Panorama Sound of Music bus
Is it too corny to start a blog about Salzburg off with that title? I have been totally into corny over the past few days and so I am going the Full Monty and writing the corny blog. I have loved the Sound of Music for as long as I have been alive – the Hollywood version was created in 1965 when I was nine years old and my mother who loved going to the movies took me to see it and the love affair commenced. Thankfully now with all the movie channels that are available, it seems a week can’t go by without it being shown again, so for those with a serious Sound of Music addiction it can easily be satiated.
The beauty of paying for a Panorama Sound of Music Tour (45 euros per person) is you get moved around Salzburg and the surrounds to all the iconic scenes of the movie and find out lots of interesting facts about the making of the movie and what has happened since. The most staggering of those titbits on our tour was that many German and Austrian people have never heard of The Sound of Music????
WHAT you say?
Yes apparently this is the case and we have since verified that ourselves as we wandered around Salzburg – nobody would acknowledge that they have seen it. Considering it has contributed significantly to Salzburg’s bottom line, I feel it should be compulsory viewing in Austrian primary schools. Tourism is one of the major contributors to the Austrian GDP so Austria probably owes Rogers and Hammerstein a lot for choosing so many iconic Salzburg sites to stage the movie.
But could Salzburg stand alone by itself on a must-visit bucket list? After five days in the region….absolutely. The old town of Salzburg and the surrounding “must-see” natural scenic sites make it a wonderful place to visit and I would thoroughly recommend it to you.
Salzburg Old Town
Having flown from Australia via Dubai into Munich and then stepping onto the train to Salzburg, we arrived after 27 short hours of travel- who would have thought that it gets easier and easier to do this trip as we get older? We checked into our hotel and immediately headed out to see some Salzburg sites. We chose Hotel Europa Austria Trend because it was literally 100 metre walk from the train station (even more convenient when we departed today as it was pouring with rain). The rooms are a comfortable size and with good views across to the hills behind the Old Town.
We climbed a couple of hundred stairs to walk along the hill behind the old town and gained panoramic views down to Salzburg as we walked through a lightly forested area to the Museum of Modern Art.
View from the top walk above Salzburg
There is a lovely veranda restaurant right at the top, which on this particular day was very busy – with the ladies and gents either very glamorously dressed or in Austrian national dress. But I was thirsty and have no pride, so asked the Maitre d’ could we possibly just get a drink. Without a stutter he gave us a fabulous table and we celebrated arriving in Salzburg with a Spritzer and a Campari and ice – our standard ‘Hey we are officially now on holidays’ drinks.
It was intriguing to watch the parade of Salzburgians arriving – it was so busy because it was the last weekend of the Salzburg Festival – this goes for 8 weeks and I would think would be a great time to visit if you were a music lover. Of course the other thing Salzburg is famous for is it is the birthplace of Mozart and there are many indoor and outdoor concerts held across the eight weeks.
After our drink, we continued on along this path and next stumbled across one of those magical places that become the reason why you travel – around every corner there is a little treasure to think about when you are back home and back to work. Stadt Alm was a rustic café with a view to die for and reasonably priced food.
After descending many stairs we strolled through the Old Town and enjoyed the bustle of markets and outdoor bands playing. We visited the Mirabella Gardens, Mozartsteg (Mozart’s Bridge) and the steps near the nunnery (Benedikten Frauenstift Nonnberg) – all scenes where Maria (Julie Andrews) and the children sang Do Rae Me.
The next morning was the Panorama Tour and our guide Bridget was bright, energetic and informative as we drove around to the different sites as seen in the movie. The corny part of this four-hour bus tour (which I was totally looking forward to) was the sing-a-long. It made me realize how much I say la-la-la-la when singing along watching the movie (this was actually a big disappointment to Bob-I think he thought I would totally be singing from the rafters of the bus and knowing all the words). But I would suggest to improve the tour, they hand out printed word sheets, or have it on the TV screens that are fitted in the buses – or BYO word sheets so you can get maximum serotonin rush!
