Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Hills Are Alive in Salzburg

The train ride to Salzburg took two hours. However, those two hours flew by while staring out the window, looking at the backdrop that Germany provides, the closer you get to Salzburg. The beautiful Alps, complete with snow-covered peaks, found me in complete awe of their beauty.

Our tour guide, Alun, provided our small group with interesting information, preparing us for our day in Salzburg. Not only the home of the famous The Sound of Music, but also the home of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Salzburg was the most unique small town I've ever visited. Passing by one of Austria's large lakes, Alun informed us that homes in this area of Bavaria run close to 400-500,000 euros simply because of their location. can only wish to own a home with the Alps as its backdrop.

Arriving in Salzburg, Alun led us on a 1.5 city tour before letting us go on our own for 3.5 hours. Outside the train station, the buildings did not look baroque like we were expecting. instead, they looked quite modern. Informing us that the reasoning behind this was due to the U.S. bombing Salzburg during WWII. Once the war was over and once Austria received its independence, it was necessary to rebuild quickly, hence, the modern looking buildings.

Our first stop found us at the Mirabell Gardens. Yes, a small part of me grew excited at the fact that we were standing in the same spots where Julie Andrews sang and danced with the Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music. Not only were the gardens beautiful in themselves, but the popularity made them all the more exciting.  In fact, two women from Spain, in our group, grew extremely giddy as Alun talked more about the movie. Yeah, I LIKE the movie, not LOVE it.

Moving on, we found ourselves in front of Mozart's museum and the famous Doppler house. This is the same Doppler that we know as The Doppler effect...a famous physicist. Although I enjoy Mozart's music, I opted not to spend the 8 euros to tour the inside. 

Now, here's where it gets good. Coming to a small shop, we must have looked like hungry puppies because inside the window setting was a chocolate cake that looked mouthwatering. It is called Sachertorte. Covered in chocolate frosting, inside lies a sponge cake and apricot filling layer. I must admit, I have yet to try it but will shortly as I am now back in the hotel and managed to buy two pieces of this famous cake. Apparently, the recipe is a country secret...go figure.

Crossing a bridge over the Salzburg river, both sides of the bridge were covered in padlocks, each with confessions of love written on them. Although a unique "thing" to do, Salzburg isn't the only city to do this...try Paris as well. Over the bridge, we walked further, reaching Mozart's birthplace, which is now a museum. Again, the option to pay 7.5 euros didn't tickle my fancy. The man was a child prodigy no doubt, and I have immense respect for him and his music, but I knew I wanted to spend my time doing other things in the city. 

On the same street, visitors were surrounded by shops, bistros, cafes, street music, and cobblestone streets. Being transported by into medieval times, it was the epitome of a true European village. 

Leading us into a large square, Alun showed us the large Catholic Church, St. Peter's. giving us a bit of history, the church was built in 774 and was damaged during the WWII bombing, but only the dome was damaged. Making a mental note to revisit, we kept walking towards the last stop, the might Fortress. Standing at its base, the fortress overlooking Salzburg was breathtaking.

Deciding to take the lift up to the top for 11 euros, we stepped out to see a 360 degree view of Salzburg. Cameras were snapping pictures left and right and my video camera was rolling, capturing the city below and the mountains above. One photo looked as if God was shining his beautiful rays of sunshine down upon the city. 

Unbelievable in size, the fortress stretched far and wide, leaving visitors multiple options of hidden nooks and crannies to stumble upon. No corner of the fortress provided a bad photo of the city below. 

Making our way down the steep, gravel pathway, I wondered if we'd ever hit street level. I was also playing guide to my mom as her shoes were prone to slipping on the loose gravel beneath us. 

By the time we hit bottom, it was agreed that it was time for lunch. Stopping at a small cafe, we had grilled cheese sandwiches and a deliciously good apple streudel...with cream. I could have eaten the whole thing, but realizing I shouldn't, I decided to share. 

Stopping in a few shops, we bought handmade ornaments, postcards, and of course, that yummy looking cake. I mean, come on, it was a must-have!!

Quickly making our way back to the Mirabell Gardens, I was planning to run through them, singing "Do, Re, Me" but considering there were several people sitting around and who would have looked at me like I was crazy, I opted to just pose in front of the Pegasus Fountain with may arms extended much like Maria did in The Sound of Music. 

Leaving Salzburg, I felt like I had just stepped back in time. Like I had experienced Europe in a whole new way. It is cities like Salzburg that remind travelers of the beauty of Europe. Often, we can get caught up in the fast-paced lifestyle of bigger cities like Munich, but Salzburg, it brought about a more slower-paced, laid-back lifestyle...perfect for transporting yourself back into history.

Much of which we will do tomorrow when we visit me, I've already packed the tissues. It's going to be an emotionally exhausting day.


Kristen Allbritton said...

I'm so glad you all liked Salzburg! I remember it as such a cute little city :). I didn't get to see near as much as you all did, but it's nice you were able to get a little bit of a tour as well as time on your own to check out the city. Now, you can say you've been to Austria! :)

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