From Melk, we cruised to Linz only to allow passengers who intended to take the optional excursion to Salzburg to board buses. As soon as everyone disembarked, the ship left. It was a long bus ride (about 2 hours one way) between the ship and Salzburg so that did not leave us with as much time as we would have liked, but I am glad I decided to take the tour.
Salzburg is on the banks of the Salzach River at the northern boundary of the Alps - the name derives from the barges carrying salt on the river. Salzburg’s Old Town is internationally renowned for its baroque architecture - it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Salzburg was the birthplace of 18th century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In the mid-20th century, the city was the setting for parts of the musical play and film The Sound of Music.
The tour began at Mirabell Palace and Gardens - the geometrically arranged gardens and statutes are based on mythological themes of Aeneas, Hercules, Paris and Pluton - it is noted for its boxwood layouts. We did not go inside, but walked over the bridges to the other side of Salzburg, where most of the sites are located.
For years, Salzburg’s Christmas market has been considered by many as being the best in Europe. Having seen quite a few Christmas markets on this trip, I have to agree. If someone wants to see the Christmas markets, I would recommend that they visit Salzburg.
For lunch, the tour guide recommended a few places, one being Café Mozart. I ordered two fried pork sausages, sauerkraut, a Kaiser roll, mustard, and weissbier, which is an unfiltered, grainy beer which I like. The sauerkraut was the best that I can remember ever having had.
We arrived back at about 5:00 pm at the ship, which had already arrived at Passau. There was sufficient time to walk into Passau and visit the Christmas market, but it was dark and cold - I passed on Passau, which I had seen on a prior cruise.
For supper, I had smoked salmon; foamy potato soup; roasted rib eye; and the lemon meringue pie. The red wine was excellent, as usual - another excellent meal. Also, the entertainment was excellent. The group called itself “La Strada” and was comprised of two violins and one guitar. They played some of my favorites.
Photos belong to Phil Bianco