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Published: June 14th 2018
Another early morning. Our ship is now moored at Brandstatt, near Linz. We are off on a full-day excursion to Salzburg.
It's a two-hour ride. Our guide, Eva, is extremely entertaining and makes the time fly by. Both sides of the road are lined by vegetable farms. Crops include corn (fodder for animals, not humans), beets and sugar beets, potatoes, wheat, barley, canola, and, of course, lots of vinyards. I am struck by the large number of solar panels on the roofs of private homes. The terrain becomes increasingly hilly and then mountainous as we press into the interior. At a rest stop along the way, we are tempted by mouth-watering baked goods and treated to a beautiful vista of a lake nestled among mountains.
Salzburg derives its name from the fact that salt used to be mined from the neighbouring mountains. It has two main claims to fame from a tourism perspective: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the Sound of Music. Mozart was born in Salzburg and spent most of his life here. And the real-life Von Trapp family upon whose lives the Sound of Music was based also lived here before emigrating to the United States.
are deposited near the centre of the old town. The palace towers over the town, but it is not part of the tour. We walk a short distance to Mozart Platz, dominated by a statue of the composer in the centre. Eva tells us that Wolfgang was actually not physically attractive despite the handsome man depicted in the statue. Behind is a luxurious home where Mozart's wife Constanza lived after she remarried following Mozart's death. Eva leads us around the old town, pointing out important sites like the magnificent Salzburg Cathedral. There are several sites associated with Mozart's life (such as his birth home) as well as sites connected to the Von Trapps and The Sound of Music movie. There is an interesting overlap/conflict between the real-life story of the Von Trapps and the movie. For instance, the movie was mostly filmed in the castle at the top of the hill, but the real Von Trapps lived in a different house. The real-life Captain and Maria were married in this abbey, but the movie wedding was filmed in that church.
One of the unique characteristics of Salzburg is the towers added to private homes purely as a symbol of
prestige and power. Eva directs our attention to the shop signs outside the stores, which graphically announce the wares inside for the literacy-challenged. Some are quite beautiful—including the one for a McDonalds! Another interesting thing Eva points out are "stumbling stones." These are small plaques embedded in the pavement at spots where a particular person was killed by the Nazis. Each "stone" lists the person's name, birth and death dates, and circumstances of his or her demise. We also tour the Jewish quarter. Salzburg, like most German cities, had a substantial Jewish population before the war, but Eva tells us that all the city's Jews save 20 left or were deported and likely killed during the war. The remaining 20 were all married to non-Jews.
Following the guided portion of the tour, we have a chance to explore the city on our own. We poke around the quaint tourist-oriented shops and make some purchases for people back home. We particularly enjoy the farmers' market, offering a wide variety of produce, flowers and baked goods.
We rejoin Eva and the bus at Mozart Platz. We are then transported high up the mountain to a resort constructed and decorated in
traditional style. We enjoy a traditional Austrian supper followed by a wonderful music and dance presentation dubbed the Salzburg Show. It includes traditional songs and dances as well as classical selections and numbers from the Sound of Music. A small but excellent orchestra is supplemented by two singers and a group of children.
Back on the bus and a 2-hour drive to meet the boat, which is now in Passau, Germany. It's Saturday and big trucks are forbidden to drive on the highways. In fact, we see rows of trucks parked in lots waiting for Monday. As we near the border between Austria and Germany, we pass a small town named Braunau am Inn, the birthplace of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. We cross into Germany, but there's no border control, just a sign. However, just a few kilometres further along is a police check point. They're checking credentials for every car, but our bus is waved through. We all have our passports with us just in case. We notice even more solar panels on roofs in Germany, plus entire fields covered with panels. Eva tells us that solar installations are subsidized by the government in Germany.
The ship sails for Regensburg
at 6 pm. Songs from the Sound of Music waft through our dreams.
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