Salzburg, Austria

On Friday, April 10th I took an hour and a half train ride from Munich to Salzburg, Austria. This was another place I was really looking forward to going to. I haven’t heard of any of the other Americans at Swansea traveling to Salzburg, so it was somewhere a little different to travel to, but I had my reasons to go. Salzburg is where Ashley studied abroad at a few years ago and my mom visited her there, so it is a place they both know well, especially Ashley of course. She had somewhat helped me plan my spring break and the places I should go, and then had told me what and where to go and do while I was in her old stomping grounds.

I got into the Salzburg station at about 9:30am so I had a full day of exploring ahead of me. The train station is to the north of the center of the city, and when I arrived I made the about 15 minute walk to it. This happens to be around the Salzach River that cuts the city in half. As I got to the river, I finally got my first good view of the Prague Fortress I had heard so much about. It sits on a rocky hill high above the other buildings and totally dominates the skyline of this small city. I then continued on my way towards it and across the Staatsbrucke, the main bridge.

After crossing the river, I ended up in Mozartplatz. Salzburg is the home to Wolfgang Mozart, and if you didn’t know so upon arrival, you would soon because you are constantly being bombarded with everything Mozart. The Mozartplatz is a square dedicated to him, and is home to a statue of him, and is overlooked by the Glockenspiel. Just like in Munich, it is a large musical clock that chimes every so often throughout the day. I was able to catch the 11am performance of it and it was pretty neat.

Next to this is the Residenzplatz, which is home to the gigantic Residenz building, the former living quarters of Salzburg’s archbishops. From there I inched my way closer to the Fortress through some arches and into another square, the Domplatz. This square is dominated by the light marble façade of the Dom. On this square is also the Franziskanerkirche, which houses an earlier Madonna and Child, which I never got a chance to go in and see. I then continued on to yet another square, the Kapitelplatz, and I then was at the base of the rocky hill to start my climb up to the Fortress.

I then started my hike up to the Salzburg Fortress, or Hohensalzburg as it officially known as. After making my way up to the fort, I wandered around its courtyards, ramparts and passageways for a little while, and then paid for an audio-guided tour of the staterooms and museum. I learned all about the Hohensalzburg and how it was first built in 1070 to provide refuge for the city’s archbishops, but gradually transformed into a respectable courtly seat. The best part about this tour was the climb up to the forts tallest tower and the subsequent views from the platform on top of it. From the viewing platform you can see all of Salzburg, as well as get a great view of the Alps that surround Salzburg.

On my way back down from the Fort I went by Mozart’s Geburtshaus. This is where Wolfgang was born and lived until he was 17. I then crossed back across the river and went to Mozart’s Wohnhaus, his house for the next 14 years of his life. I then grabbed lunch from a market (some cheesy brat thing that Ashley told me to get) and sat by the river and ate it and decided what to do with the rest of my day.

Besides Mozart, the one other thing that is constantly being shoved down your throat in Salzburg is The Sound of Music. The film was shot all around the area and Salzburg wastes no time cashing in on its connection with the crazy singing Von Trapp family. I do have to say though, I was very, very close to signing up for an afternoon bus tour of key locations of the film while being played the soundtrack over and over, and as I was doing so I was also questioning my manhood, so I immediately puffed out my chest and walked away with my manly pride still in check.

I decided instead to just take a bus out into the countryside and find a nice little mountain town to check out. Salzburg and the areas around it are also well known for their salt mines (hence Salz in the name). My bus ended up going to by a salt mine that you can tour so I decided to get off and check it out and I then signed up for a guided tour. For the tour I had to put on a full body white suit and the tour started off by taking a mini-sized train ride into a mountain. The tour was led by some crazy guy who kept speaking in like 4 different languages to please everyone, and he was really goofy and a little bit funny.

As we got deep into the mountain the guide was telling us the history of Salzburg and the salt mines and how they came about and have come to support the area. To get even further underground we took a couple rides down 60-foot long wooden slides. These were actually pretty fun to ride too. About half-way through the tour we actually crossed a line that was the Austrian-German border. We then took a boat ride across a salt-water lake that was inside the mountain. At some point along the tour we also were told to run our fingers along the wall and to taste it, and I’ll try anything once, so I did, it was pure salt! This tour lasted about an hour and was pretty cool. I was given a little saltshaker filled with salt from the mountain and it was called Kristall Salz Fein.

After the tour of the salt mine I got back on a bus and took it towards this viewing point of Hitler’s Eagles Nest. This is a place he had built in the 1930s as a place for him to relax, have meetings or hideout. It was way up on a mountain peak and looked nice, but you can only get up there from April to October because of the snow. I then took a bus back towards Salzburg and on the way I stopped at some random mountain town and had a walk around it for a while. There wasn’t much to see there except for the awesome Alps that shot up around it and boxed it in. It was then time for me to head back to Salzburg and do one more thing.

One last thing that Ashley told me I had to do in Salzburg was to go to the Augustiner Brau and get a beer. She had called it the Augustiner Brewery and so I was thinking it would be more of an actual brewery that I would tour or something. But when I got there it turned out to actually be a large beer garden and hall, much like the ones in Munich. This was perfectly fine though because I didn’t have a whole lot of time before I needed to catch a train back to Munich, but just enough for some food and a beer. I got myself a Mass of beer and then an order of fried shrimp and fries (being a good Catholic on Good Friday). I found myself a seat in the beer garden next to some locals and enjoyed my food, beer a little conversation, and the last of my time in Salzburg. Easily one of the top 5 beers I have ever consumed. I then headed back to the train station to catch a ride back to Munich.

I thoroughly enjoyed my day trip to Salzburg. I am happy I got to spend some time in the place where my sister lived for half a year and it was a little different than many towns I’ve been too. It did have the basics that most European towns have – Castle/Fort, Bridge and Cathedral, but Salzburg definitely had more of a friendly, small town feel to it.

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