Wednesday, July 2 (Valencia, Spain) – Time for some funnies!! This time from Austria, Switzerland and Germany!
Thursday, June 19 (Salzburg, Vienna) – When I arrived in Salzburg, I knew I had to experience three things: something with Mozart, something beer-related and something about The Sound of Music. If you saw my post from yesterday, you’ll see I went to a classical music concert where some Mozart was performed, and I went to a really great beer garden. So today was the day for The Sound of Music.
I can’t remember ever watching the movie, but somehow I seem to know all the songs from the film. How do I know that fact? Because after hearing the songs played throughout my four-hour themed bike tour, I was singing along!
I decided to sign up for this particular tour because it is the only bike tour company in town, it got great reviews, and while I’m not really interested in seeing where different scenes were filmed, I am interested in the city and the film happens to be a big part of the history of the city. So I signed up for Fräulein Maria’s Bicycle Tour, and met my tour guide, Alan from Chile, and about 12 other bikers in front of the Mirabell Palace.
The English-only tour had a mix of friends, families and couples from all over the globe. As usual, I was the staple solo rider but I met some nice people so I didn’t have to take too many selfies! We started by touring the old city with stops along the bridge over the Salzach River for a postcard view of the city, the Horse pond and the Leopoldskron Palace.
After biking up one big hill by the Fortress to the Nonnberg Abbey, our legs were given a break with a downhill ride into a field, which probably looks pretty familiar to anyone who has seen the film. And yes, I frolicked. Once you frolic with strangers, you are all one big family. The tour guide – who was enthusiastic and a great guide – had speakers with him and played different songs from the film for the rest of the ride.
The remainder of the tour was my favorite. We left the city center and biked around residential neighborhoods and the Hellbrunner Allee. We saw the houses that were used to depict the front and the back of the house in the movie (yes, two different houses were used). We also got to see a man riding his beautiful horse alongside the bike path, of course a highlight for me.
Towards the end – and luckily as we arrived in a park and stopped under a huge tree – the sky opened and torrential rain came down for about 10 minutes. We were lucky that we had cover, but unfortunately the other tour that was out at the same time wasn’t as lucky. They arrived as we were leaving and they were soaked!
Because of the rain delay, our ride took a bit longer than expected, but overall I think what is covered in the usual 3.5 hours is a perfect combination of Salzburg history, movie references and anecdotes, and biking in the countryside. It is a must-do for anyone who visits, even if you’ve never seen the movie!
Wednesday, June 18 (Salzburg, Vienna) – Today I got to go to Mozart’s house – how cool is that!? Well, it was his place of birth and where he lived for part of his life, right in the middle of what is now that old city center of Salzburg. Everywhere you go in Salzburg, Mozart’s face can be seen – whether on the boxes of chocolate in every souvenir store, to the pamphlets promoting nightly concerts, to the (rather odd) statue pictured here:
After touring his home-turned-museum and learning more about his life and family, I was excited to hear some of his music played at a concert later in the evening. The concert I attended was inside the Fortress Hohensalzburg, which is the largest, fully-preserved fortress in all of central Europe. The Fortress is a must-see, and depending on how tired your legs are from a day of touring, you can opt to take the funicular up to the top. TIP: Also, for delicious, freshly baked bread rolls, go through the arch on the right before heading up the hill on the left to the Fortress / funicular. TIP: if you buy the Salzburg card (24 hour cards and more are available), you get a free funicular ride, free entry to the Fortress, along with free entry to just about every other site in the city!
Anyway, the concert was clearly geared for tourists, but that didn’t take away from the talent of the performers. The string quartet (and a pianist for one piece) were clearly very passionate and into the music. Their facial expressions during the different songs added a lot to the performance. I met a tour group from Portugal that is on a musical tour through Europe, and they have a maestro with them to give his perspective and insight at the different stops along the way. What a great idea!
I visited a few of the other sites like the Salzburg Museum and the Mirabell Gardens, but my other favorite part was actually visiting a brewery / beer garden! The Augustiner Brau is the largest beer garden in Salzburg – the outside area alone can hold 1,000 people! I went on a random Wednesday and there were barely any free tables outside. The “Braustubl” beer is light and smooth and is served in heavy ceramic mugs to keep the beer cold. Dozens of people around me were clearly regulars and came prepared with decks of cards, picnics and groups of friends. I did meet two other Americans who found their way to the beer garden, and we ended up sitting together and chatting for the afternoon. Soon we were joined by a group of four locals who come to socialize each Wednesday and one of whom comes prepared with his own giant beer glass, a small cutting board and a cheese knife. For those of us who don’t come quite as prepared, there is a variety of food stalls inside and outside serving everything from pretzels to sandwiches.