I awoke feeling very refreshed after a whole 10 hours of sleeping and made my way down to breakfast to enjoy some meat and cheese with bread – what could be better really? The hotel also offered some scrambled eggs with bacon which I had on the side. Check-out was at 10a.m. and so I hung out in the lobby waiting for Carolyn until about 11 when she arrived – Yeah!!! Even though she was a day late, we were both ready to have the best Austrian adventure! When doing some trip research of Salzburg I had come across a free walking tour on a blog site called BigBoyTravel which took in most of the main Sound of Music sights and so I had marked these out on the map the night before.
Our first stop was the Mirabell Gardens – where the famous do-re-mi song from the film was filmed. These were the furthest point from our hotel and so we took a 15 minute stroll to get there catching up on plane chat and where Carolyn’s luggage might be. The gardens were very pretty (although I imagine in summer, when they are in full bloom they are even more spectacular). They also provided excellent views up to the Hohenburg Salzburg Fortress from a different angle to that of our hotel which was pretty nice to see. After a bit of a wander round we decided we were in need of some coffee, and what better place to get this than at the Sacher Hotel – home of the famous Sacher Torte. This little piece of chocolate covered cake was literally to die for and with a good strong coffee set us up for the rest of the day.
Our next stop was the Monchsberg Lift which was basically a lift set into the side of a cliff that whisks you up to the top of the hill without you having to walk in under a minute. The views from the observation terrace up here were mesmerising, the beauty of Salzburg really became apparent as we spotted all of the churches and cathedrals that dotted this magnificent city. There are also a few trails which lead to different parts of the city and so we chose to follow one which took us around the hill and then back down to a different part of the old town. There was also an option for a trail which took you on to the fortress but we were planning on visiting this later.
We walked past the Festival Square where Maria and the family sang in the Salzburg festival before driving off for their lives into the hills of Switzerland and then the horse in the pond statue which was cool, although an interesting fact is that all of the statues of Salzburg are encased in perspex. While I imagine this makes it much easy to maintain them it greatly diminishes their façade which is surely the main point of a statue? Anyway, we wandered down the main street – Getriedegasse which is a beautiful old street with signs and lights hanging. We had planned to eat lunch at a small place behind Mozart’s birth house but it was closed so opted for a recommendation from a friend of mine – Wilden Mann in the Altstadt. It was a traditional wooden affair and so I opted for the seasonal specialty of deer goulash with dumplings and a local red wine. It was fab although by the end I could have rolled out rather than walked – those dumplings aren’t half filling!!
We wandered back through the old town and past the cathedral and Christmas market squares of last night towards the funicular up to the fortress. The sun was thinking about setting at this point and so we made our way up to once again phenomenal views of the city. The ticket includes an audio guided tour of the fortress itself and so after taking in the views and wandering around the Christmassy exterior we headed inside for a short wait before the tour started. The first room has the portaits of the main people who had contributed to building and extending the fortress as well as the key changes they had made on 3D models. The next section was a torture chamber which, although not actually used for the torture process, housed all of the gruesome instruments that were used including a heavy metal wheel which was dropped of people until they eventually died. We then headed up to the top most part of the fortress where the sun was setting and the views of the surrounding countryside and city as the sun changed from burnt orange to sparkling lights was mesmerising. This has to be one of the prettiest places I have visited along with Bruges.
As we wandered back down the mountain we stopped by the Nonnberg Nunnery – the famous place that was a key location during the filming of the movie. Although it was pitch dark by this point we still managed to wander around into the courtyard of the church and through the section where there are now houses for many of the inhabitants. It was nice to see and definitely a recommendation for anyone visiting the city – although try and go in daylight if possible. We just had time to stop by the famous Café Tomaselli for a lovely local Riesling and not so yummy red wine spritzer before grabbing our bags and heading to the train station.
We were heading to our second stop of the trip – Innsbruck! It was a 2 hour journey and after collecting our tickets at the counter we made our way up to the platform after a quick pitstop at Burger King for train snacks….. The trains were lovely, spacious and clean. However, the one thing I did notice was the presence of refugees being forcibly removed from the trains before to our departure. There must have been around 12 of them in total and this served as a sobering reminder of the political issues Europe is facing at the moment, even if the cities are beautiful places to visit. The train journey was quick and because of our bags we took a taxi to Hotel Altpradl which was less than 10 minutes away from the station. The hotel had a much more traditional feel than the previous one with wooden beams everywhere as well as being ridiculously warm! We showered and got ready for the next few days of exploring Innsbruck and hopefully doing a bit of skiing if there is any snow!!