Today was our first full day in Salzburg. It’s a beautiful city, surrounded by amazingly gorgeous mountains, but honestly I miss Graz. It seemed easier to get around in Graz, like everything was closer together, and there were way fewer cars in the city center. Also, in Graz there were far fewer tourists, so when we went into the city we were surrounded mostly by residents. Here it seems like we can’t help but be surrounded by tourists like ourselves, which just gives the whole city a very different vibe. Maybe I’m just sad because there isn’t an Eis stand on every block. 🙂
We decided to embrace our inner tourist today by going on the Sound of Music bus tour, which was a hoot. We got picked up from the hostel in an unmarked black van full of Asian tourists. In fact, they had to move and cram an extra person into the back so that Jo and I could squish in the front seat with the driver. We had no seatbelts, so I kept having to brace myself on the roof of the van to keep from smooshing Jo or the driver. So that was fun. We got to the main tour departure spot and thankfully found seats on the tour bus without trouble. There was some seating shenanigans, since apparently they had over-sold the tour. Oops. There were a ton of English speaking folks on the tour; it was strange to hear that much English being spoken all around us.
I’m pretty sure our tour guide was either completely nuts, or on something, or both. He certainly thought he was funny… I just thought he was irritating. We drove around town for awhile and saw some of the filming sites like the gazebo and the back of/back garden and lake for the Von Trapp villa (these were acutally two separate things!), then headed out into the lakes and mountains country. Of course they played music from the film as we drove, with frequent and obnoxiously timed interjections from the tour guide about buying drinks from the on-bus bar. Oh yes, you can buy and drink not only soda and water, but beer on the Sound of Music tour bus. There were also trivia questions, and lots of references to the movie that made me painfully aware that I’ve only seen it once…Perhaps I should sit down here in the Hostel lobby tomorrow and watch the daily screening.
We stopped to see some truly amazing vistas. The lakes are clear and brilliant blue, the mountains are huge and rocky and gorgeous. It’s really a breathtaking bunch of scenery.
We spent about an hour in Mondsee, where St. Micheal’s Basilica is located (the wedding scene, for those following along with the movie). The church was unreal on the inside, very ornate with these amazing, colorful statues surrounding painted biblical scenes.
We poked around in town a bit, had an Eis (we were going through withdrawal–today’s new flavors were pistachio and honey) and walked down to the river’s edge for some pictures. I wish we could have stayed longer–Mondsee and the whole lakes region is something I’d like to come back to (I’m looking right at you, Jason). We did a little bit of touristy shopping in the gift shops there. I was hoping to buy a dried Edelweiss, but had no luck–sorry Carl.
We headed back to the city on the Autobahn, and were treated to more of our tour guide’s “jokes”–including one that started out with a family named Hill, Dracula and a piano, the punchline for which was, of course, the Hills are alive with the sound of music… There was an audible groan from the passengers.
After we left the tour, we walked through the Mirabel gardens and saw a few more Sound of Music related things before heading out into the Altstadt. We walked along the river through a line of tent vendors that we dubbed the Hippimarkt. There was some cool stuff and some weird stuff, but we are both feeling a little extra broke at this point on our trip, so we abstained. We eventually sat down at a café and had a drink before walking back to our hostel. It was a really low-key kind of day, and we were both glad to have it. Tomorrow is going to be much more exciting: we’re going to buy a Salzburg Card, which gives us free entrance into most places of interest in town as well as unlimited use of the public transport. We hope to hit the Mozart Wohnhaus and Gebursthaus, the Hohensalzburg fortress and the Untersberg. To that end, I’m going to turn in!