Salzburg, Twice

Why twice? Because once wasn’t enough!

We first passed through Salzburg, Austria, several weeks ago when we were on our way to Berlin, because Salzburg is the closest airport to Passau. I didn’t know much about what to see in Salzburg besides The Sound of Music tours, but I was delighted to discover that there were a lot of things that were great for family travelers.

Here are my top 5:

  1. The Sound of Music Tour

Did we do the Sound of Music tour? Of course we did! There are a dizzying number of options to choose from, most of which involve large busses, large groups of people, and four to five hours of the day. Knowing Hugo wouldn’t have the patience for something like that, we opted for a shorter, private tour on a bicycle rickshaw through Rikscha Tours.

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A quick pic with our driver Leo

Hugo wore a similarly dour expression on his first becak ride in Indonesia last year.

Our driver Leo took us around the old city, giving us bits of local history as well as pointing out various filming locations for The Sound of Music.

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This fountain makes a brief appearance in “I Have Confidence”

 

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Do-Re-Mi! It’s Mirabell Garden!

 

If you’re in Salzburg with small children, I definitely recommend the bicycle rickshaw tour. It’s much shorter than the standard Sound of Music tour, but you still get to see a lot of great places around the old city. If you’re a real fan of the movie and want to see all you can, then opt for one of the extended tours that can also take you to the filming locations outside of the city, such as the gazebo from “Sixteen Going On Seventeen.”

2. Hohensalzburg Fortress

Hohensalzburg Fortress sits atop a hill overlooking Salzburg, serving as an easy landmark when orienting yourself in the old city.

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Hohensalzburg Fortress and the Alps visible from our apartment during one of our visits to Salzburg

The fortress is more than 900 years old, and is one of the best preserved castle complexes in central Europe. It is easily accessible either by a walking path, or by a short funicular train ride.

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The view of Salzburg from the lookout tower

We spent a fun morningwandering around the castle and museum.

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Would you like to try your hand at cooking in this kitchen?

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Of course the gift shop full of armor and weaponry was a big hit

3. Haus Dur Natur: The Salzburg Natural History Museum

This museum includes interactive science exhibits, an aquarium, and a reptile zoo.

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We spent a lot of time in the aquarium, as you can imagine. This fish is called a Lookdown, a name which fits its disapproving expression.

This museum is huge. You can spend hours here just wandering through all the exhibits.

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The space expoloration room

There were multilingual touchscreen guides throughout the museum, so everything was very accessible even for non-German speakers.

Find the website and visitor information here.

4. Toy Museum

Remember how it was raining all the time in Passau? Well, the rains followed us to Salzburg (despite the sunshine in some of those other photos), and the Toy Museum is a fun place to go when you need to stay indoors.

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Junior railroad conductor

We got there when it first opened and it was pretty much empty. There are complicated marble runs, model trains, giant slides…lots of hands-on fun for kids.

Find the website and visitor information here.

5. Mirabell Gardens Playground, Home Of The Most Spectacular Slide In The World

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Here it is, in all its glory

Where is this most amazing structure? It’s in Mirabell Gardens, just around the corner from the more popular area of the park where the Do-Re-Mi song was filmed.

To get to the top you have to navigate a series of ladders and platforms, then get ready for the white knuckle ride to the bottom! There are other things in thie playground, but this giant tunnel slide is what brought us back, day after day.

In fact, Mirabell is full of little hidden gems, so don’t be afraid to wander away from the tour group or go back later to see the parts you may have missed.

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Goofing off with the gnomes

 

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Playgrounds in Passau

Since we’re about to leave Passau, it’s time for a round-up of some of our favorite places!

For a small town, there are a lot of great places for kids to play. Here are some of our favorite playgrounds, all within walking distance of the old city.

Bschütt Park

Map

Located on the banks of the Ilz River, this amazing playground has something to please children of all ages. One section has a water feature, tree house, swings, and multiple places for climbing.

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Playing in the water feature

There is also a more advanced rope climbing area for bigger kids and stronger climbers.

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Hugo wasn’t brave enough to attempt this one

Dotted throughout the park are various skill games, such as a labyrinth game that you move by shifting your body weight, and a basketball game you play while standing on a wobbly platform.

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Even kids can play the labyrinth games!

