The forecast called for a 90% chance of rain and cooler temps from the day before, so we switched from shorts back over to jeans. There's nothing worse than being wet and chilled. The drive across the border was amazing, all green undulating terrain dotted with farms, cows, sheep, etc. We even spotted the occasional deer off in a field.
Our tour guide was quite the salty character. Due to the clientele on the tour bus, he was giving us information in German, English and Spanish. The latter didn't appear to be his native language, but it seemed to me that he really rattled on a bit more in Spanish than the other two languages. Of course, this might be due to the fact that the Spanish speaking folks laughed at all his jokes. He was probably in his late 50s and his stomach was testament to a love of food and/or beer. His attire included a black t-shirt with a wolf screenprinted on it.
After being shown Mozart's birthplace in the old city center of Salzburg, we were given a brief overview and about 3 hours on our own to explore. According to Rick Steves' guidebook, the view from atop the Hohensalzburg fortress was excellent. All you had to do to locate it was look straight up.
If you look over to the right side of this pic, you can see a funicular track that cuts through the greenery. According to Jason's travel Bible, the Rick Steves Germany book, Rick said it was an easy walk to the top. So yeah, no problem, I typically work out five days per week and was game. I was concerned about the husband and girls, but we set off in high spirits.
Here we are looking back down at the view after the first couple switchbacks. This is about where it all fell apart. The little one started the climb at a jog and by this point was in full whine mode. For some odd reason, the older one was being more stoic, but jumped on board when the younger one started making noise about turning around. I was starting to feel the burn, but was still in good shape and joined with the husband to encourage them to go just a bit farther.
We slogged up a couple more switchbacks and the complaining ceased because it would have required effort and oxygen, which was in short supply by this time. The steepest grade was located about two-thirds of the way to the top and it was covered in gravel. A running joke in our family is that I am the most UNsurefooted creature on the planet. So I crept over to the side that provided a railing for the old folks trying to avoid breaking a hip and carefully continued my trek to the top.
I must admit that the views from the fortress made our Bataan death march worth it. We were all a bit breathless when we reached the top. And the girls were so weak that they needed a scoop of ice cream to revive them. Me... I was busy mopping up the sweat that was running down the side of my face. And the attractive sweat beads on my upper lip. Plus the line of sweat running down my back. The temp was only in the low 70s, but it was incredibly humid, a Southeast Texas sort of humid, thanks to the rain headed our way.
Here we are posing after we had a chance to catch our breaths, quit wheezing and dry out a bit. I was looking forward to our walk back down the hill, gravity making for an easy time of it. But no - the oldest complained a good part of the way about how this was more painful to her calves than going uphill. This from the girl on high school dance team that kicks and stretches and jumps around for hours a day during football and contest seasons. If my middle-aged patootie can handle Rick Steves' "easy" walk
In a completely random comment unrelated to everything else I've written up to this point, we had lunch at Nord See (North Sea) and it was a big hit. It's a counter service restaurant with all sorts of fresh seafood cooked a variety of ways. We had the fried shrimp with french fries and it was as tasty as Catfish Cabin in Lumberton or Al-T's in Winnie. YUM!
About the time we loaded back on the bus to head to the lakes in Austria where parts of "The Sound of Music" were filmed, it started raining. That put the kibosh on my grand plan to spin around like a top a la Julie Andrews in the opening scenes of the movie while the girls filmed me. Drat! We traveled around Lake Wolfgang, passing through several quaint little towns dotting the shores. We disembarked in the town of St. Wolfgang just about the time the rain decided to come down in buckets. As luck would have it, we stumbled upon a bakery to purchase ice cream (recurring dietary requirement with our girls) and homemade lebkuchen.
This wasn't the bakery, but another precious little decorated building I saw while we were strolling around in the rain.
We boarded a boat for a leisurely tour around the lake... in the rain. At least the boat was covered. Check out my pic below taken from the back of the boat, the boat that played the "Do-Re-Mi" song Julie Andrews sang in the SOM movie. The water looked as if someone had added a bunch of green and blue food coloring to get such a beautiful hue. I bet it's really enchanting on a sunny day.
I found this pic on the internet of what it would look like minus the rain - just lovely! This is the sort of place I might break my rule for, the rule that says I shouldn't return to any place in Europe until I've been able to cross every location off my travel wish list. Anyone want to come over next summer and rent a chalet on the lake with us? Or maybe Lake Como in the Italian Alps? Sounds like a dream to me.
And finally, as we were preparing to board the bus to head back to Munich, I spotted some cable car/gondola things running up the side of the mountain in St. Gilgen where our boat ride ended. Can you see the speck of red in the pic I took? I love the way the red color of the gondola car stands out against the backdrop of greenery. Talk about good views on a clear day!