Salzburg is famous for two things - Mozart, who was born there, and The Sound of Music, where it was filmed. Salzburg is also quite touristy for this reason - and boy did they make sure it's two cash cows were milked to the max.
A standard Sound of Music tour where you were ferried round to the sites where the movie was filmed, cost something like €40, and if you thought Vienna had too many of those Mozartkugeln shops, Salzburg had five times more - every other souvenir shop had the same cardboard cutout of a man in a baroque suit and wig (I don't think it's even Mozart) holding a little ball of chocolate, beseeching 'buy someeee!!!'
Despite that, I loved Salzburg the most. The streets, shops, markets, atmosphere - just everything was so wonderful, so amazing, so beautiful. It just had something that drew me to it. Salzburg is smaller than both Budapest and Vienna, has about a sixth of Kuching's population and most of it can be seen in easily two days - but if I could only pick one city to revisit, it would be Salzburg.
Most of Austria is interconnected by rail, so I'd prebooked a train ticket for €19 and that was two months prior. Much cheaper than buying one on the spot, which is something like €40. Planning really helps if you're traveling on a budget! :) It was really comfy- plush seats, toilets, even a food bar.
The train I was on was bound for Zurich, stopping by several cities on the way, including Graz and Salzburg.
The Austrian countryside was extremely picturesque - I tried to capture it but somehow the view from a speeding train is something that can never be replicated on film (or memory in this digital age). I love long journeys - especially on buses and trains - just being able to think about life, the universe, everything.
I arrived in Salzburg at about 5pm, and it was drizzling quite heavily. Good thing I brought my umbrella (and promptly lost it after that - but it was broken in four parts anyway). The hostel was just 10 minutes from the main train station (Hautbanhof) and I found it without much problem thanks to a decent map from the info centre in the station.
Despite the rain I took a walk to the Altstadt - meaning 'old town', it's Salzburg's olde city centre - an area crammed with buildings and shops looking like they were plucked out of a 1700s painting. I went back again the next day, and the day after that (the last day). Simply walking around the altstadt was one of the best things about Salzburg. Picture dump further down.
The next morning I went to the Schranne market, which is held every Thursday in front of Schloss Mirabell. I am so glad I was there on a Thursday. I'd say it was not just the best market out of all the ones I went to, but one of the main highlights of the whole trip.
Make no mistake - this was no run-of-the-mill tourist-oriented street market - this was the real deal, where locals did their shopping. On the way there I met many a Salzburg resident with a basket on one arm, brimming with fresh produce and food. It starts at 5am and packs up by about 1pm, so I actually intended to get up early and see the market in the early hours, but when I woke it was nearly 9am. ^^U
I did learn a lot about the staple diet of Austrians (and Germans, since they're quite similiar) - lots of bread, cheese and meat.
Stalls selling all sorts of cheese - soft, hard, specialty, etc. Many had samples all cut up so I managed to try quite a few cheeses. I'm still not a terribly big fan of hard cheeses (but then again, they're supposed to be grated into dishes) but I did love gouda, emmental, and my most favourite of all - tilsiter. I'd never even heard of tilster prior. It's a sort of medium hard cheese that's softer than gouda but full of flavour and quite addictive.
That's a HUGE block of cheese.
Some of the stalls selling soft and veined cheeses had a pretty strong smell as I walked past. I was fine, but it would've made a lactose intolerant person gag pretty badly.
Then there's the meats. Now here's the thing about the meats there - like 70% of it is all cured, smoked, or dried - thick slabs of heavy dark brown hams were the norm in meat stalls and supermarkets alike, as were links of spiced wursts of every shape and flavour. In contrast, fresh poultry and red meat seemed relatively underrepresented - for every fresh chicken I saw there must have been ten hams.
Then (saving the best for last) was the breads. I don't quite know where to begin.
Bread is the main starch there as it is in much of the Western world, but Austria had something pretty darn special - sourdough. Sourdough is not so much the type of bread as the method of making it, which is much longer and more tedious than making ordinary bread. Utilizing natural yeasts in the atmosphere, a sourdough starter is produced, thus altering the fermentation process (it's some wacky baking science). Sourdough can be made from white, wholewheat, or rye flour (and some more, I'm sure), but the rye sourdough was THE. BEST. BREAD. I'd ever tasted.
The pundits in /ck/ have forever been lauding sourdough as god-tier, now I know what they were on to. It's all true people. Bloody true.
It's usually baked into huge, flat-ish rounds, unlike the usual rectangular, sliced loaves we normally see on supermarket shelves. Most of it is made by the vendors themselves - it's as fresh and natural as it can get.
I don't know, I just got really excited at the sight of the rounds. And the way they sold it.
Instead of being sold individually wrapped in plastic, the loaves were cut according to how the buyer wanted it and sold by weight, like meat. I found that fascinating.
