Salzburg.  The birthplace of Mozart and Mozart balls.  Where The Sound of Music was filmed (but only Americans know anything about it, or like it).  Where edelweiss is a picture on the T-shirts they sell American tourists.  And there are no kangaroos in Austria.  Still, an interesting city with lots to see, so we decided on Salzburg as one of the places to take Mom during her visit.  We went just after New Year’s, despite what I’d read about Silvester (New Year’s Eve) being celebrated in Salzburg by “thousands of locals and millions of Italians”.  We hoped they’d be leaving or at least sleeping off the celebration by the time we got there.

2 Jan 09

The weather was pretty bad driving down, so the trip took over four hours.  We’d decided on something a little different this time—we were going to stay in a bed and breakfast.  The Bloberger Hof inn is a small family-run hotel, 20-some rooms, run by Sylvia and her mother, and Sylvia’s husband Robert is the chef.  It turned out to be a really great experience.  Sylvia and her mother are very nice, and the food is wonderful!

Driving to Salzburg

Driving to Salzburg

Pension Bloberger Hof

Pension Bloberger Hof

The weather had cleared up a bit by the time we made it to Salzburg and the Bloberger Hof, although it was still really cold.  We checked in, and then walked to the bus stop down the street to catch the bus into the city.  Rebecca had two school photography assignments–take pictures of snow and Christmas lights—she had opportunity for both during this trip.

Sylvia had told us to stay on the bus until we passed the river, then just get off at one of the stops in the city.  It was about a 15-20 minute ride into the city, but we got there and into the center of town with no problem.

Just about the first thing we saw when getting off the bus was a window display of Mozart kugeln (Mozart balls), which seem to be one of the major tourist attractions.

Just about the first thing we saw when getting off the bus was a window display of Mozart kugeln (Mozart balls), which seem to be one of the major tourist attractions.

We walked around a corner and found ourselves on the Getreidegasse, supposed to be the most fashionable, and most expensive, shopping street in the city.  It also happens to be the street on which Mozart was born.  There were a lot of expensive stores, but there were some pretty views, and Rebecca got a chance to get some of the Christmas light pictures she needed.

We walked around a little while, but it was really cold and we were hungry after the long drive, so we found a nice little restaurant, and Rebecca had the first of the many huge Wienerschnitzels she was to eat on this trip.  By the time we’d finished dinner, it was dark and REALLY cold, so we headed back to the Bloberger Hof to rest up for the next day.  We did try out the apfel strudel (with vanilla sauce) at the Bloberger Hof restaurant before turning in for the night.  The only real issue we had was that there were apparently a few of those million Italians left over and staying in the next room.  It was late and they were loud, though I will say they quieted down when Roy went and knocked on the door (trying his German, but turned out they weren’t German).

Next morning we had a nice buffet breakfast at the inn before catching the bus back into the city.  Not a huge buffet, but they have cereal, fruit, and really good bread.  If you want an egg, Sylvia will bring one in a little egg cup.  Yes, it will be like Europeans have their eggs—soft boiled.  I think Roy was expecting the yolk to be a little firmer.

We bought “Salzburg cards” from Sylvia—these are a great deal if you visit Salzburg.  For the price of the card, you get use of public transport in the city (including the “funicular”, a kind of cable car that goes up to the Hohensalzburg fortress on the hill over the city), as well as admission to most of the attractions and museums in the city.  The only problem we had was that mine “broke” somehow, and I ended up having to get a replacement, but the tourist information place in the city gave me a new one with no problem.


Festung Hohensalzburg

First on our list was to take the funicular to the Festung Hohensalzburg, the fortress overlooking the city.  The streets in Salzburg are a bit windy, so we kept stopping and checking the map.  A very nice lady saw us looking at the map and stopped to help us.  We must have blended in okay, because she started speaking to us in German—although she quickly figured us out when we opened our mouths and switched to English.  She gave us directions on how to get to the entrance.  The way we took was up a pretty steep hill.  The streets weren’t very crowded this early in the morning, but there was still a lot of snow and ice on the ground, so we made our way slowly and carefully.  On the way, we passed a little restaurant that looked interesting—billing itself as offering “Balkan specialties”.  More on the Weisses Kreuz restaurant later, but let me say now it was a fortuitous discovery!

The Festung Hohensalzburg is supposed to be “the mightiest fortress in central Europe.” Its beginnings date back to 1077, although the main fortress was not completed until the 15th century.  We rode the funicular—this is basically a cable car that gets pulled up the side of the mountain.  It was a little foggy that morning, so we couldn’t see the other mountains that well, but there’s an amazing view over the city.

The whole fortress area is sort of a museum, and then there are other museum-like areas you can visit inside.  There’s one area where you can see some of the original building material, and some of the old living areas and staterooms.  The Golden Room in particular was incredible; you can see a beautiful old “stove” (like a radiant heater) and some of the original ornamentation.

