Sunday, February 7, 2010


How silly to write abut Salzburg before I've even finished my Copenhagen update. But I'm still in the town, and thought I might as well use the last of my hostel internet credit up to write about my adventure before getting an early night in preparation for my morning flight tomorrow.

This is a lovely city, and it has been the perfect weekend (okay, long weekend) break. I arrived on Friday afternoon, and was stunned by the beauty of the region. Flying over the city, the pointy mountains that surround it were piercing the clouds. It was gorgeous. After arriving at my hostel, I wandered around the old town. It's such a small city that, in those two hours, I really got a handle on the local geography. I wandered through back alleys and market squares, before eating a schnitzel the size of a baby for dinner. I tried to get an early night, but the American girls sharing my room had other plans. They were lovely girls and we went out for a drink the next night, but man, you can tell they're brand new travellers. When I get in late at night to a hostel, I can unload my stuff, have a shower, get changed and climb into while causing minimum disturbance to my new roommates in about fifteen minutes. These girls took OVER AN HOUR. Ridiculous.

But anyway. I got up the next morning and took myself on a trip around the old town. I was avoiding doing the Sound of Music tour (I should probably have mentioned that this is where that was filmed, and what prompted my decision to come here - that, and Ryanair's five pound airfare sale) because it was quite expensive, so took myself as many places as I could. Not many of the filming placess are right in the city itself: Nonnberg Abbey, where Maria was a novice (although only one scene was filmed there, the rest back in Hollywood); Mirabell Palace, where the kids do-re-mied up and down the stairs, and a few sidewalks and such by the river. So I splurged on the Sound of Music tour today, which was great: it took us into the mountains surrounding Salzburg, blanketed in snow. (I finally understand that phrase, after the pitiful dustings of England.) We visited Mondsee, which houses the cathedral where the Captain and Maria were married in the film, as well as the houses they used for the front and back of the von Trapp mansion, the lake that the children fell into and the gazebo where Liesl pranced around like a common whore. And there was tasty apple strudel.

(OH MY GOD. THE FOOD ON THIS TRIP. SO AMAZING. I've had cappucinos made with cream instead of milk, ham and cheese sandwiched between an eviscerated pretzel, and more chocolate and pastry than I usualy consume in a month. Oh, and beer. Lots of beer. It is doing things to my digestive tract: my rectum provides a non-stop commentary on my day. Thank God I'm returning to London and a normal diet tomorrow.)

Anyway, I distracted myself. Yesterday, I discovered that the Sound of Music is the least interesting (okay, maybe not, but it's definitely not the most interesting thing) about Salzburg. The old town is over 1300 years old, and I visited a doZen churches and some ancient catacombs dug into the mountain wall. I climbed up to the enormous clifftop fortress squatting over the town and visited Mozart's birthplace (mainly as an excuse to scoff Mozartkulgen, a delicious chocolate, marzipan and pistachio ball that is a speciality of the town). I visited the excellent Museum of Natural History (which would have been more excellent had the signs been in English and had they not dismantled their display of deformed human foetuses) and mimed what I wanted to eat with the old lady in the market stall.

Then, after the tour today, I went to Salzburg's biggest bier hall. None of my THREE guidebooks mentioning Salzburg mentioned this place. Thank God the tour guide did. It was enormous and bizarre and amazing. The building is about 400 years old. ├Łou fetch your own pottery stein and they pour your beer straight out of the barrel: nothing propels it but gravity. You select food from a few stalls (I had some wurst, which I forgot to eat in Berlin, and pretzels) and you sit in one of the three big dining rooms and eat at communal tables. It was grand.

And tomorrow, I fly home. It's been just the weekend I wanted: interesting and historical, but relaxing. I've finished two books, had a nap this afternoon, and took it generally easy. Sweet.

Stay tuned for more Copenhagen.

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