Approximate Read Time: 5 minutes
Gear: Sony A7II with Sony Sonnar T* 35mm f/2.8
Stop everything you're currently doing and Google image search "Salzburg in the Winter." Actually, read this article first and then do that. You'll quickly discover the reason why I had to come here.
I made sure to bring my Christmas Charm Meter, and the readings were off the charts: 11.94 STPU's (Santa Twinkle Power Units) to be exact, at the city center. The second highest reading I've measured was at Grandma's circa '96 when Santa looked suspiciously Mexican. Was it you, Uncle Louis? Was it?
Tucked below the base of a hefty fortress and surrounded by blue-tinted, snow-capped mountains, the Old City of Salzburg feels untouchably safe, warm and welcoming despite the chilly temperatures. With little effort of imagination, one can envision nothing but flickering candle light illuminating the stone roads, top hats being tipped and the hushed exchange of conversation:
"Frau Madeline, perhaps it is the strudel talking but I simply must inquire: Will you bring me a thousand joys and accompany me to Herr Mozart's performance this eve?"
"Wilhelm! You are too bold. We are in public!"
"I do apologize. I've become excitable under the light of this full moon. But as they say, a blind chicken will often find an ear of corn (actual Austrian proverb)."
Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, I had three days to explore the best of the city and the following are Must-Do's:
1) A sunset walk to up to Festung Hohensalzburg
No trip is complete without a visit. It's a mighty fortress featuring wild, glowing vistas at sunset. If you're short on time or too stuffed with schnitzel, take the cable railway up. Otherwise, I highly recommend taking the walking path and watching the views of the city grow below.
2) Eat, drink, and be merry at Residenzplatz Christmas Market
Stroll at the slowest pace possible through rows of enticing Christmas goodies. Fight the cold with a piping hot cup of Gluhwein or Jameson Apple Cider, and pair it with a sexual bowl of Kaiserchmarrn, which is basically my dream dish: chunks of hot pancake-style dough, topped with powdered sugar and warm plum sauce.
3) See the often overlooked overlook at Meunchburg.
This is one of the most oft missed views of the striking mountain ranges surrounding Salzburg. On the way up, enjoy the wet woodland and secluded homes.
4) Christmas Eve Dinner at Hotel Sacher
A not cheap five course set menu (€179 including wine) is offered at arguably the classiest establishment in the city. Make reservations waaaaay in advance. If you can't get in for dinner, stop by anytime and try their infamous Sacher-Torte.
5) Celebrate the singular life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Let's face the music - Mozart is a big reason why this little town is so well known. And thank God for it! In honor of his legacy, pay a visit to his birthplace at Mozarts Geburtshaus, relive one of his live concert performances at Mirabell Palace, or see his effigy bronzed into eternity at Mozartplatz.
That said, I'm happy to announce Salzburg, Austria as the winner of the following prestigious awards in 2016:
The "Most Like the Inside of a Snow Globe" Award
The "Place Where Mozart was Most Born" Award
The "Least Shameful, Tastiest and Most Holiday Appropriate Day Drinking Offerings" Award
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!