Day Four in Salzburg, Austria
29.03.2011 - 29.03.2011 15 °C
Long before we left London, one of our key destinations was always going to be Untersberg, the highest mountain in the Salzburg area. It sits just southwest of the city proper and towers over it at 1853m (6078 ft). The mountain itself is a limestone deposit, with bits of salt and marble throughout. It’s a craggy terrain and quite steep, so only the fittest Austrians should attempt a climb on foot! For those of us who are considerably more delicate, there’s a cable car, much like the one at Grouse Mountain, and again, faster than you can say “No. 25 bus,” we were there.
Being a reasonably clear day (a bit hazy, but hey), the views from the top were incredible. You can see the whole of the Salzburg basin from up there, and even into Bavaria, the Watzmann (the second highest mountain in Germany) and as far as the Lake District (Salzkammergut) to the east and the Hohe Tauern mountains in the south.
There are some walks from the cable car station to even higher viewpoints, and we did meander around for an hour or so. We would have gone farther and higher, but the slopes were slick, and we had only our city shoes on. Also, the drops were unbelievably sheer and steep, with no guard rails whatsoever! So, cooler heads prevailed, and we (mostly) played it safe.
Well ... I wasn't going to have any this shit:
We really didn’t want to leave, but alas, down we came eventually. We decided we weren’t quite ready to hit the bus back to town, so we instead indulged in our first authentic Austrian apple strudel! Mmmmmmmmm. Warm from the oven with fresh cream and hot chocolate. Mmmmmmmmmmm.
Soon enough, we were back in Old Town, wandering what were by now starting to feel like quite comfortable stomping grounds! You’d think that, by now, we’d call it a day, but it was only at this point on our last full day that we were to be most pleasantly surprised in this city full of nothing but surprises.
As you might recall, we had already climbed up Monchsberg to the fortress, but there are several ways up the mountain, and more than just the fortress to explore throughout the upper rims. We decided to take the lift up to the Museum of Modern Art, which sits atop the western end of Monchsberg, at the farther end opposite the fortress. Now, we knew there were some walking paths up there, and even a way to eventually walk the entire length of the mountaintop over to the fortress, but never in a million years did we expect #1 to make that walk and #2 to find as much beauty as we did. It turned out to be the most awe-inspiring hours of our entire trip, with one breathtaking view after another.
We first set off toward Johannesschlossl, a small castle on Monchsberg’s far west end, and then toward Humboldt Terrasse, back to the Museum of Modern Art, and then on to Salzburger Burgerwehr—oh, just another completely stunning fortification and set of medieval walls in the middle of seeming nowhere! In between all these remarkable sights are actual homes—people’s actual houses—which are just as spectacular in their location, presentation, and history. All the while, you keep coming out to these lookout points, with Salzburg splayed out below—Old Town, New Town, the Salzach River, and well beyond, and one can’t help but take the same photos over and over again!
We did make the trip straight across Monchsberg, taking in the southern rim and views of Untersberg and south/southwest Salzburg that one almost forgets about with the fixation on Old/New Town.
And, just as it had on our last day in Paris, the sun couldn’t have been setting more beautifully, providing for us simply perfect photo-taking light, as we found ourselves on the far side of the fortress, up above Alstadt (Old Town). From there, we found one of the winding back roads that seemingly only the local joggers know about. We wound our way through some of Salzburg’s oldest streets and homes, back down to street level. The whole thing was mind-blowing and something you really only appreciate long after making the trek and having time to really process all you’ve seen.
There seemed to be only one thing left to do: a nice sit down dinner in Old Town! Off we went in search of the perfect meal, and we weren’t disappointed. Now, it wasn’t Austrian, or German, but it was something that Austrians seem to love even more: Italian! Heh. We were so stuffed that we almost couldn’t walk back to our hotel. Pizza was shared, spicy sausage pasta was devoured, and yet more warm apple strudel was inhaled.
All that was left was a night-lit walk across the Staatsbrucke once more, back up Linzergasse, and in to the Goldenes Theatre Hotel.
The next day, we flew home to London. What a holiday we'd had in Salzburg. Auf Wiedersehen Salzburg! Auf Wiedersehen Austria!