Two days in Salzburg

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Two days in Salzburg

June 19, 2020 Austria 0

The Altstadt of Salzburg is pretty. It has horse-drawn carriages, and floral displays in central parks that befit European regency. A bridge with a thousand love locks crosses the river, and a large fountain sits in one of its squares. Mozart’s birthplace is an attractive yellow piece of traditional western architecture. It all tastes simultaneously very rich and sweet.

Yet a town requires heart beneath deliberate civility to be more substantial than a theme park selling decadence. Consequently, the greatest part of Salzburg is mixing in or getting out. Via the former one may find real people doing relatable activities, engaging outside the fiction of Little Lord Fauntleroy. The latter is nature, of which Austria is a trove.

Mixing in does not require breaking the air of class or leaving the Altstadt in search of sin, but rather finding the streets that sell food, drink, or items that are not marketable baroque. For instance, a restaurant in which I stopped had a chef cooking with gusto and breadsticks on the table, both of which were special because of their normality. A food van sold meat and cheese. A couple were getting married in a cherry picker.

Residenzplatz in Salzburg [Photo: Jamie Wills]

Tying the knot in a piece of industrial equipment whilst surrounded by antique bourgeois design is wholly respectable, because weddings are well-suited to farce, at least according to television. And as it is television and movies that inspire the tourists to come to old Salzburg, Salzburg must accept its burden. Like the theory of art, in which Artwork A produces counter cod philosophy B, Salzburg’s gentile image demands the presence of a JCB.

On the second day the pressure to be classical was too much, and so I strode up the hill to Fortress Hohensalzburg. Reaching the city’s castle is a harder and hotter walk than one might expect for such a short climb, but it nonetheless offers peace in trees, fallen leaves, and fungi, as well as numerous opportunities to look to the left and see the painted buildings below. The fortress itself is designed like a miniature walled hamlet, with its central courtyard and church, and can occupy an hour of curiosity for those ambivalent to the history.

Regardless of whether aristocrats’ piles of bricks are of interest, the sense of liberty on an Austrian hill, albeit a small one, is grand. The air seems clean, simply by being on the edge of the Austrian Alps. There is just enough exercise in the body to believe you’ve done something worthwhile, yet the promise of more, and greater, experiences lingers. That feeling that there is something bigger is symbolic, for it formed my conclusion of Salzburg: its grace may complement a trip to Austria, but Austria has a whole world beyond horse-drawn carriages and Mozart.

Looking down on Salzburg [Photo: Jamie Wills]