For two weeks I totally nerded out about going to Salzburg, Austria to tour all things Sound of Music, and after a fantastic day in Bavaria we were on our way! First thing before we got to the border was to buy a “Vignette” at a gas station and stick it on the windshield. A vignette is essentially a toll pass. Instead of stopping to pay tolls on the highway, vehicles not registered to Austria can buy a 10 day vignette. It was only 8 euro which is much better than the ticket you could get for not having one.
We crossed the border and within a few minutes were in Salzburg. Hands down driving in Salzburg has been the worst driving experience I have had so far and I have driven through downtown Washington DC and Times Square, NYC. But once we got through the city we found a quiet escape in the neighborhood of Aigen at Villa Trapp—the original home of the Von Trapp family.
The house was a beautiful villa that after the family left was in the hands of Heinrich Himmler, commander of the Nazi SS, and then a catholic missionary. In 2008 the villa was restored and converted into a small hotel. We stayed in Maria’s Suite, which was the original apartment Maria lived in when she was hired to tutor the children. I am so glad we booked the larger suite. It was so relaxing after all the driving and running around.
Our first day in Salzburg was a near washout but because of that we made two of the best memories. The first was visiting the Dom zu Salzburg. We have never really had the desire to enter any of the enormous churches that we have seen on our trips but because of the downpour we sought refuge in the Dom. This was not my first time in a cathedral, but I think it might have been Fil’s first time and he was blown away. He sat down and just looked for a while then started taking lots of pictures. Finally, we were inside a stunning building and could take some pictures. This Dom was built in 774, and then rebuilt in 1628 after a fire destroyed it. Some restoration was also completed in 1959 after some damage from WWII bombings.
The main dome reaches 75 meters high and every last inch of it is carved with paintings of holy scenes inset. Along the each side of the main chapel were at least 30 confessional booths, and about 16 areas to light candles and pray—I’m not catholic so I don’t know what it’s called. I would have loved to hear the organs play. There was one large organ above the entrance, and 4 additional ones on the columns around the main pulpit. The audio tour I listened in on explained that beautiful music concerts are still held here which is only fitting since Mozart was baptized in the Dom.
Speaking of Mozart, Salzburg is crazy for him! Everywhere you turned, Mozart bridge, Mozart chocolates, Mozart everything! Mozart is the highlight of the city and they, really all Europeans, could care less about the Sound of Music. Most have never heard of the movie, play, or the real people but the ones who know also know that Americans are crazy for it.
We couldn’t avoid the rain any longer so we ran across the square and down an alley. We jumped into the first restaurant we saw and were seated with an older man for lunch. Turns out this was one of the best parts of the trip! He was a US Vietnam veteran who was on a riverboat tour of Europe. He was a widow who enjoyed “spending his children’s inheritance” and after a very enjoyable lunch, he bought our meal and told us to do the same when we are older and fund ourselves with a young serviceman. Aside from the wonderful company and conversation lunch was really good too! I had a cordon bleu which was pork not chicken and was served with cranberry sauce—you must try the combination. Fil had a sampling of sausages which were pretty similar to those in Germany but longer and thinner.
Our second day in Salzburg was beautiful. The sun had reappeared and we were able to see everything again in a new light. We spent a good amount of time in Mirabell gardens which is where a lot of Do Re Mi was filmed. We walked through the vine tunnel they rode bikes through in the movie, walked past the fountains the children splashed in, and enjoyed the dwarf gnome park that the children walked through patting the heads of the gnomes. Weird and interesting fact, the gnomes in the park were modeled after real life dwarfs. We have more pictures of the gnomes, but how cute is Brock!
At the entrance to the garden I bought a cinnamon potpourri decoration as a souvenir. The woman said they are traditional in Salzburg and not only bring luck but keep the bugs away. It should keep our entrance hall smelling nice for 5 years and can be refreshed by holding it over a steaming pot of water.
Alongside the gnome park was a playground, and our teething, allergy suffering baby needed a break. Brock loved the swings but before we left I tried out the slide. BEST SLIDE EVER! It was not easy to climb up, and I think they made it that way so kids don’t make it up who are too small. I actually screamed on the way down. Gosh it was fun to be a kid again!
Aside from the scenes from Do Re Mi, we also saw the horse bath the kids danced around in My Favorite Things and the square and fountain Maria runs through in I Have Confidence. We had plans to see the exteriors of the buildings used as the front and back of the house as well as the pavilion from 16 going on 17, but we cut the day short. Brock’s spring time allergies and teething got the best of him and he had enough of Austria.
All in all, Salzburg (the old town) is stunning. It is built surrounded by mountains that are speckled with fortresses and abbeys. Walking along the river was so relaxing, and the views could really take your breath away.
I was a little bummed to cut the day short, but it all worked out in the end. Brock got some medicine for his gums and we got a full day to spend on Lake Chiemsee, Germany. Originally I planned for us to just spend the night there to break up the driving but since we got there so much earlier than anticipated were lucked out and had the best afternoon of the whole trip! That surprise is coming for my next, and last post about my birthday adventure.
As per usual, we have a ton more pictures on our Flickr album for Salzburg, check it out!