Sunday, April 2, 2023

[SALZBURG] Where Are the Singing Nuns?

Our sightseeing in Salzburg began the night we arrived, when the Czechoslovakians took me to Augustiner Bräu which was a totally new experience for me. The venue once served some religious purpose if you ask me, with a smattering of religious statues here and there as well as some quotes on the walls seemingly lifted from the bible. Nowadays, it serves as a place to be merry with friends, with tables all around, food stalls, and, of course, an endless stream of beer on tap. What more can you ask for? I can ask for more, because I don’t drink beer. Good thing, they had lemonade and cake.

Salzburg has been, in fact, serving looks even before I arrived at the main train station. Perhaps Austria is really just pretty like that. Snow capped mountains are common and if you look at a topographical map, you’ll see that most cities and towns in this country are all located in what seems like an intermission of plains surrounded by mountain ranges. As such, you will always have a mountain or a hill to see in the horizon. At least, that’s how it is for Salzburg.

A mandatory viewing of The Sound of Music, which I haven’t seen since forever, ended the night prior after a long day of visiting that castle in Werfen as well as Hallstatt in one itinerary. Taking down notes, we checked out the next morning, a Sunday, with some specific attractions already in mind, hoping we would see live some of what we saw on screen. Even without this, though, all you have to do is just get lost in Salzburg’s squares and alleys and you are bound to find something interesting here and there. 

After parking the car in a multi level parking garage custom built on a hill, we rode the elevator up to Museum der Moderne, basically an art gallery in two locations, the other one located at the city center. I am not a big fan of art, but it was a good distraction from the bad weather outside. Once done with the museum, you can head out to the balconies for a panoramic view of Salzburg’s old town. That vantage point helps you get a bird’s-eye view of the old town, both parts divided by the river.

From that vantage point, the hilltop castle will be on your right and the city’s church addiction will be evident once you set your gaze on what is below that hill. We also went to the other side of the river. That area to the left has bars and cafes aplenty as well as one of the houses where Mozart used to live. The house where he was born is on the other side which is, without a doubt, the city’s most photogenic zone with large squares, churches, and monuments abound.

We weren’t able to pinpoint all of the locations where Maria was singing her lungs out. I’ve read that Austrians used to view The Sound of Music with a bit of disdain until a change of heart recently after acknowledging that the musical has been luring more tourists to Salzburg than Mozart as of late. I guess Wolfgang is just no match for Julie Andrews. In any case, Mozart fans will still have a good time because Salzburg is teeming with related history. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan so I can’t really give tips.

Most of what we visited were churches. Again, how many churches do you need within a one-mile radius, Salzburg? YES, Salzburg replied. What’s surprising, perhaps, is that most of the churches we visited had its own charm. Some looked alluring on the outside but plain on the inside. Some were more grandiose inside the walls than outside. And then there was that nunnery on top of the hill which was empty AF on a Sunday. It was so creepy I was half expecting Valak to make an appearance.

See how I did not even make an effort to describe what we all saw? It’s futile. Just come and visit. Pretty much like Vienna, Salzburg will drain your phone’s memory because you will be taking photos non-stop. I imagine it would have been prettier, though, in the summer, because this visit was plagued by rain non-stop. Wet and not so wild it was, but photogenic nonetheless. Now I only have to see Innsbruck to complete the Austrian trifecta. Some other time. Some other time.

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