The Hills Are Alive

Okay guys, here’s the deal. Salzburg is the loveliest place I’ve ever been and I want to go back immediately.

Tuesday was basically “The Sound of Music Day” on the ol’ Danube River cruise. We docked in Linz early in the morning and boarded our charter buses at 8 a.m. to head to Mondsee. It’s an adorable little town that sits in the lower Alps and just happens to be home to the Basilica St. Michael, which is where they filmed the wedding scene in The Sound of Music.

Fun fact: The iron gate through which Maria literally waves goodbye to her life of postulance? Doesn’t exist. (Either that or it’s been dismantled sometime in the last 51 years.) But that’s okay, the rest of the church, which is part of the Mondsee Abbey, is just as gilded as it was on film.

There happened to be a funeral service going on during our visit and while some people in our group walked closer to the altar to take photos, that’s not something I felt comfortable doing. Our local tour guide assured me that our presence was not inappropriate. I guess this is a thing you get used to when you live in a town constantly visited by tourists.

We had some time to wander on our own before heading on to Salzburg, so Kevin and I walked to the lake to get a better view of the mountains. It’s crazy to think that the portion of the Alps we saw are really just the baby mountains. On the way back to meet our group, Kevin got a pastry (looked like a cinnamon roll but had a nut paste instead) for ‎€2 that really made me regret having breakfast on the ship that morning.

Next, we had a 45 minute drive to Salzburg past some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen in my life. I so wished we’d had time to explore all the towns we passed along the way, particularly Fuschl am See, where the lake had the bluest waters I’ve ever seen. (Another fun fact: Fuschl is home to Red Bull HQ. Their campus is gorgeous, with buildings constructed almost entirely of glass. I imagine them just staring out at the water all day.)

We arrived in Salzburg to a bit of rain, but fortunately it cleared by the time we started our walking tour. (This was a theme of the last few days of our trip.) We started our tour at Mirabell Gardens and covered a good bit of the core city area before we stopped for lunch at St. Peter Stiftskeller, the oldest restaurant in Europe, est. 803. Our lunch there, which was served family style, was probably the only lackluster meal we had all week (though as our adventure guide Danny promised, the potatoes were awesome). I’m sure dining there on your own and not with a group of 150 would be quite a different experience.

After lunch we had some free time to explore and I did my fair bit of shopping. We were warned that Salzburg was a great place to drop some Euro, and that was definitely true. There’s something about narrow cobblestone streets lined with a mix of local shops, boutiques and gelaterias that makes me go a little silly.

Writing this post, a week after the events, I realize that the curse* of a trip like this is you start looking through your photos after you get home and think things like “Ugh, I wish we would have taken the funicular up to the fortress.” (I’m not even going to do an image search for pictures of the view because I’m sure it’s amazing and I don’t need to know.) I didn’t necessarily feel rushed while we were there, but I realize we only scratched the surface of all these cities have to offer.

*Nothing about this trip was a curse.

One thing I’m so happy we didn’t pass on, however, happened on the ship that evening. Every night after dinner there was a local entertainer in the ship’s lounge. That night we had Brett Reid, an Australian expatriate living in Austria for the last 30 years. He played a variety of what could be considered dad jams (Jimmy Buffett, Neil Diamond, etc) and toward the end of his set he asked for a brave audience member to assist him by playing maracas on Men At Work’s 1981 smash, “Down Under.” So I did what anyone would have done in the situation and volunteered Kevin for the job.

And it. Was. Magical. I think my biggest regret of the trip is that I failed to properly operate my phone and missed recording Kevin’s maraca solo. (YES HE HAD A MARACA SOLO.) A handful of our fellow travelers complimented Kevin oh his shaker skills, and of course I had to snap a photo of him with the musician after his set. I had intended to start packing that night, but I’m so glad we did this instead.

And now, some more photos…


Along the drive from Mondsee to Salzburg

In Mirabell Gardens with my tourist headset



Danny bravely leading Team Purple onto the streets of Salzburg
Mozart’s birthplace, the floor noted by the gold medallion. The people who live there now had to disable the doorbell because people just couldn’t help themselves. 
The basin in the Salzburg Cathedral where Mozart was baptized. Salzburg is all about some Mozart. 
Walking toward the cemetery at St. Peter’s Abbey. That’s the fortress at the top of the cliff. 
And the cemetery itself, which was the basis for the set built for The Sound of Music (where they hide from the Nazis behind gravestones).
Residenzplatz, the fountain Julie Andrews splashes in during “I Have Confidence.”
A river that isn’t the Danube! This one is the Salzach.
Back at Mirabell Gardens, on the famed “Do Re Mi” steps.


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