An April 2003 trip
to Salzburg by kjlouden
Quote: Salzburg certainly has "charm," but "enchantment" is what possessed me. Beauty and history aren’t enough for a city to enchant: great, eccentric talent must haunt it. Ghosts of Mozart and the Hapsburg rulers revealed themselves to me in colorful detail and symphonies with "too many notes."
Our primary objective was to see the Fortress and two Mozart houses: Geburtshaus or birthplace and Wohnhaus or residence. Even in the picture I saw of the Geburtshaus before leaving home, the composer seemed to be
looking out a high window to see what kind of mischief he might stir up on the street--or
was that Tom Hulce? I anticipated seeing him everywhere, and I did! Anyone who has
seen the film Amadeus can not avoid these kinds of hallucinations! In addition to
the solitary ghost in the window, the city was animated with phantom orchestras in a
number of plazas, courtyards and sunken concert gardens. As for sound in the material
world, there was only the beautiful concert of carillon bells at 7:00 pm--substantial, sustained, and mournful sweet with the echoes of centuries--and the crickets along the castle road in back of the fortress. In April, the greatest fountains north of Italy were not alive with glistening decoration, but I could imagine that, too.
The bicycle path decorated with modern statuary along the Salzach River, the raised
wooden footbridge, the peak into residences along the steep road down from the
Monchsberg hill, and riverside shops with exquisite crystal, china, linen and leather--these
were delights I hadn’t anticipated. Nor did I expect a horse to pose so beautifully,
but when I raised my camera, he saw it and immediately shifted his weight to put one
knee forward, head bowed. ("Oh," I exclaimed and missed the shot!) The top-hat
carriage driver smiled, a "knowing" expression straight out of a Dickens novel, as he
coaxed on the reigns toward the quadruple-arched gate of Residenzplatz. So intricate with detail, the baroque city with narrow medieval streets was pure magic.
We paused on the wooden bridge for photos, then browsed in shops along the left bank and wandered through hidden stone archways and narrow mazes. Each time we emerged into daylight, we looked up to see the Fortress, our point of reference, visible from everywhere in the pedestrian zone. The Residenz (some parts dating from 1120) and Dom, Salzburg Cathedral (finished 1628 by Italian architect Solari), are must-sees; the entire Altstadt is filled with masterpieces of famous baroque architects von Erlach and Hildebrandt. World Heritage treasure, the city offers concerts, marrionette theater, and tours. See SalzburgInfo.
When we arrived at Salzburg Hauptbahnhof (1.5 hours from Munich’s main station), we saw buses in front of the building and got number 1 or 4 to
Makartplatz for Mozart’s Wohnhaus, and from there, we walked to Altstadt. I simply asked to be pointed in the direction of the River Salzach, and
from there, we walked constantly for hours to see every detail of intriguing squares and
hidden medieval mazes at close hand. After dark, we walked back toward the footbridge
from Moncksberg and found a bus stop. We were tired and would have been totally
exhausted if we had walked from the train station and back. We had hiked to the Fortress instead of taking the tram--a good alternative for anyone with 2 flights and 2 trains on the same day.
"Six blocks or more," we complained. "Your website says "near central station."
The girl at the desk gave us a map and circled a closer bahnhof on
Schwanthalerstrasse, and we were happy. I had looked at a map on the internet
and had seen this other station, but with a name like "Central" and words like "close to
central station," I had trusted the words, not the undetailed map. The weather was
beautiful, anyway, so it was only a problem when we checked in and out with luggage,
something we would do twice. Now the problem was resolved with the other station, and
we were happy.
This emotion increased when we saw our room, not posh, huge, or historically correct,
but exactly what a tourist in Europe might want. Furniture was semi-installed to match
built-in rich golden wood closets and floor-to-ceiling organizer shelving with safe.
Headboard and desk had good lighting, and twin futons were comfy. Everything was
clean, fresh, extra crisp and well-stocked. Our white tile Euro-style bath was only one
shower head short of "heavenly."
