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Forget about Julie
& Wolfgang, remember Christian
As we pulled into
Salzburg we couldn’t miss the coaches
and mini buses dramatically branded with Julie Andrews’s picture, bouncing along with a beaming
smile, advertising The Sound of Music Tour.
It’s somewhat of an irony that the film which has brought tourists
flooding in by the coach load and a real boost to Salzburg’s economy, has hardly been seen by any of
the locals. Inevitably though our first
stop is in the footsteps of the Von Trapps, in the Mirabell Gardens. Laid out in the 18th century it is a
beautiful collection of flowers, fountains and statues overlooked by the
majestic Hohensalzburg Fortress, which gazes down from one of the two hills
(Monchsberg) which dominate the landscape.
As we gathered round the statue of Pegasus, our guide’s sweet tales of Maria and the children
dancing around it singing Do-Re-Mi were somewhat undermined by the drunk passed
out in the carefully sculpted flowerbeds.
27th January 1756 was
the birth date of Salzburg’s most famous son (no not Christopher Plummer) Wolfgang Amedeus
Mozart. Standing outside the bright
yellow townhouse that was his Geburtshaus (birthplace), we learn that the boy
genius was appointed master of the archbishop’s court orchestra at just 16. Unfortunately a falling out with his patron
over the opera Idomeneo led to Mozart leaving for Vienna, where most of his
best known works were composed. There is
a museum to visit inside the Geburtshaus.
Then came a bit of a “Whoa” moment for me as we gave little more than a
passing comment and glance to a plaque that says on 29 November 1803 Christian
Doppler was born in Salzburg. Now
forgive me Julie and Wolfgang but his discovery of The Doppler Effect in 1842
regarding velocity measurements are so important e.g. in Radar. He’s getting a little short changed in the
fame department, so please remember Christian if you’re in the city.
Not being one for
shopping, a visit to the best known shopping lane didn’t fill me with glee. The Gertreidegasse is quite charming though,
with tightly packed narrow houses on each side hung with wrought iron guild
signs that add more character to the area than a neon golden arches sign. There are a myriad of passageways and
courtyards to explore, so as brief shopping trips go, not bad!
A city overflowing with
spires, domes, squares and statues makes me choose just a couple to
mention. Residenzplatz, bordered by the
Cathedral, is home to arguably the most beautiful fountain in the city. The Residence Fountain has four snorting
horses erupting from its base, giants and dolphins to carry the basins and a
jet of water at the top shoots from Triton’s conch-shell trumpet. Move into the nearby Kapitelplatz (Chapter
Square) and you’ll find a giant
golden ball with a guy standing on the top.
Called Sphere, it’s a work of art by Stephan Belkenhol and
your guess is as good as anyone’s as to what it means.
funicular railway beside St Peter’s Cemetery (quite interesting), took us up to my favourite visit of the
day The Hohensalzburg
Fortress. Started in 1077 it took until early in the
16th century to take its final form, it’s the largest preserved fortress in central
Europe. From the Kuenburg Bastion we
enjoyed outstanding views of the city nestling beside the Salzach river. The Fortress has a free WiFi and you can use
an app for your smart phone to give you endless background and detail on the
chapel, museum and Golden Hall. Of
course you can buy a guide book if smart phones aren’t for you.
Look out for the symbol of the fortress, a lion holding a beetroot in
All too soon it was
time to take the coach back to rendezvous with Avalon
Impression, giving any fellow passenger the evil eye if they looked about
to burst into a rendition of “the hills are alive”. Our journey back, however, was
via Mondsee used as the location for Maria and the Baron’s wedding.
The contributions of the river cruise companies keeps the Basilica St.
Michael in pristine condition and it gleams with interesting features and
sculptures. The centre of town is
picture postcard cute but probably aimed more at the tourists than the locals,
so we walked down to the lake (Mondsee).
Here the locals were enjoying cooling off and playing in the most idilic
surroundings, the vast lake framed by impressive mountains and a dazzling blue
This is a great full
day excursion, highly recommended, Sound of Music fan or not.
You may also find interesting:
- Avalon Waterways - Magnificent Europe: Part 1
- Avalon Waterways - Magnificent Europe: Part 2
- Avalon Waterways - Magnificent Europe: Part 3
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