Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Salzburg, Austria: The Hills are Incredible

One of the many stunning views on our ride
Our entire bus and train journey from Venice to Salzburg was about six hours and the majority of it was through absolutely gorgeous scenery. At some point before we got to Austria we hit the massive snow-covered mountains and it was spectacular. It was hard not to constantly stare out of the window!

Villa Trapp
We arrived in the city around 10:00 at night and decided to splurge on a taxi to our hotel, Villa Trapp, yes as in Von Trapp. 
For three nights we lived in the mansion of the Von Trapp family (from The Sound of Music, for those of you who aren’t familiar). Waking up the next morning we were in for a wonderful surprise. Our room (a “basic room” that somehow came equipped with its own private and large balcony) overlooked the stunning snow covered peaks just to the left, and not far to the right was the city and we could see the famous castle peaking through the just-beginning-to-bloom trees. Perfection.
The view from our room
Pretending to be part of the Von Trapp family
We spent the next two days exploring the city, mostly by foot, as we typically do. We walked into and back from the city a few times, wandered along and across the river, through the old town, up the mountain for a view of the city below and around the main streets and plazas. I ate one memorable meal at The Heart of Joy Café, not far from the famous and beautiful Mirabell Gardens. It was a vegetarian café that also had several gluten free options, including a highly recommended chocolate mousse cake. Yum! Drew was able to explore some more traditional culinary delights from some shops along our wanderings, such as pretzels, schnitzel, beer, and sausage, and he was very excited about that!

Fortress and the Alps in the background
Hohensalzburg Castle
Overlooking the suburbs and Alps
The river and the old town

It's a unicorn! At Mirabell Gardens
Mirabell Gardens with Palace in the background
Mirabell Gardens
He kind of hated that I made him pose for this picture ;-)
A dinner picnic on our balcony
The city is beautiful and has an entirely different feel than anywhere we’ve been so far. I’m not sure what it is, but I told Drew that I felt the safest here over any of our other destinations. Not that I ever felt unsafe, necessarily, but there’s something that just made me feel really comfortable. It was also the first real days of spring in the city, we were told, and being from Buffalo we can totally relate to the positive energy this time of year creates in a place. In addition, the people, in general, were extremely friendly; people in the stores and restaurants, random people we encountered or asked questions to, and the drivers (who all stop for people in crosswalks and don’t seem annoyed about it or like they’re going to run you over if you don’t hurry up! Imagine that!) Plus, the scenery was stunning. I’m more of an ocean person than a mountain person, but I still find all of nature wonderful so I can’t complain, that’s for sure.

If you’re looking for a small but interesting, friendly, and beautiful city to visit, Salzburg would be a wonderful option. Most people spoke English as well, which made it a lot easier than I expected. And for any celiacs, gluten is a commonly understood term and you are able to find gluten free things in the grocery stores, and it seems that many restaurants try to accommodate gluten free diets if possible. Plus, after Italy most things seems a bit cheaper!

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