*QUICK NOTE: We purchased a new Canon 70D for our epic trip to Germany, Austria and Georgia. What we did not realize until many months (And a few other great trips) later, was that our camera was defective. I just thought I wasn’t very good at taking pictures, unfortunately our photos for this blog are not what they should be, my apologies!
The day was stunning, although a bit hotter then one would think for Germany, so we dressed appropriately and headed out early to our Mercedes Benz rental car. (I only mention that it was a Mercedes because I’m pretty sure that’s all you’re allowed to rent in Germany.)
CROSS TIP: Prior to arriving at the border you will need to stop at a gas station and buy a toll sticker, they are called “Vignettes” and should be placed on your windshield. The vignette will set you back about 9 euros for a 10-day sticker, which is the smallest time you can purchase. Note: as of 2018 you may also opt to use a digital vignette.
Mike was itching to get onto the Bundesautobahn 8 and put the car to the test, and since it was about a two hour drive to our day’s destination he would get plenty of time on the renowned highway.
SIDE NOTE: Contrary to popular belief there can be speed limits on some portions of the Autobahn. Around most cities, known accident areas, and construction zones (Which we encountered quite a few of on our drive) you will find posted speed limits. These must strictly be adhered to, there is very little tolerance for speeding in these zones.
We were daytripping to Salzburg, Austria. I was thrilled to be ticking another country off my list, and he was thrilled to try more beer. Salzburg, which literally means, “Salt Fortress” is situated by the river Salzach and is divided between the “Old City” and the “New City.” We would be spending the day in the Aldstadt, with its baroque architecture and historic charm.
My husband was grateful that I did not insist that we take “The Sound of Music” tour, but if this is something you are interested in I have posted the link to the original and longest running tour-since 1967.
Instead we found a well situated parking garage, and started a hefty walk into the historic center.Our first stop was at the brightly lit Residenzplatz. A 16th century square with it’s remarkable baroque fountain sculpted by Tommaso di Garone.
The buildings that flank the square are bordered by a long row of townhouses, the New Residence, the Old Residence and the Salzburg Cathedral.
The Old Residence is reported to date back to 1232. This extraordinary building is currently an event venue and can be rented out. Construction started on the New Residence in 1588, commissioned by Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau. It is most famous for its carillon of 35 bells. The Salzburg Cathedral completed in 1668, along with the baroque buildings surrounding it, have been recognized as a UNESCO heritage site. The first cathedral erected on the site was built in 774, the remains of which may be seen in the crypt of the current cathedral.
SIDE NOTE: The Salzburg Cathedral has 7 bells (Which you can hear below) and they each have a name: Barbara, Leonhard, Virgil, Josef, Maria/Mary, Rupertus and Salvator.
Only two (Virgil and Mary) remain from the original set of bells from 1628. The rest were destroyed in the war. The five newest bells were cast in 1961
We continued to walk the narrow avenues taking in the sites, but I was really interested in seeing the Mozart house. My husband had been there back in his military days, but was not exactly sure where it was. As we walked around he wondered aloud, “It’s got to be around here somewhere?” And I quipped, “Why wouldn’t it be this big yellow one right here that says, ‘Mozart’?”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in this house on January 27, 1756. Baptized as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, he had quite the moniker to live up to. Growing up in the apartments on the third floor, with his mother, father and sister, young Wolfgangus became a child prodigy at the age of five under the tutelage of his father, an accomplished musician in his own right. Wanting to see as much of the city as possible, we did not have time to go into the house. The Mozarteum is one of the most visited museums in the world, so if you have the time I would recommend a visit.
Next we decided to make our way up to the imposing Hohensalzburg Fortress. Because of the heat of the mid-day we decided to take the easy way up and ride the FestungsBahn, or the funicular in English.
SIDE NOTE: Built in 1892 the funicular will carry you to the top in a mere 54 seconds. The basic round trip ticket will cost you approximately $14 USD and includes entry into the castle.
The Hohensalzburg Fortress is easily one of the most recognizable sights in Salzburg, defining the city’s skyline due to its position high on Festungsberg hill. The hill rises approximately 1778ft (542m) above the city of Salzburg and the fortress on its pinnacle has remained intact in one form or another since 1077. To learn more about Hohensalzburg storied history, here is an excellent website, Learning History.
Once at the top you are able to roam around the castle’s impressive grounds, ramparts and inner rooms. Do not miss the opportunity to take pictures from this vantage point high above the city.
Wrapping up our short time in Salzburg, we made our way back down to Getreidegasse, the main shopping and dining area near Mozart’s home. We found a wonderfully situated outdoor dining spot, perfect for people watching. I ate a very fine tourist version of wienerschnitzel, while Mike had sausage, potatoes and a local beer. We used our time wisely for a day trip, but I couldn’t help wanting to stay longer, there is a tremendous amount of carefully preserved history here. I snapped a few last photos as I dragged my feet all the way back to the car.
Mike had one more town that he wanted to visit on our way back to Munich. So we set the GPS for the small Bavarian town of Berchtesgaden in Germany.
Much like the East coast of America, with its egregious Civil war history around every corner, Germany has its own past that it is yearning to make a distant memory. Berchtesgaden is one such place. Originally settled by salt miners in 1517, it is best known for its incredible alpine beauty.
This breathtaking scenery so captivated a young Adolf Hitler, that he bought a home just above the town in Obersalzberg in the 1920’s. This is where he built his mountain retreat called, Berghof. The area, and buildings used by the officers of the Third Reich, are collectively known in English as, “The Eagle’s Nest.” We did not visit that area, instead concentrating our remaining time on this particular day with the quiet town of Berchtesgaden.
Used as a United States military base for fifty years it was turned over to the Bavarian government during the downsizing of the US military in the mid-1990’s. The town and surrounding alpine area are now very popular with tourists. They come to see the salt mines, Königssee (An Bavarian lake of renowned beauty) to hike and commune with nature in the National park, and to participate in the available winter sports, like skiing, luge and skeleton.
I was thrilled to stop at such a picturesque village and wished (Yet again!) that we had more time to explore, but it was time to make our way back to Munich where the next day our daughter would be arriving and we would be off to Andechs Monastery.
Here are my hastily captured memories!