The summer of 2018 still brings the sound of music to my ears. It was only a week, but it was a week to remember. From tracing the footsteps of the von Trapp family to spinning circles in flower fields, my crew and I were giddy about entering the city of “The Sound of Music.” But little did I know, Salzburg also houses magical and alluring sights, tastes and adventures that lie apart from the city’s silver-screen fame yet succeed in whisking you away in its fairy tale embrace. Let me take your hand and show you the way.
Flying overhead, you immediately notice the sheer vastness of greenery down below. Houses are sparse, and green and yellow plots of land — shaped like blocks — are manicured to look like an abstract painting. Forests, on the other hand, appear dense, clustering around buildings, mushrooming here and there.
Salzburg is a charming little town of lakes and castles. When it’s dark, faint yellow lights guide you along the road, ensuring safe travel and lighting up the water like dancing fire. The castle sits at the top of a hill, just like how you remember it in your picture books. Beneath its heavy, history-strewn walls, lie domes in a familiar shade of blue-green — similar to the color of the Statue of Liberty. I stayed in a little inn that is also full of history, walls lined with antlers, floral curtains, colored crown moldings, and there was plenty of food, including breads and butters, jams and teas. Pro tip: The bread in Salzburg is a must-try.
Outside, the streets go mainly in one direction, and everything is pretty much walkable. Buildings come in all colors, shapes and sizes. Some — residential buildings, mostly — are even distinctly modern, though most share arched doorways, boasting renaissance and baroque influences, particularly in Old Town. This area is known for its Christmas shops, salzburger mozartkugeln “Mozart chocolate” and sachertorte (chocolate cake of Austrian origin). Even if you’re not the biggest fan of torte, Hotel Sacher is the place to go. A feast for the eyes, if nothing else, with its burgundy wallpaper and silky settees that make it a prime picture spot.
The castle that sits on a hill, as I previously mentioned, is called Hohensalzburg Fortress, or “Salt Fortress.” Inside, rather hidden, tucked in the gun deck, is a peculiar museum: the Marionette Museum. Beautiful or scary, you can decide for yourself, but it is definitely surprising. At no additional cost, it’s the perfect stop if you have an extra 10 minutes or so to spare.
Additionally, the other castle I visited and stayed in was Schloss Leopoldskron. Dubbed the “Sound of Music” palace for its romantic movie scenes and set inspiration, the building itself is a sight to behold. That’s not to mention the lake that spreads itself at the center of it all. And if you look right across the lake, a snow-capped mountain peeks out amid the fog that surrounds it at times. There’s also a little swing, the perfect place to sit while soaking it all in.
The Mirabelle Gardens is another wonder of Salzburg if nature is your jam, though this one has a bit more of a human touch. Here, it is easy to fall into a little inner monologue as you debate which is more impressive: the gardener, the architect or the flowers themselves. Whatever you decide, this is a prime photo spot.
Before you go, the lock bridge, short for Love Lock Pedestrian Bridge, is worth a stop. Couples from all over leave behind their story in the form of locks that line the bridges’ fences. Apparently, the secret is that nearby shopkeepers keep markers on hand, in case you too want to leave a little souvenir of your own. If you passed by, solitary like me, there is still much to enjoy, such as watching painters sit under the sun as they scribble the town in watercolors and charcoals. Or simply pause to listen to the other guy, over there, play the violin.
Salzburg, at the end of the day, is a perfect place for time to pass by slowly. And if you’ve set foot, you’ll probably want time to stop, so that you can stay forever. Salzburg knows how to work its magic — after all, I’m still dreaming away about it now in my dear confinement. I know I have plans to go back one day, when it’s safe to, and perhaps then, I just might bump into you.