I pulled onto the hilltop and turned off the engine.  I had been driving for a while and was sure the car needed to breathe.  I think I needed to breathe as well.  This wasn’t any hilltop, after all.  It was my favorite hilltop in the world.  As I opened the door I was greeted with crisp mountain air as the memories of my visits in 2010 and 2013 came back.  The view was as good as I remembered.

I was back.  Back in St. Gilgen, Austria.

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St. Gilgen, Austria

Read on for more!

Why St. Gilgen?

I covered a lot of it in my 2013 article, but there’s something that just draws me to this place.  It’s close to Salzburg, fairly close to Munich, and somehow is a sleepy and quiet mountain village.  Most will be introduced to it on the Sound of Music tour, which is where I saw it (from that hilltop) for the first time with my mom in 2010.

I overused the term “bucolic” in my last post about Hallstatt, Austria, but it also applies here.

Put simply, I find peace here.  Put more realistically, there’s not really that much to do around here, so you either find peace or get bored.

What made this visit even better was that they were getting ready for Christmas and the Christkindlmarkts (the Christmas markets).  Everywhere I went there were booths set up, awaiting only vendors and customers that would no doubt soon come.  After a hectic and hilarious few days it was good to have a break.  With a light jacket on, I made my way about one of my favorite towns, grabbing photos that I hoped were different enough to be worth sharing a year later.

a building with a lot of lights on it

Fun music playing outside this food stand

Everywhere I looked, Christmas decorations were going up.

I even gave some astrophotography a shot, don’t think I did too bad of a job for my first attempt.

a house and trees at night

Milky Way over St. Gilgen

The next morning I was up early to see: clouds.  It was rainy and cloudy almost the whole time.  So went my plans for an epic sunrise shot over the lake, but I pushed through and managed to grab some that I really liked.

a building with a bell tower

The church

a lake with mountains in the background

Cloudy dawn (and ducks!  Hi ducks!)

St. Gilgen wasn’t all

After taking the panorama at the top of this post I headed out for the day.  On my way back to the main autobahn I stopped at Mondsee, famous in Sound of Music circles as the town that holds the chapel where Captain Von Trapp and Maria were wed.  The clouds had burned off a bit and I was able to walk around and get some better pictures.

This region of Austria is called the Salzkammergut and it’s pretty much the Lake District of Austria.  (It’s a very accurate description, there’s kammergut all over the place) The drive from St. Gilgen to Mondsee is without parallel, with mirror lakes, rolling hills, and Mondsee itself.

sun shining through the trees

Sun among the trees

The town of Mondsee boasted the same attractions I remembered from 2010, including a great tree-lined street.

a building with a tree in front of it

The Von Trapp Wedding Chapel

a road with trees on both sides

Beautiful tree-lined road

After stopping for some groceries for the journey ahead, I set the GPS in the majestic Citroen for yet another country: the Czech Republic.  Only a moron would try to cram 4 countries into 3 days, right?  Well, you just might know that moron.  More to come.


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