I opened sheers and found our patio, not balcony, but gigantic square stone floor
surrounded by concrete privacy walls. Across the street, I saw open windows, people
watering plants, and transom windows open for fresh air. Turning around, I noticed we
had them, too, and opened them while we went to Salzburg for the day. We had central
air, too, but it was only April 1st. I felt at home and can’t wait to return to what
seemed like my "flat," Bavarian style. This neighborhood was all I saw of Munich, the
city we flew to and from, but this hotel was perfect for exploring Bavaria.
A knock on the door produced a bottle of Riesling with ribbon. I think this was a peace
offering, as the U.S. had just entered Iraq. Now news mentions that French hotels are
"wooing Americans back with champagne and roses," but Germans did it first! A week
later, we returned. In the morning, the coffeepot we carry broke, so we went to the
diningroom to ask for a cup. Employees wouldn’t hear of our taking cups to our room;
they prepared a tray with lace doily, full pot, linen napkins, and treats. Extremely helpful,
too, was the concierge. There are sauna, whirlpool, and steam we didn’t use. This
"Category 1" Sheraton is all we’ll ever need in Munich!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 12, 2003
Sheraton Munich Four Points Central
Attraction | "Hohensalzburg Fortress and Monchsberg"
We started up steps and then the roadway zigged and zagged, back and forth across the
steep rampart cliff past three or four guard houses, all picturesque. We could have taken the
funicular, but the pedestrian approach gave us an understanding of why the stronghold
wasn’t penetrated in 600 years. Here, the prince-bishops enjoyed secure dwelling until
they move to the Residenz Palace down in the Altstadt. We had wanted to
tour the state rooms and other museums of weaponry and medieval art. Still, doors were
open to a little display room in the top guardhouse, and we saw the chapel and hallways
of the great edifice and the restaurant, still with a few snacks. At every turn, medieval
magnificence was apparent in this largest of the completely original castles in Europe,
begun in 1077.
We heard music and saw musicians arriving with their instruments, but we couldn’t find
out if they were practicing, taking a course, or giving a concert. All were possible in this
well-used cultural center. The music of Mozart and Haydn are played here almost every
night after the bell carillon’s "symphony." Times vary from 7:30 to 8:30, depending on
the month, so one must ask for a schedule at Visitor Info, Mozartplatz 5 or Platform 2-A at Hauptbahnhof, before
going to the Fortress in the evening. This would be a delightful choice for anyone who
wants to catch the sunset over the sleeping Alps.
The Monchsberg hill has a delightful walk to offer, too. Behind the Fortress, a Federalist mansion home is dignified and serene before the road leads to a castle. A bench overlooking a pastoral hilly setting is a good place for solitude, then just behind it is the steep road back to the Altstadt, marked with signs as "Old Town Road." On this first day of April, windows were open and carpets were in the yards drying. We appreciated this view into the folk life.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 13, 2003
Salzburg, Austria 5020
+43 662 84243011
Attraction | "Mozart Wohnhaus"
The bus from the rail station deposited us on Makartplatz across from
Wohnhaus. As we approached the residence of the romantic composer, I was
immediately disappointed by the front lawn--or lack of it. I had thought to see an outdoor
space where the frollicksome Mozart had romped with his family as he had in the film
Amadeus. Instead, the house was on the sidewalk, and what I supposed was the
large lawn always seen in pictures was a narrow strip of median surrounded by curb in the
middle of the street. Those tricky cameramen!
Part of the residence was ravaged by a bomb in WWII. I knew this, so I wasn’t expecting
the original. The part not destroyed has been owned by International Mozarteum
Foundation with small museum on site since 1955; the other portion was re-created by the
Foundation after they purchased an office building built here after the war and tore it
down. Now the residence, at least, is the correct size. Another contribution to Salzburg’s
culture is the many concerts the Mozarteum schedules throughout the year with a
preponderance at the end of January for the composer’s birthday (Jan. 27, 1756). During
this yearly festival, Mozart Week or Mozartwoche, every piece of Wolfgang’s
music gets played. That’s a huge stack of sheet music, over 36 volumes--and many
The house is set up more as museum and sound library than home. We got audio
programs and went to second floor. Displays were numbered, and we entered the
numbers to hear commentary, well-produced with musical interludes. Passages from
"Jupiter" symphony had me paying attention, while "Eine Kleine Nachtmusic" almost put
to sleep these weary travelers. Displays included "Getting to Know the Instruments," a
good one for children. Rooms included statuary, paintings, and Mozart’s instruments,
including his clavichord. The design was similar to that of the Bach Museum in Leipzig,
which we enjoyed more because every room had chairs to sit and listen. I learned chasing
musical ghosts that visitors to homes of composers shouldn’t be tired or in a hurry, since
the purpose is to relish the chance to listen in the musician’s surroundings, not to
follow a tour guide. In 3 composers’ homes, we learned little about their lives, but relished the chance.
