The Von Trapp escape route as seen from fortress.
The train from Budapest to Salzburg started with an honest, but enjoyable, mistake. We were put into a private compartment of a car with seats that stretched into beds and a door that kept outside noise at bay. We slept in comfort. About four hours later, when the ticket man finally came to check, we were informed that we’d been put into the wrong seats and quickly moved equal, but upright, comfort in the next car. The train stopped to remove the dining car, which had lost its power. Cathy got out to stretch her legs and I stayed on as the train started to move! It went backwards and then moved to another track. I watched as we passed her by. She had nothing with her, and she didn’t notice us across the tracks.
A panicked call home crossed my mind many times…but what could that do? Just when I thought I was free, the train came back to the very spot where Cathy was standing and we picked her back up. Phew. For the rest of the journey, I kept one eye on her and the other on the endless pastures of sunflowers, mountains and valleys.
We were no where near the bottom, but no where near the top.
We were smart enough to eat a huge breakfast on our first day in Salzburg, for it was many hours of vertical hiking before we saw food again. We walked from our hotel to the river’s edge and then up, up, up to the famous fortress castle, all the way to the tippy top. Cathy mentioned that horse-drawn carriages must have done a pretty brisk business, back in the day.
We would have happily dropped a few Euros to have seen one as we headed up. A closed door means nothing to Cathy, but it does lead tour guides to remember to lock behind them. The view of the city, the hills and everything in between was bathed in beautiful sunlight and deep blue sky. There wasn’t one window that didn’t frame an unbelievable scene. It was the end of the day before we climbed back down, had some dinner and fell into bed.
Day two saw us dodging the scattered rain showers – with pretty good timing. We were under archways or inside churches when the rain came down, and back in the hills when the sun was shining. Our timing continued to bring us luck with spontaneous musical performances. We were inside the Basilica, when a touring group of the Bahamas Youth Choir gave a choral performance.
A beautiful mix of island spirituals, underneath the towering baroque nave. Musical oddities continued back in the streets where we witnessed the performance of Mozart played on perfectly tuned wine glasses – ‘A Mozartini’. A walking tour completed our orientation of old town. Salzburg is truly a beautiful prize saved from the decimation of history’s many wars. We spent the late afternoon trying to find the Mirabell Concert Hall. It wasn’t in the church, it wasn’t in the palace, and it wasn’t in the gardens. But just before the rain truly came down, we found ourselves in a beautiful, old café, where we feasted on hot crostini’s, laden with proscuitto.
The performer and his audience.
That evening we resumed the concert hall hunt, and did find it.
It was in that palace! Just in a very different part than we were looking that day. The performance was exquisite; a solo pianist who played Mozart, Brahms and Beethoven. With only a small audience, it was like a private performance. The rain rolled and thundered outside while we were dry and happy listening to that glorious music.
One of five organs in the baroque Bacsilica.
Today was market day in Old Town. Acres of fresh fruit and cheese under canopied stalls created a scene much as what it would have been in the 18th century. The freshest and cheapest food in town. We spent our time taking a deeper look at a few of the sites we had not seen the day before.
Most interesting was the Romanesque church built by the Benedictine monks in the days of Charlemagne. We had tea in the oldest restaurant in Central Europe. As a matter of fact, it was Charlemagne himself who had the foresight to build that restaurant. Today it also houses period performances of Mozart’s librettos. With the Old Town packed beyond squeezing, with what was surely every tour bus in all of Europe, we eventually escaped to the Sacher Café where we enjoyed the world famous torte (thank goodness for all that hill climbing). The only activity we missed was the chance to ride bikes along the river bank. Something for our next visit.
Market day at Mozart's house.