ABOARD VIKING GULLVEIG – The good times just keep on rolling onboard our lovely ship, now on our third day on the Danube.
After yet another delicious breakfast, backed by stellar service we board comfortable buses for a nearly two hour drive to Salzburg, where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in January 1756. The original child prodigy, Mozart was composing his own songs by ear by the age of five and at six ye was already touring Europe with his musical family, playing for princes and imperial courts. By the time he was 11, he had written the Latin drama, Appollo et Hyacinthus, which was performed at Salzburg University.
After a dispute with his father, Mozart moved to Vienna, where he composed his most important works: The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni and staged his own concerts at large yet intimate venues. Sadly, his genius was cut short by his death at age 35 as The Magic Flute was premiering in Vienna.
Music is in the Air
This mountain city with the dramatic mountains garnered more fame centuries later when The Sound of Music brought music to its scenic hills. Our first stop on the tour was at Mirabell Gardens, one of the location shots for the movie, and where Maria and the children sang: “R-R-Mi.”
Today, Salzburg draws large crowds any time of year – as we witnessed firsthand. Once we got to the city, we went on a very long walking tour, dodging throngs of people wherever we went. I can only tell you that you have to be fairly fit and able to withstand all of the walking – and standing required. Viking Cruises does offer what they call, “leisurely” tours, which apparently take less strenuous routes and offer a slower pace.
I noticed that there are very few places where you can sit along your walk through the city, so you have to be prepared for long treks, plus a lot of standing along the way. Even the Christmas markets have no park benches, and offer only stand-up tables where you can stop while you snack on local treats or savor their delicious hot mulled wine.
Our tour guide Julia walked us along the “high spots” of the town – all decked out for Christmas – before leaving us at the large Christmas Market – one of two in the city. This time of year is magical because of these markets, which are brimming with seasonal décor, tasty local food and Christmas music. Austria has some very unusual seasonal decorations, which make wonderful souvenirs to take back to loved ones.
After our organized tour, we broke off and had a delicious lunch at Café Mozart, topped off by the inevitable apple strudel bathed in a thick vanilla sauce. It was worth the calories!
A visit to Mozart’s house proved to be very enjoyable. Located