Because of the water feature, this park is especially popular on hot days. People will even swim and stand-up-paddleboard in the river.

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Climbing into the treehouse

This was definitely Hugo’s favorite place to play in Passau. Every few days he’d request the “water pipe park” as he called it.

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A general shot of the whole playground. Please notice that there’s a trampoline! This is really the best playground ever.

Even on days when there were a lot of children at the park, it still never felt crowded because there were so many different places to play.

Lindental Park

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First a quick note: I don’t know if this is the actual name of this park, but it’s on Lindental Street, on the Innstadt side of the river.

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A lot to do in a small space

This little park is tucked away on a quiet street in Innstadt and is full of fun things to explore. There’s the big fort in the back which looks like something from the pioneer days, swings, a sandbox, a teeter totter, swings, and an area that looks like a horse barn that you can’t see in this picture. This park tended to be very quiet with not a lot of other kids around.

Innpromenade Park

Map

This is probably one of the most popular parks around the old city area because of its central location.

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Not to mention its beautiful views across the Inn

There are slides, a play house, and lots of places to climb.

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Dreiflüsseeck

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We usually just called this park “The Point” because it’s at the end of the peninsula between the Inn and Danube rivers.

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It’s a great spot if you like to play with a scenic backdrop

Notice the people sitting on the bench? The river tour boats dock very close to this park, so there are often a lot of people here. It’s one of the only places that affords a view of all three rivers joining.

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It’s a lovely place to sit contemplatively at the top of the slide

In addition to the play structure above, there are also swings, another slide, and a zip line.

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Did I mention the lovely view? Danube on the left, Inn on the right, Austria straight ahead.

Mariahilf, the pilgrimage church of Passau

With only a short time left in Passau, we decided to ignore the rain and do a little sightseeing.

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The Inn River this morning, around 10am, taken from the bridge. The little staircase from yesterday’s photos is next to that bright white section of wall on the left.

The water level is down a little from yesteday, but the river is still high and swift, and the steady rain continues.

Our first stop was Bäckerei Ratzinger to pick up some Brötchen (small breads) for our picnic lunch, then rounded the corner to the begin our climb to Mariahilf, a church which sits on top of the hill overlooking Passau from the south.

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A photo from a sunnier day. You can see Mariahilf at the top, with the roof of the pilgrimage stairs reaching down to town.

Mariahilf was completed in 1627 and for centuries has served as a popular place of pilgrimage.

To get to the sanctuary, you must climb the “heavenly ladder” of 321 steps.

 

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At the bottom, the staircase is plain and unadorned.

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As you get higher, you start to see elaborate shrines and mementos left by previous pilgrims. There are statues, photographs, candles, and personal notes left behind in every available nook and cranny.

As we climbed the stairs we saw only one other person. Other than the rain tapping on the roof, the climb was quiet. Many tourists who come to Passau only visit the much larger Dom St. Stephen, leaving Mariahilf feeling serene in comparison.

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When you open the door at the top of the stairs you are right outside of the sanctuary.

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The sanctuary itself is fairly small.

Above the altar you can see the painting Miraculous Image Maria Hilf for which the church gets its name. It was painted in 1537 by Lucas Cranach the Elder, and became one of the most copied depictions of Mary throughout the region.

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We took a minute to light a candle.

The rain had let up, so we went to walk around the grounds.

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There’s a walkway around some meadows behind the church.

It turned out to just be a brief break in the rain because then it really started pouring. There is a great overlook spot next to the church where you can see all of Passau and Veste Oberhaus, but we skipped that in favor of the shelter of the stairs.

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Candles light our way back down

 

Hochwasser!

I guess yesterday’s post was a suitable preview to today’s.

I left the house this morning to go for a run and there was a new sign on the way down to the river path.

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Hmmm…

I turned the corner down our little secret passage to the Inn river.

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Well, this looks different.

Let’s take a closer look.

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This is going to make my run along the river a lot more difficult.

I even made a little video:

I went back through my photos to see if I had one where you can see what the riverbank and footpath usually look like. I took this one on May 25th, so exactly one week ago.

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This isn’t a great photo (except look, cute ducklings!), but you can see the path that goes along the river which is now underwater.

It’s still raining right now.