It was a quick trip to Salzburg. I left Vienna on the Westbahn, the local train with regular trips to Salzburg. I enjoyed the easy two-plus hour ride with roomy trains, leather seats, and wifi and in no time I arrived. I was greeted by the cold and rain. With my umbrella in hand and luggage in tow, I steadfastly made my way to my meeting point.
I was connecting with my generous host for my stay in Salzburg, the cousin of my friend and host in Vienna. We met at the Cafe Wernbacher, a local establishment on the “new” side of town. I arrived soggy but in no time I was warmed with friendly company and peppermint tea. We had a great lunch including a soup made from a local root similar to garlic (I forget the name! What is that called?…) that grows fervently in the area, traditional Austrian prepared pork, risotto, and fresh kraut salad. It was a yummy and hearty beginning to my interlude.
My purpose for going to Salzburg was part “business” as I was taking care of my visa needs for my new and upcoming adventure. It was also a good reason to go to Salzburg and see a little bit more of Austria. In fact, it turns out I also got to see just a bit of Germany as I went with my host on Monday just a hop, skip and a jump into Germany. We spent an easy afternoon there doing a little shopping and drinking tea.
When I was reading up a bit on Salzburg, one of the recommended places to visit is the mountain Untersberg. There is a lift that takes you all the way to the top of the mountain. I had to laugh when I arrived at my host’s flat that she literally lived right next to that mountain. The tram that takes you to the top you could see out her back window.
The next morning the first business of the day was getting my visa. Luckily my host did a “pre-run” the day before in her car showing me the way to the office neatly tucked away down a tiny street. She looked at the directions on the map and casually said, “Oh, you’ll walk through the mountain…” Walk through the mountain? And indeed it was true, en route I had to pass through the mountain Monchsberg. A quick tunnel easily leading me through to the other side.
Afterwards, I meandered around the old town of Salzburg. I shopped along the famous Getreidegasse. I took a peek in the Salzburg Cathedral (Salzburger Dom). Soon I made my way to my next destination, the Fortress Hohensalzburg.
I bought a ticket on the U-bahn tram that goes up the mountain to the Fortress Hohensalzburg (you can see the tram in the photo above at the top center right). It was an easy breezy trip up, but when I arrived at the top I was in for a big surprise. When they opened the doors to the tram, the wind was whipping and people were blowing by like tumbleweeds. It took me a moment or two to get off the tram. I was a little less than enthused. I cautiously explored a bit, but the gusts were so strong that I and other guests periodically had to lean our bodies flat on the sides of the building for shelter. The wind lifted a table off the ground and nearly flung it over the rail. I went to the scenic lookout points, but I stayed far away from the edge for fear I would be blown away. I made my way around, took some pictures, visited the museum, but in truth I didn’t want to stick around for long in the crazy wind and mostly wanted return to ground level.
Thankfully the descent down was smooth. I was grateful to be on the ground and made my way to get some lunch. While happily taking refuge in a local Bio Burger with avocado and zucchini, I couldn’t help but notice… it was a little windy down here too. Is Salzburg always this windy? It looked like a storm was moving in. So I escaped the weather to the local Europark mall and then made my way home in the evening.
After a restful night sleep, I woke up the next morning to this….
Wait, wasn’t there a great big mountain outside her back door? Um, where did it go? A few hours later… there it is…
Hmmm… I thought… perhaps not the best day to do sightseeing in Salzburg. Later I connected with my host and we made the best of the day. We did a little shopping. The weather extravaganza continued with hail storms and a surprising peek of sun and blue skies. I learned that the wicked winds the day before and continued crazy weather were not typical Salzburg but in fact a real storm with an actual name, Storm Niklas. It even had hurricane strength winds! Not the best time to be on top of a mountain!
We finished the crazy weather day with a late lunch at a local cafe called Cult, an eatery nestled in the Künstlerhaus (artist house) in Salzburg. I savoured my simple fish and salad lunch as its fresh taste and quality preparation melted in my mouth. A satisfying completion to a quick and quirky visit.
I left, visa in hand, content to return to Vienna, but grateful for the diversion.