Salzburg Fortress (Festung Hohensalzburg)
Once we managed to catch our breath, we headed up to the castle that overlooks the city of Salzburg. Here I go with the hills again, (Since my car accident back in 2008, my knee and hills do not get along. I have discovered this since living near the mountains. Fab.) Anways, I climbed a super steep hill to get up to Neuschweinstein Castle a few weeks back and apparently still haven’t learned my lesson. But, as usual.. the climb is worth the fight and the views were incredible. (Although, I am sure its MUCH more magnificent when its spring and it’s clear. Salzburg is nestled in the Alps.. unfortunately we didn’t get to see much of them on this trip.)
Getreidegasse is also beautiful by night. Salzburg has the ability to be very romantic and now I see why it is a top Honeymoon destination. It’s just.. charming. Stuffed and exhausted, my friend really wanted to check out the spa’s and sauna’s. For those living in Europe, you know where this is going. For everyone back home, I won’t even go into it because I can sum it up in one quick sentence. It’s a building with pools, saunas and showers… and everyone is naked. Welcome to Europe. Mortified and moving on, we headed to the train station for a late train home and back to the work week ahead. Salzburg was beautiful and charming… and it’s Arnold Schwarzenegger’s birthplace.
Salzburg Cathedral (Dom)
Moving on, we ran into one of those buildings that makes you go, “wow.” But, in Europe they are everywhere so you get in this habit of taking a million pictures and moving on. Right as we were about to make our way onto the next awaiting discovery, I saw people entering said magnificent building. Being one to never pass on adventure, I follow the crowd in hopes to not get kicked out. The word beautiful doesn’t even begin to describe how absolutely stunning it was. Talk about craftsman ship. This kind of stuff just doesn’t exist in the US. (This was impossible to get into one picture because of its massive size.) Forget Mozart’s birthplace and all the Sound of the Music jazz, if you ever find yourself in Salzburg, you MUST make it to the cathedral. Look for the big green domes, you can’t miss it.
The next day (again out of the hotel later than planned), we were out to discover Salzburg by day light. And discover we did! While walking, we discovered the bridge that you see on Pinterest. Well, one of them anyways. Couples make their way to this bridge with a lock, write their names on it, secure the lock to the bridge and throw the key in the river. Awwww. (Some of these people went all out on their locks with engravings and stuff.)
By the time I reached Salzburg, it was almost 6 pm and it was starting to get dark. Also, I was quite tired after hiking for hours in the negative temperature zones. So I went straight to a 6-bed mixed dormitory in the A&O Salzburg Hauptbahnof hostel and simply crashed.Next morning, when I woke up with a sore throat, I just wanted to continue sleeping. But the dreamy painting of Salzburg that hung on the hostel wall opposite my bunk bed urged me to freshen up and explore the reality around me. And that's exactly what I did! After grabbing a quick breakfast at the food forum close to the hostel, I was all set for the hike to the Hohensalzburg fortress. It was a half an hour walk from the hostel, right through the heart of the city, crossing over the river Salzach, leading into alley ways that made up the market squares on the other side and finally ending at the bottom of the long, steep stairway that wound its way to the fort which sat on the Festungsberg hill. On reaching the hill top, I bought my ticket at the entrance. I bought the 9 euro-ticket instead of the 11.50 ticket and gave the museums a skip. My best memories of Salzburg are from the time I spent at the portico in the fortress. In my opinion, it is the best place to get a bird's eye view of most of the city's attractions. From my vantage point, I could admire the pointed minarets and massive domes at eye-level. Different spots in the portico gave me a most spectacular perspective of the many wonders in Salzburg. In the distance, I could see the river Salzach flowing through the old town. While the view points on one side of the portico offered exposure to the stunning Austrian architecture and its hilly backdrop, the other side opened up into the snow capped Austrian alps. It was blatantly evident how I was in a city, cradled in the lap of nature. I instantly felt tiny, yet content! :)I definitely needed some food to grow into a strong adult again. So I devoured some lip-smacking Austrian sweet treats at a street-side cafe near the fortress. On my way to the cafe, I never noticed the eccentric Eidelwiese winter flowers until a girl from Taiwan mistook me for a native and asked me about them. Even though she didnt get her answer, she seemed happy to have bumped into someone from her own continent. There's something immensely satisfying about meeting people along the way. They leave their mark and so do you :)
See the sunrise from 1300m above sea levelThe train from Venice pulls into Salzburg HBF as early as 4am. Time to wash your face and store your bags in the lockers and hitch a ride to Gaisberg. Make your way to the mountain top (drive, bike or hike) and as a reward, take amazing photographs of the sunrise sipping hot coffee sporadically. The whole city of Salzburg lies in front of you. Every picture in natural light makes it postcard perfect.