After a deep, dark glimpse into Germany’s past in Dachau, Michael and I decided that we would hit the other end of the emotional spectrum the next day with a visit to Salzburg, Austria. The locale for many scenes of The Sound of Music, Salzburg is a quaint Austrian town with pretty views in every direction. It is also the birthplace of Mozart, so there are plenty of interesting things do to during a quick day trip from Munich.
Salzburg is an hour and a half train ride from Munich, and Michael and I booked another jaunt with Radius Tours that would take us on a roundtrip excursion that included an hour tour of the city followed by three hours of free time to explore on our own. We once again had a British tour guide, Maxine, who did a phenomenal job of showing us highlights from Sound of Music filming as well as historical and cultural nuggets as we trekked around the city. Maxine was fully prepared with a portable speaker that allowed her to play Julie Andrews’ voice as we learned stories from the movie and events of the actual Von Trappe family.
In addition to Sound of Music lore, Salzburg also has its share of Mozart history and we walk around the house where he was born and learn that he did his first concert before he was eight years old. Mozart had a big gambling problem and, when he died before his 35th birthday, he left his wife with no money because he had gambled it all away. Mozart is not buried in Salzburg, but his sister is, so we toured her grave on the way to the oldest restaurant in Europe. Mozart has also become associated with the chocolate in Salzburg, called the Mozartkugel, which is a round nugget filled with marzipan, nougat, and covered in dark chocolate. Though there are plenty of knock-offs, the place to get these chocolates is in the Furst shop where they were first made and are supposed to be the best. Maxine warns us to stay away from the knock-offs in the gold wrapper and to stick with the ones in the blue wrapper. We oblige and try a couple of Mozart’s blue balls which were a bit of a letdown after all the hype. I guess blue balls just aren’t for everyone.
Maxine’s overview of the city finishes at the entrance of Stiftskeller St. Peter, which is a restaurant that has been around since 803 AD. Though it is a little pricey, we decide to join a few other folks for a nice meal and are seated in the oldest portion of the restaurant which is carved into the side of the mountain and is also within the walls of St. Peter’s Archabbey. The décor is very light and elegant, and we are seated with two folks from the tour – a couple from Chicago. We have an absolutely lovely lunch filled with great conversation and ending with Salzburg’s staple dessert – the Salzburger Nockerl. The Nockerl is a HUGE meringue that is in the shape of three mounds which are supposed to symbolize the three snowcapped hills that surround the city. A side of sweet cranberries and cream pair well with the meringue to make a light, sweet treat.
After lunch, we walk up to the top of the hill and peep into the Nonnberg Abbey where the actual Maria, who was the inspiration for the Sound of Music, began her story. The Abbey was quite small and very simple – not ornate like many of the churches we have seen in our travels which we felt was very nice. As we walk around, we see many, many people in traditional Austrian dress as today is, apparently, a National Catholic holiday in Germany and Austria.
Salzburg is a small town that is very easily walkable. Though it is packed with tourists of every nationality, there is still plenty of charm and we enjoy walking around the shops, markets, and bakeries along the old, cobblestone streets. With our time drawing to a close in this beautiful little town, we grab a sweet pretzel snack in the marketplace, take a few pictures at the fountain from the “Do Re Mi” scene from the movie, and hop on the train back to Munich, a little sad that we aren’t staying for one more day.