We left Hallstatt pretty early on Sunday as we had a lot to do once we got to Salzburg. We stayed at the wonderful Hotel Mozart, which had an amazing location – nearby all of the sights we wanted to see, as well as a stone’s throw to the Salzach River which crossing over leaves you right in the center of Altstadt, also known as The Old Town.
To preface, one reason I was SO excited to see Salzburg is that as I’m sure many of you know, it’s home to my all time FAVOURITE movie, The Sound of Music. When we were planning this trip, Joe didn’t quite get the hype because he doesn’t ever remember seeing it as kid (GASP!). Needless to say, I forced him to watch it in preparation and he was do-re-mi-ing right in tune by the end 🙂 Anyway, I had read great reviews about the Sound of Music Tour, so signed us up as soon as our trip was confirmed! With not much time to spare, we grabbed some lunch at Braurestaurant Imlauer which was recommended by our hotel. Can you guess what we started with? Yep, Garlic Soup. And to finish it off, a heaping portion of chicken schnitzel which Joe had been craving since we stepped foot in this Eastern European country. It was a delicious, warming meal, and the perfect respite for getting our feet (and vocal cords!) ready for the tour.
Instead of boring you to death with the details of each place we visited, I’ll do some quick highlights of each stop:
- Schloss Leopoldskron – you will recognize this palace from the famous scene where all of the children and Maria fall into the lake. The outside terrace and gardens were filmed as the von Trapp’s backyard. Something interesting we learned is that their actual home was filmed in 3 separate locations – the front at one spot, the inside at another, and the back at this place.
- Schloss Hellbrunn – we got to go right up to the gazebo where Liesl sang “I am 16 going on 17” to her Nazi soldier boyfriend, Rolfe.
- Salzburg Lake District – after seeing the landmarks in the city, we drove through the lake district where many panoramic views were taken during the picnic scenes. We stopped at an overlook of Lake Wolfgang with picturesque views of the town of St.Gilgen below.
- Basilica St. Michael – wedding chapel of Maria and the Captain in the small town of Mondsee. Seriously stunning, inside and out!
- Mirabell Gardens – probably one of the most notable scenes from the movie, where Maria and the children sing do-re-mi around the beautiful gardens and fountain. It took Joe and I many takes to do our best reenactment 🙂
I don’t want to forget to mention that in between driving to each location, the bus plays songs from the movie and the whole tour group sings along. I was obviously in my glory! Between us, we may or may not have been the youngest people on this tour….
Afterwards, we did some more walking around the city and stopped at another SOM icon, the Mozart Bridge. This is the footbridge over the Salzach that is also from the Do-Re-Mi scenes. Unfortunately at this point it started to rain pretty hard, so we decided to call it a day and head back to our hotel.
For some reason we were having serious issues deciding on where to eat dinner in Salzburg. It was Easter Sunday so we kind of wanted to treat ourselves to something special, and after much deliberation, we finally landed on St.Peter’s Stiftskeller. Although it was dark out, this place has the most magnificent stone courtyard with tons of hanging plants and candles and flowers. On a sunnier (or even not rainy) day, I could imagine dining al fresco here would be pretty magical. St.Peter’s is actually a huge monastery that dates back to the 7th century and is the oldest in Europe. It’s a huge complex that includes a cathedral, cemetery, and catacombs. The restaurant was old and cozy, with lots of nooks and crannies for seating. It was super dark and lit by lots of candles. All I wanted was lamb (my family’s Easter tradition!) and this place totally fit the bill. Also, let’s just quickly discuss their signature cocktail, the St.Peter. Prosecco, vodka, and some sort of fruit juice I can’t remember, but they were super yummy! It was the perfect spot for a romantic, memorable, last meal in Austria. Good game time decision by the McGlynn’s!
Our last morning was spent seeing the last bits of Salzburg. We started out with a breakfast apple strudel and coffee and headed to our last Sound of Music location. It was kind of hard to find, but after a few wrong turns and a pretty strenuous uphill hidden staircase, we arrived at Nonnberg Abbey. Yes, the abbey. It is a still functioning convent today and even so, we were able to walk in and see the courtyard and inside the chapel. Even Joe enjoyed seeing this, as it was the part of the movie he enjoyed most (when the family is hiding from the Nazi soldiers). Felt pretty surreal to be standing in the same place they filmed.
The other big thing we wanted to see is the incredible fortress that overlooks the city. You can see this massive structure from almost any point in the city, as it is situated at the very top of Festunsberg hill which means………. we got to take a cable car to the top! Festung Hohensalzburg is a castle originally built in the 11th century and has been occupied by all of Salzburg’s past archbishops. With each archbishop came an addition to the castle, which has turned it into one of the largest fortresses in Europe. We were able to visit the beautiful Golden Hall, with gilded ceilings that once held elaborate banquets, through many of the castle chambers, and also the marionette museum. It was a large, elaborate complex and as an icon of Salzburg, is certainly an interesting site to learn more about this historic city.
Joe and I walked through the pedestrian-friendly Altstadt and wove in and out of all the picturesque cobble stone streets. I loved all of the different signs that hang outside the shops and restaurants, even the McDonald’s one was fab! We walked over the Makartsteg bridge, had a lunch at Alter Fuchs where we ate a dumpling sampler (yes, that exists), made a quick pit stop at Mozart’s birthplace, and finished with a drive by of St.Andrä’s church. At this point the weather finally started to clear up, so we made one last stop at Mirabell Gardens. I read about the Dwarf Garden and reeeeeally wanted to check it out. Apparently the statues were built by an archbishop who modeled them after entertainers of the court & peasants… how rude! Regardless, we got a kick out of these little guys and their expressions – I also think this was the first time we saw sun in about 36 hours, so we were both a bit giddy.
Sadly, this is where our trip to Austria ends. Salzburg is a beautiful city (even in nonstop rain!), with incredible Baroque architecture, seriously delicious food, and super friendly people. Even if it wasn’t the homeland of my favourite childhood film, I still think I would really love this place. If anything, it confirmed for Joe and I that we absolutely need to make a trip to Vienna later this year. As they say over there, Auf Wiedersehen!