Salzburg, Austria

As tradition, I’ll start with what The Lonely Planet says about Salzburg. “The joke; If it’s baroque, don’t fix it’ is a perfect maxim for Salzburg: the tranquil Old Town burrowed below steep hills look much as it did when Mozart lived here 250 years ago. A Unesco World Heritage site, Salzburg’s overwhelmingly baroque Old Town (Altstadt) is entrancing both at ground level and from Hohensalzburg fortress high above. Across the fast-flowing Salzach River rests Schloss Mirabell, surrounded by gorgeous manicured gardens. If this doesn’t whet your appetite, then bypass the grandeur and head straight for kitsch-country by joining a tour of ‘The Sound of Music’ film locations.”

In so many ways, Salzburg was a beautiful, interesting city, but in other ways it was a disappointment. Though the centuries-old buildings continued to hold their history, I felt like the Old Town was anything but authentic. Instead each window held name brand clothing and handbags or touristy trinkets. Nothing felt like real residents of Salzburg lived and worked there. It was definitely the most concentrated area of tourists that we visited.

In some ways, being surrounded by so many tourists is OK because I felt safe enough to venture out on my own one day to wander through shops while Lila slept. (I bought three wooden Christmas ornaments.) I knew I wouldn’t stick out as a foreigner, because everyone was a foreigner! Ha.

We arrived in Salzburg after a frustrating 1.5 stop at a McDonalds outside of the city where we tried to connect to the Internet to find information about parking lots, and to connect with our rental home host to let her know when we thought we’d arrive at the apartment. We eventually found a Park and Ride that allowed us to drop our car off a few miles outside of the city and then bus in. It was inconvenient, but really our only option since parking isn’t allowed in the Old Town where we were staying.

As we walked from the bus stop to the apartment rental, it poured cats and dogs on us. We were literally soaking, even with our rain coats, and Lila didn’t have one. Eventually we let her out of the stroller to run in the rain and play in puddles. We waited outside the apartment for 15 minutes before the host showed up. Not bad, considering I had to guess when to tell her to meet us. That was one of my least favorite parts about choosing home rentals over hotels — I would’ve rather showed up and had a lock box with our key than arrange a time to meet and be let in by the host.

Upon meeting, I realized how frazzled and disheveled we must look compared to our elite-looking host. In her mid 50s, she walked up with her hair perfectly coifed and in heels, and there we stood with our massive luggage and wet and wild child. Ha!

The apartment

I read the apartment’s listing (below) and yet when we walked in the front door, it wasn’t at all what I was expecting.

“This stylish 45 square meter apartment in the heart of Salzburg’s old town is. In one in 14 Century built heritage building located in the quiet and romantic Goldgasse immediately adjacent to the world famous Getreidegasse.

The apartment is on the fourth and top floor of one of the oldest and erhaltungswĆ¼rdigsten houses of the old town of Salzburg. It is lovingly restored to modern standards and provides comprehensive comfort.

The house was built in 1374 and is a listed building. Therefore there is no lift.”

The apartment itself was renovated, modern and beautiful, but the building … was scary. I literally felt scared when we walked into the dark main entrance, and I told Lance later that I seriously considered saying “Never mind, we’ll get a hotel!” Despite being built in the 1300s, I somehow was still surprised by the huge cement stairs, the iron gates (that could lock us in or out at any time), the creepy paintings of huge-headed children on the walls, the tiny doorways that led to nothing, the antlers mounted on the wall, the harrowing statues of Christ bleeding on the cross hung up on nearly every wall.

Eventually I got used to the building and it didn’t scare me as much, but I still didn’t like to go up and down the staircases myself. Mainly because going up and down four flights of stairs can really deter you from “running out real quick” to get something, but also because … scary!

