"If only the whole world could feel the power of harmony." — Mozart
Greetings from Salzburg! My first trip to Austria has been amazing - filled with great art, architecture, food, and historical insights. I arrived in Vienna on Saturday, and I hope you'll visit the Nine Muses Travel Facebook and Instagram pages to see the city from my private walking tour and private visit of Schönbrunn Palace. Belvedere Palace, home of The Kiss by Klimt, was especially magical; what a fantastic museum! I really enjoyed my stay at the boutique Hotel Harmonie on a quiet street in a charming neighborhood only a few minutes (walking or tram ride) from the bustling Ringstrasse, the grand boulevard encircling Vienna's historic inner center.
I took the train from Vienna to Salzburg and am now writing this from my desk in the Hotel Goldener Hirsch, pictured below. It's a perfect location for exploring Salzburg, which is on UNESCO's World Heritage list as "a city of “outstanding value to humanity.” I and four other American travel advisors are here at the invitation of the Austrian Tourist Office for five nights in Salzburg to explore and learn what the city has to offer our clients. It's such a pleasure because when the day trippers have cleared out by mid-afternoon, we are still here to luxuriate in this beautiful mountain setting.
Yesterday began with a guided tour of the Mirabell Gardens, famously a filming location from The Sound of Music, and of course we reenacted being in the family von Trapp for our photo above! Thirteen full time gardeners rotate the bulbs so it's always in bloom, using the same stencils for its floral layouts as they've always done. It's a beautiful place to admire the views of Salzburg, and tonight we're being treated to a concert in Mirabell Palace's baroque marble hall, considered one of the world's most beautiful and historically significant concert halls. The Mozart family composed music here for the archbishops of Salzburg, and his house was across the street from the palace.
Yesterday we finished our city walking tour by riding a funicular up to Hohensalzburg Fortress, Central Europe's largest preserved castle, dating back to 1077. It housed 100 soldiers and sort of feels like a Medieval village. A few people actually have apartments and live there now! The mountaintop views are panoramic over all of Salzburg and also to the German border very close by in the Alps.
Then we relaxed over a yummy lunch at Arthotel Blaue Gans, which has been a guesthouse since 1350. We were introduced to this hotel (next door to Goldener Hirsch) on a property tour filled with meticulously curated contemporary art around every corner.
Then last night we were extremely fortunate to have a private guided tour at Hangar 7, where they don't normally offer tours to anyone. This exciting venue designed by Volkmar Burgstaller is airfoil-shaped and made from 1,200 tons of steel and 75,000 square feet of glass. (Salzburg's mountain climbing club cleans the glass each year.) Hangar 7 showcases Formula 1 race cars, the fleet of Flying Bulls aircraft, an art gallery, and desination dining at its two Michelen-starred restaurant Ikarus, which features a new guest chef each month. Our group dined one floor above at the Mayday Bar, and our meal was DELICIOUS. Combining historic aviation, sport, art, architecture, and fine dining is a unique thrill - especially its Threesixty Bar high above the venue overlooking aircraft below and reached only by a footbridge floating just beneath the glass dome roof. The bar floor is also glass, so remember to wear trousers and not skirts or dresses!
We have more amazing days planned in Salzburg, and while other countries are in chaos, the privilege of these experiences is not lost on me. I'm grateful beyond measure to work in the travel industry which celebrates art, history, cuisine, and mutual cultural understanding. I can't control world events, but I can control how well you travel in our world, which is still filled with remarkable beauty and wonder.
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