From December 2016 to January 2017, our family (my parents, my 2 siblings, my husband, our 12 month old little boy, and myself) went on a whirlwind Winter Wonderland trip across Germany (Munich), Austria (Obertauern and Salzburg), and the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Apeldoorn). The following series of posts are vignettes of that time there, and each place.
We arrived in Salzburg mid-afternoon, nearing the early evening. The sun had begun to set, and Lucas was in a bit of a mood having been cooped up in a child’s seat (and baby carrier) for too long. Between the cable car, car ride, and long check-in process (understaffed as our hotel was), it was difficult for him to let go of some of that energy. To help him expend some energy, I stayed back in our hotel (NH Hotel Salzburg) so Lucas could run wild long enough to work up an appetite for his milk and nap, while Jay went off to explore the area and take our wash to the laundromat. My siblings (Gab -17, and Andrea – 24) went along with him.
After Jay returned, we spent time folding clothes, and letting the little one rest before we suited up to venture into the blistery cold to find food. There was a supposedly hip burger place (known as Ludwig [Das Burger Restaurant]) a 7 minute walk away, so we headed in that direction.
Upon arrival, it was packed, and we were given seats by the open concept kitchen to wait for our takeout. After some time, the food came, and we walked back to the hotel to tuck into our food. Suffice to say, it was underwhelming (though the sweet potato fries were nice), and on top of the slow service, I don’t think we’ll be back for seconds.
Lucas’ 1st birthday!
We started the day early with hotel breakfast (bread.and.cheese.for.ever.please.), before walking from the hotel to Mirabellplatz where the Sound of Music Tour meeting point was (right across Mirabell Palace). We boarded the bus in good time along with a large group of other tourists, and we started on our way.
The stops were as follows:
Our guide was a jolly, flamboyant Austrian man who occasionally showed us clips of the movie, and sang along with us between stops. As a Sound of Music “fan since birth,” the experience was lovely – despite the cold; and the snow that capped all the familiar scenes from this timeless classic made it seem even more ethereal.
I was even shocked at how cooperative our poor newly-turned-12-month-old was, being strapped to us for almost a full day in the baby carrier, and gazing out around him. Maybe because the hills were so alive with the sound of music, even he was entertained. 😉
After we had arrived back at Mirabellplatz, we took a quick walk through the small Christkindlmarkt in the area before heading back to the hotel to rest and freshen up before dinner. As most things close even earlier around this season, it wasn’t easy to find dinner places nearby, but our hotel kindly made reservations for us at a popular place called Alter Fuchs – a 15-20 minute walk away offering authentic German/Austrian fare.
We made the shivery trek over, and were settled in by two lovely waitresses. They were kind, attentive, and on it. The food also came quickly, and was delicious! Lucas ate his Frittatensuppe (sliced pancake soup in beef broth) well, and the rest of us indulged in our schnitzels, Gordon-Bleus, and salads.
At the end of dinner, though we had no more room for dessert, we did light a candle for Lucas to blow, and with that we called it a night. As we turned in and said our prayers, I was reminded of what a joy it was to have this trip to celebrate so many milestones: Lucas’ first winter and first birthday, a full year of breastfeeding, my parents’ first European winter, and my siblings’ first trip to Europe. A blessing to behold, for sure.
Because it was Christmas Eve, many stores would only be open half the day, so we had arranged to spend the whole day at the Christkindlmarkt, as well as exploring surrounding areas – shopping, eating, and wandering. For a portion of the day, the group split and my dad, and brother – Gab, went shopping; Jay and Lucas accompanied them for a time before taking a break and heading back to the hotel for a nap; and Mom, my sister – Drey, and myself visited Mozarts Geburtshaus (Mozart’s Birthplace). We girls had a nice afternoon to ourselves, had some tea and cookies, and I had my final pump of breastmilk for what I believed would be a long while.
That night, we treated ourselves to a special dinner at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, where we were pampered with superb service, fancy food, wine, and special attention for the little master (Lucas).
When we arrived back at the hotel, we settled into our pajamas, then everyone met in Jay and my room to exchange small presents, and wish each other a Merry Christmas.
For Christmas Day, we expected most establishments to be closed, so we made reservations at our own hotel for dinner, and proceeded to prioritize light exploration and Christmas mass at Salzburg Cathedral right by the Christkindlmarkt.
It was a slow day, simply running errands at the view places that remained open, and spending time with one another over tea and Speculoos biscuits. Come dinner time, we congregated as a family at the dining hall of the NH Hotel Salzburg Central where we were greeted by the young, blond maître d‘ who we had met more than a few times across the week. He welcomed us from the host table, walked us to our seats, and said someone would be over to take our orders in a minute. He left us with some menus, and a big smile.
Less than 5 minutes later, the same young man came to take our orders. And 20 minutes later, he was back to serve our plates. It was incredible. His smile never broke – not once, he was patient, and kind, and above all incredibly positive despite the thin workforce, and less than ideal Christmas season workload. A real one-man-show. If he was doing anything more, he would have been cooking the food too (thankfully, this was not the case, or the poor thing may have keeled over!)
While the comedy of the moment was not lost on us, we were also moved by his work ethic and of course tipped him handsomely when it was all over.
Jay, Lucas, and I had our return flight from Munich to Amsterdam on the 26th (one day earlier than my parents), and so we set out right after breakfast in a taxi headed straight for the train station, which would take us to Munich, and eventually the airport.
The journey was long, but not at all arduous (love that European public transportation), and when we arrived in Amsterdam, we were fetched from the airport by our lovely cousin Amanda, and her fiancee, Michael, and shuttled to our hotel for the night: the Marriot Amsterdam. But that is a story for another travelogue! Coming soon!
In summary, Salzburg was a lovely city – pretty, quaint, small, and easy to explore. Because we were there at the height of Christmas, it was busy with tourists, but a little quiet and a little slow-going – shops closing earlier and earlier, restaurants open at odd hours. People seemed friendly enough, though not exactly filled with holiday cheer, and out of all the cities we’d been through, it might have been the least warm of them all. That said, I do believe I would be willing to go back one of these days. That Sound of Music tour was lovely (and likely even moreso in the Spring when you can actually experience the lakes, and the green hills and pastures), and it would be nice to visit Vienna as well some day.