Tuesday, June 11 - Salzburg

What a terrific day this has been! As one of our fellow travellers so aptly stated it, "Sometimes Plan B rocks!" Seriously, you know that your day is going to be awe-inspiring when the breakfast buffet covers three rooms, but little did we know what other exciting and entertaining offerings the day would bring...

We set off on the four buses at 9:00 sharp in weather that looked less than promising. However, Roman, a native of Salzburg and our guide for the day, set an upbeat tone with his regional outfit and stories of his introduction to "The Sound of Music" while he was living in the U.S. He proceeded to play us selections from the movie, interspersed with music by Salzburg's favorite son, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Of course, this musical interlude was broken up by Roman's excellent narration of the history of the city.

One crazy note about the bus trip: there are quite a few "solar farms" throughout Germany, and the countryside outside Salzburg was no exception. Imagine our surprise, though, upon observing bison (yes, just like the buffalo in America!) happily cropping the grass in the midst of some rows of solar panels! We had heard that there were bison in Germany, but never expected to encounter any.

Upon our arrival in the city, we set off at a rather brisk pace toward our restaurant, housed in an old monastery and established in the year 803. (One constant of our bus rides around Germany has been the obligatory bathroom break after a drive of any length, so I won't mention it again.) We were one of several tour groups that was being fed at St. Peter, but we were the only one that was treated to an entire concert during the course of our meal. Some of the highlights were from Magic Flute, Land of Smiles, and, of course, The Sound of Music, performed by a quartet of attractive young singers.

We wre then off on the second half of our guided tour to such attractions as the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul (that houses 5 separate organs!) and the bustling main square. At the conclusion of this segment, we were turned loose to explore until the designated time for return to the buses.

Our main objective was Mozart's birthplace, a rather substantial multiple story home thast now hosts an interesting collection of artifacts along with computer terminals that will walk you throught the Salzburg of Mozart's day. One of the most fascinating parts of the exhibit featured small but exquisitely detailed models of set designs for Don Giovanni, Magic Flute, and Clemenza di Tito. We made the obligatory visit to the gift shop in search of an appropriate momento, and then exited for our (now customary) afternoon coffee in the Restaurant Zum Eulenspiegel, founded in 1414 and situated dirctly across the minute square fronting Mozart's first home.

The ride back to Bad Griesbach in the afternoon sunshine was a reprise of the morning's journey, with music on the CD player provided by Roman to serenade us home. The Austrian countryside is green and lush, punctuated by clusters of colorful homes, each with its own characteristic Baroque church. In spite of some rather sluggish traffic, we were deposited back at the resort with just enough time to dash into one or two of the boutiques that are incorporated into the main building where we were staying.

An overwhelming display of culinary excess awaited us as the Maximilian's chefs provided us with a buffet that absolutely staggered the imagination. Even though we had planned to keep this meal on the light side, I was amazed to discover just how disastrous for the waistline a trip to the salad bar can be... However, a leisurely stroll of the gounds immediately surrounding the main complex served to settle us, both gatronomically and psychologically.

Given that we needed to have our suitcases ready for collection and transport to Vienna by 7:00, we readied our clothes for the next day and accomplished the majority or our packing, followed by a bit of work by Gary on the day's photos while I started to compose this post. Although the daylight was still very present at 9:30, we decided that was a good time to crash and burn after our very full and productive day.

Tomorrow, off to the Abbey at Melk (founded in 1089) and then on to Vienna. It really is horrific the way that Viking Cruise Lines is treating us in the aftermath of our abortive river cruise; they are forcing us to stay for two nights in the new Vienna Ritz Carlton. Oh, well, I guess someone has to do it...

More later - Auf wiedersehen!


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