Decisions, decisions. With our ship docked at Linz, today the Tauckians had to decide between a tour to Salzburg or to Cesky Krumlov. Tough choice! We had solved it by planning a visit to Cesky Krumlov out of Prague so we wouldn’t miss out on this day in Salzburg.
20/20 hindsight, fwiw: Cesky Krumlov is not to be missed: the three-hour drive each way was arduous and meant losing a precious day in Prague; and thus, if I had it to do all over again, I might have skipped Salzburg. I know. I’m an irredeemable heretic. Wolfgang Amadeus, please forgive me.
Maybe it was just that point in the trip. Seems for me there’s always a day, usually at about mid-point in a journey, where an unbidden tinge of ennui creeps in and casts an ever-so-slight pall over my sense of adventure. Maybe I just kinda want to go home. And this turned out to be that day.
It began with great promise – our drive to Salzburg would include a stop at a vista point for the exquisite Mondsee Lake. Unfortunately, every other cruise line’s river boat tour itinerary that day was hot on our heels and we played “dueling coaches” from beginning to end. One of my initial concerns about organized travel had been my aversion to the seemingly unavoidable “hive behavior” of tour groups. Tauck does a great job of splitting large groups into small ones so you never feel like part of a locust plague descending upon other tourists or townspeople. But not every tour operator does it like Tauck.
When we disembarked at the vista point, busload after busload of eager tourists from China traveling on a different line vied with us for the best or any view. And when I say vied, I mean jostled, elbowed, barked, and in general outbid us for a vantage point every time. As a tourist, it helps to have a different expectation of personal space than we do! Here is my most serene shot of the idyllic lake, with hundreds of other avid photographers conveniently cropped out of the picture:
As our coach pulled up to the curb near the Mirabell Palace gardens, so did all our new friends, with apparently renewed zeal for their photographic quarry. Maybe they were fans of The Sound of Music, scenes of which were filmed on the garden steps. Or maybe they were having their own “off” day. Whatever the reason, this was the one and only day of our tour that felt like an absolute crush of humanity. Seriously, Times Square would have seemed peaceful by comparison, although if one works hard at photo cropping, it can appear we had the place all to ourselves:
Of course, if we had skipped Salzburg, we would have missed out on Mozart’s birthplace:
And the Salzburg Cathedral:
And the Hohensalzburg Fortress, where you ride a funicular up the hill and are rewarded with a fabulous view of all those tourists in the town below (at least the ones who didn’t pour in the tram car along with you):
And the schnitzel…
And, perhaps most importantly, the Mozartkugeln! Make sure you buy the “authentic” ones!
Looking back on it now, okay, maybe I wouldn’t have wanted to miss Salzburg. The problem was, neither did anyone else. Maybe it was just the time of year or maybe it’s the time of man (Joni Mitchell is my Mozart…) Perhaps you’ll have a completely different experience if you go. I’ll just say that as we boarded our coach that afternoon to head back to the boat (with a few bags of Mozartkugeln in tow), it was with a small sigh of relief.
All cares melted away with a barbecue that evening on the sundeck of the M.S. Joy and a leisurely night time walk into Linz where we felt like the only tourists in town!
Next post: Dürnstein and the Wachau Valley…