Welcome To Salzburg
(and why we almost missed it)
To be honest, we intended to skip Salzburg.
I have to be straight with you- I’ve never been a die hard fan of The Sound of Music (I know, I know, it’s awful that I don’t care more about such a classic). It felt as though travel bloggers everywhere focused primarily on all things “Sound of Music” so I had it in my head that all Salzburg had to offer was ‘do-re-mi‘-ing and Edelweiss.
If you’ve read more than one or two of my posts, you know that we are really terrible at planning. Spontaneity is the name of the game for us and this often comes with a price (both literal and figurative). In this particular case, we had failed to catch the train on time out of Lucerne due to an argument with the proprietor of our hotel (another story for another day) and our “schedule” was pushed back by several hours. It was nearing nightfall by the time we reached Salzburg and if we had pushed through, we would have ended up at our final destination sometime around 2 a.m.
We begrudgingly got off the train at Salzburg. Chalk it up to being chilly, hangry, exhausted, a bit travel weary, or simply to the enormous hit to our budget that was Switzerland… we were just done. I still say it was hunger (do Switzerland by itself! Seriously! Nobody on a mid-range budget can afford to jump from the Euro to the Franc and back again without being crushed).
Regardless of the reason, our first impression of Salzburg did nothing to help the situation. The day was turning cloudy and dark, the weather was irrationally cold for late May, every ounce of passable German in my head had suddenly exited the premises, and I felt like the train station belonged not in Salzburg’s storied, singing hills but somewhere communist and cold. We had a devil of a time finding the right bus station to get off of (spoiler alert- we guessed wrong) and found ourselves wandering rather aimlessly down a street looking for our Pension.
It would’ve been a mistake of absolutely epic proportions to miss Salzburg.
Once we found our way to our pension, we asked the proprietor to direct us towards some good Austrian food and he sent us towards Augustinerbräu – Kloster Mülln, a beer garden near the river walk (check out their website here if you’re in town).
As we walked, we noticed that the buildings, previously lacking any interesting architecture or color, were taking on a warm, almost happy hue, and each building seemed to take on a personality of its own. As we stopped to check our map, we spotted a small Italian restaurant tucked in the corner of a building across the street from the beer garden and decided to try it out. The food was perfect- I haven’t had pasta that good since the last time I was in Italy. The waitress was friendly and luckily for us spoke very good English, which in our benumbed state felt almost heaven sent … And then…. the sun came out.
The Salzburg city center is warm, inviting, open, and picturesque. The river walk takes you past a beautiful lock bridge where musicians play and ice cream stands abound into the heart of the city, and is easily followed by foot. If you prefer, you can cross the lock bridge to the Mirabell Palace and Gardens, or stay in the old town, picnicking by the river Salzach or eating and drinking at many of the amazing beer gardens dotted all over town. As the days passed, Salzburg started flying up our list of favorite cities and nestled right at the top, where it has stayed ever since.
During our time in Salzburg, we sat in the city square and listened to everything from Mozart to Gershwin while munching on oversized pretzels, watched parades celebrating the history of Austria, wandered through Mirabell Gardens, consumed our weight in gelato, and visited the fortress Hohensalzburg and the Museum of Modern Art. Moral of the story? Never judge a city by its train station. Lesson learned.
P.S. I’m otherwise completely devoted to the works of Rodgers & Hammerstein.
For more information on Austria, see the Austria Home Page.