Even though we spent only two and a half days there, Austria was absolutely one of the highlights of our trip. Ever since I was a child I've wanted to go to Salzburg, mostly for three reasons: The Sound of Music, Mozart, and the Alps. But I left loving this city for so many more reasons than that!
We departed from Berlin in the morning and after only a short hour or so plane ride we arrived at W.A. Mozart airport in Salzburg. Flying into Austria was breathtaking: even though it was raining, the view of rolling green hills (which I would call "mountains" if we didn't live in Washington) coupled with the Alps in the distance made me feel somewhat at home while still feeling like we were landing in a far-away dreamland. Jason and I decided to splurge and stay at a nicer hotel in the heart of Salzburg, which was only about a 15 minute bus ride from the airport. We were greeted by friendly female staff, all of whom wearing the traditional dirndl and freely offering non-touristy must-sees.
Being the true Seattleites we are, we headed out in the downpour to explore Salzburg on that first day. Much of the city can be seen on foot, and is so easily walkable. We ventured to Joseph Mohr's house (he wrote the lyrics to Silent Night, or more accurately, Stille Nacht), some very old churches and cathedrals found in the smallest alleys and up the steepest stairs, and wandered around Mozartplatz for a while. And, of course, skipped along the Mozart pedestrian foot bridge like they did in one of the "Do-Re-Me" scenes in the Sound of Music.
The next 2 days were a dream: we embarked on the Sound of Music tour and visited the places where the most iconic scenes were shot, singing along to the soundtrack with the rest of the American tourists on the bus as we drove through Salzburg and beyond into the Lake Districts. We even got to enjoy a crisp apple strudel in Mondsee where Maria and Captain Von Trapp were married. After, we saw yet more sights that originally brought me to Salzburg: Mozart's birthplace and house, including some of his original compositions and instruments. How cool!
Other highlights included: climbing to the catacombs, visiting the Hohensalzburg fortress, a delicious weiner schnitzel dinner, the Rupertikirtag Festival, a night at the awesome Augustiner Brewery (AMAZING beer!) where we met some new Austrian friends, and of course our trip up the Unterberg Bahn into the Austrian Alps where we hiked for a few hours.
This city was more than beautiful, it was warm and welcoming. Our short 3-day trip was an incredible blur. I would love to return someday to mingle, drink a cold Steigl, and walk the centuries-old streets again.