We enjoyed coffee at Mozart Cafe on the sidewalk, prolonging our visit.
Admission is 5.5 euros adults; 1.5 euros children.
Salzburg, Austria 5020
+43 662 87422740
The S-Bahn or "suburban" line serving all major airports in Germany was covered
by our pass, so "no charge." Red and gray subway decor with glass doors even seemed
appealing on this commuter train. We couldn’t ride the U-Bahn, though, or
"urban" line without deciphering ticket machines with instructions only in German. To
avoid this hassle, we rolled our luggage from the main station to the hotel in Munich--big
mistake! It was at least 6 blocks. The first day of April, sunny and warm, we should
have stashed our bags in a locker and got our train to Salzburg, since that was where we
were touring that first day of our pass. If we had to go to the hotel to freshen up,
then the U-Bahn to Schwanthalerstrasse would have been worth the
trouble to get us several blocks closer. Always trust the train!
S-Bahn, U-Bahn, RB, IC--how to keep from getting confused? I must admit I
spent a week on the internet unraveling all the tangled threads, but then I was
"good-to-go," from Tyrolean Alps to Baltic Sea. Our IC train Munich-to-Salzburg was
our only ride all week that wasn’t ICE, Deutschebahn’s premier trains. No
matter, for we got there in the same time, 1.5 hours, and the scenery was just as good. In
April, gardens waiting to be plowed were flanked by snow-encrusted mountains in the
distance, and hamlets were quaint with white chalets and rustic wood balconies with
Bavarian views. The nose of our train pointed up the entire way and slowed only for
stops that could be called "timeless," except for the intrusion of our steel marvel. Our
eyes fixed on the window, we photographed pristine lakes with an alpine attitude, a lone
clump of pines shielding a barn, a black Germanic steeple set against a white backdrop
gleaming in the sun. "What a contrast to Berlin," I mused, and I would see it, too, before
the week was out. No "faceless modern man" haunted these hills that were "alive . . .
This trip, we stayed in a different city almost every night with reservations at hotels that
described their locations as "close to central train station." This way, we were able to
skip, like a pebble on water, our way from Salzburg to Berlin and visit attractions also in
Munich, Weimar, Leipzig, and Lutherstadt. Our "saver" passes (for 2 people traveling
together) were only $169.50 each for six days, and the last day, we spent $8 each for the
S-Bahn back to the airport from Munich Hauptbahnhof. For this ticket,
we had to use a machine, which was confusing. We had used one in Berlin for the
U-Bahn to Potsdamer Platz and had trouble reading German to know
which options to select, but the man at the desk at Munich Four Points Central was used
to people with subway questions and wrote down for us a magic
word--einfachfahrkart or "one-way ticket"--which was $8 each less than the word
I had thought meant one-way ticket.
Now that I think about it with the urgency gone, I know I could have found the words
from the machine on my electronic translator. The lesson here is that a translator is a
handy gadget for foreign train travelers. Mine without audio was only $20 at an office
suppply store. I am reminded of Thomas Wolfe, most lyrical of American novelists, who
loved to ride trains in Germany. Perhaps that is what inspired this thought-provoking
sentence: "Remembering speechlessly, we seek the great forgotten language, the lost
lane-end into Heaven." His "a stone, a leaf, a door" should be remembered as "a train, a
pass, a translator."
We checked DieBahn for schedules. Fill in
departure and arrival cities and click "suchen" on the front page to go to the next, where
you can change the language to English or others in the upper right corner. As a courtesy,
Deutschebahn keeps schedules for most European countries, but they don’t list
pricing for others, just for Germany. Included on the German pass are Salzburg, Austria;
Strasbourg, France; and Basel, Switzerland.
West Virginia, United States