Irish Independent – 15 FEBRUARY 2014
Don’t get caught in Von Trapp tours when you visit this Austrian gem
Edelweiss, requiems and puppet theatre? Salzburg may well be alive with the sound of music but beyond the ubiquitous kitsch of Von Trapp tours and touristy Mozart soirées, I travelled to the city last month to see if Austria’s self-billed ‘Stage of the World’ is still worth an encore.
With its fairytale façade and magnificent Hohensalzburg fortress, arrive in Salzburg and you’ll find its streetscapes are quick to spellbind. Wandering the immaculate cobbles of its baroque Altstadt, impressive squares and charming alleyways await, along with highbrow shopping streets, bustling with bargain-hunting bourgeoisie.
Austria’s most expensive city beyond Vienna, visitors can expect to shell out an extra few schillings for a Salzburg overnighter. The city’s oldest inn, the Blaue Gans, is today an über-contemporary art-hotel with rates from €78pps but bear in mind that as Salzburg is super compact (just about the size of Cork) a stay in the outskirts of town (try Hotel Amedia, €52pps) amounts to a short stroll or bus ride back to base come bedtime.
For a different spin on Wolfgang Amadeus, take a stroll to the Mozarteum, Salzburg’s university of music and dramatic arts, set in the oh-so-schön surrounds of the Mirabel gardens. Follow the tinkling D-Minor ivories inside the controversially modernist campus, where you may just be lucky enough to catch a free recital by the resident prodigies.
Keeping kunst at the forefront, Salzburg’s Museum der Moderne (€8), on the top of Mönchsberg hill, makes a great concerto chaser. From Gstättengasse in the Old Town, an elevator (€2) shoots passengers 60m skywards though a rocky bluff to the lofty gallery overlooking the city.
Bier und Bobotie, bitte!
A downhill ramble along Mönchsberg’s leaf-rustling jogging tracks, leads thirsty scholars towards Augustiner Bräu, Austria’s largest beer tavern, set around a colossal series of echoing monastic aulas. After perusing the tasty deli arcade, pull up a pew and a frothy Märzen beer from the self-serve taps and toast the local lederhosen brigade. Prost! For a supper with a difference, head to Afro Café, a Cape Town-inspired psychedelic eatery with a menu of delicious boboties and salads and a lekker blend of fair-trade teas and coffees. There’s more to Salzburg dining than schnitzels and strudels, you know.
A night at the flicks may appear an obtuse way to experience a city but surely there’s nothing more continental than an indie film screening? Salzburg’s film and culture centre, Das Kino, on Giselakai, is a tiny, warmly lit theatre stoking an ambient air of community between its patrons. Amid its impressive programme of art house and festivals, I checked out the (incredible) French offering, La vie d’Adèle.
Come evening, Hang 7
An awesome, glass, elliptical edifice, located at Salzburg’s nearby airport, Hangar 7 is Red Bull’s very own aeronautical funkhouse. Inside (free admission) sits a virtual starting grid of F1 motors, vintage aeroplanes and Felix Baumgartner memorabilia, while lofted above the canopy of aircraft and rainforest vegetation sits Mayday bar with its infinite assortment of Red Bull cocktails.
Salzburg really does gives you wings.
Need to know
How to get there?
I flew direct to Salzburg with Austria specialists Topflight (01 240 1784; topflight.ie) who tailor city breaks and excursions into their weekly ski packages.
Seven-night deals start from €699pps. DIY travellers can reach Salzburg via Munich with Aer Lingus (€120 return).
For more, visit salzburg.info.