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Report 866: Castles, Caves and Cablecars

By wendy lynn from California, U.S.A., Spring 2005

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Page 4 of 16: Untersberg, Berchtesgaden and Salzburg

photo by Joe

Taking the seilbahn up to the Untersberg

Across the street from our hotel (next to the busstop) was the “Seilbahn” to the Untersberg—a dramatic Alpine mountain that overlooks Salzburg. We had seen it every day outside our hotel window, and it was also the mountain that Maria from The Sound of Music claims to have played on as a child—where she heard the churchbells and decided to become a nun. Of course, our SOM tour had debunked this part of the movie (along with every other part).

We took the Seilbahn (or cable car) to the top. It was a bit scary, although, as shown by the existence of this trip journal, ultimately safe—at least for us. At the top, we walked for awhile up the trail toward an ice cave, but we didn’t make it. It was too much with Brother in tow, worrying about one of the kids falling to their death. Along the way, we saw some Alpine critters ambling along the steep ledges. (We later discovered these were “gems” when we saw their picture on a menu in Switzerland.) Julia proved herself to be part Alpine critter in her ability to navigate the rocky trail. It was amazingly warm, sunny and clear—even at the top of the peak—and it afforded the most amazing view of the valleys below. We ended the trip at the restaurant at the top with what else? A beer for Mom and Dad and sodas for the kids. It was only 11:30 but what the heck, we were thirsty after all that hiking.

For lunch, we went to Berchtesgaden, which was only twelve kilometers down the road in nearby Bavaria. Interestingly, there was no border guard or other indication that you were leaving Austria and entering Germany. Berchtesgaden was a pretty little town with multiple cafes and restaurants and lots of old-timey stuff. There was almost no one there except for a few residents and even fewer tourists, which we enjoyed.

We decided it was time for lunch. Unfortunately, with kids in tow, we tended to choose the places that seem easy. Often, easy meant not quite as good, like the wurst place we ate where the proprietor chainsmoked in the next booth. We did pick up some nice souvenir Mozart chocolates to bring home. Brother also had fun playing with his toy big rig that we bought him.

With plenty of time left in the day, we left Berchtesgaden and decided to drive back to Salzburg, park and visit the Festung Hohensalzburg—the big white fortress that towers above the city. Driving again proved to be relatively painless, and we found a parking spot right next to the steps up to the Festung… although we didn’t know it at the time. We took the seilbahn up, which seemed a bit gimmicky, but it did save us the walk.

The fortress was very interesting structure built by the archbishops to keep out invading armies. The audio tour was not particularly interesting, and Wendy couldn’t follow it anyway because Alex wouldn’t let go off her speaker. Wendy and Alex eventually had to leave early so that Alex could find a WC. The best thing about the Festung was simply walking around and enjoying the scenery.

Afterwards, Brother and Dad found the Abbey from SOM, while Julia and Mom waited a few feet away. We all took the footpath down to the bottom and enjoyed it much more than the cablecar. We were pleasantly surprised to see that our car was nearby so that we could drop off some things.

We tried to find the horse gift shop that we had heard about from our carriage driver the day before, but no luck. We were lucky, however, to find a good bierhaus. Wendy had schweinbraten with the most amazing knudeln, and Joe had Bauernschmaus. The kids enjoyed their spaghetti. I think the place was called Kipfer (?) (also the name of a beer); it claimed to be a very old establishment and was located in the Alt Stadt. It had lots of relaxed ambience, decent prices (our bill was 35 Euros) and really good, Austrian food.

After dinner, the kids enjoyed running around the big fountain near the Dom, and we all enjoyed the beautiful evening. Five minutes later we were back in our car and heading home to Simmerlwirt and our comfortable beds.

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