Point Park University’s International Media Class gets a touch of culture in Salzburg, Austria

Mirabell Gardens all photos courtesy of Johnie Freiwald

Mirabell Gardens
all photos courtesy of Johnie Freiwald

by Johnie Freiwald
Point Park University students and faculty visited Salzburg, Austria, on Sunday, May 19, on a side trip as part of this year’s International Media class.  Salzburg has a rich history of musically talented people.  The students dodged raindrops to see the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and where the famous singing Von Trappe family lived, a real family made famous by their story’s retelling in the widely known film 1965 film “The Sound of Music.”

When the Point Parkers arrived in Salzburg, they met Ursula, their tour guide for the day. The tour began at the intricately designed Mirabell Gardens.  The garden is near the steps made famous by the Trappe family children singing “Do, Re, Me” in “The Sound of Music.”  Next to these beautiful gardens, the tradition of music continues, in the Mozarteum.  This music university hosts musicians from all over the world and takes pride in training today’s musicians and theatre arts students. The Mozarteum is also home to the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, one of Austria’s most well-known orchestras and a longtime participant at the Salzburg Festival in July.

The tour included brief stops at the two houses where Mozart lived – where he was born and where he lived as a teenager before leaving for Italy and finally Austria, playing for kings and queens during his brief but prolific career as a composer and musician.

Lovelocks on the Makarsteg Bridge

Lovelocks on the Makarsteg Bridge

The Point Park students then crossed the Makarsteg Bridge, which is home to many lovelocks. A lock is placed on the bridge by a couple to symbolize that their relationship will last forever.  After the lock is placed on the bridge the key is thrown into the Salzach River. As the group proceeded on their tour of Salzburg they saw vendors selling goods by the river.  Many generations of Austrians have had the pleasure of enjoying these open air markets.  They are now visited by citizens and tourists alike.

On a Sunday, many residents strolled the streets dressed in their traditional Austrian garb, something Ursula said is very common and evidence of pride in their heritage.

One of the most prominent features of Salzburg is the vast number of churches. One specific church, Sebastianskirche and Friedhof, which has been repeatedly rebuilt due to deterioration and natural disasters, features the classic baroque style that is so iconic in Gothic architecture. The church contains a crowded but very beautiful cemetery that is the resting place for hundreds of late Austrians.

Salzburg Cathedral

Salzburg Cathedral

The last stop on the tour was the Salzburg Cathedral.  The church was lit up with brilliantly colored lights to celebrate the Catholic youths convening that weekend in Salzburg. There were rows of flickering candles surrounded by groups of prayerful churchgoers, young and old. Outside, the group admired the grand architecture and marble stairs. Even near the church there were plenty of street vendors and money to be made by musicians and buskers, especially across the street where an army of horse-drawn carriages stood in waiting for tourists to purchase their services and ride through the Salzburg streets.

The group finished its visit in Salzburg with free time to explore the collection of shops, cafes, and street vendors followed by some traditional Austrian dining. The Point Parkers then embarked for their train and returned safely, yet exhausted, to Munich.

DAY 8 – Salzburg

Carson and I in the garden used in the film Sound of Music

Carson and I in the garden used in the film Sound of Music

DAY 8 – Salzburg

From what I had so far experienced only in movies, now that I have visited the beautiful old city of Salzburg, the world seems a little smaller.

Tourists, tourists and more tourists – I heard a great deal of different languages spoken around me today. The whole experience was like stepping into a movie – almost literally as we saw many scenes from the Sound of Music up close and personal! But after Dachau, the contrast of solemn and bright, lively landscapes were very intense.

Our tour guide was very informative about the area, especially with fun facts about the Sound of Music and Mozart’s life. I did not know that the von Trap family actually existed. It’s been so long, but that movie is such a classic that young people today still know the songs. And I saw proof as a group of tourists bounced on the steps used in the movie as they sang “doe, a deer, a female deer…”

I liked learning about the different types of architecture from different eras in history as well. I thought it was interesting to know that in order for people to pass through buildings in Salzburg, they had to make little tunnel-like passageways (which make for the best pictures, by the way). Among many things, this is what gives Salzburg its distinctive look.

The gardens were so flawless and they were perfectly framed below the fortress in the distance. It was interesting to know the meanings of the Greek statues but that they were actually fake. It was unfortunate that some people still had disrespect even among all the beauty to try to find money in the fountains.

When we came across the main area of Salzburg before the bridge, the view took my breath away. Suddenly, the rain didn’t matter anymore. We learned that the locks on the bridge were symbols of love for couples promising to stay together. It seemed to be such a romantic city.

