A Travellerspoint blog

The Movie, the Fortress and Puppet Magic

Day 3 - Sound of Music Bus Tour, Hohensalzburg and Salzburg Marionette Theater

We started our morning with another fabulous full breakfast at our hotel in Salzburg. Our trip includes a full breakfast daily,
and either lunch or dinner at a choice of three Austrian restaurants nearby. I'm pretty sure I've gained about 10 pounds already this past week. But who can resist crisp hot apple strudel swimming in warm vanilla sauce - even if you're completely stuffed with schnizel? Maybe it's a good thing we are only in Salzburg for a week otherwise I'd be as big as the Sound of Music tour bus we were on today.

We got on the "official" Panorama Sound of Music Bus Tour at 9:30 am and drove with the huge bus all around the major movie production sights. We saw the villas they used for the both the front and back of the von Trapp home (two different ones), the gazebo that Liesl and Rolf danced around inside and the cathedral in Mondsee that was used for the wedding. Lots of interesting movie trivia and facts is given throughout the tour and our American guide was very entertaining. We had people on the bus from all over the world. He pointed out that the movie was a huge hit all over the globe - except Austria. I think my husband may have been the first Austrian ever to take "The Sound of Music" bus tour, but it was obvious by the amount of pictures he took that he was enjoying it as much as the rest of us. The only issue we ran into during the tour is that some of the roads we needed access to were still flooded so we had to go around the long way to get to Mondsee.

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We tried out our Salzburg cards issued to us by the Salzburg Tourism office this afternoon to take a cable car up to the Hohensalzburg - the massive fortress that is on every single picture of Salzburg city you have ever seen. I think my son may have liked that short ride up the mountain even better than visiting the fortress itself, but the inside of the fortress is full of interesting museums and artifacts dating back over 1,000 years. And the views from the top of the fortress were breathtaking.

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At night we had dinner and then headed over to the Salzburg Marionette Theatre to see "The Sound of Music" performed by puppets. I think this was just one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Imagine string puppets singing, dancing, riding bicycles, smoking pipes and performing puppets. Yes, that's right, they actually did the "Lonely Goatherd" scene - puppets performing puppets! An end to a day doesn't get much better than that.

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Posted by Forever Liesl 13:09 Archived in Austria Comments (4)

Do, A Deer, a Feal My Deer

Salzburg Sightseeing at last!

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While we were still in Vienna my daughter had already started singing her two favorite Sound of Music songs practically non-stop:
"Do-Re-Mi" and "My Favorite Things." She made us all sing them to every Austrian relative and friend and we met during the entire week.

One morning in Vienna I found this on a piece of a paper she wrote:

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I love her version. It's now one of my favorite things.

Today, Monday, June 3rd, we finally had the chance to sing our way live through Salzburg. We were met in the morning by an incredibly nice Austrian guide named Cornelia who was more than supportive about our singing desires and even joined in on some occasions.

I was more than happy to sing along too - because IT WASN'T RAINING! By some huge stroke of luck, precisely during the 3 hours we walked around Salzburg this morning, it didn't rain. Right after the tour ended, it started and continued for the rest of the day.

We did all the major sites of Salzburg with lots of photo ops along the way; especially the classic Do-Re-Mi re-enactment moments in Mirabell Gardens:

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The kids kept up great. After lunch in the city we headed over to meet Birgit from the Salzburg tourism office. She is the one who all along has been helping organize the tour. She is fantastic. We made sure to bring her lots of presents including some Harbor Sweets and Wicked Salem (Turtle Alley) chocolates as well as Red Sox gear.

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We ended the day with a Sound of Salzburg Dinner and Show at the Steigl Keller. Four singers did a mix of songs from the Sound of Music as well as some traditional Austrian folk songs and even a few Mozart operetta pieces. My daughter soaked up every second of the show, she couldn't have been happier. My son on the other hand asked me every other minute when it was time to go back to the hotel. Poor kid was really tired. But they pulled both kids up at the end of show for - what else? - Do-Re-Mi - and they stole the show.

Posted by Forever Liesl 22:59 Comments (1)

I've Always Longed for Adventure

Day One: Arrival in Salzburg - Floods And Disaster Warnings

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Authorities in parts of central Europe issued disaster warnings and scrambled to reinforce flood defenses Sunday as rivers swelled by days of heavy rain threatened to burst their banks....

One would think that a simple 2 1|2 hour train ride from Vienna to Salzburg would be fairly uneventful. And we had seen the wet weather reports. We also knew we only had about 3 days of sunshine during our prior week in Vienna, so of course we knew that it had been raining a lot in Salzburg too.

But record-breaking floods? Emergency evacuations? Three deaths reported in Salzburg due to flooding on the very day we were heading straight for it? No, admittedly, we were not prepared for that.

My heart started to sink a bit as I saw the first images of flooded fields and tunnels as our train raced towards Salzburg.

