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“Ah! There’s nothing like Salzburg in the Spring. Jagged mountain tops were still covered with snow while the valley below was full of life. The Dogwood trees were in full bloom and the countryside was green. We had 2 days for intentional experiences in Salzburg, Austria and we packed in as much as we could. I loved Salzburg so much I think I could live there!
Warning: This post contains lots of photos!
Beginning in Munich, Salzburg was a 1.5-hour enjoyable train ride with incredible views and beautiful rolling meadows. Our hotel was a 10-minute walk from the train station and once I got my bearings, was easy to find.
We stayed at the Hotel am Mirabellplatz which was a charming hotel in a great location. In 1653, Prince Archbishop Paris Lodron erected the building as a secundogeniture palace for residential purposes of his family. Since 1816, the palace has been used as a guest house and hotel. It’s listed as a member of the “Historic Hotels of Europe “. They still use a key to get into the room. Nothing electronic here except the free WiFi and the in-room safe. It’s across the street from the popular Mirabell Gardens, a block away from the Grayline Tours departure point, and a 15-minute walk across the river to the old city. For two nights we had an adorable corner room with two twin beds, a desk and a small but fully equipped bathroom with a hairdryer.
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Here’s my list of intentional experiences in Salzburg, Austria
Rick Steve’s Walking Tour
Do you know Rick Steve’s the American Travel Writer who travels around Europe? His free app “Rick Steve’s Audio Europe” is loaded with walking tours in various European cities, travel tips and interviews with experts. We began with the Salzburg Town Walk which highlights 15 of the most popular sites. His commentary includes the history and stories you might not hear elsewhere. We visited about half of the sites on his tour before we were pooped. I love being able to stop and start the audio as needed.
Our first stop was Salzburg Cathedral. Everything about the construction of the Salzburg Cathedral was intentional. Must be why I loved it so much. Out front, there is a statue of Mary looking away from the church to welcome visitors. When you stand at the rear of the square and look toward Mary from this perspective you see she’s about to be crowned by two angels on the church facade. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was baptized here and was the organist for two years. Upon entering the church you notice it’s dim. The paintings on the ceiling depict the passion of Christ beginning with his arrest and torture. As you walk toward the altar and Jesus’ resurrection the light shines bright. I could go on and on making references to scripture about light and dark. Let’s just say the builder was extremely intentional.
St Peter’s Cemetery
Next, we visited St Peter’s cemetery. This cemetery is portrayed in the Sound of Music when the Von Trapp family makes their daring escape from the Nazi’s. However, the scene was actually filmed on a Hollywood set not in the actual cemetery. The most fascinating fact is the graves in St Peters Cemetary are tended by the descendants of the deceased. Gravesites in Austria are rented and not owned. Every 10 years they send a rent bill to existing family members and if they don’t pay your tombstone is removed. Is that the craziest thing you’ve ever heard? I have so many more questions about this but I won’t bore you.
Upon exiting the gate to the Cemetary we stumbled upon a ticket booth to the top of the Hohenslzburg Fortress. What a great find! After paying admission we traveled by rail car up a steep track with spectacular views of the city before us. Where ever you go be sure and find the highest point to check out the sights and become familiar with your surroundings. The audio tour of the castle was very helpful in understanding the history and the sights. Although the rooms inside the fortress close in March at 5 pm the restaurants stay open later. The food was okay but the views were incredible. We could have sat for hours just looking at the mountains.
The Lock Bridge
From a distance, I thought the bridge crossing the Salzach River had copper laced through the fencing. It was shiny and beautiful. Once we got closer I realized the entire bridge was covered with love locks. They were big and small, with names written in pen or etched in the metal. The locks were mostly red, however, some were gold, silver and green. Most were rectangle shaped locks with a few heart shaped locks scattered in between. I gather all were put there intentionally in the name of love. I wonder if it will eventually get too heavy to bear the weight of all those locks. Either way, it was a cool sight.
Salt Mine Tour
Another must do a tour with Grayline Tours is the Salt Mine Tour. Salzburg means salt. We drove across the countryside to the Berchtesgaden Salt Mine which has been in operation since 1517. Each person suited up in a jumpsuit for the cooler temps and for sliding down the wooden slide. You can walk around the slide if you don’t feel comfortable going down but it sure was fun. Another audio tour guided us through each stage of the mining process. It was fascinating. Inside we took a boat ride across the lake of salt. The water was so reflective and clear you couldn’t tell where the water ended and began. As a bonus we were able to taste the water and the maximum saturation is 27%. Yuck! It was incredibly salty.
Sound of Music Tour
I think my friend and I stopped in Salzburg for this reason alone and we were not disappointed. The Sound of Music is one of my all-time favorite movies. I love the characters, the story, the handsome Captain Von Trapp and of course the singing! We signed up for a Grayline Tour so we could be hand carried to each stop, with a professional and knowledgeable guide on a 47 passenger motorcoach. Our guide was retired but ended up filling in for that day. God totally blessed us because our guide brought a video he used with clips from the movie so we could reference what we were seeing. Not only that, we had a sing-a-long on the bus. What a fun time!
The Real Scoop on the Sound of Music
The Sound of Music is definitely an American phenomenon. Although it was based on the real-life Von Trapp family Hollywood took many liberties when creating the story. Edelweiss was written for the movie and is not an old folk tune. And when the Von Trapps escaped the Nazi’s they did so by catching a train to Italy not by hiking to Switzerland. The locals don’t understand the fuss! I’d still recommend the tour! Grayline offers the option to do both the Salt Mine & Sound of Music Combo Tour and that is what we did.
I’ll bet you’re going to watch the Sound of Music again soon, huh? I know I did just to see all the places we visited again.
If you visit Salzburg between mid-May and October you must take a tour to Hilter’s Eagles Nest. We could see it from a distance on our way to Berchestgaden and the Salt Mine. However, it wasn’t open yet due to its high elevation. The road has been closed since 1952 because it’s too dangerous. The buses have been specifically modified to drive at the steep angle. If I get the chance to visit Salzburg again this tour will be first on my list.
Take it all in
Breathe! You’re on vacation. Stop and sit for a while. Look at the people, the breathtaking scenery and take it all in. It’s hard to do when you want to capture every experience through the camera lens. Yet, I promise you your mind’s eye will remember the sites, the sounds and the special moments of your travels. Since Salzburg was Mozart’s birthplace musicians were everywhere playing classical music. There’s nothing like a marvelous spring day, where the sun is shining, people are laughing, the dogwoods are blooming and classical music fills the air. I’d go back in a heartbeat.
Have you been to Salzburg? Name one intentional experience you enjoyed?Share in the comments below.