So much has been kept in that city as it has been for a very long time. The signs for the chic and local shops in the bending narrow streets were in the same style as they were ages before, fancy, elaborate and featured pictures of what the store offered.

The cemeteries and the churches have also been preserved very well. I was surprised though that the one church that our tour guide said was rebuilt and renovated about three times had very strange purple club-like lighting.

We also passed Mozart’s home that he grew up in. I found myself wondering what he would have created if he had lived longer. He was such a genius and he is honored everywhere in this town.

The tent shops were expensive, but Connor, Zack and I found our way to a beer garden. This was the first time I had ever been in one. Everyone was so happy and the beer was flowing. I never saw such an efficient operation of paying for beer, picking out mugs, washing them and having someone fill them all in one room.

A great end to the day was the really unique restaurant we visited at the very end. I heard it was extremely old and it was obvious with the curling staircases, the skinny hallways and quaint rooms. I had a fantastic view from my window of the river.

Salzburg is a place where people walk their groomed and behaved dogs. Passerby drop Euros into street musicians’ cans. Tour guides speak in several languages about Mozart’s hometown. Salzburg is such a cultural place to be. And I hope to go back someday because there was so much I didn’t have time to see.



Alexa’s Blog – Day 8

The following events transpired on 5/19/13.

We were up early to catch a train to Salzburg, Austria for a day trip. The train ride took around two hours. Compared to all the travelling I have been doing recently, between planes and buses, two hours on a train seems like cake. I had my iPod with me and was able to jam during the ride and enjoy the lovely Austrian scenery. The Alps are so beautiful! It’s so weird to realize that there is actually snow at the tops of these mountains.

After we arrived in Salzburg we had lunch in the train station and departed to meet our new tour guide for the afternoon. Salzburg is iconic because it is the location of the Sound of Music film as well as the true events that inspired the musical and movie. Our tour guide had plenty to tell us about the film and the Trapp family as we frolicked about the grounds and gardens. Everything about the garden is stunning, from the architecture to the flowers to the landscaping. There is a huge fortress in the mountains beyond the garden that is so noticeable that it’s almost distracting.

After we were done in the gardens and had exhausted ourselves singing Sound of Music songs we crossed the bridge into the main part of Salzburg. On the bridge there are thousands of locks fastened to the chain links. Couples purchase and initial these locks, attach them to the bridge fence, and toss the key into the river to symbolize their never ending love. Which is great for them, I guess.

The new tour guide gave us a walking tour of Salzburg with Arnoud following at a distance. Salzburg is officially now my favorite place that I have been to so far. It’s the perfect little city, complete with cobblestone streets, fountains, gargoyles, a huge, gorgeous cathedral, horse-drawn carriages, beer gardens, river cruises, street vendors, cheese shops, gelato and ice cream, expensive chocolates, souvenir stores, an incline, the fortress, and above all, an amazing view of the Alps! I wish that I could just move everything from my life in Pennsylvania and bring it to Salzburg.

After the walking tour was over, our group split up and Carson and I decided to explore. We saw quite a lot, which is great considering she is still on crutches. We got a little too zealous and started climbing a steep road that actually turned out to be the path leading up the fortress. We turned around as soon as we figured that out.

The day started out sunny and warm, but it quickly turned chilly and rainy. We didn’t let that deter our spirits as we stopped at street vendors, got ice cream for a euro per scoop, and took in the Austrian atmosphere. It felt like we had just set out to roam the city when we realized it was time to meet back up with the group for dinner. We could have probably used at least another hour. Even though I have limited money I was able to get my mom a souvenir. She is into old-timey home decorating and cooking so I bought an oven mitt that can be used as a decorative item or for real cooking. It has a recipe for apple strudel written on it in German. The woman I bought it from thought that it was silly for me to be buying something not in English, but my family has German background and my mom may or may not have taken German in high school, so it’s close enough.

We had dinner on the third floor of a quant little café near the birth house of Mozart. Here, we experienced chicken for the first time since leaving the United States. It was magical.

After dinner we departed for Munich on the train and made it back to the hotel exhausted but fulfilled. I’m ready to look at the photos I took today and see what edits I can do – the fortress is all but washed out in a few of them. My camera is having some kind of lens issue and won’t work so it looks like I’ll be up taking care of that tonight. Hopefully all will be better by tomorrow because we’ve got the biggest photo op of the trip – Nueschwanstein Castle!