Part 7 of the Travel diary. Better late than never….
The weather was foggy, and frosty butfull of promise and true to its foggy start, cleared up to a wonderfully sunny winter day with a temperatuer of about 8 degrees. Although sitting in the peak hour traffic, in Munich, the mercury seemed hotter than this. Traffic here is extremely chaotic for a German city, given Germany‘s penchant for efficiency and orderliness!
We drove past Lake Chiensee and later, Lake Hohnsee – where one will find another of Mad Kind Ludwig’s Castle ( we did not see it – but apparently it is neither finished nor as stunning as Lindenhof) and on past the infamous Berchtesgarden turnoff or Ausfart ( Ausgang ) I can hear the snickers of primary school boy’s here!
First glimpse of Austria was the Tirolachen / Osterrich ( which means East Kingdom) Border Stop. Nothing to write home about here. The rather disappointing backdrop to the roadhouse stop was one of heavy industry and warehouses with names such as Ikea, Scania, and Bauhaus. But I was buoyed by the anticipation felt when the Alps peeped out a little on the horizon. Heidi decided to make the most of a rather boring stop for her and so took a few artistic shots of the frost, as it was the closest thing we had got to snow, thus far. And I, purchased rather aptly, a scarf featuring edelweiss and it has proved to be quite an asset. Made of silk, it keeps my neck surprisingly warm without the bulk of wool, and is a little bit decorative to boot.
After we settled in to Castellani Hotel room, resplendent with Juliet balcony, wecompleted a walking tour of Salzburg, viewing a variety of sites, mostly the Main Square, church and Xmas markets and sites where part of the Sound of Music was filmed. Including some, such as the churchyard where the Von trapp family hid, ( that have been enhanced by Hollywood, as you can’t hide behind the tombstones, as they cemented to the wall) and the chapel dating back to year 1000 A.D. It was so cold here, that I felt some spirits may have been lurking, possibly tortured souls that inhabited the dungeons of the old medieval Castle above?? The wall along which the children danced with Maria, and the bridge where they crossed the river, as well as the Mirabell gardens were a delight.
Shopping in Salzburg: There was not much to buy here, and things were expensive. It cost me the equivalent of $5.00 AUD to send two postcards to Australia! The only thing that was cheap was Hot chocolate, made with real, and very rich, Austrian Dark chocolate, and it was so thick, it was as if it was a whole block of chocolate, melted in a mug. Two of us had a go at finishing it with no success!!! Demmel is the place to go for this speciality. Not only are there decadent Hot chocoloate, but also the best cakes/chocolate ever. Downstairs is the gourmet chocolate shop, so head upstairs for the cafe where you will be in awe of the range of delicacies to tempt you.
If you are visiting Salzburg at Christmas, remember to say “Gris godt” in the shops. A southern German/Austrian/Swiss greeting popular in this parts, meaning Merry Christmas… and don’t forget to get your “Mozart” chocolates. Our very lovely guide, from Insight Vacations gave us each a Mozart chocolate when each of us returned to the bus.
Our afternoon was to be at our leisure, and I, doubting that I could afford to buy anything in Austria, opted to see some more sites on the Sound of Music tour before our intimate dinner with an Austrian family on their farm. The full Austrian experience was about to commence!
If you are a fan of The Sound of Music, you must visit Salzburg. The places ooozes Austrian culture in a way I have not seen elsewhere. For years Salzburg was a city in its own right, not attached to a country or empire, and later became the centre of the enormous Austro-Hungarian Empire prior to WWI. In that War, Austria lost everything, including its port, The navy was stood down and the reputation of the once great power lay in ruins. It was in this wake, the Von Trapp family ( the real ones) travelled to America to seek their fortune. The sound of music story then, is a real one, albeit embellished to some degree, in true Hollywood style.
The fictitious Von Trapp Mansion, now owned by an American educational institution, and all attempts to buy it back by the city of Salzburg have sadly, failed. No public entry is allowed, so you can only view it from the opposite side of the lake. Wish I had a canoe in the back of the bus!!!
On the brief tour, we were shown the beautiful house where the family purportedly lived, but it was in fact, a much more modest house, later occupied by an organization mysteriously named, ” the Brotherhood of the Holy Blood”, and is now destined to become a B&B, if the authorities agree. We walked and posed for photos in front of the orginal gazebo where Leisl sang, “I am sixteen going on seventeen” and saw the lane where Julie Andrews sang “I have confidence.” The buildings in this city are quite magical and so full of character. Our guide, so sweet and full of Austrian humility, encompassed my stereotypical image of Austrians. The irony she told us, was that it is only now that the Sound of Music is becoming known in Salzburg, due to the fact that it is now being sung in German. Austrians, it seems, like Germans, only watched overdubbed films, not sub-titled cinema and only plays in their native language.
And to top off an amazingly excellent day we were invited to Borg’s farm, where we saw the usual farm animals, and feasted on a three course meal of home made cheeses flavoured with egg/paprika/pork juice and potato ( all made on the farm), Roast Pork and strudel all whilst seated in a Austrian style ski hut. The authentic Austrian experience – can I join the Austrian culture please? ah.. the way for females to Austrian community is through the 3 k’s: “Krist, Kinder and Kooking”… Children, church and cooking/cleaning…. Something for would be Austrian’s/new immigrants to ponder about.