Salzburg felt more like home than a tourist destination

Rooftop level view of Salzburg with the Cathedral in the foreground Rooftop level view of Salzburg with the Cathedral in the foreground

So far during our three week European adventure, which started in Vienna and will end when we reach the home just south of Toulouse in France we’ll be housesitting for a couple of months, we’ve witnessed magnificent architecture, eaten fantastic food, and soaked up plenty of history and culture.

We left the unbelievably well preserved baroque style southern Czech town of Cesky Krumlov, and made our way to Salzburg by shuttle bus, aka mini-van. I thought it would be easy to get around Europe from one place to the next. I assumed there would be buses and trains running direct from major tourist towns to the next, and because of the huge numbers of people travelling on these well beaten paths, the prices would be relatively cheap. I was wrong!

We paid 2400 CZK (AU$120) for the three of us to travel by shuttle bus to Salzburg in Austria, about three hours away. It sounds expensive, and I think it is, but it was cheaper and a lot quicker than the train (which required a change or two) or bus. There’s several operators in Cesky Krumlov, such as the CK, Bean and Lobo Shuttle services, so you shouldn’t have any problems getting a ride. They have several destinations to choose from including Vienna, Hallstatt, Prague, Linz, and of course Salzburg, and they leave about four times a day. So we were collected from our hotel, and along with five Japanese tourists, we were on our way.

The journey was very pleasant, with quaint villages and green rolling hills from start to finish. I managed to write a blog post and get a video done which was great. You really need to take every opportunity to get work done, especially when you’re trying to get a website off the ground and have online work commitments. Sarah is also studying a uni degree, so she has an added commitment to consider as well. We were dropped off at Salzburg Hauptbahnhof (the main train station) and we walked with all of our gear about 10 minutes to our hotel, the Hotel Scherer. It was a nice hotel, but a little more expensive than we’d been used to paying. We left it late so our options were limited, but my dad and his partner gave us a lovely Wotif voucher before we left Australia so we used that to pay for our two nights in Salzburg.

Makartsteg, a modern pedestrian bridge in Salzburg's city centre

Makartsteg, a modern pedestrian bridge in Salzburg’s city centre

Despite the poor weather we walked into town for a look around and a bite to eat for dinner. Salzburg is located in the west of Austria, just on the German border, and has the fast flowing Salzach River flowing through it, providing a lovely feature to this typically Austrian city. The Altstadt (Old Town) is where most tourists spend their time in Salzburg, and we were no different. The skyline is dominated by Festung Hohensalzburg, the 900-year old cliff top fortress, with its modern glass funicular transporting people to the top if they can’t be bothered walking. We made our way by foot to the entrance, but we didn’t go in as we’re not that interested in seeing the inside of any more forts, but we enjoyed a reasonable view over the city from the top of the road.

For better views over the city, and an opportunity to get away from the crowds, we took the Monchsberg Lift at the Museum der Moderne to the top of the cliffs, and wandered through the woodland walking trails for an hour or so. There are lookouts in either direction taking in sweeping views over both the city, and the Alps behind the Festung Hohensalzburg. After exploring the area we headed into the M32 Cafe for a cup of tea and some cake. They were delicious by the way, particularly the apple strudel, but I figured it’s their national dish so they should get it right.

An aerial view over Salzburg

An aerial view over Salzburg

What appealed to me most about Salzburg was its ‘realness’ if that’s a word. By that I mean not everyone walking the streets is either a tourist, or working in the tourism industry. Prague is a lot like that, and Cesky Krumlov is exactly like that, but in Salzburg we saw people walking their dogs, heading off to uni, riding their bikes, going to work; locals going about their business. It also didn’t seem as crowded as Prague and Cesky Krumlov, although the place still had its fair share of tourists. We’d wander down a side street in the Old Town and there’d be no one else around. I felt a lot more comfortable here because even though it’s a beautiful city, it’s not the same as the perfection of Cesky Krumlov and Prague. It’s almost like walking around a deliberately built movie set in those tourist spots, not that I’m complaining because they were two of the most incredibly beautiful places I’ve ever been. In contrast Salzburg has a real community feel about it, and we liked that.

Getreidegasse, Salzburg's most famous shopping street

Getreidegasse, Salzburg’s most famous shopping street

During our two days here we just wandered the streets, ate the food and bought a couple jackets for ourselves as it’s starting to get cold. We ventured from one baroque church and town square to the next, and came across probably the most stunning cemetery we’d even seen. It was inside the grounds of St Peter’s Church at the foot of Festung Hohensalzburg. It would have been nice to take a longer, quieter look around but despite there being a huge sign warning tour leaders not to take groups inside the cemetery, it didn’t stop one lady taking about 50 people for a walk around the grounds acting as though she owned the place. Other notable attractions worth seeing are Getreidgasse (the main shopping strip), Mozarts Geburtshaus where Mozart spent the first 17 years of his life, Schloss Mirabell and Gardens, and Salzburg Cathedral. But you don’t need a map to know where any of these places are, just wander about the Old Town for a few hours and you’ll eventually bump into all of them.

The cemetary inside Petersfriedhof is beautiful

The cemetery inside Petersfriedhof is beautiful

Sarah decided she was in charge of dinner plans which is the way it should be since she writes our ‘cheap eats’ reviews for the website. She found a place online that she wanted to check out so come dinner time Sarah got the map out and led the way. The problem was all she had to guide us was an ‘x’ on the map and a name. The lack of an address proved a problem, and despite asking a few locals for assistance in the vicinity of where the ‘x’ was, we didn’t find it. We think maybe it had changed names, we can’t be sure, but it gives Sarah an out for yet another wild goose chase! So we settled on Uncle Van noodles on the way home, which turned out to be very tasty and we highly recommend them.

Our two days were fantastic, although the drizzly weather certainly put a dampener on things. I’d actually visited Salzburg before, way back in 2000, but true to form I barely remembered anything. In fact, my memories of the city were quite different to the reality. So it was good to get back and create new memories of my time in this charming, pleasant, ‘lived in’ town.

Click on the photo gallery below to see images of our time in Salzburg…

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