I took so many samples from this stall. :P In the end I wanted to buy just a slice (probably not a very normal thing to do) but the man saw me taking so many pictures and just offered me more samples. :D The bread (I think it was rye) was soft and springy but had a crust with a delicious bite. But more than that - there was this taste to it, that felt like a spice, but I just can't place a finger on it. It was like the secret ingredient that made this superior hunk of bread what it was.
I just can't go back to supermarket wholemeal anymore. D:
But it wasn't all bread, cheese and meats. There were vegetable stalls aplenty, as well as flowers, spices, condiments, clothes - the works.
This stall was selling only spargel - I bought some to bring home, but cooked half of it in the hostel. The lady could understand a smattering of English, so I asked her how it was prepared. She said to just boil them like how you would a green asparagus - but with sugar rather than salt.
I couldn't find any sugar in the hostel so I just boiled them in water - they didn't taste any different from green asparagus, but I'm glad I got to try it.
Why can't we have markets like this in Nottingham? :(
Sauerkraut by the barrel. I seriously miss this stuff.
Korean ginseng lol.
Fish stalls were few compared to the number of meat ones, but the few that were there had a great variety of extremely fresh-looking fish - both raw and cooked.
Helping myself to salmon samples. :D
I remember reading about fish soup at the Schranne market - it was something one had to try. I had a bowl from one of the vendors (€2). It was served in a proper porcelain bowl that you returned once you were done - an interesting and personal touch compared to the usual disposable polystyrene. The soup itself had chunks of white fish in a tomato-ey broth that reminded me of a fish version of goulash - delicious.
Pate and salami.
Fresh homemade ravioli.
More hams and cheeses.
There was also this stall selling fried chicken that looked really popular as well. People would just stand around tearing chicken flesh of the bone, accompanied with a simple white bread roll.
I spotted this fried bread thingie and decided to give it a go. I can't remember what sort of bread it was (not the ordinary sliced white kind) but it was essentially the bread, some sort of chocolate coloured jam, deep fried and coated in sugar.
Unfortunately it was cold, and I'm sure it would've been perfect just pipping hot. But I loved it anyway - but what's there to hate about deep-fried carbs really? Fries, potato chips, yew char kuai, churros, donuts - all have two things in common - they're all just starches dunked in hot oil, and are usually irresistible. It's a winning combination.
Possibly some sort of edible flowers on spread and bread.
Less edible flowers.
More free samples! :D This apple bread was pretty good - dense, nutty and fruity - the fruit/nut:flour ratio was pretty high. German/Austrian breads tend to be very dense and packed. I likey.
Scores of dips at a middle eastern stall. I liked the hummus best. They also had these mini peppers stuffed with cheese. I'm not sure what it was, but it was really, really good. The marinated olives and feta were pretty awesome too.
A group of schoolkids walking through the market - all wearing neon vests with numbers on them. Probably to call if you found a lost kid.
Schloss Mirabell is just opposite the market, and is famous for its gardens.
Just had a short walk around. There were loads of people admiring the flowers and fountains.
I found some gnome statues!
Flowers all out in bloom.
Made my way to the aldstadt, but there were still so many more pictures to be had. In the background, perched on the hill there, is the Hohensalzburg or Salzburg fortress. All south-western views led to the Hohensalzburg, sat so majestically atop the Festungsberg mountain.
I like how the overhead cables and curve of the pavement give this picture the illusion of the fish-eye lens look. :D
While looking for the Mozart Residence (Mozart Wonhaus) I found the Universitat Mozarteum - a music and drama school right next to the Schloss Mirabell. They had their own performance showcases but sadly none on the nights I was there. Still, Nodame Cantabile much? :D
I went inside (and snuck into their toilet - a sign said 'no public use' but with my torn jeans and grubby sling bag I'm pretty sure I could pass as one of the students) and had a bit of a look at the main area - there was reception, a restaurant, some art exhibitions and what looked like a library with a grand piano in it (first floor here). Oh and posters for masterclasses.
More walking around. I felt like I must have walked through every street in Salzburg.
This picture implies three things - bikes are super common, people obey traffic rules like their lives depended on it, and I would soon be jaywalking. :P
Tis the land of music.
Easter bunny breads!
The entrance up the Kapuzinerberg - a mountain just north of the Salzach river. I'd intended to climb it for some good views the next day, but it the weather was back to being grey and drizzly so I didn't.
I did walk up the first 30m or so - it was very steep. I'm sure the view would've been fantastic.
Went off the main path of Linzergasse to stroll down Steinsgasse, a little alley off the beaten track.
Cool street art.
The Hohensalzburg in the distane, again.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous, for which I was very thankful.
The snowy alps lie quite close to the city, so winter sports (skiing, snowboarding) are quite popular with the more adventurous travelers. You can't really see it in this picture, but I could make out what looked like people parachuting at the top of the mountains.
We're not even in the aldstadt yet.
And here we are - Mozart Square.
The Residenz - city palace of the archbishops once upon a time. It now houses an art gallery.
