A SIDE TRIP TO SALZBURG ON OUR PASSAU STOP:
Amsterdam to Budapest River Cruise – Avalon Waterways – Day 10
After breakfast we arrived in Passau, which you’ll hear referred to as the “City of Three Rivers”. This is because Passau sits at the confluence of where the rivers Inn and Ilz join the Danube. Here we had a choice of a walking tour of Passau, or to take an optional full-day tour to Salzburg to see its popular Sound of Music sights, including the beautiful Mirabell Gardens, the Great Salzburg Festival Hall, the Mondsee wedding church, etc.
Passau or Salzburg?
Deciding whether to stay in Passau or to go to Salzburg was a tough choice to make. We would have loved to explore Passau’s graceful arcades, cobbled streets and to visit the famous St. Stephen’s Cathedral with the world’s largest church organ, but we chose to go to Salzburg.
Although Tony couldn’t care if he never heard “The Hills are alive with the Sound of Music…” ever again, Salzburg has much greater attractions than just this musical. The majority of passengers also chose to go to Salzburg and amongst them there were some serious Sound of Music buffs. Mike and Jackie admitted that they had seen the movie eleven times and they were extremely excited at the prospect of visiting the film locations.
Road Trip to Salzburg
It was an 8.15 a.m. start for those going to Salzburg. The coach trip from Passau to Salzburg took us through lovely Austrian countryside.
Along the way, our chatty guide pointed out the holiday homes of the rich and famous and filled us with lots of trivia. Did we know that it was an Austrian, Felix Salten, who wrote Bambi in 1923 ("Bambi, ein Leben im Walde") and that this was acquired by Walt Disney in the late 1930s? Did we know that Joseph Mohr, the composer of ‘Silent Night, Holy Night’ ("Heilige Nacht") was born on December 11, 1792 in Salzburg? Did we know that many Austrian farmhouses brew their own beer and this was mostly done by women … and so on and so forth.
Sound of Music Film Locations
Our first stop in Salzburg was the Mirabell Gardens to visit some "Sound of Music" film locations.
Our visit of the Mirabell Gardens started at the Pegasus Fountain where Maria and the children sing Do-Re-Mi. Then, at quite a pace, we walked through the length of the garden, crossed the road and proceeded to the Residenzplatz in the old town. The Residenz fountain was where Maria splashes and there was also a scene of Nazi soldiers marching.
The guided tour took in Salzburg Cathedral and then around the town. The city was in the throes of preparing for the celebration of the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth and many buildings associated with the famous composer were covered with scaffolding. As Mozart fans, it was thrilling for us to observe the Mozart buzz about town and everywhere we looked, there were pictures, posters and paintings of the great composer.
If you like marizipan, look out for Fürst, Brodgasse 13, where the first marzipan was made.
Mozartkugeln or Mozart Balls were invented by the Salzburg confectioner Paul Fürst in 1890. They’re small chocolate balls with a core of marzipan mixed with pistachio. Then a layer of nougat is added and a thin layer of bitter chocolate – they’re very yummy! The chocolate balls are wrapped in silver or gold foil, imprinted with Mozart images.
Other Salzburg Attractions
Firefighters will be pleased to know that St. Florian, their patron saint, is in the old town square as well. We took a funicular ride up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress and from the fortress there are wonderful aerial views of Salzburg. The fortress itself now houses several museums holding historical records of its glorious but faded past.
Cafe with a View
After all that running around, we enjoyed a much-deserved break at Cafe Tomaselli (founded 1705) at Alter Markt 9. We sat upstairs on the wide balcony overlooking the square and enjoyed all the action in the square.
Of course you can’t visit Austria and not enjoy some Austrian pastries. You could tell that the Austrians love their pastries by the huge trays of cakes that were being brought to the table. We didn’t have to try and decipher dessert menus and all we had to do was point to the cakes we wanted.
A Visit to Mondsee
At about 2 pm we regrouped and left for Mondsee, another Sound of Music film location. On arrival, we visited the beautiful Basilica of St Michael where the wedding scene was filmed.
Some 200,000 people come to see this church each year because of the movie, but the basilica itself is truly beautiful and worth visiting even if it weren’t linked to the Sound of Music. Mondsee looked like a pleasant town to spend some time in, but our stay here was only very short.
If you’ve not been to Salzburg before, this optional trip is certainly worth doing.
Back to the Ship
The few passengers who stayed in Passau, enjoyed a scenic cruise from Passau to Linz, Austria’s third largest city.
At 6:30 pm, we met up with our cruise companions again in Linz, where the ship was waiting.
More information on Passau here: Passau Info-briefing
More information on Linz here: Linz Info-briefing
Photos of Salzburg: Salzburg Photo Gallery
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