July 4, 2017 (Day 1) – Salzburg, Austria
We arrived at Salzburg from Vienna late in the afternoon. The main Salzburg train station is small and unassuming and does not prepare you for the wonderful city. Getting around in Salzburg is fairly easy if you use the Salzburg City Card (we bought the 48 hour travel card) which entitles you to free access to transport and certain museums throughout Salzburg for 48 hours.
Our Airbnb apartment was located a good 12 tram stops from the station (and about 6 stops from the city centre); but we later realised that it’s distance meant it was quiet and wonderful.
Salzburg is a wonderful city with the river running right through the city end to end; We exited the tram, and followed our host’s directions through a small street to cross a pretty little bridge with a slow gurgling stream flowing under it with several families of ducks making their way through the pristine clear water. The street after the bridge had quaint little bungalows throughout the street with wonderful gardens. Our Airbnb apartment was in the basement of beautiful cottage where our host stayed. Our host, Reinhold’s garden, was wonderful with stone gnomes and a colorful array of flowers, and a tiny fountain.
Though our apartment was in the basement, once you went in, it felt like you were transported to a whole new world. It was a cosy apartment with bright sunlight streaming through the windows and wonderfully cool. The bathroom was this huge room with a bathtub for two, a wonderful shower area and an array of bathroom toileteries. Our host had thoughtfully left a bottle of wine and juice in the fridge, and the kitchen was stocked with an array of varied teas.
It was quite late in the evening when we got out, and ventured out in search of dinner. Just down the road from our apartment, you could hear the clink of glasses, and the smells of the grill, from a beer garden down the road.
In the evening, both the banks of the Salzburg river are dotted with students and tourists just enjoying the view, or picnicking, and beyond restaurants and cafes with ambient lighting the restaurants are serving hot food. Exhausted, we picked a nice cafe on the street serving some continental fare, and devoured our meal. Waiting for our bus to get home, we slowly observed the city settling down for the night, which (depending on the way you look at it – fortunately or unfortunately) does not have the active night life like Vienna, Austria.
July 5, 2017 (Day 2) – Salzburg, Austria
Super exhausted after the previous day’s travels, we struggle to wake up the next morning. Finally, we are up at 7.00 a.m., and venture out in search for breakfast. There is quaint little bakery just close to our apartment selling fresh goods, just out of the oven.
The weather is brilliantly cool, and the sky is lovely. It is postcard picture perfect with the beautiful blue sky in the background framing the stucco bungalows with their tiled roofs. It is 7.45 a.m. in the morning and there are cyclists pedalling away to work on the streets. The “tabacs” are just opening, and it is just wonderful. I can’t stop clicking pictures. It is like I have walked into heaven.
Our apartment is stocked with the essentials – jam, cheese, butter and some wonderful tea, so we come back with our baked goods. In a coffee lovers’ haven, we are both tea lovers and are delighted to see an overflowing varieties of tea well stocked by our host, Reinhold. Our make shift dining table is stocked with pretty crockery peppered with our tall glasses of orange juice and steaming hot tea with the smell of freshly baked croissants
We are then on fast forward to shower and get ready for our Fraulein Maria cycling tour (basically a cycling tour of all the places where the scenes from the movie “Sound of Music” were shot, and other prominent places in Salzburg) – for nature enthusiasts and activity bunnies like us it sounded fun.
We head to Mirabellplatz (which is one of the main areas in the city centre of Salzburg) to meet our tour guide, Claudio, for our tour on wheels. Claudio welcomes us, and helps us pick out our cycles. Each of the bikes is names after a character from the Sound of Music, and the cycles have wide handlebars (which take some getting used to). Everyone is trying out their cycles – picture a small square (off the road – about twice the size of a footpath) packed with bikes and people of all ages and sizes pedalling at a snail’s pace. Finally, after about 20 of us are settled, with a host of instructions from our incredibly entertaining guide, we set off.
Our first pit stop is Mirabellplatz gardens and the palace (where the “do-re-mi” soundtrack from the Sound of Music is shot). We then move on towards the river and stop on the bridge for a view of Salzburg and the usual pictures. Pedalling along an ascending pathway along the banks of the river, we reach the beginning of another steep slope and all of us dismount and start pushing our bikes on foot.
We pedal through long winded canals and fields of green, the beautiful convent where Maria was, and downhill through fabulously verdant green fields. We reach the beautiful lake where the lake scene in sound of music is shot – where the kids and Maria are rowing and little Gretl falls into the lake.
It was absolutely brilliant to cycle through the never ending winding roads with canals of flowing crystal clear water dotted with swimmers, and cottages on the left.
The most beautiful scenery awaits you as you pedal through fields of green and the beautiful stucco houses. Not to mention the cloister convent which was used in the infamous Sound of Music. We then reach our destination – the wonderful Hellsbrun Gardens where we click pictures before the infamous “16 going on 17” gazebo (from the sound of music). Our guide Claudio regales us with wonderful gazebo tales where recanting how many visitors to the Gazebo tried to replicate the song with catastrophic results (including the fracture of a hip of a 65 year old lady). The gazebo is now shut and installed at Hellsbrun Gardens so you cannot attempt to replicate “16 going on 17” 😊.
We make our way back to Fraulein Maria pit stop singing songs from sounds of music which our wonderful guide Claudio leads us into, and exhausted and happy we reach back. After a 2 km hike we dive into some fantastic authentic Salzburgian cuisine at a wonderful beer garden with cold glasses of beer.
Activity junkies that we are – the cycling is not enough, and we decide to make a laborious climb to Hohanesburg castle nestled high up in the clouds.
In the evening, the Mirabellplatz gardens hosts open air classical concerts. It’s 8.30 p.m. (and it’s daylight saving time), so it is super bright – there is the wonderful orchestra all dressed up in tuxedos and all tuning their instruments (mind you – all piped instruments) and ready to play. The most enchanting melodious beautiful piped music resounds through the gardens and the setting is just heavenly. Whilst we don’t know what they are playing (not really popular tunes), the music is absolutely enchanting. And then the orchestra breaks out into all time famous movie tunes – and what a treat it is. People are trying to catch a seat everywhere, on walls, standing, and staring, and taking videos. The musicians are just enchanting – all eyes following their conductor who hops about with tons of enthusiasm.
We end the night with a pizza dinner (which is quite a big hit in Salzburg) and call it a night. Laundry awaits us before our next afternoon’s travels to Zagreb.