Stove in Golden Room

Stove in Golden Room

They also have a museum area with more recent war memorabilia (WWI and WWII).

What’s tough is finding a bathroom (a modern one)—I think they only had one little toilet in the whole place.  I waited in line for that while Roy and Rebecca went to see the torture museum, and Mom went to the gift shop.  Yes, of course they have a gift shop—it’s a tourist attraction!

We rode the funicular back down the mountain and walked around the city looking at the buildings and architecture.  One thing we had to check out was the big golden ball in the square by the church—we could see it from the fortress.  I thought it looked like a big barbeque grill.  It turned out to be some kind of sculpture.  Rebecca was a lot more interested in the horse carriages and the ice skating rink in Mozart Square.  We saw several beautiful churches, including Franziskaner Church (St. Francis Church) and the gem of Salzburg, the Salzburger Dom (Salzburg Cathedral).


Although it was mostly sunny, it was still really cold, so we decided to go inside the Residenz Palace.  This is a baroque-style palace that used to be the residence of the Prince Archbishops of Salzburg.  It’s now a sort of museum; you get a handheld audio guide and it tells you all about the rooms as you go through the palace.  You can still see some of the original furnishings, and some of the artwork is really pretty.  It’s an interesting tour, although to us the rooms were way too ornate.  We decided we preferred neutral colors in our living area.  On our way out, we walked through the art museum that’s also in the palace building.  It’s interesting, and there are some nice pictures, but I guess we just aren’t art connoisseurs.

Following our tour of the palace, we decided to get some lunch.  After looking around for a while, we decided to go check out the place we’d seen earlier in the day on the way to the fortress.  It looked like primarily locals in the restaurant, but the people were nice even though we were obviously American tourists.  The food was REALLY good!  Rebecca had Wienerschnitzel again, and the bread was outstanding, but the best thing was the garlic cream soup that Roy ordered as an appetizer.  It was incredible!  We were passing it around sharing it, hoping the others in the place didn’t think we were too gauche.  If you are ever in Salzburg, definitely eat at the Gasthaus Weisses Kreuz.


Mirabell Garden

Full of a delicious lunch, we headed across the Salzach River to see the Mirabell Palace and Gardens.  This is where they filmed one of the scenes in The Sound of Music, where Maria and the children ran through, I assume singing Do Re Mi.  Well, in the winter it looks nothing like the movie.  We weren’t even sure we were in the right place.  And you can’t see anything in Mirabell Palace like you can in the Residenz Palace.  Mirabell Palace is now Salzburg’s City Hall.  Salzburg is one of the places we may have to go back to in summertime so we can catch what we missed—the Mirabell Gardens in bloom, Hellbrunn Palace and the trick fountains, and the cable car ride up the Untersberg (a very impressive mountain close to Salzburg—we could see it from the hotel the next morning when it wasn’t foggy).

About not being in the right place—we weren’t the only ones trying to figure out where we were.  Some folks stopped on the side of the street stopped us and asked how to get to the train station; it was really funny watching Roy and the other guy looking at their maps trying to figure out where we all were!

Before heading back across the river, we passed the house where Christian Doppler (the physicist known for the Doppler effect—why the car sounds different as it goes by you) was born.  We also went in and toured the house where the Mozarts lived.  You can’t take pictures, and most of the original furnishings are gone from the house, but the audio guide tour is interesting.  You get in free in most of these little museums with the Salzburg card, which is part of what makes it such a good deal.

Back across the river—we were really cold, and we’d been scoping out the famous coffee cafés, so we decided it was time for a little something.  We ended up having kaffe and kuchen at the Café Fürst.  Fürst is credited with making the original Mozart Kugel.  The cake was good, but what we think was a piece of a Mozart Kugel (chocolate with marzipan) wasn’t our favorite, and we ended up passing on getting any of the famous Mozart balls.

As the sun went down, it got colder and colder.  Rebecca needed some more Christmas light photos, so we walked around looking for good opportunities.  The museums close down early in the evening, along with many of the really touristy shops.  The restaurants were open, but we weren’t that hungry yet.  Just cold.  Really cold.  We decided to go back to the inn and try the Gasthaus that we’d seen close to the bus stop for dinner.

Unfortunately, the Gasthaus sign didn’t seem to go along with any Gasthaus.  Maybe it was their rest day, but we couldn’t find anything that looked like it was a place to eat, so we were stuck with the restaurant in the Bloberger Hof.

This turned out to be a good thing—the food was excellent!  As a starter, Roy had a yellow paprika soup that rivaled the garlic cream soup at lunch.  Rebecca had (surprise) Wienerschnitzel.


View from Bloberger Hof

We could easily have spent another day in Salzburg—this is one of the places where we will need a return trip.  We’ll definitely plan to return to the lovely accommodations at the Bloberger Hof, and the wonderful food at the Bloberger Hof restaurant and the Gasthaus Weisses Kreuz.  Oh, and the scenery and architecture of Salzburg is nice, too!

  • Thermen am Viehmarkt


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