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This will be fun.

ACHTUNG! (I hate it when any loudspeaker announces that word - the word itself sounds scary enough nevermind the bad news that always follows)

DUE TO ZE EXTREME WEATHZA CONDITIONS DIS TRAIN VILL NOT REACH ITS SCHEDULED DESTINATION TO SALZBURG. EVERYVON MUST GET OFF ZE TRAIN AND TAKE A BUS FROM ATTNANG PUCHHEIM TO SALZBURG.
Okay, 5 pieces of luggage, 4 backpacks and 2 kids onto a bus with flooded roads. We can do this.

10 minutes later:
ACHTUNG! VE VILL NO LONGER NEED TO TAKE ZE BUS FROM ATTNANG PUCHEIM, DISREGARD ZE PREVIOUS ANNOUNCEMENT.
Yay! Not sure why, but who cares?

Another 10 minutes later:
ACHTUNG! VE VILL BE STOPPING ZE TRAIN IN ATTANG PUCHEIM VHERE YOU VILL HAVE TO DISEMBARK ZIS TRAIN. THERE, VE VILL HAVE ANOTHER TRAIN VAITING FOR YOU TO BRING YOU TO SALZBURG.
Oh great. Unload everything after all. And why get off a train to Salzburg just to catch a different train to Salzburg? Whatever!

We stop in Attang Puchhaim and unload 5 large pieces of luggage, 4 backpacks and 2 kids. It's cold. It's raining. We huddle together with our luggage on the platform and vait (I mean wait) for the other train to arrive and bring us to Salzburg.

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No more announcements. No more explanations. We just wait. The train we were on leaves. No other train comes. 10 minutes. 20 minutes. 30 minutes. 45 minutes. 1 hour. We are freezing and soaked by now.

We hear someone else from our abandoned train talk about getting on another train that is scheduled to stop in Salzburg. It's with a different train company and we'll have to pay for an additional ticket, but at this point this plan seems completely worth it. We climb aboard a train headed towards Bregenz. There are no seats together - so we split up. Finally, we are back on our way.

ACHTUNG!
Oh lord no.

EVERYVON MUST DISEMBARK DIS TRAIN IN SALZBURG. IF YOU ARE TRAVELING PAST SALZBURG YOU MUST GET OFF ZE TRAIN AND VAIT FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS.

Thank God! That's not us. We will actually make it to Salzburg! Yay!

We get off at the Salzburg train station and it is packed full of stranded travelers. It is pouring rain. I tell the kids that all we have to do now is get a taxi to our hotel where we can warm up, dry off and get something to eat. Then I see the mob of people trying to get a taxi. Normally, most Austrians are pretty proper about standing in lines to get a taxi. But this was clearly an every-man-for-yourself moment. We waited for at least another 30 minutes trying desperating to get a taxi but it was impossible. We knew we had to walk. At least one kid cried the whole way. Maybe both. It's all a bit of a blur now.

Never have I seen the Salzach river in Salzburg so high. It's also not normally anything like this dirty muddy color. The current was so fast it almost looked like rapids. The "old town" area of central Salzburg was closed off to all incoming traffic. All the bridges were barricated.

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"Mommy?" asks a kid, "does this mean we don't get to do the Salzach river boat ride we had planned tonight?" No, unless we really want to make this trip exciting by being swept away, I thought.

We finally arrived at our hotel soaked to the bone and freezing cold. It took us twice as long to get here as planned but we were here!

We checked in and went up to our rooms. We have adjoining rooms, a huge bath, and nice comfy beds with down comforters.

The Salzburg tourism office was extremely kind and thoughtful. The kids were thrilled to find candy on their pillows and goody bags with lots of tourism brochures, some great boooks about Salzburg and even some umbrellas - just in case we need them.

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Posted by Forever Liesl 14:24 Archived in Austria Comments (2)

Prater; A Most Amusing Amusement Park

Play day (the wearing of curtain play clothes was not necessary for this activity)

After dragging my kids through history and culture in the windy cold on one day, it was only fair to plan a day of fun just for them on another.

So we headed over to the Prater. The Prater is where the Viennese - young and old - go to play. A huge area that was once-upon-a-time used as royal hunting grounds - it is now comprised of a huge amusement park, massive outdoor beer gardens and a gorgeous chestnut tree lined alley exclusive to walkers, bikers and horse riders only.

It is best known for the " Wiener Riesenrad" or " Viennese Giant Ferris Wheel" so we headed there first. Up until London built their own version, it was also the largest ferris wheel in the world. Now it's the oldest, largest ferris wheel in the world. Originally built in 1897, it is over 100 years old - making it probably the scariest, oldest, largest, ferris wheel in the world now too.

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Once you get over the fact that you are up really high in something built two centuries ago, the views of Vienna are amazing.