20170905_094024 Salzburg, Austria (1) Salzburg, Austria (2) Salzburg, Austria (3)

The sights:

Despite the rain, I insisted that we go out and make use of our day. We tromped through the Old Town and made our way over to Schloss Mirabell, a palace where “The Sound of Music” filmed the von Trapps singing “Do-Re-Mi.” I didn’t recognize a thing and the rain was making us all cold and miserable, so eventually we gave in and went home early. These emails we wrote may better capture some of that:

Lance’s email to his parents:


Well things have been better since I last emailed you… then it poured rain all day today and Salzburg has been a blackhole for looking up bus routes in advance and is a bit of a parking nightmare. So we ended up in a park and ride and lugging our bags on a bus and through the rain to our plizzy. Fun times! Every time I email you it seems to be after a disastrous day but I swear we are actually enjoying the trip now. šŸ™‚ We even trekked through Salzburg after we finally got checked into our place today in the pouring rain just to see some sights before we called it quits.
Anyway, with the car we are using navigation more than we anticipated. Can you switch our cell plan to theĀ $40Ā a month plan? I think it will be the cheaper way to go at this point.
All this travel and the hurdles has had me thinking many times already about the giant undertaking it must have been to plan that European trip for a family of 5 for 5 weeks! Whew. I am breaking into cold sweats just thinking about it. Pretty amazing you could pull that off without even the option of the smartphone safety net. Incredible.
Well I think it’s time for bed. More adventuring to do tomorrow.
My email to Mandi:
We’re in Salzburg right now — it’s where much of “The Sound of Music” was filmed. I’m sad I didn’t re-watch it in Duncan with you over the Fourth of July. I also rented it the week before we left, but never got the chance to watch it because we don’t have a DVD player lol. It’s been fun to walk around and try to find things by memory, but of course I can’t. So we watched short clips last night on YouTube and then were able to identify them. Also, they are labeled with signs, but it’s more fun to have just seen the movie clips and spot them on your own. For example, the fountains where they sang “Do Rei Me” and the pavillion where they sang “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.”
Before I forget — Lila woke up from a nap the other day, I think while we were in Vienna, and asked for “Spencer and Mandi.” Haha! Spencer was clear as day, but I thought maybe she was saying “Mally” so I asked and she confirmed “No, Mandi.” Sweet girl must’ve had a dream about you two! And Mally must be too new to make it into her dreams, ha.
More sights:
Because of the rain, we decided to change our itinerary a bit and visit the Eisriesenwelt Ice Caves outside of town after church the next day. I’ll write a separate post for that. That turned out to be a good idea, because on Tuesday we woke up to blue skies and headed to Schloss Hellbrunn. Lance had been there before when his family traveled through Europe in his teens, so it was fun to see what he remembered. The palace itself was a bore and we spent maybe 10 minutes inside before agreeing it wasn’t worth our time. But the fountain tour was great and the grounds were beautiful. Here’s what the guidebook says about that:
“A prince-archbishop with a wicked sense of humor, Markus Sittikus built Italianate Schloss Hellbrunn as a 17th-century summer palace and an escape from his Residenz functions. The ingenious trick fountains and water-powered figures are the big draw. When the tour guides set them off, expect to get wet!”
Our group was made up of about 50 people, and it was hilarious to watch as so many people got wet. Fortunately our guide (who reminded me of Lance’s uncle Rick) took a liking to us and would warn me where to stand to avoid the water. Being pregnant and lugging a two year old around had it’s perks:) It was surprising and impressive to see just how innovative most of the trick fountains were.
After the tour, we walked over to the pavilion where the song “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” from “The Sound of Music” was filmed. A sign posted nearby said the pavilion was indeed used for the filming, but not at this location. Apparently it was moved, I assume to bring more tourists to the palace. Nearby was a park where we let Lila play as we enjoyed the nice weather and beautiful mountain views.
On the way home, we stopped at Schloss Mirabell again, this time so we could admire the place in the sunlight. After a nap, we intended to take the funicular up to Festung Hohensalzburg, the city’s hilltop fortress, but instead we walked up the hill right to the viewpoint outside the fortress gates. It offered great city views right at sundown, and we didn’t have to pay a thing. Lance was a trooper and pushed Lila in her stroller up the cobbled street. That stroller took a beating on our trip! I’m so glad we brought it though (we considered not bringing a stroller at all) — it was definitely a necessity.

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