Hike up to the Ice Caves
Caught an early train to Salzburg, it was Sunday and almost everything was closed. We checked into our hotel and tried to find some place that was open to have some lunch before our tour of the Ice Caves. We wandered around and found a nice brunch place and had my first bratwurst in Austria, it was delicious. Our tour started at 1pm, so we made our way to the Panorama booth to check in. We hopped onto the bus and traveled to the largest ice caves in Europe. The drive to the cave was amazing, the mountains were so beautiful and lightly covered in snow. Our bus parked at the bottom of the mountain and we had to hike up to the steepest furnicular in Europe.
Hike up to the Ice Caves
The hike wasn't too bad because I was so distracted by the views, it really was breathtaking. I think it took me twice as long to hike up because I was taking so many pictures, luckily I wasn't the only one lagging. We made it to the furnicular and rode up to the base. The furnicular was pretty steep and it went up really fast, it was awesome. Once we got to the base, we had to hike up some more to the cave opening. I was again distracted by the views and it was getting colder the higher up we hiked. Finally made it to the cave opening where we met our ice cave guide, they handed a few of us some lanterns and we entered through the giant doors into the cave. It was so dark in there, if they didn't give us those lanterns I probably wouldn't have been able to see anything.
It was really cold in the cave, luckily I was still warm from all that hiking. Our guide led us through the cave stopping at interesting looking ice formations. He lit some flares so that we could see the formations better. There was one that looked like a polar bear and another like an elephant. There was another section where he pointed out the layers of ice on the walls that had formed from the years and years of melting and freezing. The ice cave was totally awesome, I've never seen anything like it before. After our tour we hiked back to the base and had some hot chocolate to warm up before heading back down to the bus.
The next day we did a double tour with the Salt Mines and the Sound of Music Tour. Hopped onto the tour bus and they drove us to the Salt Mines in the Bavarian Mountains.
At the Salt Mine they gave us some protective jump suits to wear over our clothes and then we all got to ride on the small train that took us down into the caves. The Salt Mine was pretty cool, they went through the process of how they collect salt from the mountains. They start by testing the areas to find high salt concentrations and then they drill down and fill it with water so that it dissolves the salt and other minerals into a liquid. These pools form and then they drain these pools. They collect this concentrated salt water and evaporate the water and then they are left with salt. We got to ride in a boat that floated over a salt lake, it was pretty cool. There were also a lot of slides that brought us deeper into the caves, it was definietly a fun way to go down.
Trail to the Cave Entrance
The overall Salt Mine experience was pretty cool, it was a little bit cheesy because they had a lot of flashy lights. They gave us a small bottle of salt before we headed back up to the top. After the Salt Mine tour we grabbed a quick bite to eat before the Sound of Music Tour. I was really excited to finally go on this tour, it was one of the reasons why I wanted to travel to Europe. The tour started with a stop at the Leopoldskron Palace, which was used as the back of the Von Trapp family's house. Next we headed to the Hellbrunn Palace, which held the gazebo used by Leezle and Ralph in sixteen going on seventeen. The gazebo is now closed because some lady tried to be Leezle and was jumping from bench to bench and sprained her ankle.
I wish I had more time to check out the rest of the Hellbrunn Palace, it seemed like a cool place to relax and explore. We drove by the site that was used as the front of the Von Trapp family's house, we couldn't stop there because it's now used as the university dorms. We also drove past the Nonbery Abbey that was used as Maria's Abbey. The next stop was farther away, we stopped at Lake Wolfgang. This site was used in the opening credits, it was a beautiful site. The drive to the Lake was also amazing, we listened to the Sound of Music soundtrack on the way. Our last stop was at Mondsee
(Moon Lake) which is where the Mondsee Cathedral is located.
The inside of the cathedral was used in the wedding scene as the Abbey. It was a lot smaller than I thought it would be, must be that movie magic. The overall tour was cool and I enjoyed it, I wished that we could have gone to a few more locations. After the tour we stopped at the Mirabell Gardens, which was the location they used for the Do-Rae-Mi scenes. Found all the areas they used in the scenes, from the Pegasus staircase to the tree tunnel. Our tour guide recommended a beer hall that we should check out, it's called Augustinee Beauftubl and it sells monk brewed beer. It was really interesting, it was a beer hall that used to be a church. You got to check this place out if your ever in Salzburg.
We did so many tours in Salzburg that we never really got to explore the city and check out the birthplace of Mozart. I definitely need to go back to Salzburg again.