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We spent a good half day in the amusement park. In complete contrast to the day before, the weather was gorgeous and even the tourists suddenly seemed to disappear as we practically had the park to ourselves.

What I love about this park is that some of the rides are as ancient as the park itself and other attractions are brand new. The kids tried out this ride where they put them inside of these big air bubbles and let them spin around on water like crazed hamsters on wheels. They loved it.

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The kids did some more rides. We did a family round of bumper cars. We ate amusement park junk food at the "Wurstel stands" (hot dog stands). My sister once visited Prater and she still craves something she ate called a "Langos" (a Hungarian food actually pronounced "Langosh"). It is similar to what we call "Elephant Ears" out in the Midwest or "Fried Dough" in the East except that it's served crunchier and dripping with salty garlic oil. That's right - I said garlic oil. And it's yummy. I promised I'd order one for her:

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And then the kids convinced me to go down a slide built in the 1800's as well:

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After all the junk food and twists and turns down that huge slide I was quite relieved to reach the bottom. Not just because I had made it down the ancient slide but also that the junk food managed to stay inside me too.

Posted by Forever Liesl 01:29 Comments (3)

I Have Confidence in Rain

Setting the scene in "Old Town" central Vienna:

Me:
Hey kids! Look at the beautiful architecture and old buildings! Look over there! That's a really big old cathedral. It's called St. Stevens Cathedral, and, well, it's REALLY old!

Daughter:
[Wind is whipping, rain is soaking her hair and face, the cold is turning her lips blue]
I DON'T CARE ABOUT OLD BUILDINGS! I'm freezing cold and I want to go inside!

Me:
But look! Here's Demel Cafe! They are famous for some of the best hand-made pastries in the world! They were once the official pastry chefs to the Hapsburg royal family and Emperor of Austria! Isn't that exciting?

Smile for the camera sweeties! Isn't this just SO much fun?!

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I might as well have been Maria von Trapp running through the streets with a guitar singing about confidence in rain.

And they weren't buying it.

One thing I've learned about traveling is that you dare not have your heart set on a specific agenda because when traveling with others it will NEVER, EVER go the way you hope or plan.

This week in Vienna is so busy visiting family and friends that our time is just plain too short to get in all that we want. Monday is the ONE DAY we planned on going into central Vienna. Planning to see downtown Vienna in one day is sort of like giving someone who hasn't had sweets in over three years a huge chocolate cake and telling them to take only one small bite.

(Like this one):

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Inside I'm screaming for more! More! But the rest of my traveling companions aren't quite as committed or as excited about my starved agenda as I am. Especially not on a cold, windy, rainy day.

The museums I wanted to see were closed on Monday. And it was too cold to just stroll the streets.

So, what else besides "sparkles"and royal jewels could make a cold and cranky 8-year old girl happy? We headed over to the Schatzkammer - the Imperial Collection of jewels and crowns of the Holy Roman Empire and the Austrian monarchy. Everyone's mood improved a bit as we strolled through with ooh's and awes while admiring the royal robes and crowns full of jewels as big as eggs. It was an impressive display of unbelievable wealth and (let's be frank) the blatant arrogance and pompousness of the 800 year Hapsburg ruling empire.

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I had about 50 more things on my own personal agenda to see that day, but it was already almost 3 pm and just about everything closes at 6pm in Austria on a weekday.

We managed to get in just a little more imperial glory by heading over to the residence of the former Emperor (The Hofburg) and take a tour through their apartments and silver pantry.

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I don't think I've ever seen so much gold, silver and jewels in one day. And we wonder why most monarchies didn't survive.

The Sisi Museum is also included as part of the tour. "Sisi" is the nickname for Empress Elisabeth of Austria who lived from 1837 - 1898. She is my own personal royal fascination. Ever since hearing of her over 2 decades ago I have been slightly obsessed with stories of her life. She is often compared to Princess Diana and their stories are oddly similar. A beautiful young bride is wed in a huge royal wedding while hounded by the press and ends up miserable in her "golden cage" of royal life which ends tragically in sudden death. I'm not sure why Hollywood hasn't jumped on her story, yet, but I bet they will some day.

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Unfortunatley, it was so crowded in some of the rooms of the Sisi Museum that I heard my son screaming "MOMMY!? WHERE ARE YOU!?" while I was standing right next to him. Luckily, I had been in this museum once before so I didn't feel like I was completely missing out on the experience.

At this point, we all earned ourselves a nice break in one of the famous coffee houses of Vienna. Cafe Landtmann has been around since 1873 and has had, amongst it's regulars such customers as Marlene Dietrich, Sigmund Freud and Gustav Mahler. It's also the quintessential Viennese coffee house and exactly what we all needed at the end of our day.

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It even caused the girl to give her first big smile of the day.

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On the way back, the sun suddenly broke out and shown brightly over St. Steven's cathedral. Maybe it was just waiting for her smile.

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Posted by Forever Liesl 13:02 Comments (4)

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