As we left for Salzburg from Füssen, the snow started to fall again. We were on smaller roads for the first half of the trip, so we had to slow down as the snow accumulated on the roads. We were treated however with gorgeous views of lake and the Alps. The second half of our journey to Salzburg my dad got a chance to drive on the Autobahn for a while. I think he enjoyed it a lot. In fact, he enjoyed it so much he missed our exit! In his defense, the deceleration lanes are short, but he also didn’t slow down enough with my “0.5 kilometers…0.4 kilometers…0.3 kilometers” countdown. He stopped just past the exit, so when the coast was clear we backed up and went down the proper exit.
We stayed at a Home Stay one train stop outside of Salzburg in a quiet suburban neighborhood. Our place was spacious and very clean. Our hosts were incredibly kind, they were an older Austrian couple living next door. The best part about our cozy home was the view it offered from the dining room. Mountains, snow, a castle, and Salzburg off in the distance…it was definitely a view I’d love to wake up to each morning!
Our first night we arrived later than originally planned and with all the grocery stores closed we decided to get some Chinese takeout from a place nearby. While waiting for the takeout, we found a gas station with some basic supplies, so we grabbed some beer, chocolate, and chips! After our greasy feast and finding out spring rolls in Austria mean something totally different than in America, we had a few beers and played cards.
The next morning, Bryan and I woke up early and grabbed some breakfast supplies from the nearby Hofer (aka Aldi). We then had a lazy morning breakfast and made a plan for the day. We walked about 10 minutes down the icy road to the train station and rode into the city. We walked to Mirabell Palace and Gardens. Nowadays, this palace is a government office, but we could still see the extravagance in the ballroom where music concerts were still held. We then took a brief walk around the gardens, but as there was snow covering everything, there wasn’t all that much to look at. We would later find out that we had walked along the same area where they filmed “Do Re Mi” from the Sound of Music!
Afterwards, we ate lunch at a vegetarian restaurant nearby. I think we were all ready for something a bit healthy after the previous night’s greasy dinner. The restaurant turned out to have a very spiritual atmosphere, but we all enjoyed our lunches very much, and the restaurant was quite popular with the locals as it was packed when we arrived. Afterwards, my mom and I explored the Christmas Market outside of Mirabell Palace, while my dad and Bryan did some more grocery shopping for dinner. Over our mugs of hot gluhwein we perused the small market and came upon some unique Christmas ornaments that my mom was SO close to buying, but she was worried they would break on the flight home.
We all met up again just in time for our Sound of Music Tour. If you didn’t know it, the outdoor scenes of The Sound of Music were filmed in Salzburg. Our tour was 4 hours long and led by a bubbly and enthusiastic tour guide. In addition to learning about how the movie was filmed, we also learned a lot about Salzburg itself and the true story of the real Captain and Maria. We visited Leopoldskron Palace where the boating scene was filmed as well as the Captain’s backyard, Hellbrunn Palace where the “Sixteen, Going on Seventeen” gazebo is, and Nonnberg Abbey where we learned the actual nuns who were there at the time sung in the Sound of Music. We then drove through the Salzburg Lake District, passing Lake Fuschl and Lake Wolfgang, which are absolutely gorgeous! During this drive we also had a singalong, much to Bryan’s amusement. He got a kick out of my parents and I singing along quite loudly. Our last stop was at Mondsee where the wedding of Maria and the Captain was filmed. Inside the church is a large altar, where much to our horror, housed five skeletons! The center one is the actual skeleton of Abbot Konrad II, who was killed in 1145 defending the monastery from noblemen who wished to repossess the land. Beneath him are four catacomb saints laying in relaxed poses upon red satin pillows! Afterwards we went to a café and had some cake before heading back to the bus.
That evening we had had a relaxing dinner at home. My mom and I had a great chance to talk while I cooked dinner, although we both had trouble with starting the stove. I kept touching the button I though would turn on the electric stove burner, but it didn’t work! My mom tried, and it didn’t work for her either. We knocked on the hosts’ door, and the friendly woman greeted me with a hug and a warm hello. She then came over and took a look herself, but she couldn’t figure it out either! She called her daughter and her daughter had her try a few things including looking at the circuit breaker, but to no avail! Finally, she tried touching another circle literally right next to the power icon, and the stovetop turned on! We all couldn’t help but laugh at how silly the entire situation had been. Meanwhile, my dad and Bryan had an adventure of their own—laundry. There was no washing machine, and we all had some laundry that needed to be done, so my dad and Bryan decided to get creative and used the bathtub to wash our clothes. The especially creative part was utilizing the extra long shoe horn to agitate the sudsy water. My dad put his iTunes on shuffle. He and Bryan took turns agitating the laundry, each turn was the length of one song. My dad jokingly mentioned that you have to hope you don’t get one of the long guitar ballads he has in his library. After dinner we all played some more Rummy and enjoyed some beers.
The next day we went back into Salzburg to learn more about its most celebrated resident, Mozart. We toured his birthplace and his residence. Each had different things to offer, although some of the information overlapped. We learned about each of his family members, his travelling lifestyle, how his music influenced others, and the life of people during that time period. Afterwards, we had a slice of Sacher Torte at Café Tomaselli, which was a café Mozart’s family frequented having opened in 1700. Afterwards we took a bus out to Stiegl Brewhouse. Bryan was entering the hangry stage of silence (aka energy conservation, don’t talk to me or I will lose my sh*t I’m so hungry), so we made a beeline for the restaurant. We ended up having one of our favorite meals of the trip at the brewery, which served surprisingly upscale dishes. Dad enjoyed the beer fridges with varying degrees to serve the beer at the correct temperatures. We then did a self-guided brewery tour, which we weren’t overly impressed with. Bryan and I both preferred the Heineken and Guinness brewery tours. We did enjoy the 3 beer coupons that came with our tour ticket! We went back to the brewery restaurant for our beer tastings and took some coaster souvenirs for my parents to take home.
It was getting dark, and I wanted to visit a Christmas Market in Salzburg, so we went home and jumped into our rental car and drove to Hellbrunn Palace. They had a large, winding Christmas Market that had the most charm of the ones my parents had seen so far. I think it was my favorite of the time we were with my parents. There were a lot of unique crafts and the decorations were our favorite. They had tons of trees set up with lights and of course the snow on them just made the whole Christmas Market look like a winter forest.
I wish we had been able to stay one more day. If we had, I would have booked the salt mine tour and then walked around the main square in Old Town and visited Fortress Hohensalzburg. I’ve bookmarked these places on the map just in case a future traveler would like to visit these places as well! We all really enjoyed Salzburg. It was a less crowded and chaotic city with tons of charm, especially around the holidays.