidden away in one of the courtyards. Later that night we returned to our new favorite restaurant, Costa for some more schnitzel and goulash soup.
The next morning we woke up to light rain and overcast skies. Not letting the rain discourage us, we grabbed some coffee and croissants at the nearby french bakery and headed out on a hike around Kapuzinerberg park. It was a misty stroll through the cool and damp forest and it reminded us of Oregon. The damp air also seemed to bring out lots of creatures on the path. During our walk we had to avoid enormous snails, slugs, colorful salamanders, and a few birds oddly walking on the path. We walked along the old walls built along the edge of the hill, stopping to look out over the river and the fortress through the mist. The path lead us to the Franziskischloss, an old palace that now operates as a café. We ventured back through the forest to the hotel to get ready for an evening at the marionette theater.
That night we attended Mozart’s “Magic Flute” performed with marionettes. It was an interesting cultural experience in a really great theater. The theater has large chandeliers and intricate details etched on the ceiling and walls. The lights dimmed and the bright red curtain lifted to reveal a tiny stage. The puppets came a live at and danced and gestured dramatic emotions to go along with the music. It was great to hear a piece by Mozart in his home town and to see marionettes in action.
The next day was rainy so we took some time to rest and eat more strudel to gear up for a trip up the Untersberg in the morning. We caught that bus early in the morning to the small town of St. Leonhard at the base of the Untersberg. It is said that Charlemagne, the founder of Europe, rests on this mountains and when his beard wraps around the top three times, the crows leave the mountain, and Europe needs him mostWe boarded the Unersbergbahn, a tram that takes you to the top of the mountain, and off we were up the into the clouds. The tram ride provided magnificent views of Salzburg to the North and the Alps to the South. The ride also proved to be a little scary for McKenna who didn’t appreciate the hight and steepness of the ride. When reached the top we stepped out on to snow for the first time in over a year! There was a fresh dusting of snow from the day before that made hiking along the ridge a little bit more slippery. We hiked up the ridge checking out the view as the clouds burned off and gave way to bright sunshine and warmed us up. After spending an hour on top of the Untersburg we decided to head back down the tram, much to McKenna’s delight. We survived and caught the bus back to Salzburg.
After a great morning on top of the mountain we headed back to the Altstadt to walk around the shops. We ventured into one of McKenna's favorite stores, the christmas store. This store celebrates the holiday all year along with hand painted egg ornaments. The decorations are stacked from floor to celling representing all holidays. It was overwhelming to look at so many ornaments in one place!
After the christmas store we headed to one of the most popular beer gardens in Salzburg, the Augustiner Bräustubl. This popular drinking garden and brewery is run by a group of cheerful monks. We filled up some ceramic steins with the home brew, grabbed some bratwurst from one of the food stalls, and picked out a table in the hall. We had a good time kicking back and drinking some beers before heading back to the hotel. That night we dined one last time at our favorite restaurant, Costa.
We spent one more day relaxing in Salzburg, enjoying some strudel and coffee along the river and running some errands. The last day in Salzburg we planned a day trip to Munich to partake in some of the Champion’s Festival. The Champion’s Festival is a four day festival leading up to the UEFA Champions League Final. UEFA Champions League is a European tournament amongst the top clubs from every premier league in Europe and one of the most coveted trophies. Tickets for the game this year were going for $2,000 a piece, so attending the game was not really an option for us. We hopped the train to Munich and in two hours we were pulling into central station. It wasn’t long before we were at Olympic Park enjoying games, beer, and some street food. We had photo snapped with the trophy and I put my rusty soccer skills to the test in a few of the challenges they head set up. The most fun and challenging one was the penalty kick against an electronic keeper. It appears simple enough, put the ball past the metal cut out of keeper. The keeper is triggered by several sensors and moves almost immediately after you strike the ball. I went 0 for 3, it was harder than it appeared and was a blow to my confidence.
After some fun at the festival we caught the train back to Salzburg and prepared for the train to Vienna the next day. The train to Vienna was packed and we ended up standing for an hour before snagging a seat in the stairwell of on of the doorways for the remaining two hours. Once in Vienna we btw took some time to re visit our favorite sites. This meant McKenna walked the numerous street malls and I headed back to the Kunsthistorisches Museum.
Austria has been a great time and we are sad to leave this land of apple strudel. Our next stop should help us get over any lingering Austrian dreams, we are headed to Greece to meet up with friends and family and we are so excited!
McKenna & Scott