On the fifth day of our trip, our cruise docked in Passau, Germany. But, a select few of us decided to skip the tour of Passau and hop on board a bus to Salzburg!
It was an optional excursion and the bus ride there was 2 hours there and 2 hours back, but I believe it was absolutely worth it!
Before we drove all the way to Salzburg, we stopped in a town called Mondsee. Mondsee is literally translated “Moon Lake,” named for a beautiful lake near the town. It is also the location of the church in which the Von Trapp wedding in “The Sound of Music” was filmed.
Our tour guide gave us a short, mini tour of the main street. But, after walking us down the street to the church, we were left alone for an hour of “free time” to explore the inside of the church and the cute coffee shops that lined the street.
We had less than an hour to see everything. Luckily, the town wasn’t too large so we were able to see everything and also get Ankur the apple strudel he was craving. Watching Ankur eat desserts is one of my favorite things to do. Imagine a child who scored five pieces of candy from one house on Halloween night. That is Ankur. Times 10. In an adult body.
After chugging our iced coffees and scraping the last bit of strudel and ice cream into our mouths, we boarded the buses to make the short, 15-minute drive to Salzburg.
Initially, when I heard that we would be visiting Salzburg, I imagined a vast countryside. Rolling hills. With bonnets aplenty. I was undoubtedly a little shocked when we stepped off the bus and I was in a city that looked very modern. And crowded.
Salzburg is well known for being the birthplace of Mozart and the city was also the setting for The Sound of Music. It was fun to walk around the city and visualize what life was like in the 18th century during the time when Mozart and his classical contemporaries lived.
Though most of the buildings are now shops, fast food restaurants and pubs, a lot of the old signs and other remnants were still there. This umbrella store, Kirchtag, had opened up over 100 years ago and has remained open – selling 350+ handmade umbrella each year. Kirchtag makes the wooden handles by hand – carving them out of the different woods that he imports.
Along that same alleyway on Makartplatz Square, we took a quick turn and came upon Mozart’s birthplace. His family occupied an apartment in this yellow building for 26 years. Mozart spent much of his childhood in this building.
Our tour guide told us several stories about his childhood and his many journeys to Vienna and Paris. One particular story – about Mozart’s physical appearance – was pretty thought-provoking. He explained how we have idealized (and misconstrued!) conceptions of what Mozart looks like. We visualize a white-wigged, tall, romanticized figure when we imagine Mozart and his brilliance. But, many biographers and researchers have argued that this is not the case. There are fourteen images of Mozart from his lifetime (oil paintings, engravings, etc.). And Mozart was actually a small man and very thin and pale. There was nothing special about his physique. But we’ve just visualized some glamorous, elegant man because that’s what we want to believe. We want to believe this beautiful music comes from a beautiful man.
It was entertaining to hear stories of Mozart’s childhood while sitting right there – at his doorstep. Eventually, the tour guide left us on our own again and we decided to head to lunch. Potatoes and sausages and beer. Can’t get much more German than that.
After lunch, we quickly ran over to see Christian Doppler’s birthplace before we had to get back on the bus. The scientists in our family were pretty darn excited about this. (Well, it was either the fact that we were seeing Doppler’s home or the fact that they had had a few beers with lunch…)
Our bus ride back to the cruise was spent listening to Mozart. So, naturally, I fell asleep for the two hour drive.
Day 5 Comes to an End
It was a beautiful day with so much to see and so many stories to take in. I’ve never been a big fan of history. It wasn’t able to capture my attention in the way that other subject areas could. Been there, done that was always my motto in high school. Let’s move on.
But that’s because we read out of textbooks.
Traveling is a whole different type of experience and it makes me want to savor every second and hear every trivial thing about the places we visit. It takes history to a whole new level. I’m so lucky to have been able to experience that day and this trip and these stories.