Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tis The Season in Salzburg

With the smell of hot, sweet, cinnamon flavored wine in the air, people merrily shuffling through crowded Christmas markets under large, green, dome capped churches one could tell that the season is upon us.  Salzburg, Austria is a magical city.  It provides the visitor with an amazing variety of events, sights and attractions to entertain even ... well ... in the is case, The Grinch.

Christmas Market Stall - what doesn't belong in this photo?
November in Salzburg this year was a little warmer than usual, but that did not slow down the festive ambiance in the city.  Christmas markets buzzed with activity as people collected around tall, round, wooden tables to drink their hot wine (glu-vine) and eat their pastries.  Elise and I took a laid back approach to our Thanksgiving weekend.  We spent our first night wandering the streets of old town Salzburg, strolling past the birthplace of Mozart, the Salzburg Castle and some of the more famous churches in the city.
Maribel Gardens - where The Sound of Music was filmed

In the days to follow we returned to many of the sights visited on the first night, as Salzburg is a beautiful but small town.  Some of the ornate churches played host to Christmas markets outside their doors.  Inside, we were lucky enough to enter a church as the organs were playing (see picture above).  After speaking to the "organist" after he descended from his rooftop perch, we discovered that he was an older teenager that had somehow either acquired permission or snuck up to give the grand instrument a workout.  In any case, his talent was apparent and we were lucky to have been there to listen.

Domeplatz Church Interior
Other than the castle, Christmas markets and the beautiful churches, Elise and I can highly recommend taking a short walk out to the Stiegl Brewery.  Upon arriving we paid 7 Euro for a self guided tour of the museum and an opportunity to taste 3 of the types of beer brewed at the facility.  After what was an uneventful museum tour, we were greeted in the beer tasting area with a coupon covered table that was previously occupied by a tour group.  They had obviously not redeemed their beer sample tickets.  We quickly scooped up as many as possible before the bus boys came to clear the table and spent the afternoon redeeming as many tickets as our plump bellies could handle. Truth be told, we ended up getting concerned for our ability to walk home so we gave the remaining tickets to a group of friendly Austrians sitting beside us.  If you can time your trip to the brewery directly after a large tour group you will be handsomely rewarded.

Exiting Maribel Garden with the castle off on the horizon

In any case, Salzburg is a fascinating city that has a beautiful natural surrounding, enjoyable sights and is home to historical monuments that are a  must-see if you are in the area.  From its origins in salt mining to the birth of Mozart and right through The Sound of Music, Salzburg is the perfect place to sit, relax and take all the Christmas season has to offer.

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