SALZBURG, AUSTRIA — A sign on a yellow plaster wall reads, “Mozart pissed here”. Two Japanese girls pose in front of it and flash peace signs as a third snaps off a rapid round of photos. A short queue forms behind her.
On the one hand, an uncannily beautiful Medieval city dropped right out of a postcard.
On the other, a literal tourist trap (its canyon-like streets dead end almost directly into the salt cliffs) of Christmas market, designer shops and Mozart memorabilia.
But on a sunny autumn afternoon, it takes little effort to hop on a two-hour train through the Austrian countryside to the legendary home of one of the greatest composers and one of the most picturesque towns in the Alps.
It seemed like we weren’t the only ones with that idea. This tiny Medieval town swells to near bursting capacity. It takes hours to make our way through the old streets and up the sandstone cliffs to take in a King’s view from the fortress castle above.
It’s ok, the layout of the city is designed to be meandered, not hurried, and vacationing tourists and locals alike seem to take the hint.
Mozart’s birthplace is a seas of backpacks and Nikons, so we swim on by and follow the lazy Salzach River to an eddy of calmness: the Augustiner bierstube.
The impressive network of bier halls, crypts and gardens, cut directly into the mountainside, was an offshoot monastery from the legendary Bavarian brethren. We find a nice corner bench with a couple liters and a plate of Austrian specialties to wait for our escape back to the Hauptbahnhof.
On our way out, the sun setting behind the castle, Salzburg gives us one last wink, reminding us just how beautiful a city it is.
Then it’s back on the regional train to Munich, soft notes of you-know-who floating on the loudspeaker. I take a photo for no reason.