It was with great expectation that we were looking forward to a relaxing train trip to Salzburg after the stresses of air travel, the flight to Prague in particular. After our walk with the suitcases to the main railway station, we arrived far too early, but were soon on our way in a comfortable compartment. However, five minutes into the journey we were advised of the change that all the emails were about.
Basically, we were to change to a coach mid way, meaning that we would have one hour on the train, one hour on a coach and one hour on a train, each time, of course dragging our suitcases around. I had planned to settle in to write a post, but clearly that didn’t happen. As a result, we missed our connection at Linz and arrived into Salzburg later than expected.
Our hotel was a modern building right next to the railway station and bus terminal, so that was a plus. That evening we made enquiries about our planned day trip to Hallstatt and I spent a couple of frustrating hours submitting an insurance claim for the car hire excess we were charged due to wheel rim damage (thankfully, this was settled within 24 hours). After that we were able to focus on our stay in Salzburg.
It was a bit of a walk to the old town from our hotel, but, once there, we found plenty to do.
Our first stop was Mirabel Gardens where we spent a bit of time wandering around these formal gardens with views across to the fortress. We were also able to enter the adjacent palace to look at and climb the stunning main entrance staircase. This served to introduce us to the ornate interiors and exteriors that we were to encounter on our walk about.
From there we walked across to the old town and Mozart Square where all the tourists were very actively milling around. The souvenir shops beckoned K while I sat and enjoyed the activity. By 11:15 we were ready to catch the funicular up to the fortress, but learned that there was to be a midday lunchtime organ recital in the cathedral. We almost did not wait, but thankfully we did.
The cathedral boasts five pipe organs – four at each of the main dome corner columns and the largest, processional organ above the main entrance. We spent some time looking around this amazing interior before settling into the pews for the recital. I have always been a fan of pipe organ music so this was very special. Two organists played pieces on each of the pairs of crossing organs and then walked behind us up to the processional organ.
Such was the power of the first few notes that they triggered a wholly unexpected emotional response in me that brought a tear to me eye as I lost myself in the music.
Coming back down to earth, we made our way to the funicular railway that transported us to the fortress.
One of the largest 11th century castles in Europe, Fortress Hohensalzburg overlooks the city from a strategically vantage point that has proved beneficial over the centuries. As with most grand buildings originating before and during medieval times, their primary sponsors were the different religious groups, in this case the Roman Catholic Church.
Our tour round the fortress was very interesting, delving into the crucial historical role that salt has played in the city’s existence and development.
We experienced some amazing views of the surrounding mountains from the top of the castle walls before making our way back down on foot via the Nonnberg Monastery and the underwhelming subterranean aqueduct.
Having covered quite a few kms, the evening was spent resting, ready for our trip to Hallstatt the next day.
This was a DIY trip by public bus (2 hours) and train (1 hour). The last part of the journey was a bit of surprise as it was a short ferry trip across the lake to the town.
Rated as one of the most picturesque areas close to Salzburg, we were amazed at the colour and clarity of the water. Surrounded by mountains, we were also captivated by the number of hang gliders soaring above. In fact, from the information we picked up, there was no end of outdoor activities on offer here. We, however, only had time to wander round, take in the sights, and stop for a quick snack at lunchtime.
Our three hour journey took us back to the hotel in time for an early dinner at the railway station restaurant and a bit of a rest before heading out a dusk to see and photograph the fortress lit up, along with a host of other tourists, of course.
We had once again been fortunate with the weather (sunny 28 degrees), but with rain forecast for the day, we adjusted our attire accordingly. However, the rain did not happen, so we quickly changed back into shorts and T shirts.
The highlight for the day was the pre-booked strudel cooking class and lunch. Arriving at the appointed time, we, along with 10 others, were ushered into the cooking school which is built into the rock face, like all the houses in the row.
Our next two hours was spent making and eating traditional strudel – a fun and delicious way to spend our last day in Salzburg. We even managed to take away a doggy bag for our dinner.
After dinner we had a stroll around the town adjacent to the hotel before packing our cases ready for our next journey to Barcelona.
The rain that had been forecast for Friday arrived in time to see us leave Salzburg on the train bound for Munich airport to catch our 13:50 flight to Barcelona. The weather did clear along the way, so it was quite good to spend the two hours relaxing and watching the Bavarian landscape roll by. Our expected lunch on the plane did not transpire, so, by the time we disembarked, found the aerobus into the city and walked to the hotel, we were rather hungry. First stop was the supermarket and once again, we had salad for dinner over which we did some last minute detailed planning for our four days in the city.,