The last leg of our tour got off to a rocky start after we left Munich. Salzburg was the “extension” portion of the tour, so we left behind 12 out of the original 32 members of our tour and set sail once again for Austria. Considering Salzburg was a mere 2 hour bus ride from Munich, we were excited. After a long trip involving many an extended bus transfer from one place to another, we were beyond ready for a quick hop and a jump to our last stop.
Or so we thought.
Thanks to a perfect storm of the first day of German summer holidays, your normal city traffic, and a highway accident, what was meant to be a two-hour bus ride turned into a four-hour one.
In one word, “Yikes.”
Although, I will say, it was convenient that this misfortune occurred later in the trip, once we’d all gotten to know each other. We braved the excruciating journey in solidarity. We tortured our tour guide by playing tunes from The Sound of Music—which he HATES. Blasphemy, I know. We booed harmoniously as he got his revenge by forcing us to listen to bad German pop music. We laughed together as we spied a German police officer in the vehicle next to us, drinking a beer that he was trying to hide in the packaging of a box of Oreos (I can’t make this up). We offered up snacks and granola bars to one another to help quell off the hunger that was caused by too-late an arrival. It was rough, but we stuck it out.
Immediately upon reaching Salzburg, we joined up with our guide for a walking tour. Now, we were tired. We were starving. We were ornery. The last thing we wanted was a walking tour. Our guide was nice enough to lead us in the direction of one of Salzburg’s food markets, but it took us nearly forty-five minutes to get there. Most of us were gnawing our arms off by then.
But on the way to the market, we passed through the garden that housed the spot where the Von Trapp kids marched around the fountain during “Do Re Mi” from the Sound of Music, so I wasn’t sad.
After passing some more Mozart-related stuff (seriously, Austria is obsessed with Mozart), we reached the market. They had the same kind of hot dogs I’d gotten in Vienna last year (hot dogs filled with cheese. Yep.) so I got one of those for lunch and was thoroughly satisfied with my choice. I mean, until I took a bite and it exploded and I finished off my day with ketchup and mustard all over my jeans. Hey, what’s a better souvenir than an Austrian mustard stain?
The walking tour continued after lunch, leading us through the pretty colors of the Salzburg city center. We went into yet another big beautiful baroque church and heard about its history. Apparently Mozart was baptized there. Yep. Mozart. Did you know he was from Austria? Because his face is stamped all over the city. It’s hard to avoid the fact.
Finally after freeing ourselves from the confines of our walking tour, we made our way up to Salzburg’s fortress. This is a tenth-century castle that towers over the rest of the city. We didn’t really know what we were getting into with this one. We saw on our itinerary that we were to “take funicular to castle” and our response was “There’s a castle?” so that pretty much describes our preparation. It was actually really cool. It started with a very zippy funicular ride to the top of the hill. Then it spat you out in a courtyard with panoramic views of the city and river. Then you climbed a tower and made your way into the TORTURE CHAMBER. YEP. I mean okay, I wanted to see like iron maidens or other stereotypical medieval torture devices and all that was really in there were some chains and a torture wheel but STILL.
Soon after, we made our way to the top of the fortification, from which we had a really great view of the city below. You could even see the front of the building used as the front gates of the Von Trapp family’s house! I couldn’t really get a great picture, it was kind of far away, but it was there! Fun fact: today, it’s next door to a water park. I’m not kidding.
While we were up there, the bells started tolling from the cathedral, and you could tell that they were the same bells from the Sound of Music. I got goosebumps. It’s so cool that they sound exactly the same as they did in the 60s when the movie was made. Ugh the hills are alive…
We eventually made our way back down from the castle and linked up with Marcel and Stephanie and together walked around the city. Stephanie found a Starbucks coffee mug that said “Salzburg” on it, matching the one she’d gotten earlier in the trip from Lucerne. We went back to the “Do Re Mi” garden so I could appreciate it on a full stomach. Jen and I each bought art from a street painter. The mat of my piece was decorated with music notes that when played out are from Mozart’s 40th symphony.
To cap off the afternoon, we found a café under tree cover to drink a beer and enjoy the shade. Marcel and I each tried a beer called “Die Weisse,” which we both agreed was one of the best beers we’d had on the trip. Stamped at the bottom of the bottle was the beer’s slogan, which, when popped into Google translate, reads “It’s fun in your mouth.” We agreed that was a weird slogan.
From this spot we also observed a bachelorette party clad in pink tutus and armed with a WAGON filled with snacks and alcohol. We saw them at about 6pm and we assumed that they were going to be out on the town for the next ten hours or so. They were ready to go.
Once we finished our drink, it was time to hop back aboard the bus and ride to the hotel. With limited options in the neighborhood for dinner, we all walked about a half-mile down the street to an outdoor restaurant for burgers and beers to end the day.