Ok let’s get one thing straight: I did not come to Salzburg for anything related to the Sound of Music. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen the movie in its entirety. Are you shocked? Please don’t be. As my friends know, I score a big zero on the movie pop quiz .. they have been trying to remedy this for years.
Mon June 6
Vienna to Salzburg by train, 3 hours. Arriving in the city I have several hours to wander around before heading to my bed and breakfast. With my homemade sandwich from my Viennese host I tuck into a garden filled with rows of bright red roses, which is in fact a section of Mirabell palace and gardens. Wandering around I marvel once again the handiwork of Austrian gardeners. Time for a green thumb award here in the EU – my grandmother would love it, and I say so in a postcard to my grandfather.
Walking into the Old City, the fortress on the hill comes into focus and I am amazed by the view. Going from Vienna to Salzburg is like traveling from Sevilla to Granada: the size, the history, the layout have all changed and both are distinctly beautiful. The shops on Griesgrasse have stepped out from a postcard into a three dimensional wonderland. Even the Cathedral (have I not seen enough?) is as usual a work of art, the crypt down below is particularly interesting. I wander through the University and resist the urge to sign up for something.
After much deliberation, I choose a chocolatier from the masses and select the infamous Mozartkugel. So its a chocolate ball with some filling, and the name of the city’s most favorite son. Again I say .. how did you become so famous? I mean the chocolate ball, not the musician. There are stores dedicated to the artist and the treat, decked out in red and gold with cardboard cutouts of Amadeus all over the place. There are far less people dressed up and the lack of powdered wigs is a good one .. its too hot.
In Kapitelplatz beneath a giant golden orb with a boy on top, I watch a street sized game of chess. The artwork is a piece from some collection spread throughout the city, but is devoid of signage indicating exactly what it is or who made it or why there is a small boy standing on top. It does provide some shade for the wizened old Austrian men playing the normal sized version of chess underneath. Art for art’s sake, I presume.
I board a bus that will take me out to my family owned bed and breakfast on Moostrasse, just outside the city. With my nose to the window I am enjoying the small shops and the pubs until we turn the corner. The sky opens up and we are surrounded by mountains. My jaw drops and I probably said something along the lines of ˝whoa˝ .. not so verbose in my state of surprise. This small two lane road goes on forever, and when at last I am stumbling out onto the pavement, all I can do is stare at my surroundings. Rosemarie is waiting for me at Haus Steiner and she rushes out to class (I am late due to a bus mishap). I dump my bag and immediately rush outside to take a walk and breathe in this fresh air. There are horses in the next field over and wind in the trees. What is this, heaven?
It is definitely not heaven because .. the restaurants are closed on Mondays. When will I learn my lesson? I consult the purse snacks and choose a granola bar for dinner.
Tue June 7
It is not the rooster next door but the sun that wakes me up. I hear my feathered friend sound off a bit later but only after staring quizzically back and forth from the window to my watch. 6am with blazing noontime sunlight? Time to get up I guess. Having plotted out my day the night before, I make an early start. Rosemarie has already laid out a delightful breakfast downstairs and comes down to chat with me. She happily finds out the musical itinerary for the day and gives me several other recommendations. Already I am in love with the woman and simultaneously crushed that I will only have two nights here.
My day is full of old things. First is Hohensalzburg fortress, reached by furnicular and explored on foot. The views are wonderful and the audio tour (included in the ticket price) is informative. I descend into the old city a bit more familiar with the streets and make my way into the center. An old and winding cemetery sits in the shadow of the fortress outside of St Peters and I take some time in the shade to read old epitaphs and admire new flowers.
Lunch is a great highlight as I turn the corner into the farmers market I’ve been looking for at Grünmarkt. After watching several patrons I step up and request the almighty sausage with sweet mustard and horseradish. The bread is on the side and has nothing to do with the sausage itself. But who cares? It is delicious. With this Austrian fare for fuel I head to Hellbrunn to see the palace, but more importantly the trick fountains. The prince at the time had a sense of humor and made a whole set of waterworks meant to entertain. The Prince’s Table is most well known, which our tour guide showcases with several victims that will parade through the palace grounds soaking wet after our tour. No one escapes this guy, we all end up with a sprinkler in the face at least once.
Drying off and coming back to city center I stop for a coffee and some postcard writing. I circle back to the Cathedral for a free concert that Rosemarie informed me of, and am treated to the ominous sounds of the massive pipe organ. The pews are basically empty, and at one point someone gets up to offer what I think must be a prayer of some sort. The music continues and I head out into the dying sunshine with a mission completely unrelated to religion, although it does end up being a pretty elevated experience.
Schnitzel! Finally. On a recommendation from my blogging friend Jessica, I seek out Die Wiess and am not disappointed. I am seated across a round table from an old Austrian guy who is two, maybe three, times the size of me. He smiles and says something that could be Cheers or Welcome or Where is your boyfriend and I just smile. The waitress brings me local white wine and I point at the infamous menu item and sit back to wait. Paging through my book I am startled by two awesome plates of food that appear a short while later. My fellow dinnermate raises his eyebrows as if to say, Let’s see you eat that whole thing. He clearly has no idea who he is sitting across from.
I eat the whole thing. The breaded pork, the new potatoes, the salad. Every bite is glorious and I all but lick the plate. When I set my cutlery down and raise my wineglass for the last drop, the old guy looks at me and smiles, raising his glass… Well done, girl.
Thank you, Salzburg! I will most certainly be back for seconds.