The hills are alive! Can you guess what I did today? Yep, a Sound of Music tour in Salzburg! It’s touristy and semi-cheesy, and… well, I felt like I needed to play tourist for the day.
My original plan was to drive into Salzburg, but it turns out that with my Berchtesgaden guest card, the bus would only cost €5 round trip and would deliver me right to the Mozartplatz in the center of Salzburg. Perfect!
Taking the bus meant leaving Berchtesgaden before breakfast time at the hotel, which was actually a good thing. I love eating breakfast out and being stuck with the same breakfast buffet every morning is getting old fast. Europeans sure love their cold cuts in the morning! 45 minutes after leaving Berchtesgaden, I was in Salzburg headed for Café Tomaselli, the oldest coffee house in Salzburg and one of Mozart’s favorites. There I enjoyed a croissant with butter and jam and a hot chocolate on the patio overlooking the Alter Markt.
For a variety of reasons, the Sound of Music tour did not live up to my expectations. We visited many of the sites from the movie and got the obligatory photo ops, but it was definitely not a highlight. A lot of driving around (it was a 4 hour tour) for just a short amount of sightseeing.
One not bad part was stopping at a little cafe overlooking the Wolfgangsee for a morning snack. There were only 5 of us on the tour, and two of the others were teachers and we got to chat over our “strudel break”. I enjoyed a redcurrant meringue cake and a hot chocolate. I know, carbs are the common thread in my meals this week!
After the tour, I wandered around the Mirabell Gardens and the Old City, semi-following Rick Steves’ audio guide. I took the funicular up to explore the Hohensalzburg Fortress which overlooks the city. I skipped the audio guide and just wandered around enjoying the views.
A highlight of the day came next: a visit to Nonnberg Abbey, where Maria von Trapp was a postulate. You can walk through a graveyard and around the side into the beautiful chapel with dark wood benches and Baroque accents. There were only a couple of people inside and it was a perfect place to just stop and remind myself that I’m in Austria sitting in the same church where Maria von Trapp once sat.
On my way to St. Peter’s Church, I ran into the two teachers from my tour, who told me I had to try the fresh baked bread at this little kitchen in the basement of a nearby building. Sure enough, the oldest bakery in Salzburg had a few rolls fresh out of the oven. I wish I could have bottled up the smell… talk about fresh bread!
The churchyard/cemetery at St. Peter’s was peaceful, but another treat was climbing up to the hillside catacombs that were carved out during the 8th century. It is said that medieval hermit monks once lived there. It was a steep set of stairs, but the little stone chapels were worth every step.
I had about an hour before I had to get the bus back, so I walked to the end of town and walked down the Getreidegasse, the main shopping street in Salzburg, zigzagging through narrow cobblestones alleys and passageways as I made my way back to Mozartplatz. Along the street are old metal signs hanging above the doors that advertise the business inside. If you look for it, you can even see a crafty Golden Arches hanging!
The bus was a few minutes late which caused me some minor panic since it was the last one of the day back to Berchtesgaden, but it eventually showed up. Once back in town, I found the Gasthof Watzmann and sat in the courtyard eating pork schnitzel Cordon bleu for dinner. I’ve noticed that all of my pork dishes here come served with a lemon. I would never think to put lemon juice on pork at home, but it’s actually a really good combination!