The final trip of the year is finally here and its one I have been looking forward to for some time – Austria!! What a year it has been though; from Japan, to New York, Madrid to Nicaragua and Honduras, and a European end with Paris and Bruges not to mention all of the UK trips throughout. So as I was sitting on Christmas Day frantically packing and reminiscing on an amazing year of travel I received a message from my travel companion – Carolyn – informing me she had missed her flight from the US and so would be arriving a day later into Austria than expected. This was less than ideal – but as I boarded my Jet2 flight to Salzburg the next day I was positive that regardless I would make the most of my first day in my 40th country, and that is exactly what I did!
On arrival we could see the alps (with very little snow) and remarkably the sun was shining, quite a change from the torrential rain I had left behind. Salzburg airport is tiny! They put us on a bus for the 3 minute drive to the terminal building and then we waited over 30 minutes for our baggage!! Once I had picked it up I made my way to the bus stop to try and find the first of 2 buses to take me to Mirabell Platz where I had to change to get to my hotel. Unfortunately, the bus my google instructions told me to get did not in fact exist and so I opted for the first one to turn up and hoped for the best. For 2Euros I couldn’t really complain. Mistake number 2 was choosing to stand in the middle section of the bus which moves as it changes direction and therefore sent me flying into the man standing next to me on just a few occasions. Woops! The bus stopped at the main train station and having no list of stops I chose to admit defeat and get off here rather than staying on and ending up back at the airport. Thankfully there was a full taxi rank and so I jumped in a cab and was at Hotel JUFA in under 10 minutes.
The hotel was really nice and reminded me a lot of an Ibis. Rooms were clean and after dumping my bags and getting a map from reception I set out to wander the old town and locate some food! Due to my bus adventures it was almost 3p.m. by this point and I wandered along the beautiful streets of Salzburg’s Altstadt looking for a pretty café. There were so many to choose from but I eventually settled on Café Altstadt and ordered a ham a cheese sandwich and the local Gruner Veitliner white wine. The café was really pretty with white washed old cave style walls and pretty chandeliers. I sipped my wine and watched the world go past as the evening lights began to twinkle.
My next stop was the Mozart Birthplace museum and after walking right past it I eventually found the bright yellow building in among the old town buildings. The museum was interesting and had a lot of the original instruments that he had learned to play music on as well as an account of his parents, his wife and children and the story of how his father taught him to become such a musical genius from a very young age. It was a tragedy when he dies at 35 and he left his wife and 2 young children penniless and so it was his wife that really went about creating the name that we know today. She sold his music and after remarrying her second husband compiled one of the first full biographies of his life. His sons went on to have lives associated with music and were present at the unveiling of his statue in Salzburg.
As the museum closed I wandered back outside to the wonder of the Christmas lights at their full beauty. I passed horses and carriages as I made my way along to the Christmas Markets, these were stunning and definitely made up for the disappointment of Bruges. I wandered around the many stalls before deciding on a fruitpunsch to drink which I am told is a rum based drink (although having tasted it I can’t be sure about that). It was lovely all the same and nice to try something a bit more traditionally Austrian rather than the generic if lovely Gluhwein. The markets were based around 2 main squares and so I went to check out the second square which had a Louvre style pyramid in the centre and a huge cathedral at the edge. After wandering some more of the very pretty stalls I entered the Cathedral to light some candles for those no longer with us while sitting taking in the sheer beauty and scale of the building. The intricate ceiling carvings were spectacular and there were some lovely pieces of art dotted of the sides of the main congregational area.
I headed back to the hotel very satisfied and ordered a spicy pizza and more wine for dinner. Unfortunately, the wifi had been down for the whole day and so my plans of blogging were thwarted, however, I got chatting to a young student from Connecticut who had been studying in Salzburg for the most 4 months. It was interesting to get some tips to the city from someone who had been here for so long and I was able to give some general travel tips so it felt like a fair match. Time flies when you are having fun and in no time at all it was time to head to bed, hoping Carolyn would be there by the morning.