I have 4 favourite cities from our travels, and Salzburg is one of them. It is beautiful. The river, the history, the music and culture everywhere. It is not too big and had a really cool vibe. Our first time experiencing this fantastic city was after church on our first Sunday in Austria. It was a very hot day, so we headed for the beautiful Mirabell Palace and Gardens. In Maria Alm where we were staying, it is quite a bit cooler because it is so high up in the mountains. Down in Salzburg in the heat of summer.....it was HOT!! Our photos around the garden look just sunny and happy, but we were slowly melting from the extreme heat. It was a bit of a nightmare trying to breastfeed in public on that day, but despite the heat, we were able to appreciate visiting such a beautiful place. We had a lot of fun standing on the Sound of Music steps together, and the kids enjoyed running around the garden.
Of course, there was no hiding that we were the loud crazy foreigners, as my kids were straight away 'head down, bum up' in every beautiful fountain we came across. Luckily no one actually ended up all the way in.....but I wasn't too cross, it was very hot. I probably should have joined them!
In the Mirabell Gardens is an adjoining section called 'The Dwarf Garden'. In this garden is a circle of ugly, creepy Dwarf statues in a perfectly landscaped Austrian setting. It was created in 1715 by the Prince Archbishop. Many of the statues are modeled after Dwarves who lived in the court and served as entertainers at the time. Others were inspired by peasants and foreigners. This garden is also featured in 'The Sound of Music' when Maria and the Von Trapp kids run past them while singing Do Re Mi.
Amira, Zahli and Rushton were hilarious and spent time trying to copy the posture and facial expressions of the statues. I'm sure that some of the other people in the garden who were relaxing and reading books were annoyed at the crazy foreigners with the loud kids, but we had a great time making memories together.
On another, less hot day, we set out to explore other parts of the city. Our first stop on our special day out together in Salzburg was to see Residenzplatz and the absolutely beautiful fountain there. This magnificent baroque fountain has four snorting horses that seem to spring forth from the spouting rock. Giants rooted in the rock carry the lower basin, in which three dolphins balance the scalloped upper basin. The upper basin holds a Triton, a jet of water shooting into the air from his conch-shell trumpet. Of course, my kids were too busy trying to dive in to notice the artistry....
Our kids spent time learning all about Mozart in preparation for our outing. We watched a great documentary online and listened to some of his music. Ever since then, Ross has a particular Mozart soundtrack on his phone that Bo listens to when he falls asleep. We have all heard that music so often that it has become the soundtrack to our trip. It is so familiar now...and so annoying...
In Salzburg, Mozart is everywhere! There are special Mozart chocolates ( Mozart Kugels ) sooooo yummy! And his face is on every kind of souvenir imaginable. Even with all the gimmickry, there is also a true love for the great composer here, and his music is celebrated all over the city. There are concerts and performances in churches, cathedrals and music halls every night!
After visiting Mozartplatz to see his statue, we continued wandering through the city. There were street performers and it was lots of fun to walk though the old part of the city. The sky was threatening rain this whole time and I felt very grateful that it held off while we walked.
One stop on our walk was the house where Mozart was born. There is a little museum there, but we decided it was too pricey for all of us. Later on in our trip, Ross took Levi and Amira to the residence of Mozart where there is a more comprehensive museum about the life of the great composer. We peeked in the windows and snapped a photo out front to prove that we had been to the place where Mozart was born!
Next stop was to join the thousands of other romantics in history and for Ross and I to lock our love forever onto a lovelock bridge. On the Sound of Music tour, the guide told us that in some countries the locks have to be removed every so often because of the heavy weight of the many locks on the bridge. But he assured us that here in Salzburg, there are "..good sturdy Austrian Bridges" so it is not a problem! We bought a lock, wrote on it, and locked our love onto the Markartsteg bridge in Salzburg. Then we threw the key into the Salzach river. Hopefully it is an omen foreshadowing our return to Salzburg one day, and of course, our love is now locked fast in Austria, and will therefore last forever :-)
The kids thought this was great, and oh so romantic!! However, no sooner had we snapped on that lock, thrown the key and taken a photo, than the very heavens opened up and poured down upon us. That rain that had been threatening all day finally broke through and I can honestly say that I have never experienced rain that sudden and heavy ever before! It drenched us in a matter of seconds!!! We had a mad scramble to try and get off the bridge, because of course, being in the middle of the river we were nowhere near any shelter. By the time we reached just the end of the bridge and the first street crossing, we were all so thoroughly soaked that you could have wrung a river from our clothing alone!!!
We didn't know what to do! The rain was pelting down in great torrents and we had five kids and a pram to find shelter for! Unfortunately, we seemed to be in a more commercial district and there were no handy shops to pop into until the rain passed. We turned a corner and huddled miserably under the awning of a fancy looking hotel with a few other unlucky tourists. Of course Bo was crying by now, but it was one of those shocking things that happen so suddenly that the only appropriate reaction is...laughter. Or crying. Or both.
We were miserable, wet and cold with a crying baby, stranded on a tiny bit of footpath underneath an inadequate shelter.....but it was still funny! Finally I grew a brain and realized that we could probably go inside the waiting room of the hotel - wet, drowned rats that we were. So we made our way inside, only to discover that in fact, we were in the Sachers hotel. The Sachers hotel. The fancy-pancy luxury hotel talked about in Iva Ibbotson's books and which is home to the famous Sacher Torte.
Yes folks, home to a famous European chocolate cake. Providence!
So we made our way to the Sacher Cafe and indulged our soaking selves in delicious, overpriced European chocolate cake. It was a wonderful way to dry off and end our wet and adventurous day in Mozart's beautiful home city.