Inside Austria: In the Land of Mozart
We left Germany on a good note by having a picnic lunch in the park at the foot of the Tegelberg mountain in Schwangau. Several of us went for a ride on the park’s luge course barreling down the stainless steel track on a wheeled bobsled. It felt great to be like a kid again.
From Schwangau, we headed to Salzburg, Austria, the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The drive took about six hours. It included a 45-minute break for the driver and the much-needed bathroom relief for the rest of us at a motorway service station.
As in other parts of Europe, you have to pay for the use of the water closet (restroom) by either going through a coin-operated turnstile or leaving change in the tray at the entrance. The cost ranges from 50 cents to a Euro. If the turnstile gives you a receipt, you can use it as a voucher for store credit on the adjoining establishment.
We arrived at our hotel in Salzburg late in the afternoon. It’s located in the old town’s section within walking distance of the city’s major sights and attractions. It’s a small family run hotel with no 24/7 service desk. You’d need to enter an access code at the door to get in at night.
Once we were checked in, we went to explore the city on our own and later had a group dinner together.
I was fascinated by the sights and sounds of street performers and musicians.
After dinner, I decided to call it a night. Having a terrible sense of direction, I joined two couples to lead the way to the hotel. But it was like the blind leading the blind. We got lost in the maze of the city. The trusted iPhone’s GPS was no help at all as it just kept recalculating. Luckily, we met another member of the tour who pointed us in the right direction.
The following day, we toured the city with a local guide.
What impressed me the most was the ancient cemetery. It felt like walking around a beautiful garden with plots planted with flowers and tenderly cared for. As the story goes, each plot is owned by one family until the last member passes away. When that happens, the plot is made available to another family on the waiting list.
We rode the funicular up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress built in the 11th century. located 400 feet above the Salzach river. It offers a spectacular view of the city of Salzburg.
Of course, a visit to Salzburg wouldn’t be complete without attending a Mozart’s concert. Following our guide’s advice, we avoided street hawkers in Mozart’s costumes selling concert tickets even though they appeared to be friendly. She said they were likely tourist traps. As a result, we ended up booking dinner concert tickets at Stiftskeller St. Peter on our last night in Salzburg. We surely glad we did. Established more than a thousand years ago, it’s considered one of the oldest restaurants in Europe. It’s said that even Charlemagne (742–814) dined there.