Well, after a (delayed) train ride, we finally made it to Salzburg! Our hotel was right by the Salzburg Hauptbahnhof (the main train/bus station in Salzburg, where our train arrived), so it was really convenient in terms of getting around the city from the hotel. But, we didn’t know how all the buses worked yet, so we decided to just walk around the city. It was a rainy day, so walking everywhere wasn’t exactly the best idea – but with the help of our phones and road signs, we eventually walked to Mirabellplatz, home of the Mirabell Palace and its beautiful gardens. Most people know this place from The Sound of Music, as it serves as the iconic location of where the children and Maria sing Do-Re-Mi, and sure enough, there were tons of people waiting to take a photo in front of the gates overlooking the entire garden (where Maria and the children jump up and down the steps at the finale of the song). Because it was rainy, we decided it would be better if we came early another day (hopefully sunny) to get our photos as there would surely be less tourists roaming around.
We then decided to make our way towards the Salzburg Festival in order to pick up our tickets, which would allow us to use all of the buses on the day of the concert. When you walk to Karajan-Platz (a lot of things in Salzburg have Karajan’s name or face on it…), which was also featured in the Sound of Music, you immediately see the large rock wall that forms the foundation of where the Festival takes place. Then when you walk a bit further, you enter the Festival complex area, where the three main halls (Haus fur Mozart, Felsenreitschule, and Grosses Festspielhaus) and the ticket office (located separately from the three halls) are. There are tons of people walking in and out, whether buying tickets for upcoming concerts, taking photos of the exterior of the halls, or touring the gift shop, the Festival is truly the center of the city in the summer. I picked up the tickets and then went to the gift shop…where I found out that Maestro Muti AND Thomas Hampson would be doing autograph signings after their concerts, which were the same concerts that we would be attending…so lucky!! The gift shop apparently hosts a bunch of signings throughout the Festival season, which ranged from Anna Netrebko earlier in the month (her new album has already been released in Austria, and was definitely one of the more popular items in the shop) to Yuja Wang (taking place this very day!). I didn’t think we would get to meet Thomas after his recital, but I brought my program from The Merry Widow just in case we get lucky – and I guess we did!!
After exploring the gift shop (we’ll definitely be back to buy some souvenirs), we made our way to St. Peter’s Cemetery, which is Salzburg’s oldest cemetery and the inspiration for the graveyard scene in the Sound of Music. Our dinner reservation was at St. Peter Stiftskeller, right in the heart of where the cemetery is, and apparently, it is the oldest restaurant in Europe (founded in 803)! The food was surprisingly very good – the oven-roasted trout from Konigssee (which we’re planning on visiting tomorrow) was not overcooked, and the signature dessert, the Salzburger Nockerl, was one of the coolest things I’ve eaten so far in Austria. It’s basically a really big and fluffy egg souffle served with a berry whipped cream – so yummy, but a bit too much for only two people!
Tomorrow, we’ll be headed to Berchtesgaden in Bavaria, Germany (thanks to a great suggestion by Anthony – otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have planned on going). Not only is it one of the most scenic places in Europe (the opening scene in the Sound of Music was shot here!), but it’s got a lot of history to it – can’t wait!