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Salzburg, AT

by dan.kronstal on October 19th, 2011
Business Class - NOT 1st Class

Business Class - NOT 1st Class

We had another nice train ride from Innsbruck to Salzburg. Not as nice, mind you, as it could have been. First, we could have kept the “Business Class” seats that we attempted to claim. That would have been nice. Apparently our “1st Class” Eurail Pass doesn’t entitle us to such luxuries, according to the conductor who evicted us.

Second, we could have passed through such spectacular scenery as we had between Bologna and Innsbruck.

Austrian lowlands

Austrian lowlands

I will restrain myself, since Christina showed such great restraint, by limiting my own retrospective description of the many-terraced hillsides offered by the Italy’s northern regions, or of the numerous castles and churches perched upon craggy cliffs, or meadow-strewn mountain passes as we reached the Austrian border. I likewise will not spend more than a few words to describe towns we sped by, glimpsing only a flurry of rooftops and clocktowers amid tended fields and farms – almost artficial in their decorative placement among the hills and forests along the track. No, all of those natural and provincial wonders will go unremarked, as much as it pains me, and we will progress into the manmade beauty of a city rich in architectural and artistic history.

Dining Car

Dining Car

Third, and finally, we could also have taken advantage of the dining car in the train, since we were travelling right around lunch time and ended up so hungry that we resorted to eating at McDonald’s shortly after our arrival. The ride descending from the mountain heights to the Austrian lowlands was, however, among the least smooth of our train travels so far, so perhaps skipping this indulgence was for the best.

We arrived in a train station that looked very much like any other in any European country we had visited, and immediately stopped by the TIC to see if they could hook us up with some accommodations. There were a number of cheap accomodations near the train station, as we had seen online, but the agent at the office found something not too far from the city center which was much better situated for our purposes. We hiked from the station through the more modern parts of town, and south along Mirabellegarden then ducked into an older (though not technically old town) area, where we found Golden Krone and checked ourselves in.

Salsburg rooftops

Salsburg rooftops

Salzburg has a wealth of domes and spires and turrets and other interesting skyline highlights, most of which are supported by architectural masterpieces. We spent a couple of days touring about the city, in a pretty comprehensive (and sometimes thematic) walk that covered the whole of Old Town, as well as some slightly more distant sights. Our first night was spent watching The Sound of Music, famously filmed and set in Salzburg, and the cities second-most-famous claim to fame.

Mozart

Mozart

The first, of course, is Mozart, who is featured on a huge statue in the biggest platz in town, and whose work is featured in many concerts and shows which were available but out of our price range. The most noteworthy highlights of our walking tour were:

Mirabellgarten

Mirabellgarten

Mirabelle Garden, through which Maria and the Von Trapp children pranced and sang on their day out; the view from the banks of the Salzach of the picturesque town and castle;

Old town from the Modern Museum

Old town from the Modern Museum

likewise, that same view from the higher positions provided from Monchsberg ridge, which we attained after a long walk along the cliff and through the park-like grounds of Museum der Moderne;

Nonnberg Abbey

Nonnberg Abbey

the abbey, Stiftskirche Nonneburg, where Maria had her home before being seconded to the Von Trapp estate; Festung Hohensalzburg castle, looming above town and dating as far back as 900 years, with its museum giving us a look at life in the castle and cool models showing how it was built.

Festung Hohensalzburg from Mönchsberg

Festung Hohensalzburg from Mönchsberg

And yet, another old town shot

And yet, another old town shot

South view from castle

South view from castle

We probably took a hundred pictures of the same view, from the top of the castle walls, of fantastic rooftops and beautiful gardens and buildings. Though definitely more photogenic than Innsbruck, I find myself somewhat less enchanted by Salzburg. It feels more like a “regular” European town, full of amazing old churches and buildings, but missing the almost indefinable feeling I had from Innsbruck – a feeling I can only compare to the warm joviality of a ski lodge during spring skiing. We did put away a few more bratwursts and sausages here, but found that we needed to temper it with some less hearty fare.

Rick Steves at Saran (named after the owner)

Rick Steves at Saran (named after the owner)

We had pasta one night, and indian another. After a long break from rice dishes, we very much enjoyed our meals from Saren Essbar – apparently a favorite of Rick Steves as well, as the owner confided that he had visited almost ten times in the past few years.

Our last full day was overcast and drizzly, so we spent a good portion of it inside. A large percentage of that indoor time was spent between two locations. The first was at Gehmacher, a chalet/home interior store which looks like they’re trying to put together the perfect selection of goods for when I’m ready to put together my man-den. Amazing leather chairs, luggage-inspired storage spaces, and industrial-style lighting are the order there, and I’m looking forward to putting in mine. The highlight of the day – for myself anyway – was our stop at Augustiner Braustubl, a brewery/monastery where since 1621 thirsty visitors have been filling stone mugs with the brothers’ brew.

Augustiner Bräustuben

Augustiner Bräustuben

Monks' Beer

Monks' Beer

Drinking Hall

Drinking Hall

You get either a “full cup” or a “half cup”. That’s either a litre or half a litre of beer in a stone stein. Mug in hand, you take your seat in one of the three drinking halls, or (weather permitting, which for us it wasn’t) sit instead in the vast outdoor biergarten. There are a few snack stalls in the hallways, offering hot meals or sliced meats, and fresh bread or pretzels or pastries. I loved the beer, and the atmosphere, which was surprisingly non-touristy, and was full of old german folks, just hanging out and drinking with friends.

We’ve had a fun few days here, but I’m curious to see Wien, the Austrian capital, so look forward to tomorrow’s new adventures!

2 Comments
  1. Mom and Dad E. permalink

    Looks like it’s still early fall… the fields are still lush green!
    The views from the castle are scenic! But it seems the tourist have already left town…
    You didn’t had the chance to go over the open concert hall?

  2. Liz permalink

    So…, the hills are alive with the sounds of Mozart, who afterward slakes his thirst in that epic beer hall? fantastic! And beautiful, those views from the castle over the old town and mountains in the background are stunning!

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