I had high expectations for Salzburg, mostly because my mom told me it was one of her favorite European cities when her and my dad lived in London before I was born. I knew it was small; most people whom I told didn’t even know where the Austrian city was (very close to Munich, just on the other side of the Germany-Austria border.) All I knew of the city was that it is the setting for The Sound of Music. They’re obsessed with it there - they have full tours and a 24-hour television channel dedicated to the old musical. I can’t say I’ve ever seen the movie, nor do I have any desire to. So what is there in Salzburg for me?
It was a beautiful city. I can’t say I’d spend any amount of time there as it didn’t really strike me as a young or lively place, but for the day and some change I spent there I really enjoyed the scenery. We got in pretty late on our train, so we had to cram as much of the city as we could into a short time.
We left our hotel to go on an hour van tour around the city, just to get acquainted. We got a crash course in history and famous former residents (Mozart was born there,) saw a gorgeous lake against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, and got some good dinner recommendations. Following the tour we took an elevator to the top of a piece of the mountain that the people of Salzburg cut out to make room for their city, where we could see nearly everything. It really showed what a small and intimate city Salzburg is: the rows and rows of houses running on both sides of the river with a few towers and spires of cathedrals and churches peppered across the skyline, garnished with the beautiful Hohensalzburg Castle atop the hill on the other side of the clearing. This was all tucked away in a small series of lush green mountains, with just a touch of white left at the top alluding to the nearly-forgotten winter.
Instead of taking the elevator back down, we formed the brilliant plan to try and hike down ourselves. I didn’t mind - it was kind of nice after spending so much time within big cities to find myself in the backwoods of some random, small Austrian town. I was actually really enjoying exploring remnants of old monastery walls while trying to find the correct path back down to the city center. When we eventually moseyed back to ground level, we wound up right where we wanted to be for dinner. St. Peter’s Stiftskeller: a restaurant claiming to have opened its doors in 803. Yes, 803. That’s more than 1,200 years ago. Wikipedia that shit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stiftskeller_St._Peter
I tried an authentic Austrian Tafelspitz (a beef dish,) and some various samples of goat cheese. So freaking good.
Our night was far from over, despite the darkening sky. We noticed that the tram climbing the steep stone incline up to the Hohensalzburg Castle was still lit and running, so we sought to catch the last train up to explore the grounds before closing. It was one of the best castle complexes I’ve seen this semester; the seemingly preserved structure gave it the authenticity of Lisbon’s Castelo de São Jorge, yet its complex interior gave it the fascination of Edinburgh Castle. We ended our night and our time in Salzburg at the Hotel Stein, drinking cocktails on its well-known rooftop terrace.