RSS Feed

Tag Archives: salzburg

The hills are alive…

Hello from the train again! It’s Friday morning, and the first day we’ve been able to see our own breaths. I write this from the train back to Munich, though it’s slower blogging than usual as blue skies and frosty fields are demanding my attention. The skies have finally cleared enough to show us the imposing mountains which surround Salzburg. They’re beautiful, of course, I’ve yet to see a view of the Alps that isn’t! We’ve been so lucky with scenery on this trip. 

The plan for today was to travel by train to Stuttgart, then onto Paris and back down the west of France to Bordeaux. A total journey time of 13 hours. Unfortunately it would appear there’s been rather a rush on train tickets in the general France area as absolutely everything was sold out….for my ticket, and all others. Perhaps trying to travel in/out of the capital on a Friday afternoon wasn’t the best plan I ever had. But you don’t tend to think about real world things like commuters when you’re travelling. Anyway, all this means I’m off to Munich airport instead, for a far more civilised two hour Volotea (anyone heard of them?) flight to Bordeaux. Will mean I get in for around 5pm, and DG and I can spend the evening together before tomorrow’s wedding. 


Anyway, I’ve skipped ahead! Yesterday was the final day of my adventures with Jen, and we’d saved the best till last as the Sound of Music tour lay ahead of us. It was so lovely to get up and ready and not have to think about packing, moving every day can be a bit of a mission, so we made the most of having a hotel for two nights. The tour (run by Panama) left from Meribel Platz at 9am, where a very smiley and chatty Peter greeted us with a ‘are you our singers for the day? We’re missing two’…’sure!’ We said, and we were off.


Peter, now, he was a tough one to work out…an American Austrian, born around here but grew up along the east coast of the US finally ending up in Florida. None of these facts explain quite where he became the king of sarcasm! He seemed to flip between someone who was full of fun and jollity, singing and dancing along…and someone who truly detested the Sound of Music and would rather be anywhere else. Perhaps he was a super fan, perhaps he thought we were all nuts…I really couldn’t tell you! We liked him though, he had an easy smile and peppered the film facts with interesting tales about Salzburg and pointing out various sights. My favourite was the executioners house “see that cottage all on its own over there? That was the executioners house, no one wanted to live by him!!” Brilliant. 


^^ the executioners house

The Panama tour is a bus tour, with a few short stops here and there so you can take a photo by the lake which almost drowned Gretel….

The famous gazebo….


And the little town of Sankt Gilgen where they caught the train up the mountain for Do Re Mi. Unfortunately it would have taken over an hour to get up to the hills where those scenes were filmed so we didn’t make it to there. I’d say though that if you’re in Salzburg for a few days you should really catch a train out to some of the neighbouring towns where cable cars are waiting to take you high up into the hills. The views must be spectacular. These are the sorts of things I wish I’d known before I got here as I think I’d have tried to extend the stay in Salzburg to give us the chance to go up. Perhaps we’ll come back! I’d say this ‘lakes and mountains’ part was the best part of the tour, Peter told us how the smaller lakes freeze enough in the summer to allow for ice skating and kite skating which sounds very fun! In the summer these hills are famed for paragliding, and hot air balloon rides which to low enough for you to skim your feet into the lake before rising back up again, can you imagine?! 


^^singing along to the soundtrack. Yup, there was singing! 

Many notable scenes from the film were places which had to be simply pointed out from the bus as we went by…the Von Trapp house for example is closed to the public, the avenue of trees where the children climb in their drape dresses is for pedestrians and bikes only with no way to get close in a bus, the abbey is not open to visitors. We learned the main reason for this is that as a rule the people of Salzburg are not SoM fans. Firstly because the movie wasn’t available in German until 1997, and secondly because the plot is nothing like the much loved German original, or the true story, and people are cross! Apparently Hollywood tried to buy the rights to the original plot but were repeatedly denied, so they made up their own version. In reality the family were not chased by the Nazis, there was no Rolf for example, and if you were really to walk to Switzerland it’s a 500km trek! Wowsers. So I suppose you can see why they’re not fans, and wonder why scores of tourists from around the world travel to their city every year (the number of annual tourists is double the population of the city) to try and break into a gazebo and prance around a fountain.

Our final stop was the church where the wedding scene was filmed. The real Maria and Baron were married at the abbey in Salzburg, but as the cast weren’t given permission to film there this stunning place was used instead. I’d said it would be nice to perhaps do a church or two on this trip, and this one didn’t disappoint. From there we had around 90 minutes of free time to explore Mondsee, pretty huh? 


