Ultimate European Road Trip, Part Six: Salzburg, Austria

We began this adventure by purchasing a Porsche Macan S and picking the car up at the Porsche factory in Zuffenhausen Germany… the road trip is now “official”.

This segment of the series is dedicated to our adventures while touring the Salzburg area.

Salzburg Arrival

The drive took about four hours and everything went smoothly.

We did experience a few eye openers along the way, one being the price of fuel.  We complain about the price of fuel in the States but we were experiencing close to $7 per gallon on this journey.

But the strangest was the turnstiles that made you pay one euro ($1.15) to use the public bathrooms along the highway… they had you coming and going.

 Change of Plans

 We originally allotted seven nights in Salzburg but were encouraged to include a stay in Innsbruck, so we added a few interesting day trips to justify the revision of our itinerary.

The rule-of-thumb is simple…stay someplace for four nights and you get three days of touring since the travel time at both ends knocks off a day.

Another is to keep a wander-around day in the schedule and enjoy the unexpected museum or shopping or restaurant, and relax over a glass of wine or coffee.

Most importantly, simply take in the new environment you traveled so far to see.

Driving a new car and the excitement of the road trip made our experienced map reading brains go into overload… heck we can get there and go there and maybe there too all in one day… reality bites.

The laws of physics usually win over enthusiasm.

Four Nights with Three Days in Salzburg

We ultimately selected a day in Old Town Salzburg, a spontaneous family reunion, and the Werfen Giant Ice Caves.

 A Day in Old Town Salzburg

Before we left on the trip we arranged for a private tour of the famous “Old Town” area and booked the “Rickshaw Company” to provide the unique experience with local flavor.

We left the apartment on foot at noon for a 2:00 PM meeting with Marko, the driver, at a famous landmark in Mozart’s hometown…the Mozart Statue in the Morzartplatz.

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Mozart Statue in Morzartplatz

Do not assume a landmark will be easy to find.

How can anyone NOT find this prominent landmark?

Old Town is just that… a city evolving from a center core or to put it in another way, a lot of winding, twisting streets that hide landmark statues.  That is our story and we are sticking with it.

Embarrassing as it is, we the experienced travelers, could not initially find the statue.  So here we are without a map, tour guide book or internet connectivity wandering around Old Town Salzburg freezing our collective toes off.

We finally meet our guide Marko and had our city tour in a rickshaw… check-the-box.

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Rickshaw Company City Tour

The tour people suggested an excellent local favorite restaurant …the “Zum Zirkelwirt” (circa 1647).

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Home Made Beef Goulash with Bread Dumpling  

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Classic Wiener Schnitzel

Now that we were fortified by a wonderful meal and some local pilsner we were off to do a little shopping only to be reminded that being Sunday, most of the nice shops were closed.

We returned “home” to warm up and enjoy a relaxing evening in prep for the morning drive to Melk, Austria.

 The Family Meeting

Genealogy is something we have been exploring for over ten years and we kept getting close but because of the language barrier things were not moving too well.

One of my cousins, Adam, “found” us recently on twitter and bridged the gap.  His contact led to the meeting and we rearranged our calendar in an effort to explore family roots.

We met at a midpoint between Salzburg and their home town of Velke Kostolany, Slovakia in the stunning city of Melk, Austria for a truly wonderful family connection.

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Marian, Adam, Milan and Bob reviewing our family tree documents

The Werfen Giant Ice Caves

 The drive was easy and the Austrian scenery was spectacular.

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We were looking forward to visiting this unusual tourist attraction known as the “largest ice cave in the world”.  Our plan was to tour the cave and then seek out a few castles that dotted the countryside all along our driving route… such optimism… new car enthusiasm clouds one’s logic!


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 Inside the Werfen Giant Ice Caves

To preface this… we are both in very good physical shape.  The hike from the parking area was all up hill and took over one hour, plus a brief gondola ride, followed by a twenty minute hike to the mouth of the cave, and then into a cave of frozen ice… what else would be in an ice cave you ask?

That is when we found out that we were about to take a dimly lit walking tour (up and down slopes) consisting of 1,036 wet steps about 18 inches wide, with and without railings, and it would last for over 80 frigid minutes….

We were wearing a lot of layered clothes… fleece vest, two sweaters, long pants, socks and walking shoes… but still froze.  We actually paid someone for this frozen privilege?

Big Hint: Read the fine print and the numerous TripAdvisor reviews (the negative ones, too) before you embark on any tour.  The promotional picture for the cave had to be photo shopped as the cave is dark and photography was not permitted… for a darn good reason.

 Back to Salzburg – Marionette Theater Performance

The morning of the performance we were notified that the Salzburg Marionette Theater performance of “The Sound of Music” was cancelled due to an injury of one of the puppeteers and another called in sick.

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Sound of Music Marionette Cast

So from Rogers and Hammerstein and familiar music to the alternate selection which was Mozart and the “Magic Flute”.  Since we really wanted to see the famous marionette show we agreed to the exchange.

We were not disappointed as the theater is truly beautiful.  The puppeteers are extremely talented and we were spellbound by their fluid movements of the life like characters in the play.

After a nice meal in town, we once again headed “home” to prepare for the next day’s drive to Innsbruck.

In Summary

This leg of the road trip was a learning experience and we had to make do with a short visit and a rushed one at that.  We broke our travel mantra and limited our exposure to a very interesting region.

Please follow us in the series to part seven….Innsbruck.. where we picked up the pace and drove on some legendary Alpine roads.

After all, what is the hurry… be inspired.

 

 

© 2015 Inspired Travel Itineraries with Bob and Janice Kollar

© 2015 Picture Credits Bob & Janice Kollar

 

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