Sunday, March 24, 2013

Salzburg, Austria

For most people, weekends are equated with sleeping in. For Casey and I, they are equated with a 4am alarm followed by a pre-dawn taxi and train ride, with each dawn delivering us to a new location. This weekend we headed off to see Salzburg, Austria.

Salzburg was the birthplace and hometown of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the legendary 18th century composer. Casey and I visited the house where Mozart was born and a famous plaza that was named after him, and giggled at the seemingly infinite amount of Mozart paraphernalia: everything from rubber duckies to chocolate bars, music boxes to oven mitts. Even though it was cold, I found myself feeling thankful that I was visiting Salzburg in the off-season, inadvertently avoiding summertime swamped-with-tourists Salzburg.  

Salzburg was also the setting for the musical film “The Sound of Music”. We got to see the convent were Maria lived and the mansion where she later worked, though in visiting the sites I learned that the film took many liberties and did not exactly strive for historical accuracy. Still, it was incredible to see the von Trapp family mansion perched miles above this city on its own holy mountain.  

We spent most of the day exploring the Altstadt, or old town, which was dotted with mini-orchestras and violinists. The lovely musical atmosphere was enhanced by one of the best street markets I have seen yet in Germany or Austria, with vendors selling flowers and alpine cheeses, Easter-wreathes and marmot cream (I have no idea what this is, and I’m not so sure I want to find out). The Altstadt is marked by its beautiful, internationally renowned baroque architecture and scenic Alpine backdrop. No matter where you look you can see castles and fortresses perched on towering alps.  

As usual, we enjoyed taste-testing this new location. A cozy café sheltered us from the snow, and the warm milk and honey drink that I ordered made the city feel more like home. Glühwein once again saved me from dying of frost bite and gloomy-weather spirits as we roamed the frosty streets for hours, and has caused me to consider writing a poem titled “Glühwein Glühwein my magic potion”. It’s that good. We also sampled local cheeses and fresh-baked breads, strange pastries (chocolate covered and poppy seed filled), and, as night fell, a to-die-for tomato-coconut soup. Good food and markets, trains and castles: some of my favorite parts about traveling. 

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