So that was the morning, we packed a lot in, but the afternoon was even busier so I think it deserves its own blog. We’ve climbed into the mountains on my little train now, and the world is encased in cloud. There’s a coffee cart on the way though so time for a caffeine fix and my daily German lessons. Till later, Tschüss! 

Roaming around Salzburg in slightly more than a pair of old drapes…

Our time in Munich was short lived, just enough hours for some delicious Turkish food with the beautiful Krissi, a quick tour of her stunning flat and a good nights sleep. Wednesday awoke with a grey grumble as the pair of us took advantage of amazing showers and some peace and quiet. It was a gentle start to the day. After leaving Krissi’s we had to find our way to the bus stop (having received directions in the back of a car whilst it was pitch black and raining outside) then the S-Bahn and finally to the Hauptbahnhof in Munich. We got there with enough time to enjoy the vast array of coffee shops available (England needs to buck up its ideas!) before finding our way to platform 10 and boarding our train. Now, I’m sure I’m not the only one guilty of not really listening to announcements when in public places/on transport…more often than not they’re of absolutely no interest or relevance to you so you learn to just sort of switch off. However, when the announcement ends ‘once again, if your final destination is Salzburg please disembark and board the train up the platform’ you’re very glad your brain decided to switch back into gear!! So pastries went back into paper bags, suitcases came back off of luggage racks and we pelted down the platform to the correct train. Phew! Salzburg here we come!! 
It’s a quick and easy journey from Munich to Salzburg (luckily as I’ll be doing it in reverse on Friday!!) and within 2 hours we were there, quite alive with the sound of music, 16 going on 30 and ready for all our favourite things! Jen had booked us into Hotel Lasserhof, a really lovely place less than 10 minutes walk from the station with super friendly receptionists, cosy rooms and a delicious breakfast. One to remember! Another benefit is it’s also less than 10 minutes walk from the beautiful Meribel gardens which we went to explore after ditching the bags. First Sound of Music location ticked off! This is where they filmed the doe, re, mi scenes skipping around the fountain and up the steps etc. There were quite a few Asian tour groups taking selfies and posing amongst the statues, but no one appeared to be jumping up the stairs or skipping through the gazebos…it was lucky we were there really!! 


Oddly for a Wednesday most of the shops, sights and pretty much anything we walked by seemed to be closed. There were also an unprecedented number of men in uniform around, surrounded by guns, tanks and even boats patrolling the river. Just as we were about to assume there’d been a coup we hadn’t heard about the lady in the (thankfully open) tourist office explained it was a national holiday. Ah ha! Funny how everything makes sense when someone explains it. October 26th is the Austrian day of independence, where they declared future neutrality in all conflicts following the Second World War. Nicely for us this also meant there were lots of people in national dress, displays of music and dancing and also the museums were free admission. Sweet! Neither Jen nor I are huge museum buffs, but if it’s free why not. Firstly we stopped in an extremely Austrian looking restaurant for something traditional to eat. Sadly the waiter didn’t appreciate my attempts to speak German (first time I’ve been told not to try…”please just speak English” he sighed. Long day perhaps.) but he was happy to bring us soup and then dessert so you can’t hate him too much (though still hoping he hadn’t spat in anything!!) We had beef (I know) broth with a cheese dumpling, followed by a sweeter dumpling with rhubarb sauce and apple strudel…yum!!



Energised we ventured into the Salzburg museum and tried to explore as much of it as possible before it closed in 40 minutes. It was largely to do with a history of the town, which has been invaded more times than I’d care to count…goodness knows how the people kept up with which country they were a part of this week, I have trouble remembering Teresa May is PM!! The upper floor was a really amazing ode to music, with all sorts of amazing and intricate instruments on display. It smelled amazingly of scented wood in there, sadly we only found it as the announcements that the museum was closing were ringing out. Ah well! 


From there we got enticed into (I don’t know what’s come over me…first beef, now…) a Christmas shop! The place was filled with incredibly decorated egg shells, in a million colours and styles. Everything from Salzburg ones, Easter, Halloween, dogs, cats, and of course Christmas. I don’t know how you’d choose!! 


Having eaten quite late it seemed too soon to go back to the hotel, but the world around us was growing dark and quiet…what to do what to do…bar? Bar!  A handful of delicious cocktails and too many bowls of free savoury snacks later and it was certainly time for super important paperwork, FaceTiming people at home and then bed. Official Sound of Music tour tomorrow, who’s excited?!