Part 2 of our December Christmas trip to Germany, Austria, etc.
On the days we drove a lot, in each below description I give the estimated time we drove vs. we stopped for sight seeing, visiting sites, etc. so that you can get a feel of how much time we spent driving vs. visiting for the seven or so hours of day light we had for that day.
(For our Part 1 post, on our traveling days, we spend most of the daylight part of those days driving and enjoying the beautiful scenery but still had adequate time for short visits of the described scenic stops.)
Day 7: Drove from Freiburg to and through the Black Forest; the cool and misty weather added to its charm; no snow and instead spring like green. After a short stop in Rottweil, drove to the Hohenzollern castle near Bisingen to visit. Although the tour was in German, we still enjoyed it and the guide did point out some parts in English; a pretty castle; beautiful views of the surrounding country side from the castle ramparts. Drove to Ulm for the night, arriving at around 5:30 pm. (4.5 hrs driving; 2.5 hrs stops) Got there in time to enjoy an evening Xmas musical performance by a local musical group in front of their cathedral (the tallest in Europe); visited and ate at the local Xmas market which had a display of Steiff stuffed animals from the near by Steiff factory.
Day 8: Drove in the morning to Neuschwanstein castle and took an early afternoon tour of the castle; busy, but not too crowded. No snow, surrounding country side was green and the leafless trees around the castle gave it an interesting view. Drove to nearby Linderhof schloss through Austria and by the beautiful Plansee lakes which reflected in mirror like quality the surrounding mountains. Inside of Linderhof schloss is gorgeous; outside grounds not so nice in winter. Stopped for a short visit of the lovely monastery chapel in Ettal as the sun set and then drove to Sankt Leonard village outside of Salzburg, arriving at around 8 pm. (Long day 5 hrs. driving, 5 hrs. stops) Had a delicious dinner at Gasthof Schorn where we stayed the next two nights.
Day 9: Drove to nearby Berchtesgarden country side for short visit and then came back to Sankt Leonard in the afternoon to rest and visit their small Xmas market. On this Sunday evening we attended a special Xmas musical performance in their small church at Sankt Leonard; all local performers performing traditional Austrian music and Xmas songs. (I think that we were the only tourists.)
Days 10-15: Short drive into Salzburg’s old city center; stayed at the Elefant Hotel right in the middle of the old city; were able to park our car at a reasonable cost in the parking garage under the nearby mountain. Bought a three day Salzburg tourist card which allowed us to visit most of the city sites free of charge. Spent the next three days visiting those sites including the residenz palace, local churches, cemetery, Mozart’s birthplace, etc.. (Also used Rick's audio tour.) Plenty of other tourists in the city, but not too crowded. Had one dinner at the historic St. Peter Stiftskeller restaurant which was very good. One day took a short drive out to Mondsee and surrounding countryside; visited its chapel used in the Sound of Music movie; very pretty. On Christmas eve day, we went on the Silent Night tour to nearby Obendorf (the town where Silent Night was first performed) for its annual Silent Night ceremony. Mainly for tourists and crowded, but still OK. Attended Salzburg’s two local Xmas masses that evening which included special Xmas music; very professional and moving. Christmas day a quiet day to rest, call family at home, walk around the old town, and visit the Xmas markets which were still open.
Weather still good, mostly clear and cold, but not too cold, although it would have been nice to have had some snow while we were in Salzburg.
(Part 3 and trip conclusions will follow shortly.)