Sunday, July 8, 2007

AT - Salzburg

I returned to Schloss Mirabell to see a lunchtime concert performed by Luca Toncian, a pianist from Romania whom is extremely talented. Like the quartet the night before, I arrived about a minute after the show began; and lo and behold so did another girl. I was amused by this… instead of the usual trend among my generation of picking up girls at bars, classical music concerts sure seemed to be the place to be in Salzburg.

The remainder of the day was spent just meandering about town. Later that evening I attended a highly-touristy Mozart Dinner at the Stiftskeller St. Peter. I knew it was touristy when the concert was introduced to the crowd in English. It was expensive, but the food was quite tasty; albeit in small portions. My seat was front and center and my tablemates consisted of an Israeli couple, a couple from Taiwan, and a mother and college-aged daughter (once again, rock on classical music!) – all of whom were a joy. The instrumentalists have great personality as they play, the male vocalist had a powerful deep voice (though he was bug-eyed, which I found myself constantly staring at bemused), and the female vocal had among the most beautiful voices and stage personalities I have ever seen in an opera singer. Touristy, yes, but sometimes it’s good to be what you are.

As far as food in Salzburg goes, nothing really stood out. The Mozart dinner was certainly appetising, but like I said: it came in dainty portions. Café Demel (originator of Mozart Kugeln) was tasty, but not tasty enough to warrant the price. All-in-all, I found myself returning to the market at Universitätsplatz to fill up on wurst und bretzels. As far as sausages go, they are all good and hot dogs make for a cheap and quick eat (plus they come in a full roll, not a bun – that needs to come to America). I really liked the bosnas available from a permanent shop immediately south of the platz, alongside the church. Wow, they were tasty. As for bretzels (pretzels), the regular soft & salted ones we all know and love are no match for Philadelphia’s legendary rendition (which tracks back to, of course, the Germanic settlers of Germantown); but the apfelbretzel (apple pretzel) became my quick addiction. Actually, pretty much anything apple… mmm… apfelstrudel.

A note those intending to visit Salzburg: there are two Mozart houses. If I understand correctly, the one nearer to the Alstadt is the birthplace and the other near Schloss Mirabell is a later residence. I did not visit either, but the general opinion I have heard from others (including several guidebooks) is that both of them are a waste of time and money. I consistently hear that they are cheesy reconstructs catering to the lowest common denominator of tourists, a.k.a. the Griswald-type which form 90% of tourist crowds.

Let’s start with the train ride from Salzburg. I get on toward the front, in the 1st class area. I know I have a 2nd class ticket. Of course I have 2nd class: upgrading nearly quintuples the price and 2nd class is really quite comfy. Only those with large inheritances get 1st class on a 1.5 hour train ride… so sure enough the cabins were almost completely empty.

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