Bridget – our hostess from the Sound of Music tour
The following day we picked up our hire car to head off to our next destination, Werfen, which is about 35 mins out of Salzburg. On the way we had planned to visit Eagle’s Nest Berchtesgaden, Germany – Hitler’s holiday home. The Kehlsteinhaus is a Third Reich-era building erected atop the summit of the Kehlstein, a rocky outcrop that rises above the Obersalzburg near the town of Berchtesgaden. It was used exclusively by members of the Nazi Party for Government and social meetings, but now is a restaurant and amazing scenic point for tourists.
We were chuffed when negotiated the German road signs and found it, found a carpark, worked out the automated parking payment machine and headed for the buses to take us up the very windy road to the top. As we approached the buses though, everyone was strangely walking away from the bus terminus with disappointed looks on their faces. We soon found out that the lift at Eagles Nest had broken down and so there would be no Eagle’s Nest today. ☹ This lift is apparently a spectacle – the interior has polished solid brass and circular Venetian mirrors and rises 131 metres.
So we pushed on to find the final scene of the Sound of Music (which appears in hindsight to be on someone’s private property – oops) and the scene of the picnic with Maria and the children with the magnificent alps in the background.
The final scene as Maria and the Captain lead the family to safety The picnic scene from The Sound of Music
Finally we went to another of the special sights of the Salzburg region – the Eis Cave – but decided against actually going inside as it was late in the day and we had limited time (for the cost of the experience), but rather just walked up to the refuge and had a hot chocolate and sausage with bread.
The path leading into the Eis Cave and the Refuge just below it.
Standard fare around Germany and Austria is sausages, bratwurst, leberkase and frankfurters – a #meatloversparadise.
Meat is a mainstay of most menus in Austria and Germany- even the soup has a rissole parked in it
On Saturday, we had some time to kill prior to picking up our children (due to their delayed flight) and detoured to The Golling Falls, which should definitely make it to your must-see places around Salzburg. It is very close to Salzburg and takes quite a short time to get around and the Falls are spectacular.
Once we had successfully met up with the kids at Salzburg airport we headed to Five Fingers, a spectacular viewing platform overlooking The Alps and the iconic village of Hallstatt, the Hallstatersee lake and the inner Salzkammergut region. You catch a gondola up to the top (32 euros per adult) and then walk along the top of the mountain to the platforms. They have different ‘thrill’ levels – for example one made of glass and another with a hole in it allowing you to unnervingly see the incredible drop below.
The scenery here was stunning and so worth the expense of the gondola. We then drove onto Hallstatt and parked the car in the designated car park (14 euros per day) as Hallstatt is a car-less village. The village is beautiful with flower window boxes everywhere and quaint houses perched on the Lake Hallstatt.
The iconic photo spot for Hallstatt and the dream spot for some drinks and later dinner
The last adventure in the Salzburg region was catching the cog rail train up to the top of Schafbergbahn. The view was again spectacular but this is an expensive trip (42 euros per adult). The train trip takes 35 minutes to get to the top but the views are again spectacular – like many spots in this region.
Cog rail train View from the top
Some things to remember when travelling:
- Don’t give a cash/ travel card number to a car hire company because they take a bond deposit -in our case 1200 euros – which actually comes off your cash card (potentially leaving you penniless in an expensive part of the world….) yes it could take up to 30 days to get the euros returned which will be well and truly after we are back at work. Thank you Hertz 🙁
- When hiring a car, totally get the guy to explain what you are signing (which is written in German) because it can become very expensive when you realize it includes an 80 Euro fuel package. Fortunately I was able to rectify this situation (the diesel actually only cost 35 euro) but it took too many phone calls when you are on holidays.
- The exchange rate at present is appalling so travel to Europe is crazy expensive but shopping at Spa Grocery stores is very reasonable and you can get made up rolls for hiking and drinks are very cheap there. You don’t have to eat out every meal – going to their ready-prepared food section can save many euros.
- The best bar in the world Lucky Bob – it was Father’s Day in Hallstatt and he got to spend it with Sophie and Mike – Katie rang in from Australia