It's pay per entry so that's as far as I got.
The Salzburg Cathedral or the dom, where Mozart was baptised. Loved the architecture.
It's even more grand on the inside if that's possible.
Pipe organ! Perfect for some dramatic Beethoven.
Harpist outside the dom. He was playing some music that sounded very Celtic and medieval. I loved it.
The square at the base of the Hohensalzburg.
Tourist trap stalls and a golden ball scupture. Souvenir prices differed greatly depending on where you were - I used fridge magnets as my benchmark. The cheapest I found were €3.50, and most places were selling them for about €4-5.
Guys playing chess next to a larger-than-life set.
Take your old school photo here.
I loved the door signs.
Even the chinese takeaway shop had their own sign.
Another market in Universitplatz, open everyday till about 7pm-ish but much smaller than the Schrannemarkt.
This stall was selling really good fruit cakes - but they were so pricey! Sold by weight, a tiny slab of cake as big as my palm was more than €2.
The usual suspects.
Huge pretzels were the to-go snacks here, along with wurst stalls. No kebab stalls in the altstadt. I was tempted to buy one just to nibble on but didn't want to fill up with just pretzel.
The Mozart Gerburtshaus (Mozart's birthplace) (€6) was the only museum I went into. I did learn a great deal about him. Gertreidegasse 9 was where Mozart was born and lived for 27 years. The family then moved to another house opposite the Salzach, now the Mozart Wonhaus (Mozart's Residence), another museum. He later moved to Vienna because the career advancement prospects were better.
The first violin he played on, which was between a half and three quarter size.
Handwritten letters and some scores (not pictured).
Mozart left behind two sons, who became prominent musicians in their own right, although never really being able to step out of their famous father's shadow.
Even in his day, Mozart was hailed as a genius and was much sought after Viennese nobility to compose for the operas - a major source of entertainment at the time. I wonder if he was autistic.
Mozart died at an early age, but the cause of death was simply put as a 'feverish temperature' - an acceptable diagnosis at the time. No one knows what the actual cause was. His wife, Contanze (the sister of the woman he fell in love with - their marriage was insisted upon but his mother-in-law, but it was a happy marriage.) saw to it that his works got the recognition they deserved. She was a good woman.
There are two famous shops in Salzburg - called Christmas in Salzburg and Easter in Salzburg, specializing in decorations from the two festive seasons. This was actually Christmas in Salzburg, but Easter had just passed, and there was a dazzling array of hollowed chicken eggs painted and carved most beautifully. It was quite a sight to behold.
I then made the trek up the Monchsberg to Hohensalzburg for the Mozart concert. I'd seen my first opera and ballet(s), but I did so long to see a proper orchestra concert. There are many concerts offered in Salzburg, usually coming together with dinner and theme-dressed musicians (baroque ruffles and ribboned stockings anyone?) but those were quite expensive, about €50-60.
One could take the Festungsbahn cable car up, but I opted to walk.
The path up was really steep, but took much less time than I expected to reach the fortress.
And from there - the most amazing view of Salzburg. I was stunned.
That's the Kapuzinersberg.
The interior of the fortress had a very medieval feel to it. It was around 7pm and the crowds had all gone so it looked quite deserted.
If anything, it really reminded me of the 2 seasons of Merlin I needed up catch up on.
The concerts are held every night in this hall - but in summer they sometimes play outdoors if the weather permits. My ticket cost €20 - student price, not including dinner. It was only a quartet, so I was slightly disappointed - at €20 I'd expected something more - wind, brass and a conductor perhaps (though a pianist did join in for one of the pieces - a least the lovely grand piano was utilized).
The concert was really awesome nonetheless. The hall had pretty good acoustics.
W. A. Mozart: Sinfonie KV.201
W. A. Mozart: Hornkonzert KV.495
L. Mozart: Alphornkonzert
W. A. Mozart: Arien
W. A. Mozart: Eine kleine Nachtmusik KV.525
The hall was full of tourists like myself but not all could appreciate the music - a large group of elderly Japanese tourists who joined after the dinner were all nodding off after the interval. :P The quartet played for a full 80 minutes (not including interval) and I left rather satisfied.
Pencil-marked, cellotaped original scores - I miss playing in an orchestra.
Night view from the top. There were these two huge immensely bright spotlights shinning on the fortress, so it was visible from the ground at night - giving it this grand yet eerie look.
A completely random, unrelated pic - bubble tea in Salzburg!
And to finish off - an apflestrudl (€1.90) I had at a cafe in a health food store (of all places) in the Universitatzplatz - it went down much better than sachertorte in Vienna.
And that was it - after that, the last of my trip were just boring bits like getting to the airport, squishing my rucksack into Ryanair's 55x45x20cm cabin allowance, sitting on uncomfortable LCC seats, and sleeping on a cold, hard floor in Stansted before catching the train up to Nottingham in the morning.
I'll miss you Salzburg.