As tradition, I’ll start with what The Lonely Planet says about Salzburg. “The joke; If it’s baroque, don’t fix it’ is a perfect maxim for Salzburg: the tranquil Old Town burrowed below steep hills look much as it did when Mozart lived here 250 years ago. A Unesco World Heritage site, Salzburg’s overwhelmingly baroque Old Town (Altstadt) is entrancing both at ground level and from Hohensalzburg fortress high above. Across the fast-flowing Salzach River rests Schloss Mirabell, surrounded by gorgeous manicured gardens. If this doesn’t whet your appetite, then bypass the grandeur and head straight for kitsch-country by joining a tour of ‘The Sound of Music’ film locations.”
In so many ways, Salzburg was a beautiful, interesting city, but in other ways it was a disappointment. Though the centuries-old buildings continued to hold their history, I felt like the Old Town was anything but authentic. Instead each window held name brand clothing and handbags or touristy trinkets. Nothing felt like real residents of Salzburg lived and worked there. It was definitely the most concentrated area of tourists that we visited.
In some ways, being surrounded by so many tourists is OK because I felt safe enough to venture out on my own one day to wander through shops while Lila slept. (I bought three wooden Christmas ornaments.) I knew I wouldn’t stick out as a foreigner, because everyone was a foreigner! Ha.
We arrived in Salzburg after a frustrating 1.5 stop at a McDonalds outside of the city where we tried to connect to the Internet to find information about parking lots, and to connect with our rental home host to let her know when we thought we’d arrive at the apartment. We eventually found a Park and Ride that allowed us to drop our car off a few miles outside of the city and then bus in. It was inconvenient, but really our only option since parking isn’t allowed in the Old Town where we were staying.
As we walked from the bus stop to the apartment rental, it poured cats and dogs on us. We were literally soaking, even with our rain coats, and Lila didn’t have one. Eventually we let her out of the stroller to run in the rain and play in puddles. We waited outside the apartment for 15 minutes before the host showed up. Not bad, considering I had to guess when to tell her to meet us. That was one of my least favorite parts about choosing home rentals over hotels — I would’ve rather showed up and had a lock box with our key than arrange a time to meet and be let in by the host.
Upon meeting, I realized how frazzled and disheveled we must look compared to our elite-looking host. In her mid 50s, she walked up with her hair perfectly coifed and in heels, and there we stood with our massive luggage and wet and wild child. Ha!
I read the apartment’s listing (below) and yet when we walked in the front door, it wasn’t at all what I was expecting.
“This stylish 45 square meter apartment in the heart of Salzburg’s old town is. In one in 14 Century built heritage building located in the quiet and romantic Goldgasse immediately adjacent to the world famous Getreidegasse.
The apartment is on the fourth and top floor of one of the oldest and erhaltungswürdigsten houses of the old town of Salzburg. It is lovingly restored to modern standards and provides comprehensive comfort.
The house was built in 1374 and is a listed building. Therefore there is no lift.”
The apartment itself was renovated, modern and beautiful, but the building … was scary. I literally felt scared when we walked into the dark main entrance, and I told Lance later that I seriously considered saying “Never mind, we’ll get a hotel!” Despite being built in the 1300s, I somehow was still surprised by the huge cement stairs, the iron gates (that could lock us in or out at any time), the creepy paintings of huge-headed children on the walls, the tiny doorways that led to nothing, the antlers mounted on the wall, the harrowing statues of Christ bleeding on the cross hung up on nearly every wall.
Eventually I got used to the building and it didn’t scare me as much, but I still didn’t like to go up and down the staircases myself. Mainly because going up and down four flights of stairs can really deter you from “running out real quick” to get something, but also because … scary!
Despite the rain, I insisted that we go out and make use of our day. We tromped through the Old Town and made our way over to Schloss Mirabell, a palace where “The Sound of Music” filmed the von Trapps singing “Do-Re-Mi.” I didn’t recognize a thing and the rain was making us all cold and miserable, so eventually we gave in and went home early. These emails we wrote may better capture some of that:
Lance’s email to his parents: