You can’t help but want to wear floaty dresses and sing renditions of ‘The Hills Are Alive’ with outstretched arms while you run through beautiful gardens in Salzburg. In fact, if you’ve seen The Sound of Music, I challenge you not to – you’ll fail.
Our trip started in the best way possible; with a guided private tour through Salzburg with a local expert. The best way to explore a city is through a local’s eyes and Sabina was a wealth of knowledge, showing us the best places to eat, drink and photograph. I would definitely advise a private tour over a group tour, this way you have time to take photos and ask to stop where you want.
We started in the Mirabell Palace gardens. Where a lot of our (*my) favourite Julie Andrews scenes took place, which we (again, mainly I) subsequently attempted (and failed) to recreate. Wandering through the gardens, you’re reminded of the history of the city. The King at the time was trying to produce an heir to the throne and superstition dictated that if he kept the dwarf statues in the palace gardens, his children would be born with dwarfism and deformities, so they gave them all away. Over time they’ve been bought back slowly and reclaimed their positions in the gardens.
The King also didn’t like that the Unicorn statue above the fountain was better endowed than he was, so had the statue castrated. Told you there were a lot of stories!
Our first view of the town was the Getreidegasse – the main shopping street with beautiful ornate signs above each of the doors. Even McDonalds had to play ball!
Narrowly avoiding being swept away in a large group of Chinese tourists, we ducked down an alleyway and arrived on the other side in a large square. The market was in full swing so we went in search of the catacombs. Not terribly spectacular but a beautiful piece of history and free entry with the Salzburg card.
With the end of our tour in sight, Sabine dropped us off at Café Tomaselli – an Austrian institution for tea and cake.
Our drinks order was taken and a lady came around with a huge tray of cakes for us to choose from. We ate every last delicious morsel overlooking the horses and carriages and people below.
Our Salzburg card also gave us access to go up to the top of the hill.
Overlooking the city, we suddenly felt very small gazing down at everything, but once the sun broke through the clouds, we enjoyed just sitting up there for a while gazing out wondering what everyone was doing.
At the top, there is a fabulous modern art museum. Unfortunately you can’t take pictures, but even if (like me) modern art goes over your head, it’s worth a look. We had lunch in the beautiful restaurant topped up with a couple of Hugo’s (cocktails, not men).
Standing even higher than the art museum, the birdseye view of the city with its green roofs is breathtaking. Hawks glided down from their nests within the Battlements, wings outstretched and screeching, the sound echoing off the mountains and mingling with the sound of an organ being played somewhere within the castle walls.
Swapping the funicular in favour of walking, we bathed in the light of the sunset, stopping every so often to admire the view and made our way back to solid ground.
The next day we only had a few hours, so ensured we ticked off everything else we wanted to do. Of course, the Mirabell Palace gardens had to be visited again and we had an early morning ice cream bathing in the sunshine watching the gardens get steadily busier.
We also couldn’t resist grabbing one of the delicious pretzels from the market in the centre of town. Pecan and cinnamon – unbelievable.
Back towards our hotel was the market. Slightly more exciting than the one in Graz, it goes on for streets and streets selling wine, coffees, flowers, groceries… pretty much whatever you need for the week.
We just about had time to grab a couple of apples and a punnett of strawberries before it was time to head off to the last stop on our Austrian Adventure.