I flew out of Corfu to Munich, but was Germany the port of call I sought? Actually it wasn’t, Munich was just a means to my final destination which was Salzburg. Deciding where to go for those 5 days after Corfu was a tough call! I wanted somewhere Schengen where I can easily fly in then out to Croatia, Dubrovnik in specific. Let’s say that Google Flights kind of saved my neck on that one. I opened the website, chose a one way trip from Corfu, entered the date, and went through the options that laid themselves before me.
The cheapest destinations were Napoli and Munich. Napoli would have been perfect, easy in and even easier out to Dubrovnik. But my Italian friends weren’t accessible and since I have been there before I really didn’t feel like going to Naples when my friends were not around! At the same time spending my time in Germany wasn’t that appealing either! I opened the map and started checking for alternatives around Munich then I realized, why not go to Austria? I haven’t been there before, Salzburg is a couple of hours train ride away, and I have always wanted to visit Hallstatt. BINGO!
I landed in Munich and instantly felt relieved. I know this might sound corny, but listening to the German language and being surrounded by everything German gave me a sense of safety! I used to work with Germans when I was still living in Cairo and I have visited Germany a couple of times so maybe that was why being in Munich felt familiar and such familiarity was actually needed, even appreciated, after Corfu. It wasn’t difficult at all to reach the train station from the airport, nor to find the platform of my train as everything in so organized and calculated and that is one of the things I love about Germany.
The train ride was smooth, DB of course, except for fighting the temptations of falling asleep. I reached Salzburg around midnight and the 10 minutes walk to my hostel didn’t feel daunting. The hostel I stayed at was a little expensive but it was the only one I found with female dorms on my selected dates. In addition to that, it had a perfect location, the room was great and came with towels and toiletries, AND the staff was the friendliest EVER!! They accommodated my pretty much late check in and were extremely patient with me when I needed to change my bookings because of a sudden change in my plans.
I probably woke the person in charge up that night to have him check me in but as I was communicating with him in English, he asked me if I prefer speaking in Arabic! HUH! I could tell he was a Levantine from his accent, probably from Syria, and at that moment being spoken to in Arabic was overwhelming! The disconnectedness I experienced before my arrival to Salzburg left me feeling lonesome deepening the notion of not belonging. And so for some reason being united with that person under the roof of the Arabic language reversed the impact the previous few days had on me. I know it sounds silly and maybe IT IS indeed silly but that encounter enveloped me with badly needed good vibes, it made me feel welcomed somehow. I went to sleep that night with a very good feeling and I just knew that my time in Austria will be splendid and splendid it was indeed ❤
I woke up to a sunny day of 30 degrees ready to explore the beautiful city of Salzburg. Ian, who has been replying to all my emails, greeted me at the reception and pointed out the top things to do around the city on a map in addition to a suggestion about a nice and affordable place for breakfast. That was actually SPAR, one of the top supermarkets in Austria.
The proximity of the hostel to the historic centre of Salzburg made it easy for me to wander through its streets on foot, ma kind of thing 😉 I didn’t have a particular spot or location that I wanted to visit except for Mozart Museum and any place that can offer me a high view point of the city. And so, I strolled around by the river, Salzach, till I found myself in front of Schloss Mirabell and its gardens. The palace is famous nowadays for hosting fancy weddings, conferences, and of course musical concerts in the very popular Marble Hall. I would have loved to attend a concert for Mozart there but the tickets were quite expensive to tell you the truth. And by the time I made up my mind regarding paying that amount of money on a touristy kind of a concert let’s admit, it was too late as all seats were booked already! The cost of my hesitation 😦
The gardens with their geometric forms and fountains were nice, a spot of green in the middle of the city and that’s something I always appreciate. The gardens eventually open up to Makart Platz which leads to Mozart Wohnhaus or Mozart’s old home. That’s a place I had to check and now that I did, I would highly recommend it. Walking around Salzburg, you could sense the presence of Mozart everywhere from souvenir shops selling those little music boxes and Mozart chocolate, till the window of a bakery that displayed music-notes-shaped pretzels. You simply can’t be in Austria without having a feel of Mozart and to me that was by visiting his old house.
Mozart old house and Mozart birthplace are two different places in Salzburg and there is actually a collective ticket that allows you to see both locations. I preferred to see the old house and spent around 2 hours there. I marveled at the music instruments on display, the biography of the family, the books and the music notes which had sample music to be listened to! I played each and every music sample and devoured the elevating sensation it ran through me and I was, back then, left in awe of the whole experience.
After Mozart, I crossed the river to the other side of the historic city center and continued walking. I passed Mozart birthplace, the Dom and the market in Domplatz, St Peter’s Archabbey with the cemetery & catacombs, and most importantly treated myself to some straight-out-of-the-oven bread compliments of the oldest bakery of Salzburg before I headed to the fortress.
The Hohensalzburg Fortress has two types of tickets, basic and standard. Both include the audio guide except that the standard ticket permits you to enter the regency rooms and magical theater, the theatre was a tad overrated but the rooms were worth it. The fortress is accessible by a funicular but there is another way up, or so I heard, that only allows for the view point over the city. The views of Salzburg on that sunny summer day were stunning; it is indeed such a beautiful city and kind of reminded of Heidelberg. The tour didn’t take that much time; it was nice and all but nothing spectacular to be honest. If you running low on time and want to save some cash, you might as well skip it.
By that time, hunger got the best of me after all the wandering I did and so it was lunch time and what’s better to have when in Austria than schnitzel. I had my long awaited and dearly missed schnitzel at Gablerbräu and it was as tasty as I remember it to be 😀 After the recharge, I climbed up the hill of Kapuzinerberg passing by the monastery till I reached an open space with benches that overlooked the city and what a marvelous view that one was, that space goes by the name of Hettwer-Bastei. I walked around the woods for a while before I turned back to the previous spot to station myself for the cloudy sunset of that evening. I remember now when Ian thought it was too hot that day to hike all the way up Kapuzinerberg that he actually advised against it. Well, let’s say that I have different views with regards to a day of 30 degrees Celsius 😀
All through that time, the air surrounding me was a mixture of church bells, a distant live music performance, and the hustle and bustle of the incoming thunder storm; a mix that was all so surreal. The sun that evening was shying behind the clouds but the sunset wasn’t any less spectacular. It lasted for more than an hour and the faint colors of the hiding sun being reflected on those cloudy skies made the city look so dreamy. Then suddenly, the sky was lit up by a pinkish hue and the whole view was covered by that overflowing glow. It was as if a light switch was turned on to a pleasing rose-painted ray of light. It was a sunset like I have never seen before, a sunset that left me more in love with Salzburg and eager to what my visit had in store for me 🙂