I could really grow to like river cruising. Relaxing in your stateroom or on the deck while stunning scenery floats past, and expert chefs prepare another fabulous meal. What’s not to love? Here are some photos were taken as we sailed away from Passau and our cruise began in earnest. To be honest the scenery wasn’t as pretty as this for the whole length – some of it was flat and/or industrial. but there were many delightful scenes all along the river, and it was always interesting.
We sailed as far as Linz, where we left the River Beatrice and travelled by bus to Salzburg, a drive of around 2 hours. On the way we had a short pit stop at Landzeit Mondsee, a hotel with a large restaurant, and a gift shop at which we were probably supposed to spend money. The attraction was an amazing view of Mondsee (Moon Lake) and the mist-shrouded mountains beyond. Welcome to Austria!
We soon arrived in the beautiful city of Salzburg. We had a walking tour which lasted a couple of hours, and then the afternoon at leisure to wander about the town.
Our tour started at Makartsteg (Makart Bridge), the third bridge to cross the Salzach river at this point. I don’t know what happened to the first, but the second bridge was removed after it became known as the swinging bridge – it was not meant to swing! This bridge was built in 1967. It is a pedestrian only bridge, and has become the favourite place in Salzburg for people to attach “love locks”. It is not a particularly pretty bridge but it does afford a wonderful view of the old city of Salzburg, with the castle high on the hilltop overlooking the town and all the lovely old church spires.
At the Mirabelle Palace in Salzburg we were treated to a concert by Elisabeth Von Trapp, granddaughter of the legendary Maria and Baron Von Trapp of Sound of Music fame (i.e. Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer). She had a lovely voice, and sang some traditional songs as well as songs from The Sound of Music. The concert was in the Schlosskirche Mirabell (Mirabelle Palace Church), the private chapel of the archbishop-princes who ruled Salzburg. It dates from 1721, though it has been remodelled a few times since. The walls are covered in white marble stucco and the altar is impressive. The gold statues are of Saints Augustine, Rupert, Virgil and Martin (and no, I don’t know which is which).
We then we moved to the famous steps where the children sang Do Re Mi in the movie. Yes, they made us join in singing, but thankfully there is no video evidence (that I know about, anyway). The Mirabell Palace Gardens are typical of early baroque gardens, with geometric design, floral ornamentation, decorative urns and sculptures. The word Mirabell is from Italian, a compound of the words mirabile ‘admirable‘ and bella ‘beautiful‘.
It’s easy to spot a few of the filming locations:
Getriedegasse is the main shopping street in the old part of Salzburg. It is a narrow pedestrian street lined by tall narrow houses. It is famous for the attractive & elegant guild signs hanging into the street – even McDonald’s has one. It was quite crowded at times but fun to walk along and window shop. They are redoing the paving on the whole length of the street so our access was a bit limited. This street was once the main thoroughfare of Salzburg.
The buildings lining the Getriedegasse date mainly from the 15th century. Getriedegasse means Grain Lane, though it has nothing to do with grain. The houses have a narrow street frontage but extend well back. There are not many side streets off Getriedegasse. Instead, Durchgangs or passageways lead under the buildings to courtyards and paths though to the rest of the old city. Originally market gardens, stables & workshops, now they mostly house shopping arcades, stalls and cafes. Still they retain a lot of old world charm. These interconnected buildings have given Salzburg a certain architectural flair. Each courtyard is a work of art in itself: columns, vaulted passageways, moulded cornices, reliefs, marble balustrades, engraved building names and dates.
Universitätsplatz hosts a daily farmers market. There were lots of stalls selling cheeses, breads, sausages, fruit & veg, and of course, pretzels. Our guide had given us detailed instructions about buying food from the sausage stands. The best sausage, he said, is the one called Frische. It looks a bit grey and unappealing, he warned, but it tastes the best. It is made each day and must be eaten on the day it is prepared. It comes with grated horseradish and a sweet mustard. Only tourists put the sausage in the bread, apparently. Locals eat it on the side. Also, you must eat standing up if you want to do as the locals do – there are counters at the side of the stall for that purpose. It was very delicious, especially washed down with some local beer & cider.
Just walking around Salzburg is a delight. There is something to look at around every turn, from historic buildings and fountains to modern statues and even fun buskers as living statues.
Residenzplatz is ringed by the cathedral and the new and old Residences, the palaces of Salzburg’s former rulers. The Neue Residenz with its bell tower dominates the square. In front of it, the elaborate fountain is a version of Bernini’s Triton Fountain in Rome.
In Kapitelplatz a man stands atop a huge golden orb gazing up the hill at the Hohensalzburg Fortress, which dates from 1077. This fortress was so impressive that no army tried to attack it for over 800 years.
Salzburg’s cathedral was one of the first Italian Baroque buildings north of the Alps. It earned Salzburg the name “the Rome of the north”.
The iron entrance doors mark 3 significant dates – 774, the year the first church was consecrated on this site (it burned down in 1598); 1628, when the current church was finished, and 1959, when the renovations following severe damage by bombing in WWII were completed.
The interior is clean and white. It was constructed in a very short time (14 years) and is therefore very harmonious. The stucco work is exceptional, by an artist from Milan. Young Mozart was baptised here, and this was his home church for 25 years. He was the organist here for two years.
Mozart was born and grew up in Salzburg, and the city is very proud of that fact. He was born in a house at No. 9 Getriedegasse. The family rented rooms on the third floor from 1747 to 1773, Mozart was born in 1756. Mozart’s Geburtshaus (birthplace) is now a museum about his early life.
In 1773 the family moved to larger premises where Wolfgang’s father Leopold, himself an accomplished musician, held classes and concerts. Known as Mozart Wohnhaus (residence), the house was largely destroyed in WWII, but has been reconstructed and now houses a museum dedicated to Mozart’s life & work.
In 1781 Mozart left Salzburg for good and moved to Vienna. It would be difficult for tourists to leave Salzburg without buying some wonderful Mozart-themed kitsch. My personal favourite was the bouncy Mozart mobile, but the Mozart rubber ducks and minions were fabulous too.
Remember the scene in The Sound of Music where the family hid in a cemetery after the concert while the Nazi’s chased them, and Liesl’s boyfriend Rolf blew his whistle? That scene was filmed here in Petersfriedhof, or St Peter’s Cemetery, Salzburg. Well, not quite. They were not allowed to film here, so a replica set was built in Hollywood. The cemetery’s origins date back to about 700, when the original abbey was built.
- To see all the posts about our 2016 Danube River cruise click HERE.
- Although this post was written in 2021, it happened in June 2016, 5 years ago. Since I didn’t document the trip at the time, now seemed as good a time as any to catch up.