Last weekend, my Australian friend that we met in our hostel in Copenhagen came to Florence, so we got to hang out and go to Gusta Pizza! We met up with some others and hung out until time to take the bus to Salzburg, Austria. We took an overnight bus that left at 2:30 am, stopped for lunch in Munich, then took another bus to Salzburg, arriving around 4 or 5 pm on Friday.
Maddie, Kelly, and I then met up with our friend Tom, who we met at Oktoberfest and now works in Salzburg. He showed us around and took us to some Christmas markets and pubs. It was a lot of fun! Christmas markets were kind of the main reason we went to Salzburg. It is a beautiful city, even at night! It is surrounded by the most gorgeous mountains. Oh, and on the bus to Munich, we passed through the Alps and it was breathtakingly beautiful!!! Sorry Appalachians, the Alps got ya beat.
Tom warned us about this weird Austrian tradition where Santa is the good news coming to a city, and he is accompanied by the bad news devil or something. So on St Nicholas Day, or in this case a day or two before, people will dress up as Devils and run through the streets hitting people with whips. We walked into this smaller Christmas market built into the side of a mountain, and there were two of these devils. They we posing for pictures, growling, and whipping people. I got whipped on the leg and it actually hurt, like the amount of pain that a sibling would inflict if you’re fighting. Also one of them rubbed my head creepily and I didn’t know what to do so I just didn’t react until he left me alone. I was intrigued by this unique tradition, but I’m really glad people don’t do this in the States.
Our hostel was a little far out of the city, so we always had to take a bus to and from it. However, it was super cute and family friendly. There was even a good free breakfast!
Food at the Christmas markets was so good that we only ate there. They have amazing hot roasted sweet nuts, wurst, sauerkraut on lots of things, lots of sweets, pretzels of all varieties, hot apple cider (which they call punch), and glüwein (same thing as vin brûlée or mulled wine). Such. Good. Food.
The next morning, we went on the Sound of Music Tour! Our first stop was to the mansion where they filmed the back of the Von Trapp house, including the scene where Maria and the children fall out of the boat. It’s private property, so we had to view it from the other side of the lake.
Next, we went to the park where the famous gazebo is. It used to be in the yard of above mansion, but they moved it to the park for tourists. It was built for the movie and then given to the city. We spent way too much time taking fun dancing photos in front of it because we couldn’t go inside (it was locked).
We drove past the abbey where they filmed the nuns and where the real life nuns lived.
Lastly, we went back to Salzburg to the garden where other scenes were filmed.
We also went in the church.
We then visited the Residence Rooms and accompanying museums, where the heads of government used to do their thing. They had a free audio tour, and contemporary art exhibitions. Also a terrace from which we could see the beautiful sunset and a Christmas market. The ticket also included going into another church, but from a balcony above for a different perspective.
We wandered some more markets, ate some more food, and went to bed.
Sunday morning, we wandered around some more. Basically whenever we had free time, we went to a Christmas market. We then rode the funicular up the mountain to the castle, where there was ANOTHER Christmas market! Our train ticket included touring the castle, which was nice. We went into the little museum rooms and the bedrooms, and into a marionette room. There were also terraces to take pictures of the city. The tower had a line that didn’t move for forty minutes, so we skipped that because we ran out of time.
We rode the funicular back down and went to this fancy little cafe called Niemitz to eat fancy cake. We then walked around the corner to take a tour of the Felsenreitschule opera house. It was just the three of us on the tour!
We thanked our guide and went to some more Christmas markets and souvenir shops, walking by the birthplace of Mozart.
We crossed the river and took a city bus to the train station, where we got on the bus to Munich, where we ate dinner. I got a gyro, which is what I got last time I was at that bus station on Friday. It was that good. We then took an overnight bus home, arriving in Florence around 6 am Monday. And no, I never did get tired of Christmas markets.