Today I am waking up in Linz, Austria. An early start to the day means we’ve got plenty of things to see and do today! Of the options provided to us, we chose to discover the salt mine just outside of Salzburg followed by a lunch. The other option, for those who are Sound of Music fans, was to visit Mondsee, or the lake district. We would all be meeting in Salzburg by the end of the day.
The breakfasts on board the AmaViola are the perfect start to an early day! You’ve got the crew waiting for you to arrive and offering up fresh coffee the moment you sit down. We were getting to know our waiter, Dusan, as well. Since table 25 seems to be where we sit for our meals, it’s easy to get to know the guy handing you your menus. It’s only been 2 days onboard and I can’t rave enough about the Ama crew. They are fantastic!
Well, we meet with our ABD guide and we are on our way to Hallein, just outside of Salzburg, to tour Salzwelten! Our journey was a beautiful one, albeit overcast and a bit damp, the views were tremendous. There is a bit of snow on the ground, but nothing that I’ve been used to back home.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with the salt mine tour, but I was excited! Hallein’s salt mine has a rich history dating back some 2500 years! It’s known for its mining of ‘white gold,’ or salt! The abundance of this mineral is what gave Salzburg not only its name, but its wealth. As we gathered inside the visitor’s centre, we are adorned with lovely outfits to wear while exploring Dürrnberg. They were practical as well since we would be ‘sliding’ our way to the depths of the cave.
The tour is fantastic and if you’re in Salzburg, I would highly recommend visiting Hallein! It’s fun for all ages! It was fun watching all the families get involved, laughing and having fun together. No phones, no iPads. This is something these kids will talk about years from now!
After the tour finished, we jumped back on the bus to head for lunch. We were eating at a local brewery, which also happens to be the oldest brewery in Salzburg. Hofbräu Kaltenhausen is the brewery itself; we were eating in the Braugasthof. It was a relaxed setting and family style, which meant we were all sitting together at big tables. We shared a table with a family from Maryland and a brother/sister duo. The meal was fantastic! You could order family style (ie share a platter of food) or order a meal to yourself. It didn’t really matter what we ordered, we all ended up sharing our food with everyone at the table! Good food, good company and an experience we’ve all just shared together! This is what travelling is all about sometimes! The journey is one thing, but it’s the people you meet along the way that can truly make the difference between a good trip and a great trip!
After finishing our lunch, we were on our way to Salzburg to meet up with a local guide. It was absolutely miserable outside. The rain was relentless!! It was hard to appreciate such a beautiful city when you were buried in the hood of your coat looking down at your feet as you walk to avoid the pellets of water hitting your face. Thankfully, I had my Helly Hansen coat and Sorel boots on, so I was warm AND dry! *side note, always pack reliable outerwear when it comes to winter travel! You never know what weather you may encounter!* We started in Mirabell Gardens, which is most known for the Sound of Music. We barely spent time here sadly. The guide had us off and walking before we could truly appreciate the scene in front of us.
It wasn’t long before a bunch of us decided that this tour wasn’t all worth sticking to, and we bailed on the group. We had already been given the meeting point and time, so what was the harm in leaving the group and making this worth our while? We braved the elements and found ourselves at the Salzburg Christkindlmarkt (the christmas market!). It is beautiful despite the rain. With the aroma and allure of the lights, it’s hard to find a negative thing to say about such an enchanting scene.
We bought some goodies from a few stalls. On our way out, we noticed this busy store and just had to take a peek. What was everyone buying in there? I stepped inside and I could barely move! This place was rammed full of people! This confectionary is famous for one thing, and one thing only; the Mozartkugel. What is it? They are small balls of marzipan coated in praline creme dipped in bittersweet chocolate. I bought a box having not tried one before in my life. I figured what with everyone in this little confectionary, it must be good! Beware of imposters all over Austria…there is only one true Mozartkugel and they’re found in Salzburg!
7pm came fast and it was time to meet our guides and head back ‘home’ for the evening. Tonight, after another fabulous dinner, the entertainment in the main palour would be the Family Von Trapp. Not the real one, of course. But surely just as entertaining! It was a fun filled day and it was sure to be another lovely evening onboard the AmaViola.
Tonight we sail to the Wachau Valley in Austria, making our stop in Melk and Krems.
Stay tuned for Melk Abbey and a disappointing tour of Krems.
Unti next time…