On a full-day excursion with our Viking River Cruise friends, we visited Salzburg, Austria. Known for its connection to The Sound Of Music, the tour took us to many of the same places shown in the 1965 film. But it was not to visit scenes from the movie that we came to. No, this was Christmas market season and Salzburg is known as having one of the biggest and best in Europe. Still, remove the Christmas Markets and Salzburg is solidly a stand-alone destination worthy of a full-day tour.
In A Viking Christmas: Touring Passau, we talked briefly about Christmas markets. But the rainy day, good for promoting consumption of hot mulled wine, was less than great for capturing images to show you. In Salzburg, a spectacularly sunny day greeted us and free time on the included tour of the day brought people-watching and shopping opportunities galore.
A seasonal staple of the European economy, Christmas markets appear everywhere from Switzerland to Spain, Belgium, and France. Good background information from Viking explained “the first markets were as much about survival as the opportunity to celebrate the coming holiday with family and friends,” providing critical supplies like furs, hats, coats, gloves, and food. Today, we see much of the same in a colorful display of those items along with holiday decorations, Christmas gifts and more.
But to simply visit the Christmas market without touching on the area’s rich history would rob visitors of one of the most unique elements of a Viking River Cruise; the planned preparation Viking provides.
Salzburg’s Old Town area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site includes the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and sits below the protection of Hohensalzburg Fortress. Crossing the Bridge With Locks Of Love, we walked the cobblestone streets of Salzburg, many of which date back to around 800 AD. That was one of the Salzburg’s we toured.
The other was the holiday face put on Salzburg that proved a bit overwhelming at times. Our hour walking tour would have been a whole lot of information to absorb. Throw in the Christmas market and holiday decorations and we wound up with nearly 1000 photos from the day, and we barely scratched the surface.
One of the other passengers on Viking Skadi, our Viking River Cruises longship and a history buff told us of other places to see in the area but thought our tour provided a “good representation of what Salzburg and Austria are all about.” Still, it will take an entirely separate post just to touch on the images captured at the Christmas market alone. That’s next.