A Hitch hiker’s Guide to Salzburg
Our strictly Itineraried Day:
- tour a salt mine with Bob’s Special Tours
- Picnic lunch pilfered from breakfast and joined by some fresh fruit from a stand in the city
- Make our ticket reservations and go check in at our new hotel
- Take in the grandeur of our hotel grounds
- Visit the Hellbrunn Palace
- Go home and change for dinner and the marionette show
- See the marionette version of The Sound of Music (theater at its finest)
Our actual day:
Today started out perfectly. We had breakfast in the hidden gardens, and packed a secretive lunch of a hard roll, cold cuts, and cheese in ziplock bags we brought for such occasion. Then we headed out front and waited for our Bob’s tour van to pick us up. And we waited. And we waited. And we waited for 35 minutes (to be fair, they give a 30 minute window in which they might arrive).
Then Galinda pulled up in her Bob’s van (we were relieved to not take Hans’ special taxi today) and she said, “you can go this afternoon?” and we said, “um, WHAT?!” that does not fit in with our scheduled itinerary. After some pleading and begging and crying (or just some polite conversation) Galinda decided to let us join her Sound of Music tour up until they reach Leopoldskrohn Schloss (the mansion/castle in which we are staying), at which point she would drop us off. Thanks Galinda! You’re the best!
When we arrived at the lake to view the castle/back façade of the Von Trapp family home, Galinda asked us how we liked her compared to Hans. I immediately said, “you are much better” and then we told her that while Hans did share some bits of Sound of Music folklore with us, he seemed somewhat disinterested in the Sound of Music and had a lot more to say about Salzburg’s history. While that was interesting, we just would have like more Julie Andrew’s anecdotes.
For example, today we learned that Christopher Plummer (Captain von Trapp) complained that Gretl was too heavy to carry to Switzerland over the mountain, and requested a stunt double for her. And we saw the hotel Liesl stayed in. And that the real Maria came onto the set and demanded to be a part of the decision making to involve more truth and sadness. The director said, “I love you Maria, but film making is my business.” Denied. We also learned about the movie Knight and Day being filmed in Salzburg, and saw the “hotel” Tom and Cameron stayed in, AND Galinda watched them film a scene where Tom Cruise did his own stunt diving into the Salzsach River that runs through Salzburg. Afterwards, he waved at the people gathered watching the filming. She said, “I think he especially waved at me. Can you imagine, Tom Cruise, waving at ME?” now repeat that in an adorable German accent. Loved it. And it seemed like something I would say to a tour group. Or just to my friends, since I am not actually a tour guide.
Continuing on with our day, we arrived at our hotel around 10:20 and dropped our stuff off in our room. Turns out the “servants quarters” that we are staying in are in the adjacent building to the main house. And we were expecting minimalistic accommodations. Turns out our room is SOOO cute. We love it. It is decorated in white and silver and purple. We wandered the grounds, took fun pictures, and then headed to the Hop On, Hop Off bus. Based on what that man at reception told us when he gave us our complimentary tickets, we assumed this was some sort of shuttle that would take us to the Line 25 bus, which we could take to the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) to get our seat reservations. We hopped on said bus, but the driver didn’t care so much about our tickets that reception gave us. He even offered us headphones. At this point we were very confused, but put on the headphones. We noticed it had a retractable roof. Then some calming classical music came on, and then a pleasant voice began narrating the journey for us. The hop on man drove right past our bus stop, and so we took the free ride all the way to Hellbrunn Palace (sight of the gazebo, and more importantly, the trick fountains).
Let’s talk about the trick fountains. First off, the archbishop who built this palace had no bedrooms in the floorplan – he merely used it to entertain. Secondly, he had this incredible area of the garden filled with trick fountains (wasserspiel). We were so stressed the whole time because we were not in the mood to get wet. We had lots more photos to take during the day and didn’t want to go with the wet dog look. Walking on edge, we kept a careful eye on where the path was wet, and where the tour guide was at all times. We were pretty successful. We were misted upon as we left through an archway of fountains. It was beautiful!
Then we caught the line 25 bus to go to the train station and get to those reservations finally. Then we decided that perhaps we were going to run out of time, and once we finally got oriented to the city and the bus route, we opted to just go straight to Bob’s Special Tours. Turns out we were going in another taxi van, but this one was a Mercedes Benz (first Mercedes minivan I’ve been in) and it was driven by Markos, who was much less awkward than Hans.
He took us to the Salt Mine, which perhaps will get it’s own post, and afterwards we went to a cute little town. However, it was pouring rain and so we sat under an awning at an adorable café and drank cappochinos and shared sachertorte and strawberry torte. Delicious! On the way back to Salzburg, we went drove along the Koenigsee River (which flows out of the cleanest lake in Austria) and learned that a fishing license in Austria costs 300 Euro. Yikes!
Markos was kind enough to drop us off at the train station, where we finally got those reservations, and then we attempted to grab a quick bite of dinner before seeing the Marionette theater show of the Sound of Music. I think this perplexingly amazingly intriguingly ridiculously awesome experience also deserves its own post, but I will say that a full sized person came out as the Mother Superior Nun, but she moved as if she were a puppet. It was disturbing to say the least. But all in all a one of a kind experience that I would totally recommend to a friend.
So there you have it – the day that went nothing like we planned, but other than the dinner complete fiasco which I don’t even want to talk about, it was wonderful! We felt like hitch hikers because we were riding so many random things today that we were not completely sure we actually had tickets for most of them. It was all very confusing. But surprisingly enough, we got where we needed to go! AND it rained all afternoon, when we’d planned to be out at the palace in the gardens, but those things were rescheduled to the morning, and during the rain we were primarily 600 deep into the mountainside on a salt mine tour. I’m thinking God consulted the weatherman, and then rearranged things with our Bob’s Tour so that we would have the best day possible. Thanks!